Liberty Sipp faces 500 ombudsman claims

Liberty Sipp faces 500 ombudsman claims

A law firm has submitted 500 cases to the Financial Ombudsman Service on behalf of clients who lost money after investing with Liberty Sipp.

The cases relate to the alleged mis-selling of self-invested personal pensions (Sipps) and claim Liberty Sipp failed in its duty to treat customers fairly by accepting from an unregulated introducer a high volume of clients who were unsuitable for Sipp investments.

The 500 cases are said to have a total value of £18m and the law firm, Anthony Philip James & Co (APJ), is seeking compensation to put its clients back into the position they believe they would have been had they not moved out of their original pension schemes.

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A spokeswoman for the Fos confirmed it had recently received just over 500 cases involving Liberty Sipp.

The submissions come after APJ claimed to have had two rulings upheld by the Fos against Sipp provider Guinness Mahon, where the ombudsman ruled the firm should have refused the business because it was aware the client was given advice by unregulated introducer Avacade, which allegedly cold called the claimant for a free pension review in 2014.

There were no upheld complaints on the Fos database relating to Guinness Mahon but the spokeswoman said she could not comment on cases which had not been published yet.

Glyn Taylor, solicitor at APJ, said the Fos had appeared to halt cases against Liberty Sipp amid ongoing court cases involving Carey Pensions and the Berkeley Burke judicial review but the Fos spokeswoman said she could not comment on this because of ongoing legal issues.

He said: "The cases we have now submitted are almost identical to the Guinness Mahon cases which Fos has ruled on, involving Liberty accepting high volumes of clients from an unregulated introducer.

"We believe that if the Fos is making decisions on Guinness Mahon they have no argument to halt the Liberty Sipp cases.

"We’re pleased that initial indicators from the Fos suggest they are now considering the Liberty Sipp cases, prompting us to issue this significant number of cases. We’re hopeful we will now get decisions on Liberty Sipp cases from the Fos, helping us to gain the compensation for our clients that they deserve."

Carey Pensions is embroiled in a court case against an investor who argued it had a duty of care towards him when allowing him to set up a Sipp to invest in unregulated investments, despite the sale being classed as execution-only.

Meanwhile a judicial review in Berkeley Burke's fight against a Fos decision will be heard by a judge in October.

In 2014 the ombudsman ruled the Sipp provider had to compensate a client after it failed to carry out adviser-style due diligence on his investment.

In response to the announcement from APJ, John Fox, managing director of Liberty Sipp, said: "Another week, another misleading press release from a claims management company attacking the financial services industry.