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20 June 2019 | Comment | Article by Neil Stockdale

GPC SIPP Limited – the rise and fall

GPC SIPP Limited (formally Guardian Pension Consultants) was a self-invested personal pension (SIPP) operator, based in Blackburn. GPC was the subject of the Financial Conduct Authority’s authorisation and regulation.

Between 2009 and 2012 GPC accepted a high volume of Harlequin Hotel and Resort Group investments, into their SIPPs. The unregulated property investment failed, costing SIPP investors thousands of pounds of pension monies and reportedly landing the Chairman of the Harlequin group in hot water for tax evasion, theft and fraud.

What followed was a civil court claim of 141 claimants, seeking compensation from GPC because of its failure to carry out appropriate due diligence into Harlequin before accepting the investments into their SIPPs together with a further 469 Financial Ombudsman Service claims citing similar grounds for complaint.

GPC had vehemently denied the allegations made against it but has now entered administration. It is understood that the appointment of administrators followed discussions with the Financial Conduct Authority. It is possible that the appointment of administrators came about as a result of claims being upheld by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Can you still make a claim?

The short answer is yes.

Claims against GPC will now progress through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and not the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The FSCS is the industry’s lifeboat fund and will be able to satisfy claims up to a limit of £85,000.

The FSCS will likely investigate the level of due diligence carried out by GPC prior to accepting applications to join their SIPP scheme. Once their investigations are complete, they will consider the individual merit of each claim against GPC.

The position is complex and you may wish to seek legal advice before submitting a claim to the FSCS.

Hugh James’s Financial Mis-Selling team has a wealth of experience navigating the FSCS claims process and can help you recover compensation. We have already successfully recovered compensation for many GPC customers.

The FSCS, a familiar name?

The FSCS has already assessed and paid out on a significant volume of claims made against independent financial advisers (IFAs) in respect of advice to transfer into the GPC SIPP and invest in Harlequin.

For many of our clients, more than one IFA was involved in their pension transfer.

If you have already received the maximum award of compensation from the FSCS in respect of the advice you received from an IFA, you may still be able to recover further compensation by way of a claim against any other IFA involved in the transfer and/or GPC.

What should I do now?

If you are an existing client of Hugh James, everything is in hand. We have protected your position in relation to limitation i.e. the applicable time limits in claims of this nature and will ensure that your claim is lodged with the FSCS for consideration.

If you are not an existing client, please contact us sooner rather than later. In some cases, steps should have already been taken to protect your position and so time really is of the essence.

Author bio

Neil is head of the firm’s group actions and financial mis-selling teams, specialising in handling claims for financial mis-selling relating to energy contracts, pensions, investments and timeshares.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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