So many British Steel employees have been convinced to transfer their defined benefit pensions to much less advantageous personal pension plans which have gone on to lose significant value. This has left many wondering if they could be due compensation for being mis-sold a pension that was not appropriate for them. The next big question is how to go about claiming that compensation.
There are different avenues to claiming compensation that apply in different circumstances. For instance, you may be able to make a claim via the Financial Ombudsmen Service (FOS) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You may also be able to bring a civil claim to help recoup your losses.
There is no requirement to instruct a Solicitor or indeed, a Claims Management Company to bring a claim via the FOS or the FSCS for the losses you suffered in transferring out of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS). However, it can be helpful to have the support of a professional that deals with these kinds of claims every day to make the process easier and less stressful. See more on the BSPS scandal here: British Steel Pension Mis-selling Scandal Blog | Hugh James.
Both the FOS and FSCS are confidential, free and consumer friendly organisations and you can find further information regarding the services they offer on their web pages here:
In this short article we briefly identify and consider the potential benefits of instructing specialist solicitors such as Hugh James’ Financial Mis-Selling team, to act on your behalf.
As specialist solicitors we have a wealth of experience in bringing FOS and FSCS claims and navigating their claims processes. We have successfully recovered millions of pounds in compensation for hundreds of clients. We have in depth knowledge of the, sometimes complex, rules and regulations that apply to FSCS and FOS claims and complaints and can help our clients avoid potential pitfalls. We have set out below a few of the benefits of instructing a specialist solicitor.
- Getting the right defendant – It is not always clear where a claim or complaint should be directed, particularly if multiple firms or appointed representatives have been involved. We have seen cases over the years where individuals without legal representation have spent a long time pursuing an entity that isn’t legally responsible only to find that by the time they realise who they should have been pursuing that claim is then out of time. A specialist solicitor can advise you on which firm your claim should be directed against. It is also sometimes possible to bring multiple claims relating to the same losses. In fact, we have represented many individuals who have successfully brought two or three claims. There are limits on the amount of compensation that the FOS and FSCS can award so it’s important to understand if you might have multiple causes of action.
- Jurisdiction – The FOS has strict rules which set out the jurisdiction it has over firms and your case may or may not fall within its remit. The FSCS also has a complex set of rules that determine what types of claims it can deal with.
- Case preparation – We ensure the correct documents are provided at the outset and that the appropriate submissions are made. We often see cases where clients have failed to make key arguments or where they have incorrectly set out their position and damaged what would otherwise be a perfectly good case.
- Time limits – We can advise on the sometimes complicated time limits which apply and make sure your claim is lodged in time and does not become time-barred.
- Getting the right compensation – We can check that any compensation you receive has been calculated in accordance with the accepted methodology, cross-referencing with notional values and various indexes, where necessary.
- Enforcement – Thanks to paragraph 16 of Schedule 17 Financial Services and Markets Act, a final and binding decision issued by the FOS can be enforced by the court. This means that a court can order that a FOS decision is payable as if it were an order of the court. We can assist in bringing the relevant court enforcement proceedings seeking payment and interest, in the event that an opponent refuses or is slow to pay following a final FOS decision.
- Judicial Review – Once the FOS or FSCS has issued a final decision, the only available course of action to challenge that decision, is by way of an application for judicial review. This is a specialist area of law and we can advise on the merits of an application for permission to judicially review a decision and act for you in respect of any subsequent judicial review proceedings. This is because unlike Claims Management Companies we can undertake reserved legal activities as a regulated firm of Solicitors.
- Litigation – bringing a claim or complaint to the FOS may not be the right thing for you. It may be better to pursue a legal claim through the court particularly if your case might be dependent upon securing an order for disclosure of documents or it might be outside or exceed the jurisdictional limits of FOS.
- Hugh James Independent Financial Advisors – if you’ve suffered financial loss because of pension mis-selling, it can be extremely worrying and stressful. We can put you in touch with our in house Independent Financial Advisers who can assist you in mitigating the damage done and plan a better financial future. The Hugh James IFA team is regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Solicitors Regulation Authority which affords our clients dual protection.
It is ultimately a matter for you as to whether you instruct a solicitor. If you do decide to seek advice, we recommend that you look for a firm that is willing to risk assess your potential claim free of charge and advise you on whether you have a good claim and are likely to succeed. You should also ensure that any legal firm provides you with advice on the funding options available, including the option of proceeding on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis or on a private paying basis. This means you can choose the best option for you.