Pensions & Savings Legal Advice
I’m a lawyer with extensive experience of helping private individuals, pension schemes and businesses. I specialise exclusively in this area of law.
If you’re looking for a solution to a problem with your savings, pension or investments which you feel was caused by somebody letting you down, then I may be able to help.
No client with a financial services claim who has followed my advice has lost his case in the courts. Most cases settle; I have had only two full trials and they were both ultimately successful.
Although the financial services industry is heavily regulated by law, standards can be surprisingly low. When losses occur, it may well be because someone simply hasn’t done the job.
I strongly believe that law should be easily accessible to the individual, not just government agencies and large corporations with ‘deep pockets’.
I help people who’ve suffered financial losses through malpractice in the financial services field. I can usually advise quickly if you have a viable case and then guide you through the process to get the result you and your dependents deserve.
Most importantly, I usually get satisfactory results without a courtroom confrontation.
If you’re thinking of hiring me, you’d probably like to know a little about my background.
After attending school and a gap year with Voluntary Service Overseas in North Africa, I graduated from Kings College, London, in 1968. I qualified as a solicitor in 1971.
I’m married and I have one son and two step-children, all grown up!
I am a member of the Personal Finance Society and the the Financial Services lawyers Association, and an associate member of the Association of Pensions Lawyers.
I started out in local government and worked for various councils from 1971 to 1977.
I switched to private practice by joining a big West Country firm, Clarke Willmott and Clarke (now Clarke Willmott) in 1977. I was a partner for 30 years. I retired from them in July 2014. In August 2014 I joined Cubism Law in Chancery Lane, London, as a consultant.
Areas of Practice
I have always specialised in disputes. In local government I specialised in planning, child care, compulsory purchase, landlord and tenant and education. In my early years in Clarke Willmott I was based in Yeovil, a country town on the borders of Somerset and Dorset. I undertook all sorts of civil litigation with a small amount of criminal work, as you would find in a country market town.
From 1992 I started to specialise in financial matters. I was approached by the Portman Building Society to help with their mortgage fraud work. They were shortly followed in 1995 by the Nationwide Building Society. Both building societies approached me through their Special Investigation Departments because their fraud investigators were frustrated by their usual external solicitors. I built a specialist team in Clarke Willmott and we recovered significant sums of money for these and other lenders.
In 1997 I was approached by the head of Clarke Willmott’s private client department to help private clients who had been disadvantaged by various kinds of mis-selling activities. I moved to Clarke Willmott’s Bristol office in 1999 and created a new team specialising in financial services, pensions and investments. During this time my team and I made significant recoveries for Equitable Life policyholders (including a multi-party action on behalf of annuitants) and for investors in the AIG Enhanced Variable Rate Fund. We also made recoveries for the victims of many other kinds of malpractice by financial advisers, banks, trustees, accountants etc. We also developed a small practice defending IFA’s from unjustified mis-selling claims.
To improve my knowledge I embarked on a course of study towards financial services qualifications. I obtained the Professional Investment Certificate from the Chartered Institute of Bankers in 2003. In order to keep up to date I recently embarked on a fresh course of study in the same area through the Chartered Insurance Institute passing exams in pensions and retirement planning, personal taxation, investment principles and risk and financial services regulation.
In between these bouts of financial services study I undertook a course in 2010 on European law, obtaining a postgraduate diploma in European law from Kings College, London.
No client with a financial services claim who has followed my advice has lost his case in the courts. Most cases settle; I have had only two full trials and they were both ultimately successful; Loosemore v Financial Concepts  Lloyds’ rep.235 and Rubenstein v HSBC  EWCA Civ 1335.
For the first 25 years of my practice I regularly appeared in the courts, tribunals and at public enquiries, including in trials with witnesses. Intending to return to advocacy I obtained a certificate giving me higher rights of audience in civil proceedings in 2013, and intend to use those rights within my areas of competence as much as possible.
Not wanting to retire from law, I now work as a self employed consultant with Cubism Law. I take cases within my specialism from private clients and small business. I am also willing to undertake trials as an advocate. I am especially keen to help those who have started out as litigants in person, but are troubled by the prospect of a an oral hearing, which may be in public.
Unique legal and financial experience
I specialise in financial services, pensions and investments. I’ve passed the same financial services examinations as professional financial advisers, and I continue to keep those qualifications up to date. This puts me in the unique position of being able to offer a specialist combination of legal and financial expertise.
Hundreds of successful cases
My team and I have successfully handled hundreds of cases on behalf of private individuals and pension schemes. Our biggest case was the ‘Trapped Annuitants’ group, where over 400 clients filed against Equitable Life. It was settled on confidential terms in 2008. Other major pieces of work include: litigating against (mostly) banks in respect of advice given to customers to invest in the AIG Enhanced Rate Fund which closed in 2008; claims by small businesses for advice to enter into interest rate swaps with their banks.
Thirty-five years of dispute resolution
I’m an experienced litigation solicitor with 35 years experience practising in dispute resolution – for the past 14 years I have specialised in financial services, pensions and investments.
I qualified as a solicitor in 1971 and after a brief career in the public service I joined Bristol-based Clarke Willmott in 1977. During my time there I handled legal issues for a variety of private individuals and corporate clients.
My interest in financial services law was sparked in 1992 when a mid-tier building society, disappointed with their London solicitors, asked me to undertake their mortgage fraud claims. Then in 1999 I moved from mortgage fraud to private client financial services litigation and pensions.
After 30 years as a partner in Clarke Willmott I became a consultant in May 2013. I remain in active practice and am available to advise and assist within my areas of expertise.
What I do
I’m a specialist in all matters financial but in particular, investments, pensions, savings and loans. I am a litigation solicitor; I help people enforce the law for themselves.
My typical clients are private individuals, small businesses, small pension schemes and high street IFAs. I do both claimant and defendant work.
I have experience of dealing with group litigation ie, groups of people who all have the same problem. If I have several clients with the same problem, I encourage them to work together. I like to represent clients in court. I am an advocate for my clients, not only on paper but also in the court room and in the media if need be.
What I don't do
I do not:
- Give financial advice. I am experienced and qualified to give investment advice, but I am not authorised to do so.
- Attempt work outside my fields of competence.
- Pretend to have expertise I don’t have.
- Give my clients nasty surprises when it comes to fees.
Why I am passionate about what I do
In recent times the insurance industry (amongst others) has made it as difficult as possible for people to assert their legal rights against big businesses, but I believe that it is very important that individuals and small businesses continue to be able to enforce the law.
If the rich and powerful (and criminal) can get away with it we all suffer. Most of my clients are, or have been, hard working business people. Many are elderly; all are distressed and worried. These are people I like to help.
Legal costs are regarded as terrifying – and rightly so. The European Court of Justice ruled in February 2014 that the English legal system was “prohibitively expensive” – so much so that the United Kingdom was ruled in breach of European Law on the subject. You have to give careful thought to the finances of legal proceedings.
I aim to make sure that my services are affordable. It’s not as easy as it used to be. The post war Labour Government introduced Legal Aid, the National Health Service and National Assistance (now Income Support) as support for citizens. Most people were eligible, subject to an affordable contribution.
Income Support is still with us and the National Health Service has attained semi-divine status, however Legal Aid has been all but abolished. Some clients have legal expenses insurance, which is often a help. You should always check your household and other insurance policies for legal expenses cover which is usually available as an add on.
There are three elements of legal costs which need to be considered:
- Your own solicitor’s fees.
- Your own disbursements.
- Your opponent’s total legal costs.
It’s complicated, but I’ve briefly explained these below along with my approach to the problems they present.
- Your solicitor’s feesA party’s own fees are a matter of contract between him/ the insurer and the solicitor. I almost always act on a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This means I only get paid if my client wins. I usually ask for an agreed fee which covers preliminary advice and whether it’s possible to take the case on a CFA. CFAs are complicated and require a special explanation before they’re signed. However bear in mind that if you win you will have a bill to pay. Usually most, but not all of this is payable by your opponent, there is often a shortfall. To give my clients peace of mind, I often agree on a “value for money” cap. This means an agreement that says even if you win, my fees will not exceed a certain amount so you can plan for the worst case scenario win or lose.
- Your own Disbursements:There are nearly always disbursements in a civil case. These are things like court fees and fees for expert witnesses (if needed). Often a barrister is advisable and he/she will charge a fee. Disbursements are usually paid out of my clients’ own pockets. If they are beyond the client’s means there are specialist who will lend disbursements on cases they think are strong enough. They will lend on a non-recourse basis so you only have to repay the loan if you win, but again, if you win the rate of interest is very heavy.
- Your opponent’s Legal Bill:If you win you can expect all, or the vast bulk of your legal expenses to be paid by your opponent. However if you lose you’ll be faced with your opponent’s costs. To be truthful, this is main cause for anxiety over legal cases. You can insure against this risk, but this can be expensive. Provisions should always be made for the possibility of losing the case.
Claims in extra-judicial tribunals such as Ombudsmen and Employment Tribunals have different financial dynamics, but there is always a fee if professional help is engaged. All these matters need to be discussed before a lawsuit is launched. Don’t be put off by thinking it’s impossible, it’s not! Talk to me and I’ll try to find an affordable solution.
IFAs deserve support. They have a bad press, but in the world of financial services the complaints and the litigation are overwhelmingly against banks, not IFAs. Typically IFAs get blamed for the failure of investments when really they are blameless. A good example is Keydata, where the fund suffered from defects not visible to the outsider.
I have a regular stream of business defending IFAs from unjustified claims. Often these come from the networks who provide the research into the investments IFAs recommend and insurance against claims. The networks have to provide insurance under EU rules on capital adequacy, so the individual IFA may not have had any say in its terms.
What so often happens is that the network gets a complaint and forwards it to the insurer. The insurer then settles the complaint (which may not have been justified). The network wants the excess under the policy from the IFA, who feels bruised because, in his view, the claim was not justified and should have been defended.
Sometimes the insurer refuses to indemnify for some technical reason, or the insurance is inadequate.
I am happy to help IFAs who face claims for which they are wholly or partly uninsured. This may mean defending a claim in the courts, or a claim put through FOS. It may mean passing on a claim to reluctant insurers, or getting a contribution from a product provider. As usual, I like to see a complete set of papers in order to provide a fee quote. It costs nothing to enquire and I am happy to talk.
Initial informal consultations are nearly always free. For formal written advice we will usually quote in advance, the fee will depend on the size of the task.
No win, no fee
If matters go forward I usually act on a “No win – no fee” or “No win – low fee” basis. However this does not mean there is no cost, there is nearly always some cost but we aim to make it as affordable as possible.
Insurance to cover the cost of losing the case is currently available at an affordable rate. Many people already have legal expenses insurance cover which could make a big contribution to the cost of your case.
There are now litigation funders in the market, they will assume all of the cost and risk of some cases in return for a share of the winnings.
Sometimes people with the same problem like to get together, pool resources and make a claim as a group. I welcome helping these groups. I was successful with the Equitable annuitants and am currently helping the Cameron Farley victims to make a group claim on the same principles.
Modern funding techniques can make your claim more affordable than you think.
Can I help you..?
Please click here to send me an email or
call me on 020 7831 0101.