Equitable Life


supporting the With-Profit annuitants of Equitable Life


Bulletin No 6  MAY 2005 

From      Peter Butler

Email      pdbutler@ntlworld.com




May 2005                                         


The April 2005 Bulletin included a letter written to Walter Merricks at the FOS reiterating the Formal Complaint on the role of the FSA in the questionable Rectification Scheme 2003. Our letter was passed to John Todd who responded with the following letter, which gives a clear explanation of the complaints that can and will be handled by the FOS.


The letter also clearly states the matters on which they are not able to handle.


This suggests therefore that complainants who are dissatisfied with reviews under the  Rectification Schemes might make their complaints for misselling pointing out that the delay in submission was due to the delayed rectification review which has not provided adequate redress for the misselling.


With best wishes


Peter Butler


Financial Ombudsman Service


  our ref 3673005/JT                                                                                                      your ref


Dear Mr Butler


Your complaint about The Equitable Life Assurance Society


Waiter Merricks has asked me to reply to your letter of 12 April, which 1 have discussed with him.


.The statutory role of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is to regulate financial firms, such as Equitable. The statutory role of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is to resolve individual complaints by individual complainants about an alleged act or omission by a regulated financial firm, such as Equitable.


It follows from this that there are some things mentioned in your letter that FOS simply does not have the power to do:

      FOS cannot consider a collective complaint by an action group.

      FOS cannot consider a complaint about an alleged act or omission by FSA.

      FOS cannot issue a general direction to Equitable about how to treat a class of policyholders.

This is what FOS does have the power to do (and has been doing in a number of cases):

    FOS can consider individual Complaints by individual policyholders that they were mis­sold an unsuitable Equitable policy.

    If FOS upholds such a complaint, which will depend on the circumstances of each case, it can require Equitable to provide redress.

    FOS will make its own assessment of what redress is appropriate, depending on the circumstances of each case.

If any members of your group consider they were mis-sold an unsuitable Equitable policy or they believe that any redress offered to them by Equitable for such a mis-sale is unreasonable, they first need to complain to Equitable about this (if they have not already done so). In accordance with FSA rules, FOS cannot consider a complaint until the financial firm concerned has issued a final response letter to the complaint (or until eight weeks have elapsed since the complaint was made to the financial firm).


Each policyholder will then need to file an individual complaint form with FOS, accompanied by Equitable's final response letter (or evidence that eight weeks have elapsed since the complaint was filed with Equitable).


I hope this helpful


Yours sincerely


John Todd