"Late joiner" Equitable Life policyholders who claim they were not told of the financial risks behin...
"Late joiner" Equitable Life policyholders who claim they were not told of the financial risks behind GAR payouts may still have to wait several months before they find out whether they are entitled to compensation, says the Financial Ombudsman Service.
David Cresswell, head of communications at the FOS, says adjudications on Equitable Life "lead cases" are expected within the next few weeks.
However, consumers may not see any sign of compensation until months down the road - even if the decision swings in favour of the policyholder - because both Equitable Life and the policyholder have the right to appeal any decision before payment is made.
Final decisions on a handful of representative or "lead" cases - which were selected and assessed to reflect the huge number of different complaints against the Equitable - are expected to be completed and published by the FOS on its website within the next week or so, once permission has been received from all parties to publish details of the findings and cases.
It is only those policyholders which joined the Equitable Life after 1998 - when Equitable faced court proceedings forcing it to pay out over £1bn to Guaranteed Annuity Rate policyholders - and did not accept the compensation package offered by Equitable that are being assessed, Cresswell points out.
But under regulatory rules, the FOS has to give each case party the right to appeal, providing they present the Ombudsman with new arguments and evidence to support any appeal.
"It is not just simply a question of 'ticking a box' and saying I would like to appeal, because to appeal successfully you will need to raise new arguments not considered before," says Cresswell.
Initial findings in the lead cases were first presented before Christmas, and parties involved with cases were at that stage able to go back to the Financial Ombudsman Service with comments on the decisions.
Hundreds of administrations issues and complaints not related to the late joiners' arguments are already being assessed separately by the FOS, says Cresswell, as well as by the Equitable, without the need for "lead case" direction.
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