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The Financial Ombudsman have began releasing decisions against Options Pensions

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What is the pensions dashboard? The saga that is the Adams v Options UK Personal Pensions LLP [2021] EWCA Civ 474 case continues to roll on with a decision pending as to whether the case will be heard by the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the Court of Appeal held that Options (formerly Carey Pensions UK LLP) should not have accepted Mr Adams Pension transfer to a Self-Invested Personal Pension (“SIPP”) based on the “advice” provided by an unregulated introducer. It overturned the previous decision in the High Court and clarified the law surrounding Section 27 of Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”), what constitutes advice and what that means for pension companies that accept business from companies found to be in contravention of FSMA in giving advice when they should not have been.

Importantly, the court held that Mr Adams should be put back into the position he would likely have been in had he not received the advice to transfer, and Options were ordered to pay compensation to the tune of the Notional Transfer Value (“NTV”), basically what the same fund would be worth now, if it had been left alone.

In the Financial Ombudsman Service (“FOS”) judgements seen so far, FOS has agreed with the court rulings, but while they have considered the relevant law and regulation they have made their judgement on a much more simple basis; what was fair and reasonable to the client. What should Options have done at the time based on principles that they should have been conducting their business by? And if those were followed, what would likely have happened to the clients’ funds? Importantly they have also found that the clients have been deprived of their retirement funds and should be put back in the position that they would have been and asked Options to pay the clients the NTV of what their pension would be worth now.

This is directly at odds with the way that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (“FSCS”) are treating similar clients where the SIPP company has defaulted. The FSCS are just paying the Transfer Value, the money paid into the SIPP, conflicting with how both FOS and the Court of Appeal have said that investors should be compensated and something that APJ has sought permission to challenge at Judicial Review.