The independent action group for current and ex Equitable Life policyholders, funded by contributions.

Equitable Members Action Group

Equitable Members Action Group Limited, a company limited by guarantee, number 5471535 registered in the UK


4 March '03 - Minutes for the 27th meeting of the EMAG committee

Held at: Small Mall Room, RAC Clubhouse

Apologies: Rodney Allen (committee), Sir Jeremy Lever, Christopher Poulton, Chris Canaghan (members)
Guests: Linda Gregory (of UNIFI), John Newman, Andrew Pike, Mike Neal, Oliver Parsons (members)

1. Treasurer's report: The monthly report had been circulated to the committee in advance and was signed by all committee members present. At the end of March EMAG will have circa £40,000 unfettered. There are several known large expenditure items in the next three months.

2. EC Court options: Leslie Seymour described his preliminary findings. Issues of Human Rights can, apparently, be considered without prior exploration of domestic avenues. LS was given budgetary approval to proceed with EC legal investigation of available avenues. PB expressed committee's thanks to LS for his extensive, ongoing research.

3. Linda Gregory of UNIFI, the union for banking and building society employees, made a presentation about her nine year fight for pension rights in the European Court for part-time staff members. This eventually achieved a successful resolution, only after exhausting all UK avenues and eventually being referred by the H of L to the European Courts of Justice. The case was heard in Luxembourg on 20th April 1999 and, after one year, the Advocate General handed down his interim opinion which was subsequently ratified by the court. Ms Gregory ended with a summary of lessons learned by her union, including the recommendation that implementation of compensation is a nightmare best addressed by independent third party administrators.

4. CS described progress on the current report he has been commissioned by the committee to prepare. Burgess Hodgson will quantify and explain the solid bedrock of exactly how much ELAS policyholders can irrefutably claim as attribute to regulatory failure, as the basis for the claim for compensation against the Government.

5. AH gave an update on his major submission to the Penrose Inquiry. AH to draft letters to John Tiner, re his letter of Jan 12th and to Sir Philip Otton re the disastrous performance of the Society against Ernst & Young's strike-out action.

6. PB described the plans for the imminent press briefing on the two EMAG submissions to the Penrose Inquiry. Also, progress on the forthcoming BBC TV Money Programme, due for transmission on March 27th.

7. John Newman presented a paper summarising EMAG's governance reform proposals developed last year and contrasted them with the proposals which will soon be circulated by the Board of ELAS [with the AGM papers presumably]. The Board proposes to preserve the requirement that 10% of the membership (a number unknown for the last 20 months) to call an EGM. In addition the number required to put a resolution at an EGM remains unchanged. This procedure and the unreformed voting rights of each member leads to the self-perpetuating oligarchy. The election of directors is determined by the power of the proxy and is intrinsically undemocratic. The Committee noted that this position ignored and defied the EMAG co-ordinated petition at the last ELAS AGM from 17,000 members. It was agreed to point this out to the Board and ask for resolutions to be placed on the EGM papers suggesting our changes even if the Board would vote against them.

8. There was a discussion of prospective candidates for the board of ELAS at the May 28th AGM. Regrettably, AH, PB and CS are not eligible under existing rules.

9. AOB: Andrew Pike proposed terms from his practice Morgan Cole (solicitors) for preparing explicit nominated briefs for counsel, as a stand-alone opinion in publishable form. Committee approved the expenditure. Rodney Allen was nominated as committee member responsible.

Tom Lake relinquished role of membership secretary Colin Slater to take over the duties.

CS proposed a vote of thanks to AH for exceptional efforts in the Penrose second submission and, as a gesture, an honorairium to express the committee's appreciation. Approved.

Next meeting Wed 9th April 6.45pm for 7.00pm at the RAC Clubhouse, Pall Mall, London. Any EMAG member wishing to attend should contact Paul Braithwaite in advance at: paulbraithwaite@yahoo.com