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

Correspondence: 21/03/2003 - Letter from Paul Braithwaite to Vanni Treves

21 March '03 - Letter from Paul Braithwaite of EMAG to Vanni Treves, Equitable Life

Dear Mr. Treves,

Corporate Governance of The Equitable Life

The EMAG committee has now had a chance to discuss Peter Wilmott's E-mail dated 27 January. We are disappointed that the focus you described it in the last paragraph in your 2001 Chairman's Report on modernising the Corporate Governance of the Society has effectively been dropped. All that is now proposed as change to the Memorandum and Articles of Association is, in our view, relatively trivial, leaving much vital updating unaddressed.

The EMAG committee has unanimously asked me to remind you that for the May 2002 AGM, 16,179 qualified members signed a petition asking you to address urgently substantially revising the Society's archaic constitution. That represents about half the number of members who may be expected to exercise votes this year. In particular, two explicit changes to the Governance of the Society were requested:-

  • The number of members needed to call an Extraordinary General Meeting 1,000 rather than 10% of members, and;
  • The number of members to propose a resolution at an Extraordinary General Meeting 500 rather than 5% of members

EMAG is glad that these suggestions for improved democratic Governance of the Society have not been rejected outright and indeed the working group expressed a wish to have included them. We have reason to be confident that the vast majority of the many members who took part in the consultation feedback process in last December made their support for these proposals crystal clear.

These numbers that EMAG has proposed were ultra conservative and drawn from Standard Life, a mutual with eight times as many members, governed by a recent
Act of Parliament rather than the more general Companies Acts. Notwithstanding, Mr Wilmott explained the working group's rejection as being because the Act for standard Life has a provision to prevent the utilisation of the provision for 'innappropriate' purposes. We are confident that Equitable's membership would not abuse such modernisation. It cannot possibly be regarded as good contemporary practise to perpetuate effectively the exclusion of the possibility of an EGM ever being called, which is the current position, on the grounds that 1,000 peer members might act irresponsibly.

The papers for the Annual General Meeting and the associated Extraordinary General Meeting will have resolutions to amend the Memorandum and Articles for the board's modest new proposals. We would respectfully ask that you include the two above points as alternative resolutions for the Meeting's consideration. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Braithwaite
General Secretary, EMAG
Cc: EMAG committee and website