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

Documents: 14/10/2003 - Equitable Life Action Groups' Meeting Notes

14 October '03 - Equitable Life Action Groups' Meeting Notes

Held at:   King's Head, Little Marlow at 11.00am.
Attendees:   EMAG - Paul Braithwaite, Tom Lake
EPHAG - Michael Caley, Jack Denbin
ANNUITANTS - Nicholas Oglethorpe
INCOME DRAWDOWN - Tom Hudson, Colin Griffiths
ELM - Liz Kwantes
INTERNATIONAL - Leslie Seymour
  1. Apologies:
    Stuart Bayliss, Alan Bevan, Neil Britten, Geoff Glover, Paul Weir

  2. FOS status - including Correspondence between Sue Slipman (FOS) and Michael Josephs.
    Despite extensive correspondence, the FOS had not given any intimation as to how they handled group actions, in particular the selection of the lead cases. Furthermore, complainants who lodged independently were being put into groups by the FOS unilaterally, without consultation and without their agreement on the relevance of the chosen lead case.

    The FOS's approach made it very difficult for groups of complaints to be effectively managed and appeared arbitrary and high-handed to complainants.

    It appears that the FOS is essentially the creature of the FSA, since Board and budget are in the FSA's hands. We noted that the FSA's two-year review is about to enter consultation period and suggest that contribution to this would be very useful.

    Further, note that the FSA Consumer's Panel is now seeking members (see FSA website)
    We encourage members to put themselves forward to ensure that the experiences and lessons learned by Equitable policyholders are firmly pressed on the FSA in future.

    Action: More information is needed. Action Group members are encouraged to delve deeper. Groups to advise members re FSA Consumers' Panel.

    A recent set of letters had been sent out by Equitable apparently in the last two or three weeks to those slightly earlier than late joiners. It was assumed these would be offering the 2.5% of the fund value that they received on transfer.
    Action: EPHAG will be asking about this at their meeting with ELAS

  3. Judicial Review re PO report. Tom Lake gave a verbal update from EMAG re the Judicial Review of the PO's Report. There had been 539 complainants, but just one, a Mr P, had been chosen as the test case. Mr P was not aware of this until publication of the Report. The PO's report was felt to be of poor quality, unlike the Baird report. Her CONCLUSIONS were that she should just be looking at prudential regulation by the regulators, the regulator should be regulating with a 'light touch 'and that there had been no maladministration. Also, that the damage had already been done when the FSA took over.

    There are several parts to the JR procedure, initially an application to proceed to the court is raised. There is only a three month window. The application has been submitted in Paul B and Tom L's names, as EMAG was a non-incorporated body.

    EMAG will be meeting with the PO in the near future as an optional part of the JR procedure which they are carrying out to the letter.

    Mike C said that he would like to thank EMAG for taking on this responsibility and for the excellent work they have been doing on behalf of the policyholders.

  4. Penrose Report
    It was felt that there should be a commitment from the Treasury regarding the whole of the Penrose report being published. Equitable are to be seeing Ruth Kelly soon. For what purpose?
    Action: It was agreed that a meeting should be sought with Ruth Kelly after EPHAG have met with Equitable on Oct 24. EPHAG will ask Equitable about the reasons for their meeting with Ruth Kelly.

  5. EPHAG Meeting with Equitable 24 Oct 2003
    The EPHAG agenda with Equitable was tabled.

    Liz K asked about the different Rectification schemes, as there appeared to be one for the GAR and also one had been agreed with the FSA in 2001 to compensate some Income Drawdown policyholders for mis-selling of Drawdown schemes.
    Action: The Income Drawdown group will look into this.

    Mike C has suggested a policyholder advisory committee supporting the board. The general consensus was against this idea. The ELAS Board already consist of policyholders. It was noted that the members of a mutual are in a far poorer position to obtain information and exert control than the shareholders of a PLC, and surprise has been expressed that neither FSA nor government have taken any initiative to strengthen the legal framework for mutuality.

    Paul B said that he felt that Equitable were extremely remiss in informing policyholders about what was happening and that the action groups were much more help in this area with their websites and telephone help lines. This is something that doesn't seem to be appreciated by ELAS.

    Some attendees were surprised to hear that members of company schemes who subsequently bought a with-profits annuity need not be members, although they had pooled other policies into Equitable. This group was in fact disenfranchised. Even stranger, their proxy vote was apparently cast by the Public Trustee. How many votes are involved is not known.

    The future facing w/p annuitants. Liz K said that the Board had twisted the truth about the cuts. They had said there would be a maximum cut of 20% in the first tranche, EL were in fact only talking about one part of the cut, which appeared to average circa 28%.

  6. International Update (Leslie Seymour of EMAG)
    Leslie S said that he had spoken to Henderson Chambers about the European route and the Third Life Directive 1992. Leslie read parts of this out and it appears that the PO's comments about the regulators operating with a light touch is diametrically opposed to the wording of the Third Life Directive.

    It is important to find if we are out of time in this area before we embark on any activities. As the JR is taking up time and effort this could be a problem.
    Action: Leslie S will check on the out of time issue. Liz K said that she would try and find policyholders outside UK and within Europe who could give information, as cross borders seem to be an important aspect. She will direct them to Leslie S.

  7. AOB
    Priority and Strategy
    It was felt that the main headings discussed were all of importance to E7.

    E7 was also agreed that their main focus was on government compensation.

Meeting and minutes coordinated by L Kwantes