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: 07/07/2004 - EMAG membership renewal request and AGM notice

7th July, 2004

Dear EMAG supporter,

EMAG membership renewal request and AGM notice:

It's that time of the year when EMAG has to ask its loyal supporters to renew their annual membership.

EMAG has existed for nearly four years, thanks to your support. The fact is that the prospects for Government compensation for ALL who have lost out due to regulatory negligence have never been better and the outlook today is far more promising than one year ago. EMAG has to take considerable credit for changing the climate in the past 12 months and we have been greatly aided by the report of Lord Penrose.

EMAG had hoped to secure 2million in funding from Equitable Life to take our fight forward in an accelerated fashion and to that end we put a resolution to the Equitable's remaining 330,000 members at the AGM in May. Unfortunately, the incumbent Board set its face against supporting us, despite some of the promising avenues only being available to policyholders and not the Society. The Board actively misled its voting members by publicising an expensive, extensive legal opinion that only addressed the suing of the regulators, stating forcefully that the chances of success of that particular route are slim.
But EMAG actually seeks to pursue the UK Government and not the regulators.

Further, the Board suggested divisively that members, by funding EMAG, might also benefit policyholders who have left. EMAG members, many of whom are no longer with Equitable, have funded ALL of the effective action to date.

In distinct contrast with EMAG, there is no evidence to date that the Equitable's Board has ever had any real intention of holding the Government to account. EMAG therefore continues into its fifth year to be policyholders' best hope for success against the Government but we are dependent on voluntary support from policyholders past and present in order to continue the fight, and THAT MEANS YOU!

EMAG has been extremely active in recent months:

In the last 12 months EMAG has written to every one of the 659 MPs about Equitable Life six times and held many meetings with MPs from all the major parties. Additionally EMAG has made four formal submissions to three different Parliamentary Select Committees.
In April we were in court for the preliminary hearing for judicial review to challenge the Parliamentary Ombudsman's (PO) disappointing report of June 30, 2003. Recently, that report has been used by the Treasury as a crutch to claim that the regulators have been given a clean bill of health and that there has been no maladministration. EMAG triumphed in court and was granted permission to proceed, with a prospective hearing date in October. With just cause, this legal action over the past nine months has cast a shadow over the PO report. That the PO, Ann Abraham, is currently considering whether or not to re-open and extend her study is directly attributable to EMAG's legal pursuit. Successfully overturning her final conclusion (Para 14) that she would not investigate further complaints about Equitable Life was solely down to EMAG.

Our committee met informally with Ann Abraham on May 25 to seek to influence her decision on whether to reopen her study and redress her earlier mistakes. Whilst we have hopes that this door will reopen, it may well still be necessary to press forward with our judicial review to ensure that the legal mistakes that EMAG has identified are not repeated or built upon in any subsequent study - so EMAG must try to hold itself ready to proceed.

Looking forward:

EMAG has defined two primary and five secondary tasks:

  • The progression of the judicial review against the PO.
  • The lodging of a pan-European petition to the EU in Brussels.
  • Lobby MPs, select committees, the Treasury, the PO and Brussels.
  • Interface with involved parties including the FSA, FOS, Consumers' Association.
  • Maintain the EMAG website with weekly update.
  • Continue to look for ways to help policyholders past and present to redress.
  • Try to build bridges with the Board of Equitable Life.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman

The legal case for judicial review against the PO has been particularly expensive for EMAG, with 85,000 incurred in legal fees to date and the contingent risk of having a further 50,000 of costs, in extremis, awarded against EMAG.

I have nothing but admiration for my committee colleagues who have all selflessly, at personal risk, signed pledges to underwrite the progression of this case, which we all believe in.

Unfortunately, to take matters forward to trial could require as much as 100,000 more in funding - which we do not have - and EMAG will not proceed without the committee being confident that it has sufficient funds to proceed. Whilst the PO has undertaken to decide whether to re-open her study by the end of July, there is no certainty that she will nor, even if she does, that the deficiencies in her first report will be acknowledged such that there would be no longer any need for EMAG to proceed. In consequence, at this time, EMAG must try to secure sufficient funds to be able to proceed against the PO. It would be tragic for EMAG to be forced to withdraw and not be in a position to press our legal case to challenge the PO's report.

A petition to Europe:

EMAG has spent many months researching paths to Europe. The committee has become convinced that the UK Government has breached Directives and can be brought to book in the EU. The most economic route is through persuading the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels to take up the case. The likelihood of that happening would be increased by us showing that citizens in other EU countries have also suffered losses due to the UK Government's failure. EMAG has built bridges with groups in the Republic of Ireland and Germany and now has a comprehensive draft petition. The next step is to obtain professional legal help in polishing that submission, prior to lodging it in September. Whilst this process will be both expensive and time consuming, if the petition is taken up then the costs thereafter would be borne by the EU.

The EMAG AGM Thursday August 5th at 6.30pm for 7.00pm

The timing in early August has been deliberately chosen for good reason. The committee believes that it is important that EMAG members should be informed about and have the opportunity to discuss the PO's decision on whether to look again, which should be published by late July. Please do try to attend and meet the nine-strong EMAG committee. My colleagues give generously of their time for FREE and we recently held our 38th committee meeting in four years.

The shadow chancellor for the Liberal Democrats, Dr Vincent Cable, who has been a tireless campaigner on behalf of Equitable Life victims, will be our keynote speaker to start proceedings at 7.00pm. Appropriately, the venue is the National Liberal Club by London Embankment underground (see formal notice for details).

Once again, EMAG needs your support:

EMAG can only move forward with this important agenda if the voluntary committee receives support and funding from you. Pease, take the time to write EMAG a cheque for 25 (or more) and renew your membership today, on the enclosed form. The prospect of compensation from Government is, in large part, in your hands.
EMAG has done a great job in the last year.

Please help us to continue.