Memorable Cases

In this occasional series of blogs, I recall some memorable cases which I have dealt with.

Dr H’s FSAVC Pension Plan sale by Sun Life Financial of Canada


Dr H first got in touch in 2015 but, unusually, did not become a client until 2021.

In 2015 she explained that she had been given terrible advice in the mid 2000s in relation to a property development and she and her husband (another doctor) had very nearly been made bankrupt in 2011. To avoid that, they had been given no choice other than to enter an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement). An IVA avoids formal bankruptcy by an agreement being made to make regular payments to an Insolvency Practitioner for distribution to creditors. It was to last a period of ten years. Throughout that time they effectively lost control of their finances.

Whilst the advice in relation to the property development could not be pursued for legal reasons, Dr H had also been sold an FSAVC Pension Plan to top-up the benefits she was accruing in the NHS Pension Scheme. She asked me to analyse that advice to see if it was sound.

I explained that it was likely to not have been in her best interests, as she could have purchased additional benefits in the NHS scheme itself, which would have been more beneficial and cost effective.

However, rather than take her case on at that point in time, I explained that if it was successful any compensation due to her would become the property of the Insolvency Practitioner in the first instance and it was unlikely she would benefit from it herself. In short, her retirement pension would forever be lower than it would otherwise have been. So, whilst my fee would have been safe, Dr H would gain nothing from the case.

That seemed very unfair to me, so I suggested she wait until she had been released from the IVA in 6 years’ time and her pension case could be pursued then.

So, I did not hear from Dr H again until 2021 when she called to say her IVA had ended and could we pick up from where we left off in 2015?

I was more than happy to do that and the investigation of the FSAVC sale identified various breaches of the regulatory selling rules when it was sold in 1991. Sun Life Financial of Canada conceded the actions of its adviser had not been in Dr H’s best interests and agreed to assess her financial loss. We eventually agreed a compensation settlement of £80,633.80.

So, a case long in the making but it was a great result for Dr H and a reward for her patience and many years of financial struggle.

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