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Portal/Portafina Loses Another High Court Challenge

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Financial adviser firm, Portal Financial Services, formerly known as Portafina, loses latest High Court legal battle to challenge Financial Ombudsman Service.

In our previous update about Portal Financial Services, formerly known as Portafina, we highlighted that the financial adviser firm had lost the first leg of its legal battle against the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Having lost their application in the High Court, Portal has now made an application to the Court of Appeal.

The High Court has blocked Portal’s challenge of FOS decisions over who was responsible for client losses after a number of pension mis-selling cases. An application for a further appeal has now been made to the Court of Appeal.

The cases date back to pension transfers which took place in 2014 and 2015, where clients’ money was moved to Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs). Portal had advised on the transfers of occupational and personal pensions for clients of Cherish Wealth Management, on the understanding that Cherish would provide further financial advice on suitable investments to be held within the new SIPP. This happened for the majority of clients, but what Portal was unaware of was that the clients were advised to invest in high-risk unregulated collective investment schemes and the clients lost money as a result. Cherish ceased trading in 2016.

The Ombudsman dealt with a number of complaints from investors in the following years and concluded that Portal had failed in its primary duty to properly advise on the suitability of the transfers.

Despite guidelines from the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), saying that assessing the suitability of an underlying investment is part of the process of advising a client on the overall suitability of a pension transfer, Portal tried to argue that they should not be wholly responsible for the losses suffered by the affected investors.

The latest High Court challenge was more about how the law was applied in earlier FOS decisions and whether FOS had acted rationally in coming to its conclusions, rather than the unsuitability of the advice clients received from Portal.

In the case, Mr Justice Sweeting ruled that FOS’s decisions were indeed lawful, within its powers and not open to arguable challenge by way of Judicial Review, effectively ending Portal’s legal challenge.

Sarah Spruce, head of Professional Negligence at TLW Solicitors, said:

“Despite The High Court dismissing Portal/Portafina’s attempts to reverse FOS’s findings, the matter is still not resolved because Portal/Portafina has issued a further application to have the matter dealt with in the Court of Appeal. TLW is acting for a number of clients who have received negligent financial advice from Portal/Portafina and who have ongoing claims against the company. If you still haven’t spoken to us about making a claim, then please get in touch with a member of our experienced team to see if we can help.”

TLW Solicitors has a dedicated SIPP and Pensions mis-selling claims team. We are specialists in claiming compensation for those who have been mis-sold pension investments. Members of the team also specialise in cases where investors have received unsuitable advice to transfer out of a defined benefit (DB), company or final salary pension scheme.

DB pension schemes are a very solid and dependable source of retirement income and there must be an extremely good reason to transfer from them into a riskier type of investment. Some of the FOS complaints against Portal/Portafina involved such DB transfers.

Working on a ‘no win – no fee’ basis, we can help you through the claims process.

You can contact TLW Solicitors by calling 0800 169 5925, emailing info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk  or by completing the call back form.

Time limits can apply and so anyone wishing to bring a claim should do so without delay.

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