TLW’s financial mis-selling team is featured in a BBC1 series called ‘Northern Justice’ that examines what happens when ordinary people facing all sorts of extraordinary times in their lives turn to lawyers in their hour of need.
The Armed Forces Pension Scheme is a Defined Benefit Pension, one that offers a guaranteed level of income on retirement. Generally, these pensions are very generous and dependable and there has to be a very good reason why anyone would want to transfer their money out.
Mr Griffiths’ pension was worth £85,000 at the time he received a cold call from an investment company promising him better returns if he transferred his money into various schemes, including storage units, which he was assured would provide him with regular rental income. Mr Griffiths was sceptical at first, but eventually asked the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to transfer his pension, the process taking 6-12 months to complete.
After transferring out of his Armed Forces pension, Mr Griffiths remembers receiving only one statement relating to his new investments, then nothing more. He tried contacting the investment company by phone, letter and email, without success, and he feared that his money might be lost. That was when he got in touch with TLW Solicitors for help.
When Emily took on the case, she discovered that the company that initially contacted Mr Griffiths had gambled his money in a high-risk investment scheme that was unsuitable for him.
With little hope of getting any money back from them directly, Emily’s next step was to look at what the MOD had done to review Mr Griffiths’ pension transfer and whether they had carried out the right checks to make sure that he was not at risk of a scam if they allowed the pension transfer to go ahead. She discovered that they had not.
Proud soldier Mr Griffiths didn’t want to battle the MOD over his pension, but Emily believed he should pursue his claim, as there was a good chance of getting his pension money back.
Guidance had been issued by The Pensions Regulator, highlighting the red flags pension companies should look out for when someone asks to transfer their pension into another investment. Neither the Army nor the MOD had highlighted any potential issues and allowed the pension transfer to take place.
Emily made a formal complaint to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme on behalf of Mr Griffiths, but they rejected it and denied any responsibility for his life-changing losses. Her only choice after that was to go to The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO), an independent body set up to deal with pension complaints. Emily acknowledges that it was the “last chance saloon” in the case.
The MOD, Mr Griffiths and their legal teams all assembled in London for the final hearing, with both sides giving their evidence. A final decision wasn’t given until 6 months later when The Pensions Ombudsman ruled that there was maladministration on the part of the MOD for not following The Pension Regulator’s guidelines at the time.
They should have been checking regularly for updated guidance and they should have made Mr Griffiths more aware of the risks of transferring out of his Defined Benefit Pension Scheme. TPO also ruled that the pension transfer was not valid as Mr Griffiths was not working at the time, something else the MOD should have picked up on at the time of the transfer.
Mr Griffiths was able to have his pension reinstated, meaning it would be worth more, as if it had never been transferred for the 6-year period.
Commenting in the programme on the Ombudsman’s positive decision, Mr Griffiths said: “It was one massive weight lifted off my shoulders.” In relation to Emily’s work on his case, he added: “She was really diligent in the way she conducted herself, and that is something I am really really thankful for.”
Each of the episodes of BBC One’s Northern Justice series that members of TLW Solicitors feature in can be found on BBC iPlayer.
Government watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority is concerned about advice in 76% of firms advising on pension transfers. Transferring your pension may have cost you thousands – TLW Solicitors can help you claim any compensation you are owed.
TLW has a team of lawyers who specialise in claiming compensation for clients who were incorrectly advised to transfer out of a defined benefit, final salary or company pension scheme. The specialist team also has extensive experience dealing with Armed Forces Pension transfer claims, just like Mr Griffiths’.
If you feel that you or a loved one weren’t given the right pension or investment advice, please contact us and we can talk through your options. Please call us on 0800 169 5925 or use our online forms below and our team will contact you for an initial, no-obligation discussion.
It is important to get advice as soon as possible as strict time limits can apply.
“We were delighted to have been chosen by the BBC to feature in the Northern Justice series. The series will highlight the invaluable work that the team at TLW and other lawyers in the region do for our clients.”
“It was one massive weight lifted off my shoulders. Emily was really diligent in the way she conducted herself, and that is something I am really really thankful for.”