FInancial Conduct Authority v Avacade and others [2020] EWHC 1673 (Ch)

July 2, 2020

David Berkley QC and Steven McGarry represented the second and fourth defendants in FCA v Avacade at the High Court.

The case concerned the liability of unauthorised introducers, who assisted in the transfer of pensions into SIPPS, which were then invested in what the FCA classed as high risk overseas investments, including tree plantations, property and bonds.

The value of the transferred pensions was approximately £90 million.

The decision dealt with very difficult issues underpinning financial and pension regulation, including whether the activity of introducers was regulated (when such introducers may have operated under the misapprehension that such activity was unregulated). As such the decision will have wide implications, and will inevitably be compared and contrasted with the recent High Court decision of HHJ Dight QC in Adams v Options Sipp UK LLP (formerly Carey Pensions UK LLP) [2020] EWHC 1229 (Ch).

The Judge expressed his particular thanks to the team acting for the Represented Defendants, saying “They came on board at short notice in a complex case, but represented their clients with considerable skill and vigour, and were able to make an immediate contribution which was most impressive. Moreover, their involvement provided real assistance to the Court in isolating the key areas of dispute, in a manner which promoted the fairness and efficiency of the proceedings overall. I am most grateful to them.”

The case has been reported on Bailii.

There has also been media coverage on The Telegraph (registration required), FT Adviser, Financial Planning Today, Money MarketingRetirement Planner, International Adviser, City Wire (registration required).