In response to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s investigation ‘Equitable Life: a decade of regulatory failure’ (HC 815, 4th report session 2007-08, ISBN 9780102957303), the Government accepts that maladministration occurred and that, in some cases, this caused an injustice to some policyholders. The Government apologies to Equitable Life policyholders and will take action to establish a fair ex gratia payment scheme for those policyholders who have suffered a disproportionate impact as a result of the relevant maladministration, although it does not accept that it would be appropriate to provide compensation in the form suggested by the Ombudsman. Sir John Chadwick has been invited to advise the Government on the matters relevant to disproportionate impact suffered by current and former Equitable Life policyholders. The Ombudsman’s investigation did not consider the actions of Equitable Life but such matters are relevant to the design of the payment scheme, especially as Lord Penrose’s report (HC 290, session 2003-04, ISBN 9780102926880) found that Equitable Life was principally the author of its own misfortunes. Sir John will advise on an appropriate apportionment of losses between the public bodies investigated by the Ombudsman and the actions of Equitable Life and other parties.
This Command Paper was laid before Parliament by a Government Minister by Command of Her Majesty. Command Papers are considered by the Government to be of interest to Parliament but are not required to be presented by legislation.