Guidance

Equitable Life Payment Scheme: Independent Review Panel

The Independent Review Panel provides a final review process for people who have been unable to resolve their complaint through the Equitable Life Payment Scheme’s complaints process.

If you want to complain about how the Equitable Life Payment Scheme rules have been applied in your case, you must have completed the complaints process within the Equitable Life Payment Scheme before applying for a review to be carried out by the Review Panel.

What are the grounds for a review

Policyholders may challenge how the scheme rules have been applied to their particular circumstances and can ask for a review by the Independent Review Panel.

Examples of how the scheme rules can be applied in individual cases:

  • if there is a dispute, within the parameters of the scheme rules, as to the identification of the “correct” recipient of payment
  • if the policyholder or payee believes they have successfully demonstrated that the base data used in the calculation are incorrect, but this is disputed by the scheme
  • if the policyholder believes they can demonstrate that not all of their eligible policies (i.e. those which may affect their payment calculation) have been identified, but this is disputed by the scheme
  • if the policyholder believes that offsetting has been applied incorrectly in their case, but this is disputed by the scheme

Where a review cannot take place

The Independent Review Panel cannot consider reviews which relate to the design of the scheme or its rules.

This includes:

  • criteria for establishing the eligibility of policies for inclusion in the calculation of the relative loss
  • assumptions used in calculating all policyholders’ relative loss
  • rules applying to all payment value calculations, including the amount of funding allocated to the scheme or any groups of policyholders within it
  • payment mechanisms
  • timing or prioritisation of payments

Applying for a review

Once you have completed the scheme’s complaints process, you will be sent a “review request” form. You should complete this form, explaining why you would like your case to be reviewed. On the form you should also quote your “Independent Review Panel: referral number”, which the scheme will have been provided to you with the form. This number is unique to your case and should always be quoted in any correspondence.

It is important that the review request form includes all information and arguments that you wish the Review Panel to consider. There is no need to include documents and letters that you have sent to the Equitable Life Payment Scheme as the Review Panel will obtain this information direct from the scheme. If there are any additional documents or information which you have not previously sent to the scheme which you would like the Review Panel to consider, you can send them with a review request form.

The review request form must be sent to the Review Panel within 1 month of the date it is issued by the scheme. Review Request forms received after this date will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

All contact with the panel must be in writing. We regret that for reasons of confidentiality and costs we cannot offer a telephone or email service for the Review Process.

Send your application to:

Independent Review Panel
PO Box 70669
London
SW1P 9YF

How the panel will consider your application

The Independent Review Panel Secretary will write to let you know that the review request form has been received, usually within 2 weeks of the form being sent. The Independent Review Panel Secretary looks after all communications relating to your case and also provides information on the steps of the review process.

The Review Panel will consider all the evidence submitted by you and by the scheme, including any correspondence that you have sent to the scheme. The Review Panel will reach a decision as quickly as possible. Normally this will be within 3 months of receipt of your request for a review, although it may take longer if the case is complex, or further evidence is needed, for example if there is a dispute over ownership of the policy. In this case, the Review Panel Secretary will write to you to explain the delay and make any further requests for evidence.

What happens when the panel makes a decision

When the Review Panel has considered all the facts, it will reach a decision. The decision will be sent to you in a letter from the Review Panel Secretary explaining the Review Panel’s reasoning.

The Review Panel’s decision will also be communicated to the scheme. If a recalculation is required as a result, the Review Panel will inform the scheme and it must act on those instructions. This may result in a change in the value of your payment or payments. The amount you receive may go up or down, or remain the same.

The Review Panel’s decision is final and there is no further appeals process. Any further communications to you regarding your case will be made by the scheme.

If the Review Panel’s consideration of your case does not resolve your complaint, you may ask your MP to request that the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO - the Ombudsman) to conduct an independent review of your case and how it has been handled.

Independent Review Panel Members

The Review Panel comprises of 3 members who are independent from the scheme and have not been involved in creating the scheme rules or the procedures for implementing them.

The members are:

  • Peter Hinchcliffe
  • Jane May
  • Peter Wrench.
Published 23 July 2014