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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I have recently tried to cancel a pension annuity regarding

Customer Question

I have recently tried to cancel a pension annuity regarding the new budget rules, and as the new trivial commutation rules have changed I have requested in writing to LV to cancel my annuity and take the amount as a lump sum (I was within the cancellation period with LV). My pension fund was with Phoenix Life originally and I then bought an annuity with LV, my total fund is £18.926 and I took 25% tax free cash (I understand I will have to pay this back if I was to be refunded the full amount). LV have agreed to cancel but would have to send funds back to Phoenix. LV told me Phoenix have refused categorically to receive the funds. I phoned Phoenix today to ask why, they also gave me a categorical no and they said it was company policy and there is no 30 day cooling off period, they said they would put this in writing to me. I had not received any T&Cs from Phoenix at the time of me agreeing to the transfer to LV of the funds. All I need to know if this is correct and Phoenix can refuse. My broker, Better Retirement, said if Phoenix are willing to put this in writing then it looks like they are correct. I was advised from my broker to ask Phoenix that the funds be put into a cash fund and to mention I would take this to the ombudsman if they refused, as this has worked with other companies, but this did not have an affect on Phoenix. I would be very gratefull for your advice.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

For the avoidance of any doubt from what I understand Phoenix has already transferred the money to LV. Is that correct please?

Customer:

yes that is correct

Joshua :

Thank you. Obviously the whole position has caught pension providers unawares and many providers are struggling to catch up. Annuities have cancellation periods which vary from provider to provider and from what you say you are still within this period. However you are not the only person that has found themselves in the incredibly frustrating position where the ceding scheme refusing to accept the money back leaving you with effectively no other option but to purchase the annuity.

Joshua :

Unfortunately the ceding scheme does not have to accept the money back from LV and Phoenix are correct in what they say. However given how early this is following the chancellors announcement it may be that this is worth putting to the Ombudsman. I say this simply because the Ombudsman deals in principles of fairness.This does not allow them to overturn the law in search of fairness but it is just possible that the government may announce new guidance on the issue given the sheer volume of people that have moved to cancel in the wake of the announcement and have found themselves in similar situations to you.

Joshua :

As things presently stand I fear that your complaint is unlikely to succeed however if further guidance is issued which forces a change in ceding schemes position then you may place yourself in a position where you can benefit from this if you push a complaint. However this is little more than a gamble and by pressing a complaint you may not succeed and end up stuck with the annuity and simply delay receiving payments under the same. It is a difficult not to mention incredibly frustrating decision and situation

Customer:

It's not fair that ordinary people like me are put in this situation, of wether to challenge this or not, or lose out, I would like to challenge this, but am just wanting to know what the odds are. It seems no one knows.

Joshua :

In truth it is probably not something that was fully considered by the treasury. I agree with your comments. There are of course even more people who have already bought annuities which accept they are clearly out of time to cancel who feel justificably penalised on the basis that the rules are not retrospective. Your situation which many have found themselves in is areguably crueler still - you have a right to cancel but can't because of a third partys right to say no. It does feel wrong; as you say it is too early at this stage to know whether it is likely that the government may step in to clarify the position for individuals in your position. Your decision therefore is whether to complain and hold out for the government to do so or cast your lot in with the annuity and start receiving payments. Neither is particularly attractive in its own way.

Joshua :

If I become aware of any movement in this area may I contact you to update you in this respect?

Customer:

I allready know everything you are saying, thankyou (was hoping for something new), If LV are willing to cancel my annuity, would it benefit me to put my annuity on hold.

Joshua :

In terms of the odds, as things stand at present - though no such cases has quite obviously been determined by the Ombudsman - I cannot see how your complaint could succeed. This is because the ceding scheme has no legal obligation to accept money back once it has been paid out from a pension pot. The Ombudsman has no powers to rewrite the rules in this respect so I cannot see how they can find in a complainants favour however much they may wish to unless the government steps in to change the regulations as above. It may benefit you to make a complaint if you judge that the government may do so. There are a lot of people in your position and governments do respond where there are many people involved but whether it is a big enough issue to mean they will take action it is of course next to impossible to say without insider knowledge.

Joshua :

I would rarely say these words but it could be something that is worth raising with your MP not so much because he may do something about it but because he may be able to to feed back some information as to whether there are any moves afoot on the issue to help you make a decision.

Customer:

Do you know if I can put my annuity on hold as they have agreed to cancel?

Joshua :

Yes your contract with LV will have a cancellation period and if yuo are within this period you can canel the annuity agreement. This leaves the money in limbo until you make a decision about what to do. If your complaint is unsuccessful then you would ultimately be forced to by some form of annuity product from LV. In the meantime of course you would not receive any annuity payments which leaves you potentially out of pocket.

Customer:

Thank you I know this was a difficult subject, and I probably didn't expect too much under the circumstances, thanks for your help anyway.

Joshua :

A pleasure. I am sorry I was not able to give you a silver bullet. If I become aware of any movement I will be sure to let you know with your permission.

Customer:

I would appreciate you letting me know of any movement in this situation. Have a good evening thank you.

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