SIPP provider, Berkeley Burke, loses key legal appeal

The firm has had its claim for a judicial review against a decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service dismissed.

This week, embattled SIPP provider Berkeley Burke has lost a vital judicial review. The firm were disputing the claim that it was responsible for failing to perform the required due diligence when accepting unregulated investments in 2014.

The case against Berkeley Burke

Berkeley Burke is fighting the 2014 Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) decision which stated that it had to compensate a client after it failed to perform necessary due diligence on the client’s investment.

The investment revolved around an unregulated investment scheme Sustainable Agro Energy, which sold plots of land in Cambodia where trees would be planted to create bio-fuel.

The client, Wayne Charlton, was out of pocket £29,000 after the scheme was found to be fraudulent.

The ruling

Berkeley Burke launched a legal challenge against the decision that they failed to carry out any required due diligence.

Justice Jacobs, however, found that the FOS had followed Financial Conduct Authority guidelines when making its decisions. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

Scott Birchall, Partner at Smooth Commercial Law, commented on the ruling:

While this ruling is in relation to this particular case, the implications could spread throughout the rest of the SIPP market.

We are finding time and time again that many SIPP providers simply do not carry out proper due diligence, putting their clients and their savings at risk.

Smooth Commercial are acting for c. 30 of the cases against Berkeley Burke, within a fresh group action which has seen 164 fresh claims. Each claim could potentially be worth up to £40,000.

Ruling not a ‘game-changer’ says SIPP trade body

The Association of Member-Directed Pension Schemes (Amps), issued a statement in response to the ruling yesterday, downplaying its significance.

It did, however, accept that the court ruling means the due diligence of some Sipp providers may not have been ‘sufficient’.

A spokesperson for Amps said:

Each case will need to be assessed on its merits but we don’t feel this ruling is a game-changer for the majority of our members.

However, the ruling does make it clear that it is for the Sipp provider to ensure the investment itself is suitable for the pension scheme.

How can Smooth Law Commercial help?

At Smooth Commercial Law, our team of experts have extensive experience in dealing with a whole manner of claims that arise from negligent and/or unsuitable financial advice. We are seeing more and more mis-sold SIPP claims, and have managed to secure compensation for many of our clients.

Should you have a claim, we can deal with your case and look to recover compensation for not just your loss of investment but also any adverse tax liabilities that you may now be facing as well.

You can contact our experienced team by calling the number at the top of this page or by emailing

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.