E&Y denies it’s ready to settle with Equitable

Link: Equitable Life special report

The Big Four firm has ruled out a move to approach the life insurer with a settlement offer and said that clients had remained unaffected by recent events.

Accountancy Age understands that final touches to court submissions are currently being made by both E&Y and Equitable before next April’s scheduled High Court battle.

The Big Four firm could face collapse should it lose the case and the judge awards the full damages Equitable is seeking.

But cases of this size and nature rarely reach the courts, and this fact has led sources close to the case to speculate that the Big Four firm might seek to settle. A spokesman for Ernst & Young said: ‘We deny strongly any intention to approach Equitable with settlement and deny any attrition with our clients.’

Earlier this month the JDS laid several complaints against the firm for its audit of Equitable’s accounts during the nineties. E&Y has vowed to mount a ‘vigorous defence’ against the complaints after saying they were ‘unfounded and misguided’.

The JDS complaints charge E&Y with failing to ‘understand ELAS’s business in relation to, inter alia, bonuses, the reasonable expectations of policyholders, and those ELAS with-profits pension policies which entitled the holder to choose a pension at a guaranteed annuity rate’.

An independent tribunal is likely to hear the JDS case before Christmas.

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