[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March 2005, 14:53 GMT
Win for Equitable policyholders
Equitable Life
Equitable Life is the world's oldest mutual life insurer
Equitable Life policyholders who joined shortly before its near-collapse could get compensation after a ruling by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The 1,500 "late-joiners" joined after September 1998, by which time the firm was aware of its problems.

The firm should have warned them and, as it didn't, their policies were mis-sold and they are entitled to compensation, the ombudsman said.

The ruling was made on a test case brought by a female investor.

Equitable nearly collapsed four years ago, when it emerged that it could not honour its life insurance policies.

The company was left with a 1.5bn liability after losing a House of Lords case over its "guaranteed annuity rates" (GAR) policies.

Equitable has set aside 75m to cover compensation in all late-joiner cases, including those not covered by Wednesday's ruling.

A spokesman told BBC News that it was "disappointed" and that it was now consulting advisers on whether it should challenge the ruling.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific