London Capital & Finance plc (LCF)

Failed 09 January 2020

FRN: 722603

London Capital & Finance plc (LCF) went into administration on 30 January 2019 and FSCS declared it had failed on 9 January 2020. 

Since LCF entered administration, FSCS carried out an extensive and complex investigation into how LCF operated. Our aim was to determine if any of the activities LCF carried out were regulated, as this is the only way its customers could be eligible for FSCS compensation.

We worked as quickly as possible because we know LCF’s failure has had dire consequences for its customers, but whether or not a ‘regulated activity’ took place took time to find out as it depends on the exact legal and factual circumstances.

There are many different regulated activities, and different exclusions and exceptions can apply to each. Our investigation has involved significant factual analysis, external legal advice and collecting evidence, such as calls and emails, to determine if investors could be eligible to claim compensation.

Read the timeline below for further details on how our investigation has unfolded and the decisions we’ve reached for LCF’s customers.

  • 22 Oct, 2020

    The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is here to provide a trusted compensation service for consumers.

    While we are highly experienced in paying compensation to consumers when a firm fails, there is one firm failure that has been one of our biggest challenges to date, both in terms of its scale and complexity.

    In January 2020, following an initial review of call recordings and emails to customers, we concluded that some customers were given misleading advice by London Capital & Finance (LCF) and that these customers would have valid claims for compensation.

    In the months leading up to this, we had been investigating whether there were grounds for compensation. This work focused on the relationship between LCF and Surge Financial Ltd, an online marketing company which acted on behalf of LCF. We considered the extent to which either company may have been carrying out regulated advising, arranging or other activities that could give rise to some eligible claims for compensation.

    Our investigations enabled us to understand LCF’s business practices much better. An important aspect of this work was the need to consider all of the different ways investors dealt with the firm when buying their products, as this could have an impact on whether compensation was due or not. This involved significant factual analysis, external legal advice and close work with both the FCA and LCF's administrators.

    Once we had established the firm had given misleading advice, we wanted to make the claims process as simple as possible for LCF customers and avoid them having to submit a claim themselves. We focused on gathering all the information and evidence we could, from sources including Surge and emails held within LCF’s email server. In the end, we had more than a million pieces of evidence to analyse and consider.

    A large proportion of the evidence we needed to review was telephone calls. We worked with Capita, one of our partners, to create a solution that would enable us to review 700,000 telephone call recordings. To reduce how long LCF customers would have to wait, we concluded that the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be the best approach. We ensured our experts manually checked the accuracy of the AI to refine and improve it before we made any claims decisions.

    Without the use of AI, it would have taken FSCS considerably longer to complete this process manually. We estimate that we would not have been able to start paying claims until January 2021, which would have meant possibly not being in a position to complete this work until 2022, some three years after the firm failed. We decided this timescale was not acceptable given LCF customers had already been waiting many months for us to be able to confirm the outcome of their claim.

    Once we had reviewed all the evidence and carefully mapped each of the pieces of evidence against each individual's claim, we set up a specialist team specifically to manually review and assess each LCF advice claim on a case-by-case basis. Due to the sheer volume of evidence that needed to be reviewed for each claim, in August of this year, we increased the size of this specialist team by nearly 80%.

    Once we have reached a decision on a claim, we have been contacting the customer by phone or letter to let them know the outcome and whether they are entitled to compensation.

    We appreciate that LCF customers will be disappointed if they do not receive a positive outcome. So, once we have explained our decision, LCF customers can ask to review the calls and evidence related to their specific claim. If they still believe they may have an eligible claim under our rules and wish to provide additional evidence they would like us to consider, they can do so at this stage.

    To date, we have paid out more than £38.1m in compensation to LCF customers and are continuing our work to assess the outstanding claims.

    This process has been extremely lengthy and complex. We appreciate that LCF customers have had to wait patiently until evidence has been reviewed and a decision has been made, but we want to ensure that each piece of evidence and each claim gets the attention it requires. Those who are still waiting for a decision do not need to take any action or send us any other evidence at this stage, unless we ask them to do so.

    We are proud of the service we provide but we are always looking for ways to improve the customer journey. The ongoing analysis of the LCF claims has presented significant challenges, which we have overcome. LCF customers continue to remain at the heart of this work, and we're doing our best to ensure that they all receive a decision on their claim as soon as possible.

     

  • 14 Oct, 2020

    Notice: claim documents relating to the London Capital & Finance judicial review

    This notice relates to the judicial review of FSCS's decision in respect of London Capital & Finance plc (the "Judicial Review").

    After permission was granted to the Claimants to proceed with the Judicial Review, FSCS made the claim documents available to investors here, pursuant to the order of Mr Justice Cavanagh dated 7 April 2020 (the "April Order").  As requested by the claimants in the Judicial Review, certain private information was redacted from the claim documents provided at the link.

    Pursuant to the order of Mr Justice Morris dated 7 October 2020 (the "October Order", a copy of which may be accessed here, the April Order has been amended, such that you are entitled to request copies of the claim documents without redactions from FSCS provided that you:

    1. provide verification that your investment was made on or after 3 January 2018;
    2. have not yet been compensated by FSCS; and
    3. have filed either an acknowledgement of service in accordance with rule 54.8(1) of the Civil Procedure Rules or detailed grounds in accordance with rule 54.14 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

     

  • 17 Sep, 2020

    As FSCS is an organisation that performs a public function, its decisions can be challenged by judicial review.

    Permission for a judicial review of part of FSCS’s approach to LCF has been granted. As required by Court Order, we are publishing a notice to LCF bondholders along with some questions and answers. These detail who's bringing the case and the basis for doing so, as well as other likely questions and their answers. 

    FSCS is not able to give legal advice or discuss whether individual customers could or should take part in the judicial review.  If in doubt, you may wish to seek independent legal advice.

    The judicial review has not affected our processing of advising claims, which will continue in the meantime, for bonds issued both before and after 3 January 2018.

     

    Formal notice to bondholders

    Judicial review case – R (on the application of Donegan & Others) v Financial Services Compensation Scheme Limited Claim No. CO/1176/2020

    This is a notice addressed to all holders of bonds issued by London Capital & Finance plc ("LC&F") who purchased bonds on or after 3 January 2018 and who have not received compensation from Financial Services Compensation Scheme Limited ("Interested LC&F Bondholders").

    The Financial Services Compensation Scheme Limited ("FSCS") is required by an order of the Court in the above-referenced case (the "Claim") to serve the Claim on all Interested LC&F Bondholders. The purpose of this notice is to effect service on all Interested LC&F Bondholders by drawing their attention to the existence of the Claim and to provide an internet link to the relevant claim documents. Service is therefore effective from 17 September 2020.

    The Claim is a judicial review action concerning the decision of FSCS that the issuance by LC&F of bonds on or after 3 January 2018 was not a regulated activity (the "FSCS Decision").  The Claimants, who were investors in LC&F bonds, seek orders to (amongst other things) quash FSCS Decision and direct FSCS to make a further decision as to the eligibility of the Claimants for compensation in accordance with the Court's judgment.

    Redacted copies of the Court's order and the documents filed in the Claim can be found at the following link: https://shearman.sharefile.com/d-s13a21097cc041508. Investors in LC&F may also obtain unredacted copies of these documents on request.

    Permission for the Claim to proceed was granted pursuant to an order of Mr Justice Murray dated 3 September 2020 and the Claim will now proceed to a substantive hearing on a date to be fixed.  The Claimants are represented by a team of solicitors and barristers.

    If you are an Interested LC&F Bondholder you are an "Interested Party" in the Claim. This means that you are entitled to participate in the Claim, and you may be entitled to be heard by the Court at the substantive hearing of the Claim (subject to the Court’s power to make orders as to submissions before it).

    You may consider that it is not necessary to participate in this action because if the Claimants' case succeeds in principle, Interested LC&F Bondholders may benefit from the outcome, regardless of whether they participate in the Claim or not.

    If you do not wish to participate in the Claim, you do not need to take any further steps. If you do wish to participate, please note that there are time limits for participation and potentially significant costs implications. Interested LC&F Bondholders should consider taking legal advice before doing so.

    Further information about the Claim is set out in the accompanying Q&As document.

    Legal Notice: this document is a notice published by FSCS in compliance with the order of the Court. Neither this document nor the accompanying Q&A involves the giving of legal advice representations upon which any person should rely. Neither FSCS nor the Claimants, nor their respective advisers make any assumptions of responsibility or owe any duty towards Interested LC&F Bondholders or others in relation to the Claim. 

  • 27 Aug, 2020

    We have now issued 1,295 decisions and paid out just over £20m in compensation to LCF customers. This represents close to a 50% increase in the amount we’ve paid out since last month.

    While we still have a lot of claims to review, we want to reassure LCF customers that this remains a high priority for us and we’re working to pay customers as quickly as possible.

    One of the things we’re doing to help speed up this process is increasing the size of the specialist team we set up to review LCF claims by nearly 80%. Because of the amount of data we need to review, we do not expect to complete this process before the end of December.

    We know that this is an extremely difficult time for LCF customers, and we really appreciate your patience while we continue our review of LCF claims. You don't need to take any action. We’ll update you again as soon as we have more news.

  • 30 Jul, 2020

    We have increased the rate at which we are issuing decisions to LCF customers. We have now issued 844 decisions and paid out over £13.5m in compensation, and we expect the volume of decisions to increase further in the coming months.

    The specialist team we set up to review these claims are continuing to analyse all the evidence we have collected. This includes telephone call recordings, emails, records within LCF’s customer database, and an additional 100,000 emails we gained access to last month.

    Gathering all this evidence ourselves has meant LCF customers do not need to take any action or send us any other evidence at this stage unless we ask for it.

    As mentioned in our last update, assessing the additional information means we will not complete this process in September as we had expected. But, as we understand more about these claims, we will aim to provide a more definite timescale as soon as we can. This is a priority for us and we’re working to pay compensation to LCF customers as quickly as possible.

    We understand this has been a distressing experience for LCF customers and appreciate the patience they have shown.

     

  • 25 Jun, 2020

    FSCS has started paying compensation to customers who received misleading advice from London Capital & Finance (LCF). So far FSCS has issued 281 decisions and paid £5,155,344 in compensation to LCF customers.

    We appreciate that this has been an extremely difficult and stressful time for LCF customers. For that reason, FSCS has transformed its standard claims process to make the process as easy as possible.

    We have set up a specialist team, focussed on reviewing advice claims on a case by case basis. We've gathered the evidence ourselves, removing the need for customers to provide this or to complete an application form. We've not required LCF customers to obtain additional information from third parties in support of their claim. These changes have enabled us to review claims without customers needing to take any action.

    During June we gained access to an additional 100,000 emails held within LCF’s email server. This evidence provides more information for us to assess.

    While we had expected to reach decisions on the majority of LCF claims by the end of September, assessing this additional information will now extend the timeframe for processing claims. This new evidence is also likely to lead to an increase in the number of LCF customers that will be eligible for compensation.

    We are recalculating the timeframe for processing claims and will provide an update in our next communication before the end of July.

    Having worked hard to simplify the process as much as possible for LCF customers, we are pleased we have now started paying compensation. We appreciate this process has taken time and that LCF customers have been extremely patient. As we move through this process, we want to assure customers that we’re working as quickly as we can to get LCF customers back on track.

     

  • 05 May, 2020

    Before the end of this month we’ll start issuing decisions to LCF customers who were given misleading advice. We hope to have made all payments to eligible customers by the end of September. We recognise that this has been a difficult time for all LCF customers and we would like to thank you for your patience.

    We’ve completed a careful analysis of the information we’ve gathered and have started reviewing individual claims. To do this we’ve set up a large team focussed specifically on reviewing claims on a case-by-case basis.

    When we’ve reached a decision on an individual claim, we’ll send a letter to the customer to confirm the outcome. If they are eligible for compensation, we’ll include a cheque. By taking this approach we hope to make the process simpler – there’s no need to submit a claim and if you’re due compensation you’ll keep 100% of it.

    If you’re an LCF customer, you do not need to do anything or provide any information at this stage. Please be patient while we work through claims and identify more customers who may have been given advice.

    As mentioned in previous updates, many LCF customers won’t be eligible for compensation based on the evidence we hold. In September we’ll provide details of the next steps if you still think you have a claim.

    For more information on this update, please refer to the Q&A section.

    We’ll provide a further update on our progress before the end of June.

  • 21 Apr, 2020

    London Capital & Finance (LCF) bondholders should be wary of telephone calls, text messages or social media approaches inviting them to discuss compensation about LCF.

    In particular, bondholders should be suspicious of any contact from people claiming to work for Global Finance, Harris Investments or any other company, and claiming to be working in partnership with FSCS. Some scammers are also falsely using the logo or contact details of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

    Do not respond to such messages or engage with them in any way. FSCS is aware of these scams and reports them to the appropriate agencies.

    If you have any concerns about any communications you’ve received about LCF, contact our Enquiries team via our Contact us page.

  • 31 Mar, 2020

    We are still reviewing all the information gathered to help determine what misleading advice was given by London Capital and Finance (LCF).

    As part of this work, we’re in the process of analysing close to a million pieces of information. This includes telephone call recordings, emails and records within LCF’s customer database.

    We’ve gathered this information over the last two months from various sources. Despite the COVID-19 situation, we’re doing everything we can to keep working so we can reach a point where we can assess claims as efficiently and effectively as possible.

    We’ll provide a further update on our progress by 5 May and will aim to confirm when we will start issuing compensation.

    LCF customers don’t need to do anything. Anyone with questions about their claim or the review process can visit the Q&A section by clicking on the tab above.

     

  • 17 Feb, 2020

    FSCS has paid just under £2.7m to 135 LCF customers in relation to 151 bonds. These bonds were invested following transfers out of stocks and shares ISAs. We made these payments automatically, without these customers needing to make a claim themselves.

    We've been able to compensate this group of customers because arranging a transfer out of a stocks and shares ISA is a regulated activity.

    If you haven’t received compensation from us by 24 February 2020, but believe you transferred out of a stocks and shares ISA, please send us supporting evidence. Find out how to do this on the Q&A tab above.

    We’ve also concluded there will be some customers who were given misleading advice by LCF. These customers have valid claims for compensation, and we are continuing to review the evidence as quickly as possible. We recognise the distress that the delay in confirming eligibility is causing.

    We will update these customers by the end of March 2020.  At this stage, these customers don’t need to make a claim.

  • 11 Feb, 2020

    Scammers are targeting London Capital & Finance customers

    London Capital & Finance (LCF) bondholders should be wary of messages inviting them to discuss compensation about LCF.

    Such messages are being sent through various online and mobile platforms and targeted at consumers who might have a claim regarding LCF. Do not respond to such messages nor engage in any way with the source. FSCS is aware of these scams and reports them to the appropriate agencies. In particular, beware of such messages:

    • via WhatsApp, Messenger, or posted on Facebook
    • linking to unfamiliar websites
    • phone calls from strangers or friend requests from unusual profiles
    • claiming to be from FSCS.


    If you have any concerns about any communications you may have received about LCF, contact our Enquiries team via our contact page.

  • 09 Jan, 2020

    FSCS is now ready to announce its key decisions for claims in relation to the London Capital and Finance (LCF) failure.

    • FSCS will protect the 159 bondholders who switched from stocks and shares ISAs to LCF bonds. Customers in this category do not need to take any action. We will pay compensation to these customers by the end of February 2020.
    • FSCS is unable to protect the 283 bondholders who dealt with LCF before it was authorised to carry out financial services business (on 7 June 2016). We will contact these customers to confirm this.
    • While FSCS maintains that the act of issuing mini bonds is not a regulated activity, and is therefore not something we protect, we have concluded there will be some customers who were given misleading advice by LCF and so have valid claims for compensation. However, we expect that many customers will not be eligible for compensation on this basis. We will provide a further communication with details of when and how customers in this category can submit their claims. We will aim to start reviewing these advice claims in the first quarter of 2020.

    FSCS will aim to provide a further update by the end of February outlining the next steps. In the mean-time LCF customers do not need to take any action.

    LCF entered administration on 30 January 2019, and since then FSCS has investigated many alternative possible bases for claims. Around 11,600 bondholders purchased 16,700 bonds from LCF worth £237m. 

    Following those in-depth investigations, we identified one small group of bondholders (159 in total) who are protected, and a further group (283 in total) whose dealings with LCF occurred prior to the firm’s authorisation and are therefore not protected by FSCS. In addition to those groups, FSCS will need to review advice claims – which are likely to represent most claims – on a case-by-case basis to determine whether misleading advice was given.

    We’re setting up the process for reviewing advice claims. Advice may have been given face-to-face, by letter or email, or by telephone. The need to review communications between LCF and customers and to assess all the relevant evidence means that advice claims are likely to take some time for FSCS to consider.

    While we acknowledge that many customers were given incorrect information about investing in LCF bonds, being given incorrect information on its own doesn’t constitute misleading advice. For that reason, and based on our investigations so far, we believe many LCF customers are unlikely to be eligible for compensation on the basis of misleading advice.  

  • 04 Oct, 2019

    Since our last update, FSCS has made some progress in gathering and examining information and evidence. This includes obtaining further records from Surge Financial Ltd (“Surge”) of customers’ contact with them. We are also continuing to work with Smith & Williamson LLP, the joint administrators of LCF, to obtain further information to assist with our investigations.  

    Surge is an online marketing company which acted on behalf of LCF, facilitating bond applications from prospective bondholders. Following an initial review of its call recordings and emails to investors, we believed that Surge, acting on behalf of LCF, provided some LCF clients with misleading advice, in both telephone calls and emails. 

    The further records which have been shared with us will help FSCS determine whether LCF customers are eligible for compensation.

    We appreciate that LCF customers are keen to know whether they will be eligible for compensation, and our aim is to clarify the position, so we can make an announcement regarding eligibility as soon as possible. However, the LCF case is very complex, and this may take some time.

    A further 2,200 people have completed our fact-finding questionnaire. This takes the total to 7,511, which represents around three-quarters of LCF customers. We'd encourage the remaining LCF customers to complete the questionnaire. This will in no way prejudice any future claim they may have with FSCS.

    Claiming with FSCS directly means you get 100% of the compensation you are owed, up to our limit of £85,000, as we provide a free service to customers.

     

  • 02 Aug, 2019

    In the month since our fact-finding questionnaire went live just over 5,500 people have completed it. We are analysing the information provided and it is already helping our ongoing investigation into the nature and extent of any protected claims. We would encourage other investors to complete the questionnaire and remind them that this will in no way prejudice any future claim they may have with FSCS.

    Since our last update we have also had a cooperative meeting with representatives from Surge Financial Ltd. They have agreed to provide further information that will help our investigation and we look forward to receiving that soon.

    Customers are reminded that coming to us directly will mean they get 100% of the compensation that they are owed, up to our limit of £85,000, as we are a free service.

    As we still do not have all the information we need to start accepting claims, and this is a complex case, it will be some time until we are ready to make any further announcements on the process itself.

    Summary note on the basis for protected claims against London Capital & Finance plc published 12 July 2019

  • 08 Jul, 2019

    More than 4,390 clients of London Capital & Finance completed our fact-finding questionnaire in the first week it was posted.

    We want to encourage even more LCF clients to complete our questionnaire as it will enable us to build a better picture of the nature and extent of potentially misleading advice that they may have received.

    The information gathered through this process is purely to help us better understand the individual circumstances of investors, and the number of customers who may have been impacted.

    Should there be grounds for compensation and we start accepting claims, information given in the questionnaire by LCF clients will not prejudice their claim.

    Investors who come direct to FSCS will pay no charge, as we are a completely free service.

     

  • 28 Jun, 2019

    Our investigation into LCF leads us to be believe that there are protected claims, which may result in compensation for some of its investors.

    Following an extensive review of LCF’S business practices, we believe that Surge Financial Ltd, acting on behalf of LCF, provided a number of LCF clients with misleading advice. As this is a regulated activity, it means that FSCS protection would be triggered and that there may therefore be a number of customers with eligible claims for compensation.

    At this stage though we don’t have access to all of the information needed to determine the nature and extent of this misleading advice, and we’re still working with the relevant parties on gaining access to it.

    We’ve therefore launched a pre-application questionnaire, a link to which you’ll find below, for investors to complete in order to help us build a better picture of this advising.

    You may have already completed a questionnaire for the administrators, Smith and Williamson, but we still need the information to help us better understand individual investor’s circumstances and the number of customers that may have been impacted. We’ll provide a further update next month.

    Complete the questionnaire

     

  • 31 May, 2019

    Over the last few weeks we’ve been reviewing whether there may be grounds for compensation. As we’ve previously mentioned, this work is focused on the relationship between LCF and Surge Financial Ltd and the extent to which either company may have been carrying out regulated advising, arranging or other activities that could give rise to some eligible claims for compensation.

    Following our investigations, we now understand LCF’s business practices much better, and we believe there are sufficient grounds for us to carry on exploring these issues. One increasingly important aspect is the need to consider the different ways investors dealt with the firm when buying their products, as this could impact whether compensation is due or not. This is a complicated case involving significant factual analysis, external legal advice and close work with both the FCA and the administrators, so it will take time.

     

  • 10 May, 2019

    The promotional materials that we’ve reviewed stated that the LCF mini-bonds were not FSCS protected. However, after a further review of LCF’s business practices, investment materials, and calls recorded with investors, FSCS is investigating whether regulated activities were carried out that might give rise to a claim.

    This work and our legal analysis supports our view that LCF’s core activity of issuing their mini-bonds in the UK was not protected, but there are further issues that need examining. We’re focusing on whether there was any regulated advising, arranging or other activities that may trigger our compensation. We also need to better understand the nature of the relationship between LCF and Surge Financial Ltd.

     

  • 01 May, 2019

    London Capital & Finance plc (LCF) entered administration on 30 January 2019. The Administrators are representatives from Smith & Williamson LLP. Further information is available on their website at: https://www.smithandwilliamson.com/london-capital

    FSCS understands that LCF issued its own mini-bonds to investors and that mini-bonds issued in the UK were not transferable securities. The act of issuing these investments is not a regulated activity, and so this is not something that FSCS can protect. For this reason, although the firm is insolvent, we’re not currently able to declare the firm in default under our rules, or to start accepting claims for compensation.

    We’re continuing to work closely with the administrators and the FCA to try to establish whether LCF might have carried out any other regulated activity for which we could compensate customers. As explained above, this requires an in-depth analysis of this case’s particular circumstances. The firm’s records and information provided by customers and other sources will be used to build a picture of how the firm operated, and while we understand investors’ frustration and desire for clarity, this process will take time.

    As our work progresses we will update this page with further information for LCF’s customers, including if we determine that we can start to accept claims against the firm.

     

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