Man sues Bank of Scotland and Friends First Life Assurance over investment hit by economic crash

A man whose €250,000 investment in a property fund was hit by the economic crash of 2007/8 has sued Bank of Scotland (BoS) and Friends First Life Assurance.
Man sues Bank of Scotland and Friends First Life Assurance over investment hit by economic crash

A man whose €250,000 investment in a property fund was hit by the economic crash of 2007/8 has sued Bank of Scotland (BoS) and Friends First Life Assurance.

Declan Buttimer invested the money in October 2007 in the "Investa Opportunity Fund" which he says was marketed and recommended by BoS and managed by Friends First.

Following the crash, Mr Buttimer says his investment dropped in value and he says he will ultimately only recover 70% of what he put in.

In 2015, he began a High Court action against BoS and Friends First claiming the investment was mis-sold and/or misrepresented to him.

He alleges, among other things, the investment was anticipated to last at least five to seven years, that it would be managed by competent and experienced property managers who had previously achieved attractive returns, that the managers' remuneration was linked to performance and the fund was not subject to excess charges.

It is also claimed BoS would perform an adequate risk assessment prior to recommending investment and that there would be no conflict of interest in the management/investment.

Mr Buttimer alleges breach of contract, negligence, breach of duty duty and misrepresentation by BoS by, among other things, failing to ensure that the remuneration of fund and asset managers was linked to performance and allowed it to be subject to excess and undisclosed charges;

He also alleges failure to ensure the fund was suitable for Eurozone investors and would be adequately diversified between the United Kingdom and Continental Europe to mitigate exchange rate risk.

Bank of Scotland enters full defence

BoS entered a full defence and brought an application to have the claim barred on grounds it was brought outside permitted time limits of the Statute of Limitations.

BoS says Mr Buttimer got a loan from it in October 2007 when the investment was taken out.

It says the conditions of the investment were in the policy including explicit reference to charges

The investment related to the purchase of development lands in 2008 Witney, Oxfordshire, England, property in Switzerland and in Woolwich, also England.

All those transactions took place six years before he issued his proceedings in 2015 and they were therefore statute barred, BoS says.

Mr Buttimer disputed the claims .and also said his action was based on the fraud of the defendant or his agent or that his right of action was concealed by such fraud,

Today, Mr Justice Charles Meenan ruled Mr Buttimer's reply to the Statute of Limitations claim has only been dealt with by him in a general way.

The position regarding the fraud and concealment allegations was very unsatisfactory, he said.

BoS would be entitled to detailed particulars in relation to these allegations, he said.

In those circumstances it would be premature,at this stage, to direct a hearing on the preliminary issue of the Statute of Limitations.

He directed Mr Buttimer to give those details within 21 days and he adjourned the BoS application generally with liberty to re-enter the matter.

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