Sipp provider Berkeley Burke sold to Hartley Pensions

Leicester-based Sipp provider Berkeley Burke has been sold to Hartley Pensions in a pre-pack administration deal.

Berkeley Burke went into administration after being ordered to pay nearly £1m to people affected by high-risk unregulated investments made and accepted into the firm’s Sipp schemes.

The court order, announced in August, came after hundreds of claimants took the company to court to recover their losses.

Hartley Pensions, which is based in Bristol, offers white label Sipps for a number of investment and trading platforms, as well as SSAS, ISAs, QNUPS, QROPS and life assurance products.

Following the sale, former Berkeley Burke customers will either be moved into a new Hartley Sipp plan, or be allowed clients to transfer to another Sipp of their choosing.

Hartley will be retaining a number of the former Berkeley Burke administration staff based in Leicester to oversee fund transfers.

Adrian Allen, one of the joint administrators at RSM Restructuring Advisory who handled the sale, said that Berkeley Burke had no option but to enter administration after its dispute with the decisions of the Financial Ombudsman Service over the high-risk unregulated investments it had been allocating client money to.

“The sale to Hartley will provide continuity of service to the company’s clients and ensure the clients' interests are served whilst delivering the best available outcome for both clients and creditors,” said Allen.

APJ Solicitors lawyer, Glyn Taylor, from the law firm that has handled many of the claims against Berkeley Burke, said that the provider had gone into administration as it was unable to cover the costs of defending the redress claims made against it.

“We predicted Berkeley Burke would opt for insolvency ahead of the high court appeal, which was scheduled for next month, as it was unable to pay the interim £1m to the group litigation claimants, and also relied on a form of crowdfunding to pay its legal costs,” he said.

“It was extremely likely that Berkeley Burke would have lost the appeal, as it would have had to prove that the ombudsman created a new duty of care, far beyond what was in place at the time.

“We believe the appeal won’t go ahead on 15 October. The recent developments will have a massive impact on this case and we are currently seeking expert opinion over what happens next with the judicial review.”

Former Berkeley Burke clients who wish to make further claims against the firm have been told to contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Those who are ineligible to claim via the FSCS, mainly non-personal clients, have been invited to submit their claims to RSM Restructuring Advisory.

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