A leading pensions lawyer is hoping to lodge a class action over the compulsory purchase of annuities by women in the UK.
Clarke Willmott & Clarke partner Robert Morfee hopes 2000 women will register their disapproval at the firm’s website – www.cw-c.co.uk.
Morfee said: “I then want to secure a declaration of incompatibility with European law and Human Rights law that requires a woman to buy an annuity.”
Morfee believes women are lose out because:
• Annuity rates are set lower than men because they live longer.• They are not given the freedom of choosing other ways of investing their money.
Morfee points out that while the European Court of Justice currently upholds the right of actuarial factors such as mortality rates when calculating annuities, it has not yet ruled on the compulsion to buy such annuities.
Nabarro Nathanson partner Kate Richards agreed: “I give my support to the campaign – it seems unfair that female clients should be discriminated against in this way and I think it goes against the tide of the way things are going to move in the future.”
She added: “I think by the time I retire they will not be the order of the day and I hope I never have to buy one. I think income drawdown will be the way forward.”
Morfee’s campaign follows that of UK pensioner Joe Singer, who has claimed that the compulsion to buy annuities at age 75 contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.
Singer has refused to take out an annuity and argued that current annuity legislation violates his right to spend his retirement pot as he sees fit.
The pensioner is also guaranteed maximum national exposure by hiring Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie Booth QC of Matrix Chambers, to fight his case.
By David Rowley
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