UK - A pensioner who launched a test case against the compulsory purchase of annuities will get a judicial hearing early next month.
The pensioner, Joe Singer, is arguing that the compulsory purchase of annuities violates his right under the Human Rights Act 1998 to spend the cash as he sees fit.
Legal experts believe the case could highlight the incompatibility of English law with the EU convention on human rights.
And its profile has also been enhanced by the appointment of Cherie Booth QC - wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair - to represent Singer.
The hearing at the Administrative Court in London will decide whether Joe Singer has an arguable legal case or not.
Booth – who is a specialist in employment and discrimination law at Matrix Chambers – is expected to argue that the compulsory purchase of annuities violates Singer’s right under the Human Rights Act 1998 to spend the cash as he sees fit.
Matrix Chambers chief executive Nick Martin said: “It is open to the British courts to give a declaration of incompatibility of domestic legislation or administrative procedure with the European Convention on Human Rights [on which the Human Rights Act is based].”
Martin said the result of the hearing could be given on the day of the hearing or up to several weeks later.
But Rowe & Maw partner Andrew White had doubts over the arguments being used by Singer.
White said: “I would have thought that the response would be that the chap has got to purchase an annuity, because that is what the trustee rules says.
“It is not that he has the right to have the policy and the government has stepped in and deprived him of his right to have it as cash, he never had the right in the first place.”
He added: “Cherie Booth is a very clever lady and she may be able to prove in court that I am wrong.”
The Annuity Bureau said that if the case was successful it would favour replacing the compulsory purchase rule by extending income drawdown for life.
Annuity Bureau marketing executive David Marlow said: “Drawdown allows people to retain their capital and pass it to their spouses, so that satisfies the main issue.”
Marlow added: “The revenue should be relatively happy too, because they still get a tax charge, because on drawdown the death benefit would be taxed at 35pc.”
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