2003 case sets precedent for action against financial advisers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 October, 2008, 12:00am

Financial advisers can be held liable for negligent investment recommendations to clients, a local court ruling in 2003 has established.

In the Field vs Barber Asia Limited (HCA7119/2000) case, plaintiff Susan Field was awarded compensation of GBP219,890 (HK$2.84 million) plus interest and costs that she had lost as a result of changing an investment portfolio on the recommendation of the defendant.

Ms Field had asked for a conservative investment portfolio. It initially made a British sterling-dominated portfolio for her, but later advised her to gear up her portfolio with a Japanese yen loan. A subsequent appreciation of the yen forced her to provide additional cash for the loan, eventually losing the whole investment.

The Court of First Instance ruled that the financial adviser was expected to warn Ms Field of the risks. The ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal when the defendant appealed.

Citing this case yesterday, Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said minibond holders were in an even stronger position than Ms Field to claim compensation, as they had signed contracts with the distributors. She has asked the Consumer Council to refer to the case and consider using its consumer legal action fund to help holders claim compensation.

Ms Eu said individual investors might not be willing to launch costly lawsuits.