Originally published: http://www.fca.org.uk/news/asset-land-investors
Action we took
We took legal action against Asset Land and the individuals involved and obtained court orders freezing their assets and preventing them from continuing to operate the schemes until the court ruled on whether they were CIS. We took this step to protect as much of the money that investors had paid to Asset Land as possible, and prevent it from taking more money from new or current investors.
A full trial of our claim was held in the High Court in October 2012. In February 2013, the High Court reached its judgment and ruled that they were operating CIS. After a further hearing in March 2013 the High Court ordered that they should pay us £21 million on behalf of investors.
Appeals against the High Court ruling
Two of the defendants appealed against the High Court’s decision which meant that we could not take any steps to obtain the money the court had ordered the defendants to pay to us, pending the outcome of the appeal. In the meantime their assets remained frozen.
In a judgment handed down in April 2014 the Court of Appeal also found that the Asset Land schemes were CIS. The same two defendants then lodged an appeal against that decision to the Supreme Court. As this raised the possibility that the Appeal Court’s ruling could be overturned we still could not take any action to obtain payment of the £21 million.
The appeal was heard by the Supreme Court on 13 and 14 January 2016 and judgment was handed down on 20 April 2016. The court dismissed the appeal and ruled that the schemes run by Asset Land were illegal CIS. A summary of the main findings and the full judgment are on the Supreme Court’s website, and can be found by clicking on the highlighted text.
What will happen next
The judgment opens the way for the FCA to take action to enforce payment of the £21 million by the defendants whose assets remain frozen following the original court proceedings in 2012. Unfortunately, we consider it likely that the value of these assets will be insufficient to cover anything but a very small proportion of the amount ordered to be repaid and therefore any repayments to investors are expected to be correspondingly small.
In the course of the next few weeks the FCA will be writing to all known investors individually to provide more information about the next steps and the likely timescales involved.
What should you do
If you purchased land through Asset Land you do not have to take any immediate action.
You do not need to send in any documents relating to your land purchase from Asset Land to us now but you should keep them safe as they may be required later on. You will be informed if and when it is necessary to provide documentary evidence of your land purchase.
You should keep us informed of any changes of address or contact details so that we can keep our records up to date. This will ensure you receive any communications from us. You can do this by contacting the FCA’s consumer Contact Centre.
If you have not previously registered your position as an investor you can do so by contacting the Consumer Contact Centre.
We are aware of an action group set up by and for people who invested with Asset Land. This group provides additional information that you might find useful. However, we are not involved with the group and cannot confirm that the information it provides is accurate.
If you think you may have been contacted by a land banking operation you can contact our Consumer Helpline.