MLC faces class action over adviser fees

IMF Bentham and William Roberts Lawyers will bring a class action against MLC's super fund trustee NULIS Nominees relating to excess fees charged to members for adviser commissions.

IMF Bentham and William Roberts will allege NULIS breached its obligations to act in the best interests of members of the MLC Super Fund.

The fees in question were allegedly levied in order to pay commissions and other fees to advisers.

It is alleged these fees were charged after the Future of Financial Advice reforms banned conflicted remuneration for advisers in 2013.

Under the grandfathering provisions in those reforms, certain commissions and payments entered into prior to the reforms were excepted from the ban.

NULIS became the trustee for MLC Super Fund in mid-2016. It is alleged that when MLC Super members were transferred to NULIS it decided to maintain the conflicted charges that were being paid from those members' accounts to advisers.

The class action will argue this decision by NULIS to maintain payment of the conflicted charges from mid-2016 and the making of those payments constituted a breach of its duty to act in the best interests of the members of the MLC Super Fund.

It is not proposed that any financial advisers be sued in the class action.

The action will seek recovery of the fees plus interest on behalf of affected members of the MLC Super Fund.

IMF Bentham and William Roberts are inviting those who had certain MLC Super or Pension product accounts prior to July 1 2016 and those who continued to have certain MLC Super or Pension product accounts following July 1 2016 to register for the class action.

The class action will be funded by IMF Bentham on a no win, no pay basis - there will be no out of pocket costs for class action members to pay.

William Roberts Lawyers principal Bill Petrovski said: "On the available information, our understanding is that excess fees charged to MLC Super members likely exceed $100 million. Superannuation trustees have an obligation to act in the best interest of their members. In charging fees to members in order to pay these adviser commissions, the class action will allege that the trustee fell short of this obligation."

IMF Bentham investment manager Ewen McNee said: "Even small changes in fees can have a substantial impact on retirement outcomes. IMF's funding will facilitate an action claiming compensation on behalf of over 100,000 MLC Super Fund members."

NAB responded to a request for comment, saying: "We will consider carefully any claims that may be brought against NULIS by IMF Bentham and William Roberts Lawyers."

Read more: IMF BenthamNULISMLC Super FundWilliam Roberts Lawyers
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