John Swift QC, the Independent Reviewer examining the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)'s supervisory intervention in relation to Interest Rate Hedging Products (IRHPs), has informed the FCA that the deadline for submission of his report in relation to the Review must be extended until early 2021 as a result of necessary precautions to be taken in response to the COVID-19 virus.
The World Health Organisation declared the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020 and, as of 11 March 2020, it has been characterised as a pandemic.
'In recent days, the position in respect of the COVID-19 virus in the UK has become far more serious. Infections have become more widespread and this has led to stringent measures being taken both by the UK Government and other public and private bodies to seek to limit or at least slow the spread of the virus,' said Mr Swift.
'Steps are being taken to limit contact between individuals, with public events being cancelled and many organisations requiring staff to stay away from their places of employment and instead work from home. In these circumstances, I consider that it is essential to postpone further face-to-face meeting/witness interviews.'
Mr Swift said that he and his support team are exploring alternative ways and means to efficiently gather witness evidence.
'More generally, myself and my support team envisage and expect that progressing the Review and preparation of the related report will no doubt be delayed and disrupted by the current crisis. It is for those reasons that I consider that completion of the Review and my report should be postponed until early 2021. I have therefore, regretfully, written to inform the FCA of this delay in accordance with my Terms of Reference (ToR). The FCA has acknowledged and accepts my notification of this extension, and understands my reasons for seeking this further time.'
Notes to editors
The Review was commissioned on 20 June 2019 by the Non-Executive Directors of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) into the (IRHPs).
John Swift QC was appointed on 20 June 2019 to carry out the Lessons Learned Review into the supervisory intervention on IRHPs. Under the Terms of Reference, the Review was to be completed within a period of 15 months beginning on the date Mr Swift was appointed by the FCA.
Under Paragraph 9 of the Terms of Reference, if the Independent Reviewer considered that it was not be possible to complete the Review within the period of 15 months from 20 June 2019 (i.e. by 20 September 2020), he was required to inform the FCA of:
(a) the reasons for the delay in the conclusion of the Review; and
(b) a revised target date for the conclusion of the Review.
For the purposes of the Review, Mr Swift has held meetings with and proposes to hold further meetings with a number of witnesses, including: present and former members of FCA staff; representatives of firms appointed to act as Skilled Persons under Section 166 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 in respect of the IRHP redress arrangements; representatives of the banks which were party to those arrangements; bank customers, and others.