Those draft terms of reference proposed that the expert should create a theoretical investment portfolio as at 6 May 1992, showing how he or she would have invested the (£267,688) tranche of P’s fund available for investment. That hypothetical portfolio was to take into account Mr and Mrs H’s desire for ethical investment. The Online Property Valuation expert would then be asked to compare the return on investment in that hypothetical portfolio over the period of 16 months to 6 September 1993 (the date when investment actually began) and the investment of the same sum in the special account over the same period.
The Ombudsman’s staff put those draft terms of reference to Mr and Mrs H for their comments and they raised a number of objections to the terms as drafted. They said that because there has been an interim award of £250,000 to P in December 1989. They argued that PTO had set a monthly budget for P by June 1991, but had not asked them to confirm acceptance of it until August 1991.
Mr and Mrs H further contended that the nine months allowed for investment planning was too long and compared very unfavourably with the six to eight weeks which it would normally take. They said that it had taken so long to begin investment in their case only because PTO had failed to involve them in the planning process from the outset their first involvement had come when they had received investment proposals from the panel brokers.
It was only after that that they had had an opportunity to make known their views on ethical investment. They also said that for a period surrounding their house move on 19 February 1993 their attention had been required in dealing with the effects of the move and establishing their children in new schools. Mr and Mrs H said that when investment of P’s funds had begun in September 1993 it had been based on an assumption that his annual expenditure budget was £41,000 when in fact it was £26,000.