More than 700 investors, many who lost their life savings, are set to take two insurance giants to court in a £100m compensation battle.

The class action is being taken against island-based Friends Provident International and Utmost International Isle of Man, with the trial at Douglas High Court due to begin on Monday next week (April 6) and scheduled to last seven weeks.

Both companies say they will contest the claim.

Claimants, mainly British nationals and expats based across the world, say they were sold life assurance products which they were told were safe and low risk - but were based on investment funds which ultimately collapsed.

Even after the underlying funds collapsed, it is alleged that the companies continued to charge some investors management fees on their worthless products.

No fewer than 739 investors are involved in the class action - 315 in the Friends Provident proceedings and 425 in the claim against Utmost.

Two courtrooms have been set aside for the case.

As the investments were made via island-based subsidiaries, investors had no recourse through UK regulators.

One of the investment products was the Axiom Legal Financing Fund, a Cayman Islands-based collective investment scheme which collapsed in 2012, owing investors around £120m. Its founder was jailed for 14 years for fraud in 2022.

The defendants in the case are Castletown-based Friends Provident International, part of International Finance Group Limited, and Utmost International IoM, based at King Edward Bay House in Onchan. Before its sale to the Utmost Group in 2021, the latter was known as Quilter International, previously Old Mutual International, and before that Skandia.

The first claimant in the case against Friends Provident International is Bangkok-based Peter Kells who along with other investors is seeking damages of more than £50m for alleged negligence and misrepresentation regarding the sale of failed investment products including the New Earth Fund, Axiom Legal Financial Fund, LM Group of Funds, Eco Resources Fund and Kijani Community Fund.

The first claimant in the case against Quilter International is Barry Dickinson, again based in Thailand, who with other investors is also seeking £50m in relation to the sale of the same failed investment products.

It is alleged that the funds were designed for sophisticated and professional investors and should not have been made available to retail investors.

The Friends Provident claim relates to the Reserve portfolio bond offered between 2007 and 2017.

It is alleged that the express and implied representations were made about the level of risk to which invested money was exposed and there was a failure to carry out due diligence on the underlying funds.

Individual investors were introduced through independent financial advisers.

There would be a minimum investment of £25,000 in the Reserve bond.

The Utmost/Quilter International claim relates to four bonds offered over the same 10-year period from 2007.

Both Friends Provident International and the Utmost Group deny any liability.

A spokesman for Friends Provident International said: ‘This claim relates to historical investment decisions made by clients and their advisers in relation to their Friends Provident International portfolio bond policies.

‘We are confident in our position and have instructed our lawyers accordingly to contest the claim.

‘While there is much that we would like to say now regarding the claim, this is an active legal matter and we are unable to comment further at this stage.’

A spokesman for the Utmost Group said: ‘The provision of good customer outcomes is central to Utmost Group’s strategy, and we take our obligations to clients seriously.

‘The case referred to relates to businesses which Utmost has acquired and the relevant events occurred prior to Utmost’s ownership.

‘Utmost International does not consider the claims to have any merit and is robustly defending the cases.’