Lobby group Adviser Alliance has had its application for a judicial review into the absence of an industry long-stop rejected - but has vowed to continue the fight for a time-bar on complaints.
The group originally applied for a judicial review into a 15-year long-stop last year after an IFA lost a Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) case relating to a 20-year old client complaint.
A judge subsequently rejected the application but Adviser Alliance - represented by law firm Foot Anstey - appealed the decision and was informed last week that the appeal had been rejected.
Adviser Alliance, which had after-the-event insurance in place in case the appeal was rejected, now says it will no longer pursue the case through the courts.
A 15-year long-stop in financial services was originally introduced in 1980, but Adviser Alliance claims the FSA removed it without consultation in 2001.
Founder Alan Lakey said the rejection of the appeal by Lord Justice Stanley Burnton marks a "sad day" for justice.
"We thought about appealing but took the pragmatic view we were fighting a battle we couldn't win because all of the armies were lined up against us," he said. "It was clear they didn't want this to happen."
He added: "We haven't lost a judicial review - we weren't even allowed to bring one. It shows you how very difficult it is for an individual or small body or someone without deep pockets to obtain any form of justice.
"Clearly we have been disadvantaged by the way the establishment plays the game."
But Lakey stressed the long-stop debate is not dead in the water.
"We have another long-stop case we could look into," he said. "The case is slightly different and we could fight it on a different front and we are considering whether to do this."
He added other efforts will now be focused in the political arena.
Last week, the Association of Independent Financial Advisers (AIFA) said it is campaigning for the Financial Services Bill to introduce a long-stop. But Lakey said it is unlikely his organisation will team-up with AIFA on the issue.