Pensions update: case law

In this briefing we look at some recent court and pensions ombudsman decisions.

Walker v Innospec

The Court of Appeal has dismissed Mr Walker’s appeal against a decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal that the entitlement of a surviving civil partner to a spouse’s pension can be restricted to service from 5 December 2005.

Mr Walker challenged a provision in the Equality Act 2010 which allows occupational pension schemes to exclude civil partners from receiving certain benefits accrued prior to 5 December 2005 (the date the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force), which he said was contrary to EU law setting out the framework for equal treatment in employment.

The three judges ruled unanimously that Mr Walker’s challenge failed as his pension benefits accrued before the EU Framework Directive came into force and at a time when civil partnerships did not exist; it was not possible to apply the legislation retrospectively and his benefits must be provided in line with the law in force at that time.

Bradbury v British Broadcasting Association (High Court)

The High Court has dismissed Mr Bradbury’s appeal against the Pensions Ombudsman. The High Court found that the British Broadcasting Association had not acted in breach of its implied duty of trust and confidence in seeking to impose a 1 per cent cap on increases to pensionable salary.

Hughes v Aviva UK Life (Pensions Ombudsman)

Mr Hughes complained that his pension provider, Aviva, had not carried out sufficient checks before transferring his benefits to the Capita Oak Pension Scheme. Following the transfer, Mr Hughes has been unable to locate his funds.

The Pensions Ombudsman concluded that Aviva had met its obligations and its actions were consistent with industry practice at the time.

Harrison v Prudential Assurance Company Limited (Pensions Ombudsman)

Prudential refused Mr Harrison’s request to a transfer as their checks had highlighted concerns of a potential pension scam.

The Pensions Ombudsman found that, while Mr Harrison did not have a statutory right to the transfer, he did have a contractual right under the scheme rules provided that the transfer would not amount to an unauthorised payment. The Pensions Ombudsman directed Prudential to make the transfer as there was no indication that it would amount to an unauthorised payment.

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