Pensions Outlook – September 2017

Posted by Rupert Graham-Evans, 11th September 2017

In this Autumn edition of Pensions Outlook we consider the following topical issues in the pension’s arena:

  • Walker v Innospec Ltd [2017] – a review of the ruling of the Supreme Court on survivor benefits to be provided in respect of same sex spouses and civil partners.
  • Recent British Airways Court case did not take off but appeal will fly – a look at the recent BA case on trustee powers to make discretionary pension increases.
  • A review of the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) for pension schemes.
  • Defined Benefit Schemes and struggling businesses – the elephant in the room. A review of action company directors should be taking where pension deficits are not sustainable for the future of the business.
  • A focus on the Court of Appeal’s recent ruling on the High Court’s decision in 2014 in relation to IBM’s “Project Waltz” pension changes in 2010.
  • Life assurance schemes – update on excepted schemes.

If you have any questions on any of the matters that we cover, please contact myself on [email protected] (or by phone on 023 8085 7240) or another member of the Pensions team.

Walker v Innospec Ltd [2017] – Same-sex marriage and inequality in pensions

In the recent case of Walker v Innospec Limited [2017], the Supreme Court ruled that a pension scheme must provide benefits for a surviving spouse in a same-sex marriage on the basis that it provides benefits for the surviving spouse in an opposite sex marriage.

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Recent British Airways Court case did not take off but appeal will fly

Do the rules of your pension scheme ensure that the trustees have to seek your consent before making changes to the rules? Unfortunately for British Airways (BA), their rules did not, which, following a lengthy seven week court battle, has resulted in them being unable to block its trustees decision to award a discretionary increase to the pension in 2013.

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Trustees (and employers) – are you ready for GDPR?

The requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation become enforceable on 25 May 2018 – less than nine months from now – and there is a lot of work for trustees, employers, advisers and administrators to do before then.

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Defined Benefit Schemes and Struggling Businesses – the elephant in the room

Throughout 2016 and so far in 2017, defined benefit pension schemes have made headline news for all the wrong reasons.

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IBM defined benefit pension scheme – Court of Appeal overturns High Court ruling on IBM’s “Project Waltz” pension changes in 2010

The High Court, when it heard the dispute in April 2014, held that IBM acted in breach of its duty of good faith to the members when it closed two of its defined benefit pension schemes to future accrual of pension benefits in 2010. An important basis for the decision was that the members had formed “reasonable expectations” that the schemes would remain open to pension accrual for longer based on IBM’s conduct and representations made to employees.

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Life assurance schemes – update on excepted schemes

Many employers are starting to establish excepted life assurance arrangements which fall outside of the UK tax regime for pensions saving. Benefits under excepted schemes do not count towards the “lifetime allowance” for tax efficient pensions saving (currently £1 million).

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