Pensions Ombudsman Focus November 2018 edition
Welcome to the Pensions Ombudsman Focus for the period to November 2018. In this edition, we cover three recent complaints to the Pensions Ombudsman.
First, we consider a case where a member, having made a contribution by cheque to his SIPP account, subsequently decided to cancel it to avoid an annual allowance charge. The member contacted the scheme about the cancellation and was assured by the administrator that it would be cancelled. The scheme did not cancel the payment resulting in the member incurring a significant tax charge. The Pensions Ombudsman, in upholding the complaint, emphasised the importance of administrators following member’s instructions and taking care when giving assurances.
The second determination considers the scope of the trustee’s discretion in deciding how a deceased member’s benefits are distributed among his beneficiaries. The Pensions Ombudsman confirmed that while the trustee was obliged to take relevant facts and circumstances into account, it was not bound by the will or an expression of wish form, as the scheme rules gave the trustee discretionary power.
Finally, we look at a case where a member was given incorrect information by his union about deductions from his pensionable salary. The Ombudsman did not uphold the member’s complaint, finding that the scheme administrator was not liable for maladministration because it was the union, and not the scheme administrator, who had communicated the wrong information to the member.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any of these determinations and how they might affect you or indeed any other contentious issues on which the Linklaters Pension Dispute Resolution Group may be able to assist.