What does a new pension scheme trustee need to know about things that happened before he became a trustee? And could he be liable for previous trustees’ acts or omissions? My cautionary tale delves into the risks.
Are pension scheme trustees stuck between a rock and a hard place? It would seem so, as following the Pensions Regulator’s warnings trustees must decide whether to comply with their duty to facilitate a valid transfer request or delay suspicious requests risking regulatory action. But how easy is it for trustees to be sure pension liberation fraud is taking place? Not very is the answer we have received from trustees and administrators who have reported numerous difficulties in investigating receiving schemes. That means that trustees rarely feel they have sufficient evidence to delay a request, especially when faced with the risk of regulatory action.
You might think that no one wants to go to court. Isn’t it stressful, time consuming and expensive? It can also have a negative impact on the parties’ relationship with each other, unless it is properly handled. However sometimes going to court makes a good deal of sense, particularly in the world of pension schemes.
I sometimes wonder why so many Pensions Ombudsman cases still seem to turn on archaic sounding concepts like “estoppel”. Several cases crossing my desk recently have raised estoppel issues where benefits have been paid, or quoted, incorrectly.
Often the member thinks he has been promised something which is more than his entitlement. How does the Pensions Ombudsman or the courts approach this sort of claim? What do pension scheme trustees need to look for, and how do you stop the problem cropping up in the first place?