21 December 2012 - Post by:Däna Burstow
As a pensions lawyer I find myself reasonably often explaining a legal requirement which my client feels is ridiculous. It is often a fair response. The law is an ass, so the quote goes. Frankly that’s what many people feel. The law only has credibility if it reflects the intentions of the majority of people using it and isn’t just of interest to an ever growing number of lawyers. Pensions law is at risk of losing its credibility, and the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) is currently working to redress the balance. Do you want to help?
Do you have any things which your pensions lawyer tells you that you have to do but you really can’t see the point in them? It is those sorts of moments which the NAPF is seeking to capture so that the law makers can be lobbied to get rid of them. We finally have a pensions minister who has been in office for more than five minutes and who has an appetite for change so there is a fighting chance of being listened to.
On my shopping list would be:
- contracting-out notices which have to be sent out but which are meaningless and don’t fit with today’s push for transparent communication;
- the requirement to consult when members are moving from one scheme to another on a merger but their benefits are not changing;
- the debate about whether trustees can be given information about corporate activity before it is announced to the market;
- the lack of clarity about what benefits have to be provided for future service after a transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings regulations;
- that bit in the transfer regulations that requires there to be a connected employer transfer meaning the same employers have to participate in both schemes for a transfer to take place – which just doesn’t work now many schemes are closed to future accrual.
Let me know what you would rather do without (in relation to your pension fund, of course) and I’ll put them on the list when I go to the next NAPF Legal Panel meeting.
Däna Burstow is a partner at Allen & Overy LLP.