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Pensions Insights – May and June 2024

01 July 2024
In our monthly e-alert, Pensions Insights, we give you our take on the latest highlights in the world of pensions law and policy.

Case Law

Gianni's Glasgow Ltd v The Pensions Regulator [2024] UKFTT 00507 (GRC) – Tribunal revokes escalating penalty notice

Gianni’s Glasgow Ltd appealed against penalties imposed by The Pensions Regulator for failing to meet pension contribution deadlines including a fixed penalty of £400 and an escalating penalty totalling £14,000.

TPR had initially issued an Unpaid Contributions Notice (UCN) directing the Appellant to calculate unpaid contributions, to contact the pension scheme provider and pay the contributions and to provide evidence of compliance to TPR. When evidence was not provided by the deadline stated in the UCN a Fixed Penalty was issued.  No response was received and subsequently an Escalating Penalty Notice was issued.

The employer contended that it was not aware of the notices and penalties until contacted directly by the Regulator (via a personal email address), as previous correspondence had been sent to a former accountant and upon becoming aware of the issue it promptly remedied the unpaid contributions.

The employer requested that TPR review the penalties and TPR rejected the first review request for being out of time and confirmed the EPN upon a second review.

The tribunal ruled that the Regulator’s review did not properly consider the employer’s circumstances and revoked the EPN, deeming it unfair, disproportionate (on the basis it was of the same order of magnitude as the entire contribution to relevant staff pensions for a year) and unreasonable noting the employer's lack of intent to avoid payment, TPR's failure to communicate effectively, and the absence of harm to employees.

New Law

The Pensions (2005 Order) (Code of Practice) (General) (Appointed Day, Amendment and Revocations) Order (Northern Ireland) 2024

This Order appoints the day for the coming into operation of the Pensions Regulator General code of practice in Northern Ireland as 5th July 2024.

The General code of practice consolidates ten existing codes of practice and provides guidance to those running occupational, personal, and public service pension schemes.


Pensions Ombudsman reviews operating model

The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has confirmed that it is refining its approach to handling new complaints by ensuring that all complainants have exhausted a scheme's Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRP), before it will consider an investigation.

The legislative framework sets out that, generally, TPO will not investigate complaints until the IDRP process has been exhausted, however, that requirement was relaxed in 2018 when the Pensions Advisory Service moved its (informal) dispute resolution function to TPO. Following that complainants could choose to use the informal resolution service, which could include engagement before, or during, the scheme’s own IDRP process.

The change aims to encourage schemes to resolve complaints internally without the need for TPO intervention, empowering them to take ownership of their dispute resolution processes.  TPO's Resolution Team will focus on complaints that have undergone the full internal resolution process whilst volunteer advisers will continue to provide impartial support to individuals during the IDRP process.

TPR Corporate Plan

TPR has published its Corporate Plan setting out it priorities for the next 3 years and confirming that the key challenge in 2024-25 will be embedding the new regulatory funding regime for DB schemes while also increasing attention on DC value for money, good governance and administration  

Priorities for 2024-25 including:

Protection pension savers’ money

Implement the new DB funding regime.

Support the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the PPF with regard to options for closed DB schemes including surplus sharing and a public sector consolidator.

Work with the DWP on potential legislation for superfunds and assess alternative models as they emerge.

Develop the value for money framework with the DWP and the FCA.

Focus on scheme compliance with the value for members assessment.

Embed multi-disciplinary approach to regulating, building on our work with master trusts.

Continue to ensure high levels of compliance in AE.

Lead the multi-agency Pension Scams Action Group.

Enhancing the pensions system

Continue the delivery of the pensions dashboards programme.

Address market issues of administration.

Investigate data quality issues.

Focus on the quality of trusteeship and governance.

Embed financial stability and external risk functions.

Innovation in savers’ interests

  • Collaborate with government and industry on decumulation products and pathways.
  • Deliver a regulatory framework for CDC models.
If you have any queries about any of the issues covered, or you require advice on a pensions related matter, please do not hesitate to contact your usual contact.

Further Reading