The law on UK pension surplus ownership will come under review in the autumn.
The Treasury has set the date for the Law Commission to start looking into the current law on surpluses.
Law Commission common law team manager Ian Walker said the “initial discussions” on changes to legislation had already been held with the Treasury. The Law Commission was now waiting for the matter to be formally referred back to it.
The Law Commission is expected to arrange a consultation process for the review when it would seek contributions from interested parties and “relevant experts”.
The Treasury said any decision on whether to change legislation was wholly independent from the Myners review.
But pension lawyers responded coolly to the news that the Law Commission was going to look at the issue of surplus ownership.
Hammond Suddards Edge solicitor Francis Barker said: “Currently the rules of each scheme govern who has power to determine the use and destination of surplus.
“Given this, it may be difficult for the Law Commission to answer a broad question such as ‘Who owns a pension scheme surplus?’ in a way which clarifies the situation, and is practical and workable.”
Barker pointed out that currently where a scheme is in deficit the employer was always liable and thus logically they should have a claim on the surplus.
Linklaters & Alliance’s head of pensions litigation practice Mark Blithe said: “I think the question of surplus has a well trodden path with reported decisions.
“Ultimately it comes back to what the rules of the scheme say and to impose a direction on what should happen to surplus seems an unnecessary interference.”
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