UK - The pensions ombudsman has hit back at the government for refusing to grant him wider powers than the High Court.
David Laverick said he was disappointed the department for work and pensions had refused to table his amendment to the Pensions Bill that would allow him to decide what was “fair and reasonable” without being ”limited to remedies available in the civil courts”.
Laverick, who has just taken on another three-year term as ombudsman, said: “There was a suggestion that there could be a change to my legislation that would mirror the powers given to the financial ombudsman’s service, which says it could give such directions that establish what is ”fair and reasonable”.
“The department undertook a restricted consultation about both points but neither proposal has found its way into the Bill. I will continue to press my view as to what I think ought to happen.”
Laverick also believes the government should clarify his powers to stop courts overruling his determinations.
But pension group associate at law firm Pinsents, Simon Tyler, said the DWP was right to reject the amendment.
He said: “Additional flexibility might have been useful in some cases, but it is already often difficult to predict how the ombudsman will decide a case. It would be even more so if he had freedom to ignore the legal principles that bind the courts.”
Linklaters partner Mark Blyth agreed. “Parliament has made clear its decision. He should respect that and get on with it.”
However, Field Fisher Waterhouse head of pensions Belinda Benney said: “It would be a good idea if the Pensions Bill could take the opportunity to clarify the ombudsman’s powers. That way nothing would be implied.”
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