UK - The pensions ombudsman has told British Airways' pensioners he has no jurisdiction to handle their complaint against the airline and its scheme's trustees.
David Laverick’s decision comes as a massive blow to the Association of British Airways Pensions which had hoped to resolve its long-running dispute out of court.
The pensioners’ association is accusing trustees of the Airways Pension Scheme of wrongly authorising a clause into the rules allowing BA to use fund surpluses to secure early retirement benefits.
But the defending parties challenged the jurisdiction of the ombudsman to deal with such a complaint.
They said the complaint will have a knock-on effect for a proportion of the scheme’s 37,000 members.
Laverick agreed and has informed ABAP that he cannot deal with its case.ABAP chairman George Bell said: “The government produced the ombudsman on the basis that people could resolve their problems without going through the courts.
“Since then, various rulings have been made that restrict the ombudsman’s powers and when you come to a case like ours – because it is alleged that some people would not benefit if it was successful – we are forced to the courts.”
He added: “There is a massive amount of money involved going to the courts. It comes down again to going up against the big boys.”ABAP, which has two weeks to appeal the ombudsman’s decision, is holding talks with its lawyer, Nabarro Nathanson, to discuss the options left open.
• Last year, BA scheme members won a long-running battle to stop “surplus cash” being paid to the airline giant .
The Appeal Court ruled that any disposable surplus at the next actuarial valuation would have to stay with the fund as a reserve against future contingencies. Or, if the trustees wished, it could be used as benefit improvements.
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