UK - Short-changed members of the Sea-Land Service Pension Plan have called on OPRA to override the scheme's principal employer, Maersk, and appoint an independent trustee.
This is understood to be the first time OPRA has been asked to appoint an independent to act on the trustee board of a solvent company.
Law firm Sacker & Partners is helping the Sea-Land members with their request to the regulator on a pro-bono basis.
Sackers partner Ian Pittaway said: “We have invited OPRA to make a formal application under section 7 of the Pensions Act 1995 which gives it power to appoint additional trustees under certain circumstances.
“It can appoint a trustee where it is not satisfied that trustees as a whole have the necessary knowledge or skill for the proper administration of a scheme.”
Sea-Land members feel the current trustees have not done enough to secure their pensions entitlements following Maersk’s decision to wind the scheme up.
The move – which is seen by lawyers as a test case for OPRA – comes amid criticism that the regulator is not proactive enough and its function needs to be rethought.
Pittaway added: “This is new ground for OPRA. If it wanted to silence its critics, this is an ideal case.”
Last October IPN’s sister publication Professional Pensions exclusively revealed that some 200 members of the Sea-Land Pension Plan were to have their benefits cut by up to 60% after Maersk chose to axe the scheme.
Maersk – part of multinational giant AP Moller Group – said it was no longer prepared to pay for the scheme and put it into wind-up funded only to the minimum funding requirement.
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