UK - Legal changes increasing the jurisdiction of the pension ombudsman could lead to a greater number of member disputes for pension funds.
Proposed amendments to section 54 of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 - expected later this year - could mean scheme members being allowed to act on behalf of other members, where previously they had been prohibited from doing so.
Hammond SuddardsEdge pensions disputes team solicitor Emma King said: “At present the pensions ombudsman does not have jurisdiction to hear a complaint which relates to all pension scheme members when it is brought by only one member. Complaints such as this must be dealt with by the courts.”
King added: “However, section 54 of The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 will allow the ombudsman to appoint a scheme member to act as a representative of other members in the scheme. Essentially, section 54 will allow the ombudsman to hear class actions.”
She continued that the cost of submitting a complaint to the ombudsman was less expensive for members so section 54 should also provide cheaper access to justice for more scheme members.
Another leading law firm has pointed out that if the objection is removed, it will allow scheme members to make backdated claims going back three years.
The Department for Work and Pensions has been in consultation over the changes since December 2001, the consultation period ended this month and the amendment is expected by the end of the year.
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