UK - Poor member communications could be at the heart of a growing backlog of casework at the pensions ombudsman's office, it has emerged.
The ombudsman, David Laverick, told the Society of Pension Consultants that he had taken on a “special hit squad” to deal with complaints issued more than 65 weeks ago.
But he said this had failed to make a big dent on the growing casework and that a long-term solution was needed.
Lawyers said scheme members had commented that the ombudsman’s determination was often the first time they received a response to their dispute that they could understand.
And they said improving member communication and making internal dispute resolution adjudications clearer might reduce the need for members to complain to the ombudsman.
The ombudsman’s annual report – released last month – said new casework had reached an all-time high of 1187 in the last financial year and the office carried 150 cases over from the previous year.
SPC members also quizzed Laverick over his consistent refusal to make any public statements in relation to whether it was proper for trustees to act on the basis of OPRA guidelines.
Laverick said he had two jurisdictions: injustice resulting from maladministration, and the resolution of disputes of fact and law.
He explained that trustees who followed OPRA’s guidance might not be committing maladministration but it could be that they had acted illegally if the letter of the law had been breached.
The topic of “de minimis” complaints was also discussed.
Laverick stated that on a number of occasions he had refused to investigate complaints due to their low value.
But he refused to lay down a binding rule on this point.
PP has compiled a list of what to watch out for over the coming months.
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