The Pensions Ombudsman (PO) Service has confirmed it will participate in appeals against its own determinations as it seeks to take a more interventionist approach.
Ombudsman Anthony Arter (pictured) had previously revealed at PP's Pensions and Benefits UK conference in June the service would become party to appeals where it may be in the public interest.
It is a big change given the service is rarely a party to an appeal against one of its own determinations. The service had previously only intervened where its legal jurisdiction or procedures were disputed, but it now says it will consider each case for its wider merit.
It is most likely to get involved in cases relating to pensions liberation and suspected scams.
The decision follows the landmark Hughes vs Royal London case in January, where the ombudsman's decision to allow Royal London to block a pension transfer to a small self-administered scheme was overturned by the High Court.
The PO Service's legal director Claire Ryan said the decision is supported by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
She said: "Widening the circumstances where the ombudsman may look to intervene in appeals of determinations was carefully considered and is supported by the DWP. We believe the pensions industry and parties to complaints will welcome the change."
Royal London head of corporate affairs Gareth Evans welcomed the move. He said: "Royal London's position in resisting pension transfers has only ever been aimed at protecting the interests of our customers and members. The fact that the ombudsman is now prepared to participate in the appeal process when wider implications are at stake, perhaps from widespread pension scams, must be welcome as it will strengthen consumer protection."
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