Helen Morrissey looks at the Pensions Ombudsman's recent intervention in an appeal against one of its determinations.
At this year's Pensions and Benefits UK the Pensions Ombudsman Anthony Arter said he would look to get involved in appeals against his determinations where there was a wider public interest.
The decision was welcomed by the industry in the hope this approach could deliver better judgements for savers.
However, last week, in what was believed to be the first of these interventions, the Ombudsman's determination was overturned.
The facts of the case (The Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester and Catherine Butterworth and Pensions Ombudsman as intervener) are complex and can be found on page 18 of this issue.
Arter described the result as "largely disappointing" and the service was also told to pay the costs incurred by the appellant in bringing the appeal.
Such an outcome does not amount to the best start for such an approach and I'm sure the potential costs incurred should a judgement go against them will be a factor in the service's decision to pursue these cases.
However, I hope it doesn't dissuade the service from this course of action entirely. The service has been clear that it will get involved in appeals, not to justify its own decision, but to assist the court in understanding the issues at hand.
We cannot expect all judges to be pension experts and such intervention can bring much needed clarity.
Whether the final decision goes for or against the Ombudsman's determination, if it has been made with a fuller grasp of the key issues than before then that can only be a good thing.
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