Cookies on our website

We use cookies on our website. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our site and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy. By continuing to use this site without changing your settings you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Read more Close
Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

Top Ten Tips for avoiding disputes

Click here for a printable version

1. Know your rules

All trustees should be familiar with and refer to their scheme’s rules when making decisions. Don’t rely on scheme booklets or your internal protocols being sufficiently accurate.

 

2. Watch the clock

Ensure that any statutory deadlines are met without unnecessary delay. Remember that the Pensions Regulator often expects trustees to act in advance of statutory time limits.

 

3. Communicate carefully

Ensure that all members are given up-to-date and accurate information about your scheme and their benefits, in accordance with the statutory requirements. Avoid jargon as much as possible. Your scheme booklet is particularly important and must be reviewed regularly to ensure consistency with the rules. Changes being made to your scheme should be confirmed in writing to all affected members.

 

4. Correct your data

When you discover incorrect data in your records, you should check and correct it as soon as possible before (further) problems arise. Aside from the fact that there may be a breach of statutory requirements, poor record-keeping can lead to much larger problems, so put robust controls in place to ensure the accuracy of scheme data. Where checks reveal errors, work together with the employer and administrators to take corrective action.

 

5. Quote with caution

Be clear about what is being quoted in a benefit estimate, and specify any limitations or assumptions made. Is the quote an estimate or a guaranteed figure (and if guaranteed, for how long)? Be alert to anything in a member’s record that could flag potential issues, such as breaks in service or part-time working.

 

6. Ask the right questions

When you are required to make a decision, you should go about it methodically. Read the relevant rules again so that you direct yourselves correctly. What is the question that needs to be answered? Is it a question of fact or an exercise of discretion? What information do you require to make the decision?

 

7. Exercise your discretion carefully

Be careful to take into account all relevant factors and ignore anything that is not relevant. Double-check the rules, and use your powers only for their proper purpose. You may need to seek further information or advice to make your decision – don’t be afraid to ask for this! When you inform the member and any interested parties (eg potential beneficiaries) of the outcome, give reasons for your decision.

 

8. Keep records

Keep copies of all booklets, announcements, other communications to members, minutes recording decisions, and all deeds and rules – ideally in a central record. Complaints often relate to decisions or documents from many years ago – keeping scheme documentation is vital for employers and trustees to deal with such complaints. Communications from employers to employees about the scheme should also be kept in the central record.

 

9. Formalities are important

Scheme rules often set out the precise way in which the scheme can be changed. Ensure that those requirements are complied with and that your scheme documents have been properly executed.

 

10. Seek advice where needed

In any situation, if you are not sure of the appropriate course of action, seek help from your professional advisers, even if the matter is not yet in dispute. Doing so could help you to avoid costly mistakes.

Key people

Jason Shaw
Jason Shaw
Counsel
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 203 088 2241
Send email
View officeView profile
Maria Stimpson
Maria Stimpson
Partner
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 20 3088 3665
Send email
View officeView profile
Dana Burstow
Dana Burstow
Consultant
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 20 3088 3644
Send email
View officeView profile
Neil Bowden
Neil Bowden
Partner
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 20 3088 3431
Send email
View officeView profile
Jane Higgins
Jane Higgins
Partner
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 20 3088 3161
Send email
View officeView profile

Need help managing pension risk? See our Pension Risk Group website

Want to make DC stress-free? See our DCHQ website

Follow us on Twitter: @AO_Pensions

Find more news and views on our blog, Pensions Talk



  • Add comment (optional)