Pensions Ombudsman Round-Up January 2020

Author:DLA Piper
Profession:DLA Piper
 
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Introduction

Welcome to DLA Piper's Pensions Ombudsman Round-Up publication in which we report on recent determinations made by the Pensions Ombudsman and Deputy Pensions Ombudsman.

In this edition we look at determinations covering issues including:

spouses' pensions; provision of information in relation to a bulk transfer; overpayments; and change of index. In the statistics section we provide a breakdown of the overall outcome of the determinations for August and September 2019 and the range of awards made for distress and inconvenience.

In this newsletter references to:

"TPO" mean the organisation The Pensions Ombudsman;

"the PO" mean the Pensions Ombudsman; and

"the DPO" mean the Deputy Pensions Ombudsman.

If you would like to know more about any of the items featured in this edition of Pensions Ombudsman Round-Up, please get in touch with your usual DLA Piper pensions contact or contact Megan Sumpster. Contact details can be found at the end of this newsletter.

Spouses' pensions

Background

This complaint (PO-24316) concerns the cessation of a widow's pension from a public service scheme (the Scheme) after the widow (the Applicant) began co-habiting with a new partner.

The Applicant relied upon a statement made in Booklet R, which was sent to the Applicant's spouse, Mr N, when he applied for retirement in 2006. Booklet R stated that, following the death of a member, a "permanent pension" would be payable of an amount equal to half of the member's pension.

The DPO noted that, where a complaint concerning the provision of incorrect information is brought to TPO, it will usually consider two legal concepts: negligent misstatement and estoppel. TPO will also consider whether there has been maladministration. The starting point is that where incorrect information has been provided, a scheme generally is not bound to pay the benefits as incorrectly described as a member is only entitled to receive the benefits provided for under the scheme's governing documents. Broadly, TPO will provide redress in connection with the provision of incorrect information if it can be shown that financial loss has flowed from the incorrect information. In relation to estoppel, TPO will not allow either party to rely on a fact contrary to that which they have previously represented if it would not be fair to do so. In addition to, or instead of, financial compensation, TPO may award compensation for distress and inconvenience if what was done amounted to...

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