Pension Liability

December 11th, 2015 by James Goudie KC

When is there an entitlement to early payment of an unreduced pension pursuant to Regulation 19 of the Local Government Pension Scheme (Benefits, Membership and Contributions) Regulations 2007, SI 2007/1166, as amended?  Regulation 19(1) provides that where a LGPS member is dismissed, either by reason of redundancy or because his employing authority has decided that, “on the grounds of business efficiency”, it is in their interests that he should leave their employment, and, in either case, the member has attained the age of 55, he is entitled to immediate payment of retirement pension, without reduction.  What is meant by “grounds of business efficiency”?  In Ascham Homes Ltd v Auguste [2015] EWHC 3517 (Ch) Hildyard J held that, in the absence of a settled definition, it fell to the employing authority to decide whether the grounds for the cessation of employment constituted “grounds of business efficiency”.  If the employer did not make any determination, then the true grounds of its decision to terminate the member’s employment had to be investigated.  The test whether the appellant’s decision was on grounds of business efficiency was whether it was made pursuant to some change in the way of conducting the business with a view to ensuring that its resources could be more efficiently deployed, without regard to personal or subjective characteristics or the performance of the post-holder.  Although Regulation 19 did not require the cessation of service to be exclusively on the ground of “business efficiency”, that had to be the preponderant reason.

It is to be noted that a somewhat similar concept, termination of employment “in the interests of the efficient exercise of the employing authority’s functions” appears in Regulation 4 of the Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) (England and Wales) Regulations 2006, SI 2006/2914.

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