Pension Ombudsman

March 23rd, 2017 by James Goudie KC

Section 146 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 sets out the functions of the Pensions Ombudsman (“the PO”). The PO may investigate and determine various specified matters.  These include a complaint made to him by an actual or potential beneficiary of an occupational pension scheme who alleges that he or she has sustained injustice in consequence of “maladministration”.  There is no statutory definition of “maladministration”.  It is well established that it is a “broad concept”, which goes further than a violation of legal rights.  There can be “maladministration” even if a person’s legal rights are not infringed.  In Baugniet v Teachers’ Pensions [2017] EWHC 501 (Ch) the High Court repeated with respect to the powers of the PO that:-

(1)       The PO must decide disputes in accordance with established legal principles rather than by reference to what he himself considers to be fair and reasonable;

(2)       In general, the PO does not have the power to make an order that the Court could not make, although the PO is not tied to the precise form of relief a court would grant;

(3)       Injustice resulting from maladministration not involving infringement of legal rights may be afforded a remedy, such as an apology and/or modest compensation for distress or inconvenience;

(4)       Absent very exceptional circumstances, an award for maladministration not involving infringement of legal rights should not exceed £1,600.


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