Here is our weekly summary of key legal and regulatory developments relevant to occupational pension schemes, which you might have missed, with links for further information.
- The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has been busy following up on its September 2021 consultation in relation to the exercise of its enforcement powers. It has published:
- A response document in relation to the use of its overlapping powers
- A finalised high fines policy in relation to its avoidance powers
- A finalised high fines policy in relation to its information requirements
- A further consultation arising out of the initial consultation, seeking views on a draft new enforcement policy and a draft revised prosecutions policy
- PASA has published Good Practice Guidance on DB Benefit Transfers: Faster, Safer, Better. The aim of the guidance is to improve the member experience through faster, safer transfers; improve communications and transparency in the processing of transfers; and improve efficiency for administrators. The guidance examines each element of processing a transfer, highlighting good practice along the way. It is acknowledged that “the proposed processes aren’t prescriptive – administrators are free to adapt them as necessary to fit their preferred operating model. However, the principles of the Guidance should be followed at all times.” Note that the guidance also advocates the use of the Transfer Template published by the FCA, setting out common scheme and member data items required to advise on DB transfers, and it also provides a suggested template intended for use as an initial acknowledgment of a transfer request. The latter includes wording regarding the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Conditions for Transfers) Regulations 2021 and the collection of information about the transfer.
- As we have highlighted in previous updates, regulations introducing the “stronger nudge” towards pensions guidance come into force on 1 June 2022 and affect schemes that provide flexible benefits (i.e. cash balance and defined contribution, including additional voluntary contribution arrangements). Seek legal advice if you have any questions about the interpretation of these regulations.
- Charity trustees have recently asked the courts to rule on the extent of their investment powers. Clifford Sims, Pensions partner, considers the applicability of this ruling for pension trustees in his blog.
- Did you see the video introducing our brand new #AttentionPensions campaign? In the coming weeks and months, we will address some key pensions issues in a series of easily accessible insights packed with practical tips. Look out for more!
The two high fines policies still need to be read in conjunction with TPR's monetary penalties policy.
The new draft enforcement policy sets out what to expect if a person is subject to an enforcement investigation or subsequent proceedings. It does not cover enforcement activity in relation to automatic enrolment, or authorisation and supervision of either master trusts or collective money purchase schemes. The draft enforcement policy incorporates finalised versions of TPR's overlapping powers policy and information gathering powers policy as separate chapters (both of which formed part of TPR's September 2021 consultation). TPR's existing prosecutions policy has been revised in draft to bring it up to date in light of the new powers under the Pension Schemes Act 2021.
Many respondents to TPR's September 2021 consultation asked for more information in relation to when TPR would seek to use its financial powers rather than its criminal powers. TPR says that it will still adopt a principles-based approach, which will depend on the circumstances of the individual case, but it has expanded the examples that it gives in the overlapping powers chapter of the draft enforcement policy.
If you would like specific advice on any of these issues, or on anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.