Here is our weekly summary of key legal and regulatory developments relevant to occupational pension schemes that you might have missed, with links for further information.
In the recent High Court case of Virgin Media v NTL Pension Trustees, the judge ruled that amendments to benefits in schemes that were contracted out on the reference scheme test basis between 6 April 1997 and 5 April 2016 are void if they were made without written confirmation from the scheme actuary that the scheme would continue to meet the reference scheme test. See our newsletter for more information.
The retained EU law bill received royal assent on 29 June 2023 and is now an act of Parliament. Many of the key provisions, such as the revocation of specified pieces of legislation, became law on 29 June but their actual revocation will be effective from 31 December 2023. The act will also allow ministers of state and devolved authorities to replace, amend and restate certain types of retained EU law. This power will exist until 23 June 2026 and will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny (despite the best efforts of the House of Lords). Also on 29 June 2023, the financial services and markets bill received royal assent. That will have the effect of revoking approximately 250 pieces of retained EU law relating to the financial services industry.
HMRC has published pensions schemes newsletter 151. The newsletter includes commentary on changes to the tax treatment of stand-alone lump sums, which flow from announcements in the Spring Budget 2023 regarding the abolition of the lifetime allowance from the 2024-2025 tax year, removal of the lifetime allowance charge from 6 April 2023, and associated measures.
In a written answer tabled on 20 June 2023, the parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Business and Trade said that the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) would be reviewing the regulatory framework for stewardship, including the operation of the UK Stewardship Code. The written answer says that the FRC plans on working with the Financial Conduct Authority, The Pensions Regulator and the Department for Work and Pensions. It will be interesting to see whether any tweaks are suggested to the code to further assist pension trustees comply with their investment duties.
If you would like specific advice on any of these issues or on anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.