Developments in Employee Benefits law and practice

13 October 2019

Updated Shareholder Rights Directive factsheet published

This factsheet on workplace pension scheme stewardship and governance has been revised, with an updated section 4 - What Trustees need to do and when they need to do it

CJEU ruling in Safeway retrospective changes case 

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has handed down judgment in the Safeway case, which concerns pension schemes, sex equalisation, amendment powers, and the interaction of EU and domestic law.

The Court held that Article 119 precluded, in the absence of an objective justification, a pension scheme from adopting a measure which equalised, with retroactive effect, the NPA of members to that of the persons within the previously disadvantaged category, in respect of the period between the announcement of that measure and its adoption, even where such a measure was authorised under national law and under the scheme's trust deed.

TPR publishes more detail on prospective scheme funding regime 

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published the text of a speech by David Fairs, Executive Director of Regulatory Policy, Analysis and Advice. The text covers the new defined benefit funding code.

OTS paper on simplifying tax 

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has published a report that looks at ways to improve people’s experience of the tax system at key events in their lives. The report notes that pensions are one of the most complicated subjects for individuals to understand. It recommends that HMRC ensures that clear guidance is available. Also, the OTS recommends that the Government continues to review the allowances taking account of the distortions they sometimes produce.

PPF update on Hampshire ruling 

The PPF has announced the next phase of its approach for the remaining members affected by last year’s ECJ ruling in the case of Grenville Hampshire. The update states that all pensioners affected because of the cap alone, and who have sent the PPF the requested information, are now receiving their increased payments.

The next phase for the PPF is to devise an approach for assessing and paying the remaining members who are affected by the ruling.

Budget date set (depending on Brexit)

HM Treasury has announced that the 2019 Budget will take place on 6 November 2019, assuming that a Brexit deal is agreed before the UK leaves the EU on 31 October 2019.

Brexit update

The Prime Minister suspended Parliament from the evening of Tuesday, 8 October, with MPs due to be recalled for a ‘Queen's speech’ on 14 October.

The Prime Minister and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar have held further talks to discuss the UK’s most recent Brexit proposals.

In the event that there is a deal with the EU, Saturday 19 October has been scheduled as the day when Parliament would be asked to approve the arrangement.

If there is no deal, the law requires him to seek an extension.

The Cabinet Office and Department for Exiting the European Union have published a ‘No-deal readiness report’, summarising UK preparations for exiting the EU on 31 October 2019. The report covers a wide range of areas and sectors, outlining what steps industry actors need to take to prepare themselves for a no-deal Brexit. The Scottish Government has issued a response to the report, in which it states that the government's approach to no-deal planning has made local preparations 'unnecessarily difficult'.

TPR has published regulatory guidance for UK-based cross-border pension schemes and UK employers who are currently contributing to a cross-border scheme based in the European Economic Area (EEA) in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Contact:

Julian Rowe | Policy, Professionalism & Research | email: Julian.Rowe@MERCER.com