16 November 2016

These notable pensions cases are due in court over the next few months.   

Some like Steria, United Biscuits and IBM could have wide influence on pension schemes generally. This might only be after further appeals to refine the outcome, however.

Timings are uncertain. Hearing dates are often pushed back and it can be some time after a hearing before judgment is given. 

High Court

1. Steria Pension Plan Trustees v Sopra Steria Ltd

Actuary's certificate under s37 Pension Schemes Act 1993 

This is expected to throw light on the prohibition on certain amendments to contracted-out schemes without a certificate.

Due to be heard in December 2016.

2. United Biscuits Pension Trustees Ltd v HMRC


The headline case among a number on the recoverability of VAT incurred on services (and investment management services in particular) in relation to occupational pension schemes. The claim is for repayment of several decades of VAT.

No date yet set for a hearing.

Court of Appeal

3. Dutton v FDR Ltd

Pension increases were incorrectly paid over many years

Originally the rules required increases at 3% compound.  The parties agreed a rule change to 5% LPI for all service infringed a restriction on the alteration power. 

To put matters right, the High Court decided increases should be re-calculated year by year as the better of the two formulae. It rejected the employer's argument for an amount based on actual inflation over the full period (a lower total cost). The employer has appealed.

Due to be heard in February 2017.

4. Bradbury v BBC

Employer's implied contractual duty of trust and confidence

Whether the way the BBC went about capping pensionable pay via employment contracts breached its duty of trust and confidence to staff under those contracts. The High Court decided not.

Due to be heard in March 2017.

5. IBM

Employer's duty of good faith or Imperial duty 

Whether the employer acted in accordance with its duty in relation to the reorganisation of its pension schemes. 

Due to be heard in May 2017.

6. Safeway Ltd v Newton


When were retirement ages equalised? An announcement to that effect was issued to members in 1991, followed in 1996 by a deed of amendment expressed to have retrospective effect to 1991. The High Court decided equalisation was not effected until 1996.

Due to be heard in July 2017. 

Supreme Court

7. Brewster v N Ireland LGPS

Equality and marital status

Does a scheme rule requiring a member to nominate an unmarried partner to qualify for survivor’s pension infringe the right to equality regardless of marital status? N Ireland Court of Appeal said no. 

Supreme Court due to hear further appeal in November 2016.

8. Innospec Ltd v Walker

Equality and sexual orientation

In same sex relationships is it lawful for UK legislation to limit survivor benefits to service after 2005?  Like the High Court, the Court of Appeal said yes.

Supreme Court due to hear further appeal in November 2016.

European Court of Justice (CJEU)

9. Parris v Trinity College Dublin

Equality and sexual orientation

A death bed rule meant there was no survivor's pension if a marriage or civil partnership was made after a member reached age 60.  P made a UK civil partnership at 63. He argued it was impossible for him to satisfy the scheme age limit since Irish law only recognised civil partnership when he was 65. Was this unlawful discrimination?  

In her preliminary opinion the Advocate General said yes. 

The final decision by the CJEU has yet to be made. 

For more information on these or any other related issues, please contact our pensions services team.

Key contact

Richard Knight

Richard Knight Partner

  • Head of Pensions Practice
  • Pensions Services
  • Pensions Legal Advice

Subscribe to news and insight

Pensions Services

Our widely respected pension lawyers provide expert pension law advice in non-contentious and contentious pension matters.
View expertise