19 February 2024

2024 is only six weeks old and we’ve already had plenty of news and developments in the pensions industry. 

On 10 January the Pensions Regulator (“TPR”) finally published the long-awaited updated draft of its General Code (previously referred to as the Single Code). Hot on TPR’s heels, the DWP then issued its response to the consultation on the new Funding & Investment Regulations for defined benefit schemes, together with the final version of the Regulations.

Of course, schemes and their administrators will already be busy preparing for the abolition of the lifetime allowance (“LTA”) with effect from 6 April 2024. And cyber security remains a key issue across the industry – TPR has just released its regulatory intervention report in relation to the Capita cyber attack, which includes some important information for schemes on TPR’s expectations.

In the courts, we’ve already seen the first significant pensions decisions of the year, with judgments handed down in the Avon Cosmetics and Newell Rubbermaid cases. This newsletter includes articles on the Newell Rubbermaid decision and on Lendlease Construction v Aecom - an interesting non-pensions decision regarding the execution of deeds by companies.

And closer to home, we’ve been delighted to welcome a number of new team members in our Edinburgh office. With all of the legal developments already this year, we have no doubt that our growing team will be as busy as ever.

You’ll find information about all of the above, and more, in this month’s round up of pensions law news. We hope you enjoy this newsletter and, as always, if you have any questions, or would like to discuss anything you’ve read, please do get in touch.

TPR’s new General Code

The updated draft of the General Code has finally arrived and is due to come into force on 27 March 2024. With much interest around the new Code and its requirements within the pensions industry, in this article we look at what has changed since the previous draft, and identify key actions for trustees and scheme managers. 

Read more >

General Code: ESG and climate change obligations - are you ready?

With the General Code now here and due to come into force on 27 March 2024, it is more important than ever to understand your scheme’s ESG obligations. We have prepared a General Code ESG Checklist to help trustees identify their obligations under the Code and consider how they are met.

As well as being useful as an ‘audit’ to ensure compliance, it can help trustees with their knowledge and understanding requirements since the requirements are set out in an accessible form. For those trustees wanting to undertake a broader exercise, we can also provide a checklist of ESG requirements in relation to the Statement of Investment Principles and Implementation Statement and under the Climate Change Governance and Reporting Requirements (“TCFD”), if relevant.

Our experienced team of ESG experts are here to help you navigate the complex world of pensions and ESG. Contact director Kate Granville Smith to find out how we can assist you in complying with your scheme’s ESG obligations under the General Code and other reporting requirements.

Scheme funding

In another long-awaited development, the final version of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Funding and Investment Strategy and Amendment) Regulations 2024 was published on 29 January 2024, together with a response to the consultation on the previous draft. 

Partner Clive Pugh shares some initial impressions, with a more in depth review of the updated regulations to follow in next month’s newsletter.

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LTA changes: What should you be doing now?

In this article, partner Alice Honeywill looks ahead to the abolition of the LTA with effect from 6 April 2024 and identifies key actions for trustees, sponsors, providers and scheme administrators.  With much to do and only a short space of time to do it, the focus is on helping key players navigate the changes and pinpoint what they should be doing now to prepare for the new regime coming into force.

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Case law round up:

Newell Trustees Ltd v Newell Rubbermaid UK Services Ltd

This decision of the High Court considers a number of key principles of pensions law – including the construction of interim deeds, the operation of amendment power restrictions and the effect of extrinsic contracts. The judgment also examines whether the scheme changes in question, which treated older and younger scheme members differently, amounted to age discrimination. Pensions Disputes partner Suzanne Padmore explores the decision in this blog post.

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Lendlease Construction (Europe) Ltd v Aecom Ltd

This High Court decision is not a pensions case, but one of the issues it considers is whether a particular legal agreement takes effect as a deed or merely a contract. The distinction was important due to the different limitation periods that would apply (if the deed was actually a contract, the claim one party was seeking to bring would have been time barred). 

The judge here held that, notwithstanding that the company signatories were not statutory directors, the agreement in question did take effect as a deed. A surprising conclusion at first glance perhaps, but in this case the party seeking to rely on the document not taking effect as a deed is the party that would have benefited from that conclusion. And the signatories had been “held out” by that party as having the requisite authority to sign.

The case may not necessarily have broader application, but a key takeaway from a pensions law perspective is the importance of ensuring that all of the formal requirements relating to execution of deeds are strictly adhered to.

Read more >

Cyber security: TPR publishes regulatory intervention report

TPR has published a regulatory intervention report in relation to the Capita cyber security incident. The report sets out how TPR worked with Capita in relation to the cyber incident, reflects on lessons learned and sets out expectations for pension scheme trustees dealing with a cyber security incident going forwards. Senior associate Samantha Howell considers the report and identifies key learning points for trustees.

Read more >

The Burges Salmon Pensions Pod

What is the gender pensions gap and why does it matter? What is insurer due diligence and why is it important?

In the final two episodes of this season of the Burges Salmon Pensions Pod, partner Chris Brown and associate Helen Norman are joined by special guests to consider these questions - Aon’s Emma Moore discusses the gender pensions gap and Richard Hall of Argyll Covenant Advisory reflects on insurer due diligence requirements. 

Listen now >

Team news

In January we welcomed senior associate Mairi Carlin to our team, further bolstering our Edinburgh based Pensions team and re-affirming our commitment to the Scottish pensions market and our Scottish clients.

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Key contact

Richard Knight

Richard Knight Partner

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

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