20 April – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – SJ Berwin’s Pensions Unit, working in conjunction with the firm’s Commercial Litigation department, has successfully obtained a summary judgment on behalf of the trustees of the Sea Containers 1990 Pension Scheme. Judgment requires payment of a debt exceeding £500,000 arising under section 75 of the Pensions Act 1995 by a former employer, together with interest and costs.
Section 75 provides for the payment by employers to an underfunded final salary pension scheme of a portion of that scheme’s funding deficit in various circumstances, including the cessation of participation of an employer in a multi-employer pension scheme.
The case establishes the binding nature of an actuarial certificate issued pursuant to section 75 and specifying the amount of a “section 75 debt”, and confirms that such certificates cannot be challenged save in cases where there is “obvious error” on the face of the certificate.
Wyn Derbyshire, Head of the Pensions Unit, says: “This is a landmark ruling emphasising the binding nature of an actuarial certificate issued in relation to a section 75 debt and provides welcome certainty in relation to such matters, particularly in the light of the new “moral hazard” provisions of the Pensions Act 2004″.
Tim Beale, the litigation partner in charge of the case says “I suspect that the defendants could not believe it when they learnt that we would be seeking summary judgment. Such applications are rare enough in a pensions context anyway, but are particularly so where the facts and issues are as complex and important as they were in this case. Nevertheless, we felt that, although perhaps unorthodox, it was absolutely the right action to adopt. We are delighted that the court agreed with our view. It is also a testament to the way in which the separate litigation and pensions departments of the firm pooled their resources in such a creative and complementary manner”.