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Pollock v Reed [2015] EWHC 3685 (Ch): Bulk transfers and winding up

Monday 9 May 2016
6.30pm - 7.30pm followed by drinks and nibbles
The Royal College of Surgeons (Lecture Theatre 2), 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn FieldsLondonWC2A 3PE
1.0 CPD

The embargo on publication of the judgment of Asplin J given on 18 December 2015 in the “secret case” has now been lifted.

The case relates to Project Gravity, a proposed restructuring of the benefits under a scheme with more than 3,000 members and a solvency deficit of £600 million. The evidence was that without a restructuring the scheme would go into winding-up and enter the PPF.  The trustees sought court approval of a bulk transfer without member consent to a newly-established scheme, whose benefits were lower than the headline benefits under the old scheme, but no worse and in most cases better than PPF benefits, and which would have a capped guarantee from the employer’s US parent.

Asplin J indicated that she uwold have blessed the trustees’ decision to carry out Project Gravity as a reasonable and proper one, but held with regret that it was not permissible under the Preservation Regulations, rejecting the argument of the trustees and the employer that the Regulations required or permitted the scheme actuary to take into account the security of benefits when deciding whether the members could be transferred without consent.

Nine Wilberforce Chambers barristers appeared in the case: Edward Sawyer and Simon Atkinson (along with Andrew Spink QC) for the trustees, Jonathan Evans QC for the representative beneficiary, Robert Ham QC and Jonathan Chew for the employer, Andrew Mold for the PPF and Michael Tennet QC, Jonathan Hilliard QC and Bobby Friedman for the Pensions Regulator.

Michael Tennet QC, will chair a panel of Jonathan Chew, Bobby Friedman and Simon Atkinson who will be speaking about various issues raised which are of particular interest in the present climate, including the requirements for a bulk transfer without consent, the impact of a winding up on the benefits under a scheme, and issues of propriety in trustee decision-making.

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