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07 Nov 2018

Stephenson Harwood secures Supreme Court clarification for trustees of Barnardo's staff pension scheme

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Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has advised the trustees of Barnardo's staff pension scheme on a long-running legal process, culminating in a Supreme Court decision. The case concerned the extent to which the scheme trustees have discretion, under their governing trust deed, to change inflation index under the scheme used as the basis for increases to pensions and inflation proofing for deferred members benefits.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court and the Court of Appeal, judging that the current rules specify that RPI must be used and that there is no discretion for the trustees to use any other measure of inflation. The only exception to this would be in the event that the RPI was discontinued as a measure of inflation.

"This judgment confirms that trustees and employers must be very cautious when considering a change of index and the powers of trustees, and rules governing schemes, should be thoroughly assessed before any changes made," said Stephenson Harwood partner Philip Goodchild, a member of the firm's pensions practice. "The Supreme Court has brought to an end this long-standing question, bringing clarity to the Barnardo's scheme members and the trustees."

The Stephenson Harwood team was led by Philip Goodchild, who was assisted by senior associate Naeem Noor.

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