Ill Health Retirement – Further High Court Update 23 June 2021

As members may recall, a hearing was due take place in the High Court over two days from (or shortly after) 5 July 2021. This was in relation to settlement of a case about the ill-health early retirement (“IHER”) benefits paid by the Fund.

The issues in the case relate to whether IHER benefits paid by the Fund from 1985 onwards were validly introduced and the legal effect of various subsequent changes to those benefits. In particular, from 1991, certain IHER benefits were reduced or suspended, and from 8 October 1993, no further IHER pensions were provided to members leaving service after that date.

Whilst the parties have made considerable progress in the confidential settlement discussions, the hearing listed for July needs to be re-scheduled. This is primarily to allow more time for discussions to take place with HMRC over the tax treatment of any payments made under the settlement.

The Judge has therefore agreed to re-list the hearing, and it will now take place over two days from (or shortly after) 11 October 2021. As before, the intention is that if settlement terms are agreed, they will be considered by the Judge for approval at that hearing. The Judge will only approve the settlement if it is considered to be in the interests of both the members and the employers.

Further information about the proposed settlement will be made available to members before the hearing in October 2021.

The Trustee strongly recommends that, where possible, members who (a) previously retired for reasons of ill health on an IHER pension, or (b) who left service on or after 8 October 1993 without taking IHER, retain any medical and employment history and/or knowledge about their past health.

The Trustee also recommends that, where possible, a members family/dependants also retain knowledge of, and/or records related to, a members employment and medical history in the event of a members incapacity or death. This is relevant for all members with service before 8 October 1993 who either (a) have or had IHER benefits or (b) left service through ill-health after that date without taking IHER (at the time of leaving service). This could be relevant whether or not the case settles.

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