Ill Health Retirement – High Court Update
As members will be aware from the recent Summary Annual Report 2020 (also known as the Member Newsletter), a trial was due to be heard in the High Court over 8 days from (or shortly after) 9 November 2020 in relation to 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.
However, as a result of ongoing confidential settlement discussions, the Judge agreed to adjourn the trial and put the case on hold for a three month period. This is to allow the parties the necessary time to prepare and hopefully agree detailed settlement terms in this complex matter. The intention is that if settlement terms are agreed, they will be considered for approval by the Judge at a further hearing over two days from (or shortly after) 22 March 2021. The Judge would only approve the settlement if he considers that it is in the interests of the members and employers to do so.
Further information about the proposed settlement will be made available to members and employers in due course.
The Trustee strongly recommends that, where possible, members retain any medical and employment history and/or knowledge about their past health. The Trustee also recommends that where possible, a member’s family/dependants also retain knowledge of, and/or records related to, a member’s employment and medical history in the event of a member’s incapacity or death. This is relevant for all members with service before 8 October 1993 who either have or had IHER benefits or 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.