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High Court admonishes government in pensions case

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by Elaine Frei
High Court admonishes government in pensions case

A High Court judge ruled Wednesday that the government erred in rejecting parliamentary ombudsman Ann Abraham’s findings that it was guilty of maladministration in providing misleading information that led to tens of thousands of people losing their pensions. The judge ordered the government to reexamine the issue with Ms. Abraham’s findings in mind. However, it also ruled that the government was correct in rejecting the finding of Ms. Abraham that all the individuals who lost their pensions during the period under examination, from the late 1990s to 2005, were served an injustice through the government’s provision of misleading information about pensions schemes.

The judge gave permission to appeal his decision both to the government and to the pensioners bringing the case against the government in those parts of his ruling that went against them. Solicitors for the four individuals who brought the case said that the ruling, despite not going completely their way, meant that “the government has been caught red-handed” in trying to deprive pensioners of their just due.

It is expected that the government will now follow the ombudsman’s original finding that the government should look at all possible options for covering the pensions. This course would likely mean that business or the financial services industry responsible for paying for failed pensions schemes. Some members of Parliament, however, have threatened to amend the pensions bill currently under consideration in a way that would force the government to give more aid to victims of failed pensions.

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News posted: February 21, 2007

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