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Statement of intent: HR Trustees v Wembley plc

Are pension scheme changes that are attempted, but not properly executed, valid? Fenner Moeran considers HR Trustees v Wembley plc

27 June 2012

When trustees fail to comply with some formal requirement in a trust deed, but it is obvious what was supposed to happen, lay persons often ask – can’t we just act like it was done correctly anyway?

In HR Trustees Ltd v Wembley plc [2011] EWHC 2974 that precise question came before the courts. And the answer, surprisingly, was that in some circumstances you can.

Problem area

The case was about a pension scheme. Do not let that put you off though, because for all significant purposes it was really just about a trust. The problem came from a purported amendment to the scheme documents in 2000. The precise details of the amendment were pretty technical, but they dealt with amending the rate of increases the pension scheme promised for members’ pensions while in payment.

In brief, before the amendment, a pens...

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