On Friday last, Justice Moriarty delivered his judgment in the case of Holloway & Ors v Damianus BV & Ors (Record No. 2013/6239P).
This case arose out of a contribution demand issued by the trustees of a defined benefit pension scheme in 2012. The demand was issued following the service by the principal employer of three months’ notice terminating its liability to contribute as provided for under the rules of the scheme. When the principal and associated employers failed to pay the amount due on foot of the contribution demand (€2.23 million), the trustees issued proceedings seeking to enforce payment in the High Court.
In considering whether or not the trustees could, or indeed should, have made the contribution demand, Justice Moriarty noted the previous comments of Justice Charleton in Green and Ors v Coady and Ors and, in particular, his comment that:-
“once trustees had acted honestly and in good faith, taking into account all relevant considerations and excluding irrelevant ones, the appropriate standard for review of their decisions is whether no reasonable body of trustees could have come to the same decision”.
Based on this standard of review, Justice Moriarty held that the decision of the trustees to issue a contribution demand did not appear to be one which no reasonable body of trustees would have made. Justice Moriarty also noted that the trustees, in conjunction with the scheme’s actuary, had sought to identify a reasonable basis of valuation with a view to providing the benefits under the scheme and that the trustees appeared to have been acting in good faith and in the best interests of members in accordance with their fiduciary responsibilities.
In those circumstances, the Court held that the trustees were entitled to succeed in their claim. A copy of this judgement will be available in the coming days on the High Court’s website – www.courts.ie.