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Data protection rules already apply to the trustees of pension schemes as a result of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003. The existing data protection legal framework will be significantly strengthened from 25 May 2018 when the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. If trustees have not already started to consider whether their scheme arrangements will be compliant with GDPR requirements, now is the time to do so.

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We are increasingly asked by overseas clients whether, if they acquire a business or a company in Ireland which operates a DB Scheme in Ireland, they could be liable to the DB Scheme even though the acquirer may not participate in that scheme.  UK clients are particularly concerned by this issue given their experiences with the UK pensions regulatory framework.
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Between agenda items at a recent meeting of the Association of Pension Lawyers in Ireland conversation turned to the type of matters our various firms’ pensions practices are currently working on.

What was surprising was the amount and range of pensions-related litigation.  The issues being litigated included scheme wind-ups, employer capital reduction applications and creditors accessing funds within bankrupts’ pension arrangements.  The amount of current pensions-related litigation highlights the need to consider litigation risks and strategy at a very early stage in transactions that could prove contentious.


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After much talk over the past 2 or 3 years, at last sovereign annuities have become a reality… nearly.  This week, I was one of the speakers at the launch of the first sovereign annuity approved by the Pensions Board.  Getting to this point is a major milestone in the long journey towards being able to use sovereign annuities. We are not quite there yet though.

One of the speakers at the launch was Anthony Linehan of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The view in the industry is that sovereign annuities are most likely to be backed by Irish sovereign bonds. Mr Linehan gave a very interesting presentation on the bonds which the State will issue to back sovereign annuities and the process for issuing and pricing those bonds.

It seems that the State will issue what are being called ‘amortising bonds’. These are bonds which will pay out equal annual payments which are made up of a coupon payment and part of the principal which would usually be repaid at the expiry of the bond.  They are ideally suited to sovereign annuities.


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Background

New statutory requirements relating to funding defined benefit schemes have recently come into law with the coming into force of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012 on 1 May and the publication of various pieces of statutorily binding guidance issued by the Pensions Board on 7 June.

The Act makes various changes to the Pensions Act 1990, principally, its sections relating to the funding standard and revaluation of preserved benefits. The Pensions Board’s guidance sets out the details of most interest.  Through various changes to the Pensions Act, much of the Pensions Board’s guidance now has the force of law.


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The Pensions Board’s deadline for the submission of responses to its consultation on the simplification of defined contribution pension provision passed at the end of February.  The consultation sought views on a number of different issues. These ranged from the number of different pension vehicles to pension adjustment orders to disclosure requirements.

A&L Goodbody have

The trustees of pension schemes may from time to time find that they have to exercise a discretion where they have a direct personal interest in the outcome of the exercise of the discretion e.g. because they are members who benefit from the exercise of the discretion – possibly at the expense of other classes of members. Can a trustee in such a situation take any part in the decision over how to exercise the discretion and still comply with his fiduciary duties to members?  
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