The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman was first established in 2003 under the Pensions (Amendment) Act, 2002. According to the Ombudsman’s most recent annual report, over the past 10 years the Office has received approximately 10,000 queries and opened over 5,000 detailed complaint files. In 2012 alone, 601 new complaint files were opened representing an increase of 24% on the files opened in 2011.
Under the Pensions Act, 1990, any party who disagrees or disputes the Ombudsman’s determination of the investigation is entitled to bring an appeal to the High Court within 21 days of the determination. In line with the increase in the number of complaints being made to the Ombudsman, we are also seeing an increase in the number of appeals being brought to the High Court against his determinations. Most recently the trustees of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service Superannuation Fund appealed a determination of the Ombudsman in the case of Willis & Ors v Pensions Ombudsman and anor.
In that case, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Kearns, made the following points: