At the Irish Association of Pension Funds Annual Investment Conference held last week, Brendan Kennedy, the Pensions Regulator, reiterated the Pensions Authority’s continued focus on good governance and its plans for ramping up the Authority’s programme of engagement with trustees of defined benefit schemes. This engagement includes continuing to invite such trustees to meet with
What is the Omega Pharma case?
The Omega Pharma case has confirmed that the scheme’s governing documentation and not the Pensions Act minimum funding standard determine the employer’s liability to contribute to defined benefit schemes on wind-up.
On 25 July 2014, Mr Justice Moriarty in the Commercial Court handed down judgment in the case of Holloway & Ors v Damianus BV & Ors  IEHC 383 and found in favour of the trustees of the Omega Pharma defined benefit scheme in their claim for deficit contributions against the scheme’s employers. The trustees succeeded in obtaining judgment in the amount of €2,439,193.56 (inclusive of interest) against the employers. On appeal, the newly established Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favour of the trustees (Holloway & ors -v- Damianus BV & ors  IECA 19).
If the Element Six case (Greene & Ors v Coady & Ors  IEHC 38) was the most important pensions law case for trustees in the recent past, the Omega Pharma case was not far behind. The Omega Pharma case is also particularly relevant to employers who operate or participate in defined benefit schemes. However, a number of key issues remain unanswered.
The continuing economic crisis sees those with responsibility for pension schemes faced with a number of complex issues. There are a number of core issues which we are seeing consistently arise. These include the following:
- Check the Power of Amendment
- Check Employment Contracts
- Check the Effect of the Change
- Conflict, Confidentiality and Consultation
- Obtain Advice