The complexity of pensions, together with increasing member engagement, means those involved in the operation of pension schemes regularly face complex member queries, complaints and claims. Such complaints can carry large financial risk, as well as the potential for reputational damage and regulatory intervention.

Our team is ideally placed to assist and advise on the appropriate response to such complaints and to address any subsequent escalations to the Pensions Ombudsman or the courts.

Whether you are looking for specialist input on a complaint or claim you have received, or to take action to redress the impact of an error by a third party, we have the knowledge and expertise to help.

Services

The team offers a complete range of services covering:

dispute prevention: conducting communication audits and reviews to ensure accuracy and clarity, with the inclusion of appropriate wording to mitigate the risk of future member complaints;

member complaints and queries: advising on responses to informal queries and concerns raised by members;

Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRPs): providing advice at all stages of a scheme’s IDRP, including assisting with an investigation, the preparation of draft responses and providing advice on likely outcomes; and

engagement with the Pensions Ombudsman: corresponding with and submitting legal arguments to the Pensions Ombudsman, advising on process, likelihood of success and proposed settlements. 

Our experience

Our recent experience includes

advising on a breach by a service provider affecting a cohort of members, including a review of corrective member communications, compensation arrangements and settlement of costs with the service provider;

advising on the approach to numerous informal complaints and IDRPs, including breaches of the statutory transfer regime, misquotations and the negotiation of informal settlements with affected members;

advising on formal engagement with the Pensions Ombudsman, including a complaint regarding a member’s long-held expectation of unreduced early retirement and a review of all associated historic communications;

acting for trustees in preparing and presenting a Special Case procedure at the Court of Session concerning equalisation and escalation; and

providing regular updates to key clients on the latest Pensions Ombudsman and court cases, together with our assessment of the most direct and relevant implications.

  • ...both sound and pragmatic, and have a proactive and responsive approach. 

  • Shepherd and Wedderburn is known for being "fast, responsive and proactive, with no waffle', and for possessing 'great business acumen as well as empathy with people".

  • Shepherd and Wedderburn’s highly experienced team is ‘excellent in all areas’.

  • They have a very good command of their subject but are also very approachable and user-friendly. They are good at making complexity palatable and working as a team.