ESG considerations

A trustee guide

We have already seen the law in this area change to recognise the impact that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors can have on scheme investments and sponsor covenants, as well as savers' preferences. For example, trustees must produce a statement of investment principles (SIP) setting out their policies on financially material ESG considerations and stewardship. A new requirement to publish an implementation statement describing trustees' voting behaviour has also come into force.

Further developments in this area are on the horizon. In particular, the Pension Schemes Bill currently passing through Parliament and a DWP consultation suggest there will be additional disclosure and governance obligations for at least some schemes. If nothing else, the proposals in the pipeline show this area is being considered as increasingly important.

Pension scheme trustees need to ensure they fully understand their obligations in respect of ESG and are prepared for this to become a priority issue for schemes; both from a legal and member perspective.

For more information on Stephenson Harwood’s ESG expertise please click here to visit the ESG hub.

Insights

Pensions law: what does 2022 have in store?

Our top picks of expected developments in 2022

What the Mitchells & Butlers case says about rectification

Last month, the trustee of the Mitchells & Butlers pension plan secured a victory in court to rectify the plan’s rules. In addition to rectification, the judgment deals with issues including proper consultation with the plan actuary for valid amendments and the principle of bona fide purchaser for value without notice as a bar to rectification. Chris Edwards-Earl looks at these issues in a recent article published in Professional Pensions.

Restrictions on statutory transfers out

Trustees should be aware that they will have new obligations with respect to statutory transfers out from 30 November 2021. The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Conditions for Transfers) Regulations 2021 will provide trustees with new obligations in a bid to protect members from transfers to scam arrangements. The regulations will require further transfer due diligence checks from trustees before a transfer can be made and will prevent transfers where 'red flags' are present. The regulations also require trustees to ensure that members receive scam advice from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) where certain warning signs are present.

The Pensions Regulator's consultation on a new code for Contribution Notices

Writing for the Financial Times' Pensions Expert, senior associate Chris Edwards-Earl discusses the Pensions Regulator's consultation on a new code for Contribution Notices.

DWP response to consultation on draft regulations strengthening TPR’s powers

Pensions analysis: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published its response to its consultation on the proposed drafting of two regulations which would strengthen the powers of the Pensions Regulator (TPR) to issue contribution notices and gather information, following changes introduced by the Pension Schemes Act 2021. Chris Edwards-Earl discusses the response.

TPR seeks views on how it will apply new Contribution Notice tests

Pensions analysis: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a consultation on changes to its Code of Practice 12 following the introduction, by the Pension Schemes Act 2021 (PSA 2021), of new tests in relation to its Contribution Notice (CN) power. Stephen Richards and Chris Edwards-Earl comment on TPR’s consultation.

Why standstill agreements matter for pensions schemes

In a piece first published by Professional Pensions, senior associate Chris Edwards-Earl and partner Helena Berman look at the judgment in Kingsley Napley LLP v Harris & Another.

What the new corporate insolvency law means for the pensions industry

The 248-page Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act provides additional options and protections for companies that would otherwise be facing insurmountable financial pressure. Sue Moore and Chris Edwards-Earl explore how the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 will affect pension schemes. 

Click here to view. The article is behind a paywall.

Superfunds

Moving to a superfund

With ever increasing costs associated with defined benefit (DB) pension schemes and buyouts being out of reach for many, the advent of DB superfunds may offer some employers an alternative.

Whilst a legislative framework for DB superfunds is still awaited, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) has recognised that the industry is not going to stand still. TPR has therefore set out its own regime to regulate this area in the meantime. 

This brochure sets out some key considerations for trustees and employers to take into account when considering if transferring to a superfund is appropriate for them. It also summarises how the two current superfunds operate as well providing a guide on the process for a superfund transfer in accordance with TPR’s guidance.

DWP’s consultation on regulations under PSA 2021 strengthening TPR’s powers

Chris Edwards-Earl comments that under the recently enacted Pension Schemes Act 2021 (PSA 2021), the powers of the Pensions Regulator (TPR) were clarified and expanded.

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Contact

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