The Pensions Authority, as part of its regulatory role, monitors trustees, who must account to members for how their scheme is run by providing them with a wide range of personal and scheme information as required by the Pensions Act.
The disclosure of information in a timely manner enables scheme members to monitor their benefits and the financial soundness of their pension schemes. The Authority regards information disclosure as a very important governance requirement for pension schemes and takes steps to enforce this obligation where necessary.
The Authority's process of auditing occupational pension schemes is the responsibility of the Enforcement team and involves the issuing of a written request to the trustee(s) of a scheme to furnish to the Authority copies of the documentation that must be provided or made available to members of their scheme. The Authority then audits the documentation received against the detailed requirements of the legislation to gauge the level of compliance. Generally, any areas of non-compliance which are identified are notified to the trustees in order that they are rectified in future preparations of the documentation, however; where the non-compliance is of a serious nature or there is evidence that there has been a history of non-compliance, the Authority will consider the initiation of prosecution proceedings against the trustees.
The Authority gives particular priority to monitoring whether documents are prepared within statutory deadlines and are provided or notified to the relevant persons within the timeframes specified in the legislation.
The Authority also treats non-response to its requests for information, made pursuant to Section 54 of the Pensions Act, as a very serious matter.
While it is the stated policy of the Authority to achieve compliance, where possible, by co-operation, the cases taken demonstrate that the Authority will pursue breaches through the Courts where necessary.