De La Rue plc & Ors v (1) De La Rue Pension Trustee Ltd, (2) Mark Crickett [2022] EWHC 48 (Ch)

On 14 January 2022 Mr Justice Trower handed down judgment in De La Rue plc & Ors v (1) De La Rue Pension Trustee Ltd and (2) Mark Crickett [2022] EWHC 48 (Ch), a claim concerning the construction of a rule in the De La Rue Pension Scheme providing for the revaluation of deferred pensions.

By his judgment Trower J granted a declaration in favour of the construction of the rule contended for by the claimant employers, namely that the provision only required affected members’ pensions to be revalued in accordance with the minimum statutory requirements under the Pension Schemes Act 1993, and not, as Mr Crickett contended on behalf of those members, by the greater of statutory revaluation and the rate of increase applicable to their pensions when in payment.

Had the judge instead accepted the affected members’ argument, the cost to the Scheme would have been over £20 million in additional liabilities.

The decision is an important example of the application of the principles governing pension scheme construction recently set out by the Court of Appeal in Britvic plc v Britvic Pensions Ltd [2021] EWCA Civ 867, [2021] Pens LR 16, following the Supreme Court’s judgment in Barnardo’s v Buckinghamshire [2018] UKSC 55, [2019] ICR 495. It should be of interest to pensions practitioners in particular and to all lawyers concerned with the construction of written instruments.

The judgment can be read in full here.

Keith Rowley QC and Elizabeth Ovey acted for the claimant employers, instructed by Hogan Lovells International LLP.

Henry Day acted for the first defendant trustee, also instructed by Hogan Lovells.