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Increases to pensions in payment: validity of grant, estoppel and limitation

Keith Rowley Q.C. and Elizabeth Ovey appeared for the principal employer in a Part 8 claim raising questions about the validity of the grant of increases to pensions earned by service before 6 April 1997 and consequential matters. The increases were purportedly awarded in 1992 and were paid for many years before it was appreciated in 2011 that the grant was arguably invalid. In a wide-ranging judgment Arnold J. decided that:

  • the increases were not validly granted under the governing documentation in force at the time of the purported grant (distinguishing the judgment of Vos J. in HR Trustees v Wembley [2011] EWHC 2974 (Ch)) but were validly granted retrospectively under powers granted in a later definitive deed and rules


  • If the increases had not been validly granted, there was no estoppel between the principal employer and the trustees which would have prevented the employer from challenging the validity of the grant
  • s.5 of the Limitation Act 1980 did not apply to impose a 6 year limitation period on the exercise of the equitable right of recoupment by the trustees.

To read the full judgement, please click here.