Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

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Benefit change exercises — what are the practical implications of the IBM case for trustees and employers?

By Ian Gordon

The latest IBM case has implications for employers and trustees when considering changes to members’ pension benefits. But what implications?

The most recent IBM judgment concerned IBM’s Imperial duties, i.e. its obligation to act in good faith to members of its pension schemes.

‘Project Waltz’ was to be a major reform of two of IBM’s UK pension schemes, made against the backdrop of a commitment IBM US had made to investors on Wall Street. The proposed reforms were not unusual, and comprised closing the schemes to future accrual, ensuring that future pay rises were not all pensionable and introducing cost-neutral early retirement factors…

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