Shepherd and Wedderburn

UK 200 2013 position: 71

Pension trust deeds are ‘self-contained record’

By Louisa Knox and Edwin Mustard

The Outer House decision in Trustees of the Scottish Solicitors Staff Pension Fund v Pattison & Sim & Others [2014] CSOH 19 dealt with the validity of amendments made to a trust deed and offers up some useful general principles for interpreting pension scheme documents.

The Scottish Solicitors Staff Pension Fund provided pensions for employees of solicitors’ firms and their dependants. The trustees sought to recover outstanding employer contributions from the firm of Pattison & Sim and its two partners. The trustees argued that under the rules of the scheme, as amended, the defendants were among those liable to contribute towards meeting the deficit in the final salary scheme. The defendants denied liability and questioned whether the triple-lock amendment procedure set out in the original trust documents had been followed when introducing a new employer contribution rule.

In 1980 and in 1990, the trustees executed amending deeds, cancelling the existing rules and replacing them with new rules. The recitals to the amending deeds confirmed that the amendment provisions and conditions had been ‘duly observed and performed’. The trustees therefore maintained that the rules adopted in 1990 now governed the fund…

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