Eversheds' administrator faces pensions charges

Eversheds' Newcastle-based employment services company is being prosecuted by the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) for making late payments into its company pension scheme.

The company, EIW Services (North East), will appear before Newcastle upon Tyne magistrates on 24 September charged with failing to pay employee earnings to the trustees of two pension schemes within a 19-day limit under the Pensions Act 1995.

The hearing is based on allegations that EIW Services failed to make the payments to the two schemes over an eight-month period.

Every month a company fails to make a payment it is treated as a new criminal offence.

Each incident carries a maximum fine of u5,000.

EIW Services, which shares an address with Eversheds Newcastle office, is described by a spokeswoman at the firm as “a vehicle used for employment purposes in which profit-related pay schemes operate”.

Nigel Robson, managing partner of Eversheds' north-east offices, is listed as a director. However, a spokeswoman at the firm says: “There is no significance in that. When a company is set up it needs to have a listed director.”

Eversheds has already admitted there were a number of late payments to those schemes during a 12-18 month period. On each occasion, the delayed contributions involved amounted to between u3,000 and u4,000 (The Lawyer, 5 July).

The pension schemes in question had previously been run by Wilkinson Maughan. But since a merger with Eversheds in 1997, they were being operated by EIW Services.

The firm states: “These errors were purely an administrative matter and were oversights which did not involve any dishonesty or misappropriation on funds.”

It is unclear if EIW Services will be prosecuted on all eight of the alleged offences.

A spokesman at Opra says: “It might not be in the public interest to go ahead with all eight of the offences.”