Pilots pension scheme litigation withdrawn on eve of CoA hearing

A major pensions dispute for the Port of Tyne Authority has been dropped just hours before the legal fallout over the PNPF Trust Company litigation was due to be heard by the Court of Appeal.

Eversheds partner Giles Orton had instructed 3 Stone Buildings’ Sarah Asplin QC to lead the appeal against a judgment delivered by Mr Justice Warren last June.

The case, which involved nine silks,  was brought to the High Court by the trustee of the Pilots National Pension Fund (PNPF), who was represented by Hogan Lovells partner Angela Dimsdale Gill and Wilberforce Chambers’ Michael Tennet QC.

It concerned a raft of legislation passed in the early 1990s designed to protect pension scheme members from raiders.

The rules meant that employers would be obliged to pay into any ongoing scheme they were involved with and would also have to pay an exit fee to help fund any deficit when they ceased to be involved with the scheme.

However, there were several ambiguities around the legislation such as how much trustees were liable to pay into the fund on an ongoing basis and whether the legislation should override this.

There were also questions about how trustees should interpret the ‘ceased to be involved’ rule meaning that trustees of pensions schemes such as Pilots National Pension Fund, which was funded by multiple employers, would have difficulty working out when they could expect their lump sum.

The parties went to the High Court with more than 40 legal points to be determined by Warren J. His judgment outlined when employers were under an obligation to pay periodic contributions into their schemes and when they become liable to make lump sum payments into the scheme in order to secure benefits.

The port of Tyne Authority had sought to challenge the ruling, but today withdrew the case. It will now cover the full cost of the case.

High Court line-up

Claimant lawyers:

For Trust Company: Hogan Lovells partner Angela Dimsdale Gill instructed Michael Tennet QC of Wilberforce Chambers.

Defendant lawyers:

For Geoff Taylor: Linklaters partner Mark Blyth instructed Christopher Nugee QC of Wilberforce Chambers.
For Terry Clark: CMS Cameron McKenna partner Mark Grant instructed Andrew Spink QC of Outer Temple Chambers.
For Milford Haven Port Authority: Morgan Cole partner Michael Prior instructed Paul Newman QC of Wilberforce Chambers.
For Port of London Authority: Sacker & Partners partner Peter Murphy instructed Brian Green QC of Wilberforce Chambers.
For Shoreham Port Authority: Nabarro partner Jonathan Warne instructed Robert Ham QC of Wilberforce Chambers.
For Port of Tyne Authority: Eversheds partner Giles Orton instructed Sarah Asplin QC of 3 Stone Buildings.
For First Corporate Shipping (trading as Bristol Port Company): LG partner Thomas Ross instructed Michael Furness QC of Wilberforce Chambers.
For PD Teesport: Dickinson Dees partner Craig Monty instructed John Martin QC of Wilberforce Chambers.