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A case expected to set a precedent on access to pension fund surpluses has taken an unusual turn with a promise by the judge to reconsider his decision.

In the High Court in June Mr Justice Robert Walker ruled that National Power and National Grid could withhold payments due to their funds while they were in surplus.

He said it was unimportant to the case that the money was only available to be withheld because it had been paid in instalments rather than in a lump sum, as it should have been.

Lawyers acting for pensioners then showed that, had the money been paid in a lump sum, the Inland Revenue would have prohibited its removal.

Peter Woods, the partner at Stephens Innocent who is acting for National Grid pensioners, described the situation as “ludicrous”.

“The time is ripe for the Court of Appeal to give a direction,” he said.