OTC barristers act in the first judicial review of the Pensions Regulator

OTC barristers Richard Hitchcock and Farhaz Khan have acted for Garvin Trustees, the trustee of the Desmond & Sons 1975 Pension and Life Assurance Scheme, as a notice party responding to an application for leave to bring a claim for judicial review made by the former directors and shareholders of Desmond & Sons, the sponsoring employer of the scheme.

The judicial review claim was intended to quash the warning notice and determination notice issued by the Determinations Panel of the Pensions Regulator in 2010, and further preclude the regulator or the Upper Tribunal from issuing a contribution notice against the target applicants (pursuant to Article 34 and 97 of the Pension [Northern Ireland] Order 2005).

The Honourable Mr Justice Treacy, sitting in the Northern Ireland High Court (QBD, judicial review), dismissed the application for leave on the grounds that the judicial review claim was unarguable and the delay in bringing the application had caused irredeemable prejudice including to the trustee.

The Upper Tribunal decision on the targets’ strike-out applications in May 2011 is the leading case on the jurisdiction and scope of the powers of the Pensions Regulator to issue contribution notices and the only case in which contribution notices have been issued against individual persons. The parties are awaiting the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

Hitchcock and Khan were instructed by Justin Briggs of Burges Salmon and continue to act for the trustee in the substantive matter.