Halcrow Pensioners Association

Newsletter No. 20

 HALCROW PENSIONERS ASSOCIATION 

 Newsletter No 20 : July 2016

You have been sent this newsletter because you may be a member of the Halcrow Pension Scheme. If you are not a member then please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email to remove your name from the mailing list or email the webmaster to remove your name.

HPA's Appeal Against the Regulated Apportionment Arrangement (RAA)

On 7th July, Edward Evans, co-chair of the HPA, submitted an application to the Upper Tribunal on behalf of the HPA to appeal the decision by tPR to issue a Regulated Apportionment Arrangement (RAA) in respect of the HPS.  The appeal was submitted by Martin Jenkins, a solicitor from Irwin Mitchell LLP.

The Upper Tribunal is a court that hears appeals against decisions of various government agencies. Appeals normally have to be submitted within 28 days, but both tPR and the UT can waive that requirement. The UT has the power to award plaintiffs the costs of legal and other support, and to suspend the ultimatum until a judicial review has been undertaken.

The HPA has set out the grounds for its appeal, supported by an exhibit that sets out arguments rebutting the four key planks in the reasoning of tPR in issuing an RAA, viz:

1.    that insolvency of Halcrow is imminent
2.    that CH2M Hill derives and has derived no net benefit from its ownership of Halcrow
3.    that CH2M Hill are not seeking to engineer the position now prevailing
4.    that the experts on whom the Trustees (and therefore tPR) are relying have the full picture

Further details of HPA's appeal are set out here. Updates will be provided in the HPA forum.

The Pensions Regulator's Section 89 Report

The report under Section 89 which was mentioned at the meeting on 20th June has now been released by the Pensions Regulator and is available here. It is evident that considerable effort has been expended on drafting this report as it is more than twice as long as any previous Section 89 reports. The HPA committee has read the report with considerable interest and has drafted a list of 20 questions (see here) which has been sent by HPA's solicitor to tPR. The questions (quoted text is in a different font) include:

  • (p4) "The trustees also asked a scheme member to act as a ‘representative beneficiary’ – someone who is appointed when it is not practical for all beneficiaries who might be affected by the issues to participate in the proceedings." Were you aware at the time of the existence of the HPA, an organization of a large number of pensioners who were so affected, and which was practical and easy to contact? If so, why did you not ask the Trustees for it to be involved?
  • (p4) "In this case, the representative beneficiary was given the role of putting forward arguments in opposition to the benefit redesign." Did you ascertain whether the beneficiary had the capacity and resources to independently research and develop these arguments?
  • (p4) "The judge ruled in our favour, so the benefit redesign could not go ahead without member consent."  However, as you note elsewhere, the benefit redesign did go ahead without member consent, and the members were only informed of the result of the redesign when they were given a choice of whether or not to accept it. Why did you accept a process that was precisely what you state the judge did not accept?
  • (p8) When exactly in October 2011 did tPR open the case? Did tPR consider using its powers to ensure some of the sale price was used to reduce the HPS deficit? Why did tPR state it shared the concerns of the pensioners on the future funding, yet take no action when their concerns were ignored by CH2M/Halcrow?
  • (p12) "The trustees of pension schemes have a representative role for all their respective scheme members. They are, therefore, a DAP for these purposes and in this case, the trustees of the scheme were kept fully informed throughout the process." The fact that trustees are a DAP does not mean that members are not DAPs. tPR has a duty to contact DAPs, not just selected DAPs. Why were the Trustees the only DAP contacted?
  • (p12) "It is also important that members are involved, are given a choice, and are not transferred without their consent." We note you distinguish between the three actions of being involved, being given a choice, and being transferred. Why in the case of Halcrow did tPR not insist on the first action? 

The Roadshows

The last in a series of meetings run by JLT - a company related to Independent Trustee Services Ltd - was on 30th June. They tended to run out of time long before all the questions had been answered. It was stated that the pensions administration would prepare a consolidated list of questions and answers. However, to date (13th July) this has not been posted on the pensions administration website.

Press Coverage

The press continues to show interest in the developments with HPS. We have set up a Press Reports discussion in the forum. If you come across any relevant press reports or articles that are not already mentioned then please post links to them. There has also been some correspondence in the Financial Times subsequent to John Ralfe's article (see Newsletter 19). Chris Martin, Managing Director of Independent Trustee Services Ltd and one of the company-appointed HPS trustees (appointed in January 2013), felt it necessary to set out his position. You may be able to read this by putting "Financial Times A sustainable scheme for Halcrow members" into a search engine. Then Edward Evans, HPA's co-chair, responded with the scheme members' view (search for "Financial Times Trust me I'm a trustee"). Unfortunately, we are unable to publish the full correspondence due to FT's copyright restrictions.

What should HPS Members Do?

Common sense dictates that in a fluid situation, as we have here, making a decision is best left to the latest opportunity, ie just prior to 5 August 2016 deadline. You may wish to qualify your signature with the words ‘without prejudice to the result of any future legal action‘. It is understood that the pensions administration may be willing to accept electronic copies of the form from those scheme members who are outside the UK, provided that these are followed up by hard copies. However, individuals are recommended to confirm that they are able to do this.

Please Spread the Word About HPA

Given the current challenging situation which has major implications for HPS members' future financial security, HPA wants to reach out to as many members of HPS as possible. The ongoing media campaign should help in enhancing awareness but please dredge through your individual memories and make all former colleagues who might have an interest in the Halcrow Pension Scheme aware of the current situation and of HPA's existence. HPA endeavours to represent all members of HPS, not just those in receipt of a pension.

Previous Newsletters

If you haven't been with HPA from the start or want to remind yourself of previous events then you can browse through the previous newsletters for which there is a full list here.