Rosalind Connor comments in Pensions Expert on DWP’s defined benefit white paper
The Pensions Regulator is prepared to deploy tough new powers promised by the Department for Work and Pensions’ defined benefit white paper, although it admitted that there will be a high bar for beginning any criminal proceedings against sponsoring employers.
Much of the technical difficulty in enforcing criminal sanctions will stem from the higher burden of proof associated with criminal law. Civil cases are decided ‘on the balance of probabilities’, whereas criminal convictions must be backed up by proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
“Contribution notices have seriously affected behaviour and I seriously don’t think this will make any difference,” Rosalind Connor commented, adding that people are already “terrified” of incurring large personal liabilities.
“If someone issued a fine against me for tens of millions of pounds that would ruin my life,” she said.
“One of the reasons the regulator pushed for section 72 notices not to be criminal is it’s easier to use.”
While details are yet to be worked out, Rosalind also pointed to the wording of “wilful or grossly reckless” as a further barrier to effective prosecution.
“Being reckless means you thought about it,” she said. “The thing you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt is what someone was intending to do and how they were feeling when they acted.”
Read Rosalind’s comments in Pensions Expert
The views in this article are intended for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. Arc Pensions Law and the author(s) are not responsible for any direct or indirect result arising from any reliance placed on content, including any loss, and exclude liability to the full extent. Always seek appropriate legal advice from a suitably qualified lawyer before taking, or avoiding taking, any action. If you have any questions on the points raised in the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch.