The Pensions Ombudsman has jurisdiction in relation to certain pension matters, The Pension Ombudsman investigates complaints referred by actual or potential beneficiaries of occupational pension schemes or PRSAs where the loss is alleged to have been suffered by maladministration.
It may investigate a dispute in relation to of facts and law by actual or potential beneficiaries in relation to acts done in the management of a pension scheme or PRSA. and complaints as prescribed.
The complaint cannot be heard until the internal dispute mechanisms of the pension scheme or PRSA have been complied with.
Complaints the subject of legal proceedings and certain other complaints may not be brought to the Pension Ombudsman.
The following complaints are also excluded,
- issues re member-nominated trustees,
- restrictions on self-investment,
- professional advisor appointments,
- funding and solvency issues,
- issues regarding disclosure of information,
- equal treatment,
Maladministration includes bias neglect inattention incompetence arbitrariness. It includes mistakes irregularities, failure to implement a scheme, failure to honor its terms, unnecessarily delay, abuse of power, not providing sufficient information, failure to advise.
A complaint can be made within two years of the matter concerned or six years of the matter arising or two years of the date of knowledge or deemed knowledge.
The Ombudsman supplies details of the complaint to the relevant person. The relevant person must reply in writing setting out the response, details of matters on which it relies. The relevant person is entitled to seek further information about the complaint.
The Pensions Ombudsman has the power to require the production of information and require persons to attend to be examined on oath.
The relevant allegations must be reported to the pension scheme or PRSA provider and third parties who have been adversely affected by the determination. The Pension Ombudsman must take account of their views.
The Pension Ombudsman will give a preliminary view to the parties. At that stage, the persons who made the complaint or reference will be given the chance to provide further information. It is an offence to obstruct the Pension Ombudsman.
Upon completion of the investigation, a determination will be made in relation to the dispute. Financial redress may be ordered as appropriate. No compensation is allowed for the inconvenience caused. The Pensions Ombudsman may not require a change in the rule of the scheme nor overrule an exercise of discretion.
If the person addressed does not comply with the order, an application may be made to the Minister for Social Protection who can apply to the court for an enforcement order.
The Pension Ombudsman’s decision can be appealed to the High Court.