Pilots Pension Scheme Litigation Dropped on Eve of CoA Hearing

The appeal by the Port of Tyne of the decision in the Pilots National Pension Fund litigation, which was due to come to Court this week, has been dropped at the eleventh hour. 

This means that the Trustee has secured the first instance decision by Mr Justice Warren, handed down in July last year, which gave it the ability to amend the Rules of the Pilots Scheme so as to recover contributions towards the very substantial deficit from all the Competent Harbour Authorities that participate in the Scheme.

Tyne abandoned its appeal out of the blue on 21 October, although there is still some legal activity surrounding the loose ends, including a cross-appeal by one of the members of the Scheme, Mr Clark (Mr Clark seeks to appeal the Judge's finding that those ports that authorise pilots, as opposed to employing them, are not statutory employers.  It is not currently known when, or if, that cross-appeal will ensue.)

Angela Dimsdale Gill, head of pension litigation at Hogan Lovells, who acted for the Trustee in the litigation, said:

"The Trustee is naturally delighted that it can now get on with putting the Scheme on a proper footing. It is important to make clear that the Trustee did not begin these proceedings as hostile litigation.  The aim was to join with the Competent Harbour Authorities in seeking a ruling from the Court on the nature and extent of the Trustee's powers, and its direction as to how to proceed.  All parties before the Court at first instance collaborated in making a combined approach to the Court on that basis, making sure that argument from all the different interests was heard.  It was not an adversarial process and the Trustee was disappointed that any party afterwards chose to reject the Judge's finding and appeal. 

"Naturally, the Trustee is delighted that the abandonment of the appeal has meant that the Judge's decision stands.  The Trustee board does however regret the fact that the uncertainty hanging over the Scheme has been unnecessarily prolonged and further anxiety caused to its pensioners. Now that there can be certainty as to what the Trustee's powers are, the Trustee is anxious to work with all the participating Competent Harbour Authorities to put into position a recovery plan and secure members' pensions."

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