Background

As we have reported in a previous BBCPA Newsletter, the BBC announced in May 2022 that it would be carrying out a review of its future pension provision for its serving employees. At the same time it wanted to see if it could reduce its pension costs by reducing the future service pension accrual rate under the BBC Pension Scheme, including the possibility of closing the Scheme altogether to future service pension accrual. However, to do this they had to go to the High Court to clarify whether the Rules of the BBC Pension Scheme would allow changes to be made to future service benefits.

The BBC did confirm to the High Court that the options they were considering did not involve reducing benefits already earned (which by law they would not be allowed to do), and so any changes would not affect pensions in payment or in deferment.

High Court Hearing

The High Court hearing took place over three days in May 2023. The parties to the hearing were the BBC, The Trustee of the BBC Pension Scheme, and a Representative Beneficiary (representing active members). Each party was represented by its own legal team.

Without going into the legal arguments that were presented, the High Court issued its judgement on 28 July 2023. It accepted the Representative Beneficiary’s interpretation and ruled that the BBC could not cut future service benefits for members of the BBC Pension Scheme or increase members’ contribution rates. For those who are interested in delving deeper into the legal arguments and the decisions reached, the full Judgement can be found at:

https://caselaw.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ewhc/ch/2023/1965

The BBC subsequently told its employees “We are considering the judgement very carefully and the options available to us. This will include whether we have reasonable grounds to appeal the decision, which is not unusual in cases of this nature.”

Decision to Appeal

The BBC has decided to appeal the decision. A Court of Appeal hearing will begin on 25 June 2024 and is expected to last for three days.

We will continue to keep members informed of the outcome of that Appeal hearing.

Published On: March 19th, 2024 / 1.8 min read / Views: 99 /

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