Written evidence from The Pensions Ombudsman (HRO0004)
1. The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) is a quasi-judicial tribunal established by statute and has jurisdiction to investigate and determine complaints (or disputes of law) made in relation to pension schemes. A Determination is enforceable and appealable. TPO powers are set out in the Pensions Schemes Act 1993, Part X and under delegated legislation. TPO has regard to and is compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) in the carrying out of its functions, including those pertaining to oral hearings.
2. The Ombudsman can make a determination of law and direction under section 151(2) that the complainant’s treatment under a pension scheme is not compliant with the HRA. If the Ombudsman finds that a regulation of a public sector scheme is incompatible with the HRA, the public authority should act in a way which is compatible, subject to an appeal on a point of law against the Ombudsman’s Determination.
3. To properly determine a complaint, TPO considers all aspects including any HRA submissions. Generally, a HRA argument will be advanced as one of several arguments in support of a complaint. Examples of Determinations where the Ombudsman has considered the HRA include Mr E PO-18600, Mr R PO 19086, Mrs Y PO 12847 and Mr Craven PO 4207.
4. TPO presumes that the creation of any new Human Rights Ombudsperson would co-exist with TPO and therefore avoid any pension complaint fragmentation and retain a smooth simple customer journey. TPO would resist any challenge to its jurisdiction to consider HRA issues in the context of a pension’s complaint. TPO is happy to discuss further.