Contribution notices in practice—the Bonas case
Contribution notices in practice—the Bonas case

The following Pensions guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Contribution notices in practice—the Bonas case
  • Facts
  • Decision of the Determinations Panel—determination notice
  • Applications to the Upper Tribunal
  • Upper Tribunal decision
  • Settlement of the proceedings
  • The Pensions Regulator’s comments

Note: this Practice Note only applies to defined benefit occupational pension schemes.

Facts

Michel Van de Wiele (VDW) was the Belgian parent company of Bonas Machine Company Ltd (Bonas), the sole employer of the Bonas Group Pension Scheme (the Bonas Scheme). Bonas was loss-making from the time it was taken over by VDW until its liquidation, only able to continue through the financial support of VDW. By 2006 it was clear that, as a result of the Bonas Scheme’s deteriorating funding condition, the trustees would be seeking significantly increased contributions from Bonas.

On 5 December 2006 Bonas went into administration and its assets and employees were sold for £40,000 to a new subsidiary company of VDW. The Bonas Scheme’s liabilities remained behind with Bonas. This process is known as a pre-pack insolvency. For more information on pre-packs see the article on pre-packs produced by the Association of Business Recovery Professionals (known as R3).

Neither the trustees nor the Pensions Regulator were given any prior warning of the pre-pack. In fact, the trustees were misled by VDW into believing that company support for the Bonas Scheme would continue.

The Pensions Regulator issued a warning notice against VDW and Charles Beauduin (chairman of VDW and managing director of Bonas) personally. The Bonas Scheme transferred into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) in November 2008.