The following Pensions practice note Produced in partnership with Wyn Derbyshire of gunnercooke LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
THIS PRACTICE NOTE APPLIES TO OCCUPATIONAL PENSION SCHEMES ONLY
This Practice Note considers the extent to which accrued pension rights under registered occupational pension schemes can be surrendered or forfeited.
Under section 91(1) of the Pensions Act 1995 (PA 1995), a person’s entitlement in respect of accrued benefit rights under a registered occupational pension scheme cannot be assigned, commuted, surrendered or charged, and no lien or set-off can be exercised in respect of it. Furthermore, any agreement to effect any such thing is unenforceable. This rule is known as the inalienability rule.
In circumstances where the inalienability rule applies to prevent the assignment of pension rights, a court cannot make an order to the contrary; however, this does not prevent the making of attachment of earnings orders (under the Attachment of Earnings Act 1971) or income payment orders (pursuant to the Insolvency Act 1986) in respect of income derived from a pension scheme.
Note that there is no equivalent legislation prohibiting surrender in respect of personal pension schemes.
In the case IMG v German, the Court of Appeal clarified that the Pensions Act 1995, s 91 does not prevent parties from agreeing, or the court from approving or enforcing, genuine agreements intended to compromise disputed or doubtful claims to benefit rights under an occupational pension scheme. Any
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