The following Pensions guidance note Produced in partnership with Jennifer Seaman and Elizabeth Grace of Outer Temple Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
In an ideal world the language and provisions of contracts, deeds and other documentation would not be ambiguous, avoiding any misunderstanding or difficulty in their interpretation. However, this is not always the case. This has led the courts to develop methods or principles of construction and interpretation, including the interpretation of scheme deeds and rules in the pensions context.
The principles governing the construction of documents are now well established and not controversial. The courts’ aim is to interpret documents according to ‘common sense’ principles, ie the courts look at how the words would be interpreted in ordinary life. These principles have been built upon and further developed in a number of significant House of Lords and Supreme Court cases.
General cases include:
Investors Compensation Scheme (ICS) v West Bromwich Building Society
Chartbrook v Persimmon Homes
Rainy Sky v Kookmin Bank
Arnold v Britton
Wood v Capita
Pensions cases include:
Re Courage Group’s Pension Schemes
National Grid v Mayes
Stevens v Bell (British Airways)
Armitage v Staveley Industries
Barnardo’s v Buckinghamshire
This is a significant case, often used by the courts as the starting point for interpreting ambiguous provisions in documentation. Lord Hoffmann adopted five principles of construction falling within the following categories:
method of interpretation
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