Failure to provide information
Mr D was employed by Shell International Limited and was a member of the Shell Contributory Pension Fund (the Fund).
In April 2016, Mr D began exploring how the trustee of the Fund was measuring and managing the potential risk of climate change. The trustee agreed that climate change was an issue the Fund faced and said that it was taking the risks of climate change very seriously. It offered Mr D the opportunity to meet with the trustee and discuss any concerns he may have.
Mr D found that the meeting did not eradicate his concerns and requested information including:
- the Fund’s recent Investment Strategy including sections that specifically dealt with climate change
- Risk Management Framework
- the relevant sections of the Employer Covenant
- sections of documents that describe the techniques and processes used by the Fund to identify, monitor and respond to climate risk
- a copy of the most recent Actuarial Valuations
- extracts from any minutes in the last two years recording decisions the trustee had made in relation to climate change.
The trustee provided Mr D with all the information it was required to do so under the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2013 (the Regulations). That is a copy of the Trust Deed, Statement of Investment Principles, Annual Report with Accounts for 2014 and 2015, the Actuarial Valuation as at 31 December 2014, and its Responsible Ownership Policy. The trustee declined sharing the Investment Strategy, Risk Management Framework, Employer Covenant Monitoring Framework, and a description of the process for identifying, monitoring and responding to climate risk. When making this decision, the trustee took into consideration the legal requirement relating to sharing information, confidentiality and commercially sensitive information. In addition, the trustee considered the direct relevance of the additional documents to the provision of Mr D’s personal benefits as a member, resourcing requirements, proportionality as to whether the information should be provided to Mr D and potential conflicts of interest.
Mr D’s complaint was considered by an Adjudicator. The conclusion was that the trustee had provided the specific information that must be provided to members on request as set out in the Regulations and it was not obliged to provide more. The Adjudicator said the trustee had also gone above and beyond its duties in arranging a face-to-face meeting with Mr D in which it discussed how the Fund was considering climate change.
The Deputy Ombudsman did not uphold the complaint. She found that the trustee had provided Mr D with all the information it was required to under the Regulations. There was no breach of a positive disclosure duty or maladministration. She found that there was no evidence to indicate that the trustee was deliberately trying to stop Mr D from obtaining information about the Fund and concluded that the trustee had not erred in declining Mr D’s requests.
Related case studies
Dr E was transferred into the QinetiQ Pension Scheme. His former pension arrangement was contracted out of the then State Earnings Related Pension Scheme. As a consequence of being contracted out of SERPS, the Scheme was required to provide Dr E with a pension that was broadly equivalent to the SERPS pension being given up.
Mr L and 13 additional applicants made complaints to us that the trustees of the Scheme had: mismanaged the Scheme’s funds; issued fabricated benefit statements; and caused funds transferred into the Scheme to be lost.