The Pensions Regulator is being more proactive and it is becoming increasingly common for pension scheme trustees, corporate sponsors, advisers and service providers to receive formal and informal requests for information from the Regulator.
In the past five years the Regulator has issued 656 formal requests for information, known as “Section 72 notices”. This represents an increase of 133% on the previous five year period.
Requests can be wide ranging and require documents and information to be provided within a very short timescale. In-depth searches are required to locate all relevant documents and information and these will need to be reviewed to check whether any information should be withheld or redacted (for example, on grounds of legal privilege or data protection). As a result, the cost of complying with an information request from the Regulator can run to tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Our new practical guide to responding to requests for information from the Pensions Regulator sets out:
- the immediate steps that trustees, sponsors and other potential recipients should take if they receive a request for information from the Pensions Regulator
- the grounds on which an information request may be challenged, and
- the scope for securing an extension to the deadline for providing information.
Trustees and sponsors are also reminded to:
- check whether their costs are covered by insurance or any contractual terms, and
- check whether they may be liable for costs incurred by advisers and service providers who are required to carry out detailed searches.
Failure to comply with a section 72 request, without reasonable excuse, is a criminal offence which may result in an unlimited fine – something already seen with successful prosecutions. Any person who intentionally and without reasonable excuse alters, supresses, conceals or destroys a document requested under section 72 may also be fined and/or face imprisonment for up to two years.
To find out more download the guide or contact a member of our team.