About The Pensions Advisory Service
TPAS and the Pensions Ombudsman
Although we work closely with the Pensions Ombudsman, we have very different roles in the resolution of problems, complaints and disputes concerning pension plans.
TPAS: Dispute, resolution service
As an organisation we do not have any statutory powers and we can only effect a resolution through persuasion and conciliation. Unlike us, the Pensions Ombudsman has similar powers to a court of law. We normally get involved before the Pensions Ombudsman, who is usually the final arbiter in the matter.
Most of our team of advisers are made up of pension’s specialist’s, who volunteer their time to provide our service free of charge. They are typically drawn from the pensions industry and are highly qualified pension professionals. Our dispute and resolution service is independent of both sides to a complaint, and our advisers are tasked to collect as much information from you and all other parties involved.
Once our advisers have consulted all the information available, they will tell you if you have a sustainable case. If you’re told your case is not sustainable, our advisers will explain why this conclusion has been reached and return your file to our London office for closure.
However, if our adviser believes you do have a case, they will be able to assist you and the other parties to come to an amicable resolution. This could result in a number of outcomes, including getting the outcome you want, but it may involve compromise and a negotiated settlement. Even though our adviser’s offer their opinion on your case, it is in no way legally binding and you still have the right to take your case further to the Pension’s Ombudsman, providing it is within the jurisdiction.
If, after investigating your case, our adviser believes a referral to the Pensions Ombudsman may be beneficial, your file will be returned to our London office. Our in house pension’s specialists will then carry out an independent review and provide an expert second opinion. While this will usually confirm the initial view, sometimes the in house team’s second opinion may differ. If the in house team agrees that there is a case to be determined, they will help you to present your complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman.
If you decide to take your case to the Pensions Ombudsman, it must be presented on the official complaint form, which we will provide if you do not already have a copy.
If your complaint relates to a workplace pension scheme, and one of the respondents you cite is the scheme’s trustees or manager, the Pensions Ombudsman can only investigate your case, after you have used the scheme’s internal dispute resolution process. This is a statutory requirement, but we can help provide guidance on how to do this.
On receipt of your form, the Pensions Ombudsman will ask us to pass over your case file prior to their investigation. The Pensions Ombudsman will determine a decision about your case, based upon their interpretation of your legal rights. Following the investigation, the Pensions Ombudsman will decide your complaint or dispute, totally independent of any opinion we may have made on your case. This decision is final and binding on all the parties to the complaint or dispute and, can be enforced in the courts. The final decision can only be changed by appealing to the appropriate court on a point of law.
We expect our pension specialist’s to maintain standards on progressing cases, including acting upon correspondence within a reasonable time, and that you are updated with case progress at least every 8 weeks. Your case papers are typically kept for four years, unless they have been passed to the Pensions Ombudsman or Financial Ombudsman service.
If you find that you are unhappy with the service you receive from one of our advisers who is handling your case, please do not hesitate to let us know. If you wish to make a formal complaint, about the service (but not the opinion given), please write to our Head of Corporate Services, who will be happy to take it further. You should note that complaints of this nature should be made within 12 months of your adviser’s last involvement with your case
Where can I find out more?
If you need more information, please contact us. A pension specialist from our team will be happy to help with whatever pensions-related question you have. Our help is always free.