In Capital Cranfield Trustees Limited v Brian Beck the High Court held that an announcement to pension scheme members had not validly equalised the Normal Retirement Date (NRD) for men and female scheme members.

In this case an announcement was made to scheme members that the normal retirement age was equalised at 65 for both men and women following the European Court of Justice’s decision in Barber.

The parties in this case agreed that the announcement did not satisfy the requirements for formality under the rule which provided for the alteration of the scheme rules. The question asked of the Court was whether the definition of NRD (which referred to the employers determining the day to be the NRD in any particular case) conferred a free-standing power on the employers to increase NRD for future accrual in respect of existing members.

The High Court held that the definition of NRD under the scheme rules was not wide enough to allow the employer to amend the NRD for a class of members or all the scheme members by making a determination and notifying the members in writing. The High Court further held that even if the scheme rules had been sufficiently wide, the announcement to members did not satisfy the formal requirement under the scheme rules that there be a “determination” in order for a valid amendment to be made.