In the cases of Mrs J Tingey and Mrs ME Martin, the Pensions Ombudsman upheld a complaint against Denistron Technologies plc after it failed to fulfil an earlier “pensions promise”.

The Ombudsman held that the letter from the chairman and chief executive of Denistron plc that promised to pay the applicants a pension could be described as an occupational pension scheme. In the Ombudsman’s view the applicants were being told that the company had set up an unfunded, unapproved occupational pension scheme for their benefit. The Ombudsman also held that the promise had been given by the someone who had authority to make the promise on behalf of the company, the board of directors had approved the decision and the applicant had relied on the promise.

Comment: Employers should exercise caution in making any form of pension promise to employees.