The Pensions Regulator has reported on the responses it received to its consultation on the draft code of practice relating to the new internal dispute resolution procedure (IDRP) regime, due to come into effect in April 2008. The code of practice, once approved by Parliament, will give guidance to trustees on the "reasonable periods" which are to replace the current strict deadlines.
As a result of the consultation responses, a few clarifications are to be made to the code:
- The four-month period for trustees to reach a decision applies to the entire IDRP if a one-stage IDRP is adopted; if schemes a two-stage procedure is retained, the four-month period applies separately to each stage. Trustees can, of course, agree shorter timescales if they wish.
- The 15-day period for notifying applicants of decisions is additional to the four months.
- The list of matters to which the IDRP requirements do not apply has been corrected so that it accords with the legislation.
The Regulator does not propose to extend the six-month ‘reasonable period’ for making an IDRP complaint where the applicant could not have known about the problem within that period, as the draft code already recommends trustees to consider accepting later applications in these circumstances.
Note that trustees who intend to retain a two-stage procedure after April 2008 will need to amend their procedures to take account of:
- the requirements to notify the applicant of the Pensions Advisory Service and the Pensions Ombudsman and
- the new potential applicant, a ‘surviving non-dependant beneficiary’.