The Financial Service Tribunal’s decision in Redmann v. Superintendent of Financial Services, (PDF) deals with the retention by pension plan administrators of accurate records relating to the termination of plan members' employment. (FSCO has also recently recommended keeping pension plan records for an indefinite period in its proposed policy on record retention.) On the oral and written evidence before it in this case, the Tribunal decided against the former employee, concluding that he had received full settlement of his pension entitlement at the time of his termination.

The former employee, Redmann, participated in a defined benefit, non-contributory pension plan for more than ten years. In 1989, the plant closed and the pension plan was wound up. At the time of the wind-up, Redmann was entitled to receive either a monthly lifetime pension or to transfer out the commuted value of his pension. Redmann maintained that he had not requested a transfer of the commuted value to a locked-in RRSP, but rather had elected to collect a monthly pension in accordance with the terms of the plan.

The Tribunal found that there was no evidence which conclusively demonstrated that Redmann had or had not “cashed out” his pension twenty years prior. Notably, and of concern to pension plan administrators, the Tribunal cited its previous decision in Capaldi v. Ontario (Superintendent of Financial Services) (PDF) and the British Columbia Employment Standards Tribunal's decision in Hofer (Re) for the proposition that in the absence of proper records, the Tribunal must make its decision on the “best evidence”, which can include the employee’s records and oral evidence.

Turning to the “best evidence” before it, the Tribunal concluded on a balance of probabilities that Redmann was paid the commuted value of his pension. A statement from the plan’s insurance company showed a payment to Redmann in January of 1990, banking documentation disclosed that a locked-in RRSP account was opened in September of 1989, and Redmann testified that he received a payment into the locked-in RRSP account in the amount of approximately $5,000 (which roughly represented the commuted value of his pension).

While the Tribunal ultimately found that the claimant was not entitled to a pension in this case, the decision serves as a reminder to plan administrators to review, and update as necessary, their record retention policies.