Regulations provided for the Regulator's Code of Practice No. 11: Dispute resolution – reasonable periods to come into force on 28 July 2008, having been laid before Parliament in March. However, we now understand from the Regulator that because of changes made to the code by Parliament (see in particular the second bullet point below), the code was relaid in June and now will probably not be in force until November.
The draft code currently on the Regulator’s website does not differ substantively from the draft issued in October 2007 (see Pensions Update, November 2007), but there are some clarifications and some changes to the order of paragraphs, so any IDR procedure which refers to paragraph numbers of the draft code should be checked to see if amendments are needed.
The draft code sets out the following "reasonable periods", with the usual caveat as to appropriateness for the particular scheme:
- a "person with an interest in the scheme" must make his application within six months of the date on which he ceased to be, or claims he ceased to be, a person with an interest in the scheme (though trustees should consider accepting late applications from those who could not have reasonably known about the matter in dispute within that period)
- trustees should notify the applicant of the decision within four months of the date on which they received the application; it is now clarified that this applies to the entire IDRP if a one-stage IDRP is adopted and to each stage of a two-stage procedure
- this notification should take place no later than 15 working days after the decision has been made (this period is additional to the four months).