Pensions Regulator settles Bonas case

On 9 June 2011 the Regulator announced that it had issued a contribution notice following settlement of the ongoing dispute with Michel Van de Wiele NV (VdW), the Belgian parent company of Bonas UK Ltd.

In April 2010 the Determinations Panel recommended issuing a contribution notice exceeding £5 million. VdW appealed this determination and, although this application was unsuccessful, the judge who heard the appeal suggested that the amount was excessive as it should only compensate the scheme for the detriment suffered.

Although the appeal was unsuccessful, a contribution notice has been issued for the considerably lesser sum of £60,000. The Regulator's report confirms the compromise reached but:

  • rejects the appeal judge's analysis of how the amount specified in a contribution notice should be calculated;
  • notes that the decision should be taken in the context of the Bonas case and should therefore not be relied on in future cases; and
  • comments that in its opinion the amount of a contribution notice should not necessarily be restricted to the detriment suffered by the scheme and that this is not the approach the Regulator will take going forward.

It will be interesting to see the Regulator's approach when assessing the value of a contribution notice the next time this issue arises.