New regulations (the Occupational, Personal and Stakeholder Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) (Amendment) Regulations (SI 2010/2659)) have amended the disclosure requirements applicable to all pension schemes with effect from 1 December 2010.

The key change allows trustees to satisfy disclosure obligations by sending the relevant information to the recipient’s last known postal address or by either/both sending it to the recipient’s last known electronic address or by making it available on a website. This easement in favour of electronic communications is hedged by series of safeguards:

  • The trustees must be satisfied that electronic communications have been designed so that the recipients will be able to get access to (and store or print) the relevant information;
  •  Conditions apply where trustees wish to place information on a website in order to comply with the disclosure requirements (for example, the trustees must notify members (either by post or electronically));
  •  The trustees must also have taken into account the requirements of disabled recipients;
  • Trustees must give written notice (by post) to members who have not previously received an electronic communication (that is, before 1 December 2010). The notice must specify that the trustees propose to use electronic communications for disclosure purposes and give the recipient an opportunity to opt out of that method of communication.

The amending regulations make other changes designed to ease the operation of the regime, including streamlined statutory money purchase illustrations.

Action required: the ability to use electronic communications will be welcomed by many trustees. Those who wish to take advantage of the administrative relaxations, and, in particular, use electronic communications, should, however, follow the prescribed procedures carefully.