The latest round in the long running saga of the Desmond & Sons case has just been announced. The High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland has rejected the application for a judicial review of the decisions taken by the Pensions Regulator (tPR) in relation to the Desmond & Sons Limited 1975 Pension & Life Assurance Scheme (“the Scheme”) brought by the directors of Desmond & Sons.
In 2010 contribution notices were issued by the determinations panel which could force the two directors, Denis Desmond and Donal Gordon, to pay up to £17 million into the Scheme.
The two directors argued that the procedures that tPR and the determinations panel had followed invalidated the contribution notices and therefore they were not liable for contributions to the Scheme.
However the judge, Mr Justice Treacy, ruled that the pair had no grounds to extend limitation and had no arguable case. He further stated that is would be wrong to allow issues that affected the members of the scheme to be delayed by collateral public law attacks.
This is by no means the end of the matter though. A hearing took place in December last year in which the Trustees appealed a previous decision by the courts. They are seeking between £10.9 million and £17 million in contributions and to add a third contribution notice against Denis Desmond’s wife Anick Desmond. The judgement on this is due later this year.
Whatever the outcome it will not be resolved easily and in the meantime the members look on anxiously to see if any additional contributions will be made to the Scheme which in turn could increase their own individual benefits.