Responding to a complaint

Information for pensions fund managers and administrators - responding to a complaint  

If someone has made a complaint about you

If someone has made a complaint against you or referred a legal dispute to the Pensions Ombudsman, the Pensions Ombudsman will be fair and impartial and look at both sides of the situation before making a decision.

Usually the Pensions Ombudsman will only contact you if the Ombudsman accepts a complaint for investigation.

If the Pensions Ombudsman can investigate a complaint the Ombudsman will contact you, the person who made the complaint and the other parties. If you do not think the Pensions Ombudsman has the power to investigate the complaint you should write to the Pensions Ombudsman and explain why and, if appropriate, ask the Ombudsman to consider this as a preliminary issue.

When the Pensions Ombudsman starts investigating the complaint or dispute the Ombudsman will usually ask you for a written response. By law you must respond to the complaint made about you or a legal dispute and provide information when the Pensions Ombudsman requests it.

What you need to do

You should provide a written response no more than 21 days after the Pensions Ombudsman asks you to respond to the complaint. In some circumstances the Ombudsman can extend the timeframe but you need to ask us for an extension.

In your response you should tell the Pensions Ombudsman:

  1. The facts, as you see them relating to the dispute

  2. If you oppose the allegations made and why

  3. About anyone else who may have a direct interest in the case

  4. If you are appointing a representative

You will also need to send the Pensions Ombudsman a copy of any documents the Ombudsman asks for (other than legal advice protected by legal privilege).

If you do not respond to a complaint made about you, the Pensions Ombudsman may make a decision without your evidence or use statutory powers to require you to respond.

Joint responses

You can submit a joint response if the complaint relates to more than one party. In most cases the Pensions Ombudsman expects trustees to respond jointly.

Appointing a representative

You can appoint a representative, such as an advocate, to act for you. This is your choice - even if the complaint against you is not upheld, you will not be able to recover costs.

During the investigation

All parties have rights and responsibilities while a case is being investigated. This includes keeping all information you receive confidential and responding to requests for further information.

Publication of determinations

The Pensions Ombudsman will usually publish any determinations made, and details of determinations may be included in any report of the functions of the Pensions Ombudsman published at the request of the Treasury.

This is so that the pensions industry and future complainants can understand the approach the Pensions Ombudsman is likely to take in different types of case. This is also consistent with the general principles of open justice.

Powers to award compensation

The Pensions Ombudsman has wide powers to direct trustees, managers, administrators and employers who are the subject of an investigation and determination of a complaint, to take steps to put things right.

This includes directing the payment of monetary compensation in respect of legal loss suffered by the complainant and powers to pay reasonable compensation for non-financial injustice sustained as a consequence of maladministration (distress and inconvenience awards).