The art of decision making by pension trustees: clarity provided by the Element Six Pension case

01 May 2014

On 4 February 2014 the Commercial Court in Ireland (the "Court") gave its judgment in Greene and Others v Coady & Others [2014] IEHC 38, otherwise known as the "Element Six" case. The judgment provides insight into the duties of pension trustees and fundamentally, in addressing liability, how those duties will be judged. The judgment also highlights the importance of pension trustees taking appropriate professional advice at all material times.

The case is of particular relevance to trustees of defined benefit schemes (namely a scheme whereby the benefits under the scheme are calculated by reference to the members' salaries). However, the principles derived from the case may well be relevant for trustees and employers of other types of pension schemes. Specifically, how much weight can the trustees give to the employer's circumstances in making decisions.

Although an Irish case, it may be of persuasive authority in Jersey. The Royal Court of Jersey (the "Royal Court") will adopt a comparative law approach, which means that where there is no Jersey precedent, the Royal Court will look to the closest jurisdiction on the issues, mostly French or English law, depending on the subject. As the case involves a pension scheme, which is held under a trust structure, the Royal Court is most likely to refer to cases in common law jurisdictions on trusts where there are no direct Jersey cases on the issue. Indeed, the paucity of Jersey pension precedent makes this an important case.

The briefing can be found here.

For further information, please contact Nancy Chien.