Welcome to our latest edition of our SIPP and SSAS update!
In this update we look at legal developments affecting SIPPs and SSASs over an eventful past six months. As well as many Covid-19-related developments, the past few months have also seen a flurry of important court judgments for the SIPP and SSAS industry.
Covid-19 action points
The evolving situation in relation to Covid-19 has given rise to numerous issues for the SIPP and SSAS sector, and the FCA has sent out a survey to 13,000 regulated firms, including SIPP operators, with the aim of understanding the effect Covid-19 is having on firms' financial resilience. For a list of Covid-19 action points and more detail on the FCA survey, click here.
The past six months have seen several important court judgments for the SIPP and SSAS industry. In the Carey Pensions case, the court had to consider to what extent a SIPP provider operating on an "execution only" basis has any liability for bad investment decisions by its members, in particular where the member has been introduced to the SIPP provider via an unregulated introducer. In HMRC v Sippchoice, the Upper Tribunal's decision sent shockwaves through the SIPP and SSAS industry by going against what HMRC's Pensions Tax Manual says on "in specie" contributions. We saw two important judgments on how the tax regime applies to unauthorised payments in HMRC v Bella Figura and Clark v HMRC. We have also seen two First-Tier Tribunal decisions involving late applications for enhanced/fixed protection: one that went in the member's favour and one that didn't. For more detail, click here.
As well as setting out its expectations and announcing various measures in relation to Covid-19, the FCA has announced details of its ban on contingent charging for advice on pension transfers, published its final rules and guidance on publishing and disclosing costs and charges to workplace pension scheme members, published a "Dear CEO letter" to firms providing platform services and announced changes to the "permitted links" rules. For more detail, click here.
In stark contrast to the High Court's decision in the Carey Pensions case, the Financial Ombudsman Service has upheld a complaint against the same SIPP provider on the basis of similar facts. The claim involved the same unregulated introducer and, like the High Court case, involved the member losing money on a store pods investment. For details of this decision, see our coverage of the Carey Pensions decision in the Cases section of our Update.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has upheld a complaint where a SIPP operator disinvested across a member's portfolio to fund an increase in drawdown payments where the member had intended this to be funded from his cash fund like his existing drawdown payments. For more detail, click here.
The Budget on 11 March saw changes announced to the annual allowance taper. HMRC's Pension scheme newsletters over the past six months have seen the announcement of various changes to pensions processes as a result of Covid-19, as well as covering member residency status for relief at source. HMRC has also consulted, jointly with HM Treasury, on extending the Trust Registration Service as part of the implementation of the EU's Fifth Money Laundering Directive. For more detail on all these developments, click here.
Recent market volatility has thrown into sharp focus the question of how compensation is calculated if a member loses out due to a delay in actioning investment instructions. In our Pensions Ombudsman section, we look at a recent determination in which the Ombudsman based an award on a financial adviser's model portfolio basis, having concluded that an award based on the Bank of England base rate would not provide appropriate redress. For more detail, click here.
In our Pensions Regulator section, we take a look at which parts of the Regulator's Covid-19-related guidance are most likely to be relevant to SSASs. For more detail, click here.
In this section of our Update, we look at PASA's consultation on Defined Benefit Transfers Code of Good Practice, the Pensions Dashboards Programme's plans for delivering pensions dashboards, the accounting bodies' guidance on preparing scheme reports and accounts during the Covid-19 pandemic, STEP's guidance on the effect of the GDPR on trusts and estates, and the postponement of the general levy increase. For more detail, click here.