Ireland’s Pensions Authority increases legal spending by €130,000

The Pensions Authority in Ireland has increased its external legal spending by over €130,000 year-on-year.

Publishing its annual report and accounts for 2019, the regulator revealed that the cost of external legal advice increased from €81,779 in 2018 to €211,685 in 2019. The cost of its legal fees on legal proceedings also rose slightly from €11,279 in 2018 to €14,122 in 2019.

In a year that saw the authority ramp up its regulatory action, nine prosecution cases were concluded, compared to four in 2018. It has previously revealed that out of these nine, the authority secured convictions in three of these cases.

The remaining cases were mostly struck out due to payment of arrears or the underlying matter being rectified in advance of the court date, the authority said.

During the year, 55 new investigations were opened in relation to various alleged breaches of The Pensions Act. This is a slight decrease on 2018, when 62 new investigations were opened. Furthermore, 63 cases were finalised, compared to 49 cases being finalised in 2018.

Commenting on the legal action, The Pensions Regulator, Brendan Kennedy, said: “We always treat non-compliance very seriously, particularly where we suspect scheme assets or contributions are at risk, or where employers or trustees do not respond to statutory requests for information.

“However, overall, the greater challenge for Irish retirement savings is insufficient focus by trustees and their appointed advisers on member outcomes, resulting in too many instances of poor value for money, lack of risk management, and poor quality communications with members. There is no evidence of any significant improvement during 2019.”

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