Walker v Innospec: Sackers comments on the Supreme Court judgement

Comment from Philippa Connaughton, partner at Sackers:

“The Supreme Court judgment in the long-running case of Walker v Innospec is a victory for equality. It has always been difficult and, at times, uncomfortable for trustees to justify providing reduced levels of survivor’s pensions for registered civil partners and same-sex married couples, when compared to married couples. That anomaly has now been removed emphatically.

“For those trustees and employers who already provide the same death benefits, the outcome of the case will vindicate their earlier decision to do so.

“For those who took advantage of the Equality Act 2010 exemption, they will now need to amend their scheme rules and revisit any current survivor’s pensions in payment.  Trustees of DB schemes should also consult their actuary to ascertain what, if any, impact a move to providing full death benefits to civil partners/same-sex spouses will have on scheme funding.

“Depending on the proportion of members the actuary is assuming to be “married” for valuation purposes, in practice the case may not make a huge difference. This ruling will, however, make a huge personal difference to any civil partner or same-sex spouse who is currently in receipt of a survivor’s pension who may be entitled to a larger pension.”

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