Hanson pension man wins court pledge: Trustee promises to speed increased benefits

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A LONE pension claimant has won High Court backing to speed up the payment of benefits from pension funds reorganised by Hanson, the conglomerate.

The claimant, David Prain, used to work for the mining group Consolidated Gold Fields, which was taken over by Hanson in 1989.

In April, Law Debenture Trust, a profession pension fund trustee, won court permission to merge the Cons Gold pension fund with a fund run for employees of ARC, the aggregates business also now owned by Hanson.

At the same time as merging the funds, which contained significant surpluses, Law Debenture was obliged to improve the benefits payable to Cons Gold pensioners and deferred pensioners.

Mr Prain argued that the benefit improvements planned did not adequately reflect the surpluses transferred from the Cons Gold to the ARC pension funds.

He lost that argument, but the court ruled that the pension improvement that was agreed should be passed on to pensioners quickly.

There are about 250 pensioners in the Cons Gold fund and about 100 people who will have a claim on retirement. Mr Prain is a deferred pensioner.

Mr Prain went to the High Court to force Law Debenture to speed the process of handing down better pensions. Representing himself in front of Mr Justice Harman, he told the court that unless arrangements were hastened he feared some pensioners might die before improved benefits were delivered.

Richard Thomas, a director of Law Debenture, said yesterday that the delay in delivering the additional pension benefits was because actuarial calculations had taken longer than expected.

In the High Court, counsel for Law Debenture promised that the actuarial sums would be complete by 16 July and it would be in a position to outline the exact nature of the enhanced benefits.

Mr Justice Harman adjourned the case until 27 July, by which time he hoped the matter would be settled.