TPO upholds second complaint against Medusa Pension Scheme trustee

The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has upheld a complaint against the trustee of the Medusa Pension Scheme after they failed to comply with directions from the deputy ombudsman.

Mrs D complained that the trustee did not comply with the deputy pensions ombudsman’s directions on her original complaint, which was about the trustee’s decision on the distribution of death benefits from the scheme.

She had originally complained in 2018 after the trustee had not awarded her any death benefits following the passing of her father.

To complicate matters further, the trustee, referred to as Mr D, was the complainant’s uncle and a brother to her deceased father.

Following this complaint, the deputy ombudsman had ordered Mr D to re-consider the decision to distribute death benefits under the scheme and invite Mrs D to make any further submissions in support of her claim as part of this process.

Mr D was also called upon to highlight the scheme rules used in making his decision and to pay Mrs D £500 in recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused by the “lack of procedural fairness” in the making of the original decision.

Following this, Mr D wrote to his niece on 4 March 2019 with some questions about the nature of her relationship with her late father, which he said would assist his reconsideration of the decision, and asked for her bank details so he could send the £500.

Mrs D answered the questions, but complained that some of them seemed too personal, and asked to be sent the £500 in cheque form.

She alleged that she received no reply and wrote to Mr D for a final time on 29 April 2019 in an effort to remind him of his obligations based on the deputy ombudsman’s decision.

In the course of TPO’s investigation, Mr D claimed he had sent Mrs D a new decision at some point in May 2019 but was unable to produce any evidence of the method he had used to come to this decision.

TPO added that Mr D produced a letter containing a decision he alleged had been sent to Mrs D in 2019, but this had been recreated based on notes, draft letters and conversations with his lawyer.

The ombudsman ruled that this was not sufficient, as Mr D should hold records of the decision, the decision-making process and copies of communications made to any beneficiaries, while he also added that he was unable to accept the decision itself.

The matter of the outstanding £500 was solved by Mr D sending Mrs D the funds through Paypal.

TPO said: “It is clear that Mr D committed maladministration and that Mrs D has been impacted by this. The circumstances around the decision are sensitive and Mrs D should not have repeatedly been made to contact Mr D.

“This is particularly after the deputy pensions ombudsman had found that there had been procedural errors and unfairness in the decision-making process of Mr D’s first decision.”

TPO ordered the trustee, Mr D, to issue a new decision to Mrs D, as well as awarding a further £500 to Mrs D for the significant distress and inconvenience caused by not complying with the previous directions within the required timeframe.

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