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Status of the code of practice

  1. This code applies to governing bodies of occupational, personal, and public service pension schemes. Some legal obligations do not apply to all types of governing bodies or schemes.
  2. Governing bodies are responsible for complying with their legal duties, even where they have chosen to delegate the task of meeting these to another party, such as an administrator or sub-committee.
  3. Governing bodies may wish to take professional advice to establish the extent to which the law applies to them.
  4. The code sets out our expectations of the conduct and practice governing bodies should meet to comply with their duties in pensions legislation.
  5. We assume users of this code will have a good knowledge of pensions law, and we do not seek to set out in detail all the requirements of the law.
  6. Additionally, in many instances, the code is not prescriptive about methods that governing bodies should use to meet our expectations, in recognition that different approaches may be appropriate for different schemes.
  7. Governing bodies need to use their judgement as to what is a reasonable and suitable method of ensuring compliance for their scheme.
  8. This code of practice is issued by The Pensions Regulator under the powers given to us in section 90 and section 90A of the Pensions Act 2004 and is a combined code in accordance with section 90A(6)(a).
  9. The expectations we have set for governing bodies within this code have been developed in light of our statutory objectives, which were introduced by the Pensions Act 2004.
  10. Codes of practice are not statements of the law and there is not usually a direct penalty for failing to comply with them. However, they do set out our expectations of how governing bodies should comply with their legal duties.
  11. It is not necessary to follow all parts of a code of practice in every circumstance. Any other approach, which is not in the code of practice, will need to meet the underlying legal requirements and a penalty may be imposed if these requirements are not met. See our Regulatory and enforcement policies for more details.
  12. The absence of reference to any piece of legislation must not be taken to mean that governing bodies do not need to comply with that legislation.
  13. When determining whether the legal requirements have been met, a court or tribunal must take any relevant terms of a code of practice into account.
  14. If there are grounds to issue an improvement notice, or a compliance notice, we may direct a person to take, or refrain from taking, such steps as are specified in the notice. These directions may be worded by reference to a code of practice issued by us.
  15. Governing bodies should be confident that they have a working knowledge of the pensions law relevant to them. If they do not, we urge them to consider whether they are meeting the requirements for knowledge and understanding, as these apply to them, and to undertake training as appropriate.
  16. If governing bodies are, for any reason, unable to act in line with the standards referred to by this code, they should consider if they have a statutory duty under section 70 of the Pensions Act 2004 to assess and report breaches of the law.