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Published: 25 October 2022

  1. This document sets out our approach to enforcement in relation to occupational pension schemes that provide:
    • defined benefits (DB schemes)
    • money purchase (defined contribution) benefits (DC schemes)
    • a mixture of DB and DC benefits (hybrid schemes) and
    • benefits for people working in UK public services (public service pension schemes, or PSPS schemes)
  2. It does not cover our enforcement activity in relation to:

Who this policy is for

  1. This policy is for anyone who could be subject to our statutory powers of investigation or enforcement action. This includes trustees[2] and managers of all occupational pension schemes, employers, service providers and advisers.
  2. Our regulatory remit extends across the legal jurisdictions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Where this policy refers to legislation and guidance that applies to England and Wales, please read this as also referring to the Scottish and Northern Irish equivalent.

Our approach

  1. This policy sets out our approach to the investigation of cases and any subsequent enforcement action. It provides transparency about how we operate and helps us to promote an efficient and effective approach to investigations and enforcement, improving regulatory outcomes without imposing unnecessary burdens.
  2. Our regulatory approach is guided by our statutory objectives. We are risk-based and proportionate, principle-based and outcome-focused, rather than prescriptive.
  3. We provide a framework through our code of practice, policies, statements and other educational material to support compliance and good member outcomes. We also proactively engage with schemes through supervision and may engage directly in response to information we receive, for example via a notifiable event report, or a breach of law whistle blowing report.
  4. Where someone fails to comply with the law or we see activity that engages our regulatory remit and we identify risks or harm (particularly risks or harm to savers), we consider taking enforcement action. We have a number of enforcement options and powers available to us, which can broadly be divided into regulatory, penalty, civil and criminal powers.
    • Regulatory powers – These are powers given to us by statute, which allow us to take regulatory action, for example by issuing statutory notices, giving directions and making orders.
    • Penalty powers – These are a type of regulatory power that we can use to impose a fine on a person in circumstances where they have breached pensions legislation or done anything else where a financial penalty applies.
    • Civil powers – These are powers that we can ask the civil courts to use, such as the power to order an injunction or to order that assets are restored to a scheme.
    • Criminal powers – These are powers used in the criminal courts where we act as prosecutor, either through specific pensions legislation where we are a designated prosecutor or where we can act as a private prosecutor.
  5. Most of these enforcement options are discretionary, but there are a few exceptions (see Mandatory penalties).

Updates to this policy

  1. We regularly review this policy and update it as required by legislation, guidance or any other circumstances that affect our regulatory approach. 

Footnotes for this section

  • [1] Please see our separate AE compliance and enforcement strategy and our AE compliance and enforcement policy.
  • [2] In this policy the term ‘trustees’ should also be taken to mean ‘managers’ in the case of non-trust-based schemes, and directors of a corporate trustee (unless the context suggests otherwise).