Judicial Review challenge to Pensions Regulator

A fresh challenge to the exercise of the powers of the Pensions Regulator has been refused using principles applicable to a range of regulators.

HIG, a private equity group, and others, sought to resist regulatory action in relation to the Silentnight pension scheme.

As a result of concerns relating to confidential business information the hearing was in private, but the judgment is public.

The court upheld the Regulator's decision to give a second warning notice setting out regulatory action under consideration against HIG rather than a fresh consolidated notice that combined the first and proposed second notices. It held that:

  1. A warning notice has an investigatory function;
  2. HIG had an alternative remedy for its challenge to the warning notice under the statutory scheme for pensions regulation;
  3. There were no exceptional circumstances which indicated that judicial review was available in relation to such a decision;
  4. The court should be reluctant to grant permission in such a case where it could lead to similar challenges being made routinely, or merely on the grounds that judicial review is more convenient e.g. because of costs;
  5. HIG's application for disclosure could also be determined under the statutory scheme (so the application of duty of candour was not decided upon).
Fenella Morris QC was instructed by The Pensions Regulator (the defendant).

To read the full judgment, please click here.

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