Erroneous Decision

Employment Law – Tribunal Chairman’s Erroneous Decision – Employee Pension Scheme – Discrimination 


The recent case of Pepper v Lancashire County Council and Another [2007], concerned an application for equal access to a ‘Teachers’ Pension Scheme’. The employee in this case was employed by Lancashire County Council on a part-time basis.

After many years of service, the employee commenced proceedings before an employment tribunal claiming that he had been discriminated against. He alleged that the discrimination arose due to the fact that he had been denied equal access to a 'Teachers' Pension Scheme' (“the Scheme”).

As a result of the hearing, an employment tribunal chairman decided in the claimant's favour on the first part of his claim. The first part of the employee’s claim was that he was entitled to retrospective membership of the Scheme from September 1987 up to May 1995.

The second part of his claim concerned access to the Scheme between May 1995 and December 2000 (“the Second Period”). With regards to the Second Period the employee was asked to show cause.

The employee argued that he had decided not to join the Scheme during the Second Period due to the fact that his retirement was imminent at the time in question. The chairman made reference to an information bulletin which explained the position if an employee was eligible to join the Scheme but decided not to.

Subsequently, he struck out the second part of the employee's claim on the grounds that the employee had not suffered a detriment in not joining the Scheme.

The employee wanted the chairman’s decision reviewed. On the review of the decision, the chairman maintained that the second part of the employee’s claim should be struck out. The employee therefore appealed.

The employees appeal made the same arguments as he had previously.

The respondents in this case recognised that the chairman had not considered those points, but that he had reached the only possible conclusion reasonably open to him.

The respondents argued that the employee had accepted the fact that there was no policy discouraging him from joining the Scheme. They contested that the Tribunal’s decision should be deemed a complete answer.

The appeal was allowed.

It was held that in the circumstances of this case, the contentions made by the respondents had to be rejected. The chairman had erred in his decision making. His errors arose due to the fact that he had failed to deal with points that he was under a duty to consider. Accordingly, the claimant's case had not been given a fair assessment.

As a result, on the review of the second part of the employee’s claim, the chairman's decision should be nullified. Furthermore, the matter should reconsidered by another employment tribunal or judge.

It should be noted however, that the chairman's decision relating to the first part of the employee's claim remained unaffected.

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© RT COOPERS, 2008. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.


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