Britvic plc v Britvic Pensions Limited & Simon Mohun
Having acted as counsel in Britvic plc v Britvic Pensions Limited & Simon Mohun  EWHC Civ 867, Philip Stear has written a case summary explaining why the Court of Appeal overturned the previous decision and why a scheme employer could direct increases lower than RPI on the true construction of the scheme’s pension increase rules.
In a ruling handed down on 10 June 2021 ( EWCA Civ 867), the Court of Appeal has overturned the High Court decision in Britivc plc v Britvic Pensions Limited & Simon Mohun  EWHC 118 (Ch). There, His Honour Judge Hodge QC had held that the words “or any other rate”, in a pension increase rule, were to be construed as meaning “any higher rate”, as a result of the context in which the scheme was established and the practical consequences if a literal meaning (“any rate, whether higher or lower”) were preferred instead.
The Court (Sir Geoffrey Vos MR, Coulson and Nugee LJJ) ruled unanimously that the language used in the pension increase rule was capable of only one possible meaning and so was not ambiguous. Accordingly, applying the principles for the interpretation of pension schemes authoritatively stated in the Supreme Court decision in Barnardo’s v Buckinghamshire and others  UKSC 55, there was no room for the natural meaning of the phrase to be displaced.
Read Philip’s article which explores the rule, the context and the Court’s approach to construction here.
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Andrew Short QC (instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP) acted for Britvic plc and Keith Bryant QC and Philip Stear (instructed by ARC Pensions Law) acted for the representative member of the pension scheme, Simon Mohun.
Philip Stear’s practice involves the interaction of commercial trusts, insolvency and contract law, with a particular focus on disputes arising in relation to occupational pension schemes.
Reproduced from Practical Law with the permission of the publishers. For further information visit www.practicallaw.com.
Barristers: Philip Stear
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