UK: Pension Rights And TUPE: What Actually Transfers?

Last Updated: 6 July 2012
Article by Justin McGilloway

Following on from our April 2012 e-bulletin where we examined the Pension Ombudsman's attitude to so called Beckmann liabilities, the High Court has for the first time considered this issue in its recent decision in the Procter & Gamble case1.

Beckmann liabilities refer to rights to early retirement or redundancy benefits which transfer with employees under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 ("TUPE").

The General Rule

Rights under or in connection with an occupational pension scheme do not transfer under TUPE. However, this exclusion only applies to pension benefits that relate to 'old age, invalidity or survivors'.

The ECJ held in the Beckmann case2 that redundancy benefits could not be classed as 'old age benefits' because they were not paid at the end of normal working life and therefore fell outside the TUPE restriction (i.e. such rights transferred on a sale). In another case (Martin3), it was decided that early retirement benefits fell outside the pensions restriction where an employee had reached a certain age and early retirement arose by agreement between the employer and employee.

Both these cases and the precedents which they have laid down have significant implications for commercial transactions, with purchasers often negotiating indemnity protection to cover such potential liabilities. However, the precise scope of Beckmann liabilities has until now not been considered by the UK courts.

The Procter & Gamble ("P&G") case

This case considers these issues in the context of a purchase price adjustment to cover potential liabilities.

The case concerned an asset sale of P&G's European tissue towel business. The transaction included a TUPE transfer of 129 P&G employees based in Manchester to a purchaser, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget ("SCA"). The transferring employees were active members of the defined benefit section of the Procter & Gamble Pension Fund (the "Fund"). The parties knew that certain early retirement rights under the Fund may transfer to SCA. Normally such potential liability is addressed by way of indemnity but in this case a price adjustment mechanism was negotiated. Under this mechanism SCA would benefit from a reduction in the purchase price (calculated using an actuarial formula) to reflect any liabilities and benefits accrued under the Fund before the transfer to it under TUPE – i.e. any accrued Beckmann liabilities.

The parties view of the adjustment varied significantly – P&G's actuaries said it was zero, while SCA's actuaries assessed the exposure to Beckmann liabilities at £19m. A dispute arose and the case reached the High Court.


The Honourable Mr Justice Hildyard decided that:

  • an early retirement or redundancy right (described by the Judge as 'enhancements') could transfer under TUPE. TUPE does not just relate to contractual liabilities, but also covers 'rights and obligations', and
  • 'rights, powers, duties and liabilities' which arise from a contract of employment/employment relationship;
  • if such benefits were discretionary or needed employer consent, these also transferred;
  • the liability transferring under TUPE was the liability to provide the enhancements only – not the full early retirement benefits. A member cannot make a double recovery by claiming entitlement to a full early retirement pension from the buyer too;
  • only benefits payable over the period from retirement up to the normal retirement (NRD) can transfer, not any benefits payable from or after NRD; and
  • for benefits payable after NRD it was "plain and obvious" that pension instalments paid to a member should be characterised as old age benefits (which do not transfer under TUPE) as the sole purpose of
  • the pension was to support the recipient after retirement. The fact that pension first came into payment before NRD was irrelevant.

Our comments

The decision in the Procter & Gamble case confirms the extent to which rights to early retirement pensions transfer under TUPE. It negates any argument that the Beckmann and Martin cases do not apply to private sector pension schemes and confirms that conditional early retirement benefits (e.g. subject to employer consent) are also capable of transferring.

However, the case throws up new questions of its own:

  • How will the purchaser exercise its role in the seller's scheme to give its consent?
  • How would a purchaser pay an enhancement in the seller's scheme without falling foul of the Finance Act 2004 "authorised payment" regime?
  • How are early retirement rights to be valued?

We understand that the case is to be appealed by SCA and no doubt these and other questions will be considered further. In the meantime it is imperative for purchasers considering a business acquisition to be fully aware of potential pension liabilities, and at the very least seek an indemnity for Beckmann liabilities.


1 The Procter & Gamble Company v Svenska Cellulose Aktiebolaget SCA and another [2012] EWHC 1257 (Ch)

2 Beckmann v Dynamco Whicheloe Macfarlane Ltd [2002] IRLR 578

3 Martin v South Bank University [2004] IRLR 74

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions