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Eversheds Sutherland comment: Pensions ruling could force revisit of past refusals to pay cohabitees

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    Commenting on the news that an unmarried woman has won a battle for her partner’s pension, Charmian Johnson, partner at Eversheds Sutherland, says:

    “This is an understandable decision by the Supreme Court. Although the judgment only considers the Northern Ireland Local Government Pension Scheme, the decision could have implications for cohabiting couples who are members of other public sector schemes too, such as NHS staff, teachers, civil servants and police or firefighters. The likelihood is that all such public sector schemes will now be forced to revisit past refusals to pay survivors’ pensions to cohabitees, where that refusal was based on the lack of a completed nomination form. The Government will no doubt be considering amending these schemes’ rules to remove the need for any such form, though any requirement for a cohabitee to show that they are in a relationship akin to that of marriage or a civil partnership will remain. Private sector schemes are less likely to be affected, given that they do not usually require cohabitees to complete a nomination form if they want their partner to receive a pension if they die.”

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