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PENSIONS/FINANCIAL RELIEF: Slattery v Cabinet Office (Civil Service Pensions) [2008] EWHC 226 (Ch)

Date:16 FEB 2009

(Chancery Division; Proudman J; 16 February 2009)

A pension sharing order was made in the course of ancillary relief proceedings, giving the wife half the husband's pension CETV, calculated as at the date of the order. Subsequently, the husband came to an agreement with his employer, under which he retired at 57 rather than at 60. One year after retirement the husband was told that, as a result of the pension sharing order, his pension payments had to be reduced accordingly. The wife would receive no benefit from the deductions. The husband argued that pension debit deductions should not be made until he reached the age of 60. The ombudsman decided that the pension payments had to be reduced once the pension was in payment and the husband appealed.

The husband's appeal was allowed. The pension sharing order was concerned with shareable rights, not with benefits payable. There had been no right to early pension payments at the time of the pension sharing order. The husband's entitlement to early pension benefits was a 'contingent discretionary benefit', a separate benefit, not taken into account by the CETV because the right to it was not in contemplation at the time of the pension sharing order. If a benefit had not been taken into account, it could not be said that the CETV contained an amount in respect of it, and it was not therefore a qualifying benefit falling to be reduced because of the pension sharing order.