Pensions Act Compliance: Employer Duty Upheld in Taunton Property Centre Ltd v The Pensions Regulator Case

Citation: [2023] UKFTT 1053 (GRC)
Judgment on


The case of Taunton Property Centre Ltd v The Pensions Regulator ([2023] UKFTT 1053 (GRC)) deals with the issues surrounding the employer’s obligations under the Pensions Act 2008, particularly regarding the filing of a redeclaration of compliance and the resulting imposition of a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for non-compliance. This analysis will dissect the key topics discussed, elucidate on the legal principles applied by Judge HHJ David Dixon, and reflect on the outcomes derived from the First-tier Tribunal’s decision.

Key Facts

Taunton Property Centre Ltd (the Appellant) was issued with an FPN by The Pensions Regulator (the Respondent) for failing to comply with a compliance notice (CN) directing the Appellant to file a redeclaration of compliance by a set deadline. The Appellant contended that they did not receive the CN, thus were unaware of the need to act, and challenged the logic and fairness of the £400 penalty given their compliance.

The Respondent argued that the Appellant failed to fulfill a legal obligation, that warnings were given, and documented attempts were made to notify the Appellant through the registered address and telephone calls. The Regulator also contended that the FPN was rightfully imposed post non-compliance with the CN.

The Tribunal’s analysis focused on several legal principles:

  1. Employer’s Responsibility: Under sections 35 and 40 of the Pensions Act 2008, it is the employer’s duty to comply with CN directives and the responsibility to maintain updated contacts and awareness of such obligations. As stated in the summary, ignorance of this law offers no shield against the penalty.

  2. Presumptions of Service: Presumptions under s7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 and Regulation 15 of the Employers Duties (Registration and Compliance) Regulations 2010 dictate that if communications are properly addressed and dispatched, they are deemed delivered unless strong evidence suggests otherwise. The Appellant’s mere denial of receipt did not suffice to override this presumption.

  3. Burden of Proof: The Tribunal placed the burden of proof on the Appellant to provide evidence countering the presumption of proper service. The fact that the Appellant acknowledged receipt and responded to the FPN reinforced the presumption’s standpoint.

  4. Equality Before the Law: With respect to the critique of the £400 fine’s fairness, HHJ David Dixon reiterated that the penalty is set by Parliament and is applied universally to all equally, irrespective of the individual’s perception of compliance.


The Tribunal dismissed the appeal, conjuring that:

  • The FPN was correctly issued, considering the Appellant failed to comply with the CN.
  • The CN itself was deemed duly served based on fulfilling the mailing requirements and supported by regulatory presumptions.
  • The Appellant’s challenge on not receiving the CN and criticizing the penalty amount were both rejected.
  • The imposition of the standard fine was deemed appropriate, aligning with legal expectations.
  • The matter was remitted to the Regulator, confirming the FPN without additional directives.


The case reinforces the importance of employer compliance with the Pensions Act 2008 and the significance of maintaining awareness and correct contact information for regulatory matters. Employers are mandated to fulfill redeclarations of compliance as directed, and the failure to acknowledge or act upon CNs results in penalties. The Tribunal’s decision upholds the principle of presumed service of notices and equitable imposition of statutorily mandated fines, leaving little leeway for subjective claims of unawareness or fairness arguments in the absence of substantial evidence to the contrary. Legally, it reiterates the inherent obligations of employers under the pension regulatory framework and the expectations of the Pensions Regulator in enforcing compliance.