The works council (OR) of Aon Netherlands’s pension fund has lost its appeal against a court ruling that allowed the company to walk away from its obligation to plug funding gaps at the scheme.

Aon made its decision as a response to the council’s resistance to its relocating the €739m pension fund to Belgium.

The court of justice in The Hague has now reaffirmed that the consultancy does not require the OR’s approval to terminate the additional contribution.

As of the end of September, the scheme’s policy funding – the criterion for rights cuts and indexation – stood at 108.9%, 7.4 percentage points short of the required level.

Last year, after the lower court made an initial ruling on the case, Aon and the OR relaunched talks over the proposed relocation to Belgium.

The board has also promised to consider the possibility of placing its pension plan with a general pension fund (APF), which was not yet an option when the consultancy decided to relocate last year.

An independently chaired working group is also weighing the options.

Aon has already set up a pan-European pension fund – United Pensions – to accommodate pension funds in Belgium.

Last February, Aon confirmed that the €40m pension fund of drugs manufacturer AbbVie – a Dutch offshoot of pharmaceutical company Abbot – had joined United Pensions.

Both parties indicated that, despite their agreement, they wanted the OR’s appeal before going ahead.

In an interview with IPE sister publication Pensioen Pro in September, Marc van Nuland, director at Aon Netherlands, said: “It is good to have clarity about the issue.”

The OR of the Aon pension fund declined to comment on the court’s latest verdict.