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Dutch dentists scheme settles with trade body after legal verdict

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The €1.9bn Dutch pension fund for dentists (SPT) and its occupational association (BPVT) have in part settled a dispute about the composition of the pension fund’s board.

The settlement came after a legal verdict in a case – brought by SPT at the court in Utrecht – about the exact responsibilities of the association in relation to the pension fund.

Occupational schemes, such as for those for dentists, general practitioners and pharmacists, have trade bodies that must reflect support among the occupation for mandatory participation. The associations also have input into pension arrangements.

In the opinion of SPT’s board, however, since the closed occupational scheme was no a longer a mandatory one, the legal responsibilities of the association were limited to making nominations for appointments or dismissals of board members, said Meilof Snijder, SPT’s temporary chairman.

Snijder – who became acting chair after Stan Hoovers died early last year – has the support of the majority of the pension fund’s accountability body.

However, in a letter to the pension fund’s participants, BPVT chair Peter Czaikowsky, accused SPT’s board of wanting to curtail the reach of the occupational association, including its ability to appoint, suspend, and dismiss board members.

According to Czaikowsky, an independent survey had made clear that this was legally impossible.

In the opinion of the BPVT, SPT’s board didn’t sufficiently co-operate in finding a successor for Hoovers, after it had nominated dentist specialist Han Bakker for the position, bypassing Snijder who was also a candidate.

Snijder, however, argued that SPT’s board didn’t support the association’s nomination, “as Bakker lacked experience as a pension fund trustee, and an appointment wouldn’t have received approval of supervisor DNB”.

He added that he wasn’t bothered by not being the association’s first choice as chairman.

As a result of the settlement, Bakker will join the board as a candidate trustee as of 1 July and will receive a fast-tracked education for chairmanship as of 1 January.

In addition, the board of the dentists scheme will be extended with a fifth trustee to start as of 1 October.

Both parties have agreed that they would try to solve their dispute about the role of the BPVT within a year, and that the occupational association “in principle” cannot fire board members.

The settlement, however, doesn’t address the BPVT’s objection to the pension fund’s decision to increase the annual fixed increase of pension rights from 0.85% to 1.15%.

Czaikowsky claimed that SPT had changed its rules unilaterally and without the required permission of the occupational society. In his opinion, the indexation rise would increase the likelihood of future rights cuts.

SPT chair Snijder, however, suggested that the BPVT didn’t properly understand the issue, pointing out that the increase followed an asset-liability management model based on the legally allowed parameters for expected returns.

“Last year, we had surplus returns of more than 2%,” he said.

 

 

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