UK – Consulting firm KPMG says it has been granted leave to appeal a High Court ruling that said its closed pension scheme is defined benefit not defined contribution.

“KPMG has been granted leave to appeal before September 30, and will now consider the issues involved,” said KPMG spokesman Gavin Houlgate.

The case had centred on whether the KPMG Pre-2000 Pension Fund was DB or DC. Vice-Chancellor Sir Andrew Morritt ruled yesterday that it should be operated as a DB scheme and not DC, or money purchase.

“It follows that the pension as a whole is not a money purchase benefit and the scheme is not a money purchase scheme,” he said in an 11-page verdict.

“The fund’s Trustee, supported by KPMG, had asked for guidance from the court as to whether the scheme is money purchase or defined benefit in nature,” Houlgate added.

“The judgement raised and considered a number of complex and technical issues. KPMG will now study the detailed implications of the ruling, and will liaise with the Trustee, who will communicate with members as soon as possible.

“KPMG remains committed to protecting the interests of long serving employees of the firm. The judgement underlines the importance of the decision by the Trustee and KPMG to obtain legal clarification regarding the status of the scheme.”

Aon Trust Corporation Ltd. was appointed as sole trustee of the scheme in December 2002.

The ruling could lead to KPMG's partners being forced to make good an estimated 65 million-pound (97.9 million-euro) deficit. The issue had been a long-running dispute between former partners and current partners at the firm.

The scheme, set up in 1949, was split into two from March 31 2000 – with the post-2000 fund a conventional money purchase scheme.