UK  - A court has ruled the government cannot dispute that members of who joined BT’s pension scheme after privatisation are covered by the crown guarantee.

The ruling comes on the day the formerly state-owned telecommunications provider announced its pension deficit had risen by £400m (€466m) in three months.

The court action, first launched last year by trustees of the BT defined benefit fund, sought to clarify the extent of the crown guarantee under which the government is obliged to cover the scheme’s liabilities should BT become insolvent.

A spokesman for the telecoms company told IPE that the judgement only concerned which issues would be considered by the judge in November’s court case.

“The parties wanted to clarify whether the Government is allowed to argue at the forthcoming trial that Scheme members who joined between 1986 and 1993 - who in fact joined the BT New Pension Scheme and were subsequently transferred to the BT Pension Scheme - are not covered by the Crown Guarantee,” he said.

The spokesman said further that the scope of the crown guarantee would be addressed in November’s court hearing.

A spokesman for the Dewpartment for Culture, Media and Sport added: “It is too early to say what the ultimate effect of yesterday’s judgment will be for the overall case.”

The company today announced its most recent quarterly results, revealing an IAS19 pension deficit of £1.8bn at the end of June, up from £1.4bn the previous quarter.

The increase was partially due to a £200m rise in liabilities over March, while scheme assets also fell from £37bn to £36.7bn.