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HMRC internal manual

Pensions Tax Manual

General principles: parties to a pension scheme: trustee


Glossary  PTM000001


Pension schemes can be established in a number of ways for example by trust, contract, board resolution or by deed. Tax law does not place any restrictions on how registered pension schemes may be established but in practice most are set up under trust.

Pension schemes that are set up under trust will have at least one trustee appointed and will often have more. Pension scheme trustees can be individuals, corporate trustees or trust corporations and there can be any combination of those types of trustee where a scheme has appointed more than one trustee.

However the trustees of a scheme are comprised, they own the assets and administer the scheme in accordance with the scheme’s trust deed and rules solely for the benefit of members and any other beneficiaries.

Pension scheme trustees have many important duties and responsibilities including to always act in the best interest of members. Their duties, responsibilities and powers derive from a variety of sources including both trust law and the general law, legislation, and the scheme’s trust deed and rules. They act independently from the employer or anyone else who set up the scheme.

In some circumstances the trustee may have to take on the responsibilities and liabilities of the scheme administrator - see PTM155000.