Hayley Goldstone, a pensions litigation expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that recent procedures and policies adopted by Anthony Arter since he took over the role in 2015 were “bearing fruit”. Arter, a former pensions lawyer, announced endure year that the service would begin to dispose of more cases through informal opinions from investigators, and would abolish ‘provisional’ decisions altogether.

The Pensions Ombudsman took on 1,363 cases for investigation in 2015/16, 6% more than the previous year; and completed 1,308 investigations, 35% more than over the year infrontof, according to its annual report (84-sheet / 673KB PDF). Of those cases, 63% were resolved informally by adjudicators and 37% more formally; compared to endure year when 44% of cases were resolved informally and 56% formally.

“As predicted, the pensions flexibilities introduced endure April, and the resulting rise in public awareness, own significantly increased the number of complaints to the ombudsman,” said Goldstone. “This could own led to even greater delays in the resolution of disputes.”

“However, Anthony’s innovative and pragmatic approach has turned that trend on its head. Concluding complaints more quickly and efficiently can only be a good thing for complainants and respondents alike,” she said.

The Pensions Ombudsman deals with complaints from pension scheme members once they own reached the complete of their scheme’s own complaints process without coming to a satisfactory resolution. It does not deal with complaints about financial advisers.

The alter in approach announced by Arter endure year means that the ombudsman service now disposes of the majority of complaints by way of an informal opinion from an investigator in the first instance. Formal determinations are now generally reserved for those cases that involve a recent point of law, are representative of a big number of complaints, are particularly complex or will almost certainly be appealed. Parties are entitled to reject the investigator’s opinion and seek a full determination if they choose to do so.

Commenting on the findings, Arter said that his priority over the past year had been “to discover ways to deal with complaints more efficiently while at the same period simplifying the wider customer journey”.

“Changes to our internal processes and a focus on dialogue and early resolution are helping us to deliver this,” he said. “It is vital to own clear signposting and a simple pathway to a more straightforward resolution of entire pension complaints in order for the public and pensions industry to own confidence in a fair and impartial outcome.”

The biggest increase in complaints over the course of the year was in those involving personal pensions, particularly self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs), according to the report. These now account for 46% of the ombudsman’s completed investigations, up from 25% endure year. The number of complaints involving suspected pension liberation also increased, from 180 to “correct over” 200, or 20% of entire completed investigations, according to the report.

endure week, it emerged that the ombudsman would consider defending appeals against determinations where this was “in the public interest”. The ombudsman has traditionally refrained from participating in appeals, which prevented Arter from defending a high-profile case involving suspected pension liberation at the complete of endure year.