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It is a fact of life in today's world that trustees are vulnerable to complaint. The office of trustee is generally a personal office, which means that trustees' personal assets can be at risk, if a successful complaint is made against them.
Trustees therefore need to understand the nature and extent of their liabilities, to the members of their scheme and to the sponsoring employers. Ideally, would-be trustees will get to grips with these matters before they accept the trusteeship in the first place! There are many circumstances in which trustees are required to make decisions upon which millions of pounds of benefits (and/or employer costs) will ride. Hence, knowing who they are answerable to, and to what extent, is very important.
There are, of course, ways in which trustees can protect themselves from liability, or at least minimise their risk. That might be by means of insurance or by reliance on indemnity protection from sponsoring employers, for example. The terms of some schemes expressly 'exonerate' the trustees from liability in certain circumstances (or it might be possible to introduce such terms, if they are not currently available).
Trustees can also help themselves with appropriate risk management measures, for example by auditing their procedures and arrangements for dealing with various matters, including death benefit distributions, ill-health benefit claims, and general regulatory compliance.