Skip to main content

Your browser is out of date, and unable to use many of the features of this website

Please upgrade your browser.


This website requires cookies. Your browser currently has cookies disabled.

Our approach to investigations

Published: 25 October 2022

  1. We only investigate when it is reasonable, appropriate and proportionate, and continually assess a case to make sure we’re taking the right course of action. We carry out investigations in line with our legal obligations, including those imposed by the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.

Deciding to open an investigation

  1. Generally, we expect to engage with a scheme, trustee, employer or any other person(s) potentially facing enforcement action to set out our concerns before we start a formal investigation. Our aim in most cases is to resolve or mitigate any risks without the need for enforcement action, but where this is not achieved we may open an investigation.
  2. In some circumstances we may consider the risks to be sufficient to open an investigation immediately – for example if we receive a whistle-blower report with evidence of the imminent misappropriation of scheme assets or if there is other need for immediate action, such as information to suggest there is a risk that documents or other evidence could be removed, tampered with, or be destroyed.
  3. Our assessment as to whether to open an investigation is risk-based and takes into account all relevant factors. Such factors may include, for example, the impact of any conduct on the level of scheme funding, whether there are any particularly concerning features or behaviours, as well as a consideration of our available resources.
  4. Generally, in cases where we believe we could use a combination of our criminal, penalty or regulatory enforcement powers, (for example, with employer-related investment or avoidance activity), we carry out an early assessment to identify which powers may be available to us, based on the facts of the individual case, and may carry out dual track investigations in circumstances where we may wish to pursue a power in more than one category.
  5. If we decide not to open an investigation, should further information of relevance come to light later, we may then revisit this decision.

Opening an investigation

  1. If we decide to open an investigation, we start by gathering information and establishing the facts, in most cases through the use of our regulatory information-gathering powers.
  2. We assess the applicability of any powers or other regulatory tools once we know the facts, and then decide whether and how to proceed in a risk-based and proportionate pursuit of our statutory objectives (see ‘deciding to use enforcement powers’ section below for more information). We continue to review our approach as we gather more information and evidence to ensure our enforcement activity remains effective and in line with the required procedures and rules (see enforcement procedures).
  3. The degree of engagement with those we are investigating depends on the nature and complexity of the issues. In some cases, we may move to enforcement without engaging with the relevant parties, for example to protect scheme assets where there is evidence of a scam and where engagement may put scheme assets at further risk.
  4. In all our interactions, we aim to be consistent and fair and for the process to be as transparent as possible for all parties.