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Resolving internal disputes

Internal dispute resolution (IDR) arrangements play an important part in the management of a public service pension scheme. They enable someone with an interest in the scheme to ask for a matter in dispute to be resolved.

Scheme managers of occupational public service pension schemes must make and implement arrangements for resolving disputes with members and other people with an interest in the scheme.

Key points

  • The scheme manager must set up and operate arrangements which comply with legal requirements for resolving internal disputes with members and others.
  • You should regularly check that the arrangements work effectively.

Internal dispute resolution procedure

The scheme manager must make and implement dispute resolution arrangements. These can be a two-stage procedure with a specified person carrying out the first-stage decision, or a single-stage procedure if this is considered more appropriate.

When decisions can be disputed

Where a person with an interest in the scheme isn’t satisfied with any matter relating to the scheme, they have the right to ask for that matter to be reviewed.

A person has an interest in the scheme if they:

  • are a member or beneficiary of the scheme
  • are a prospective member of the scheme
  • have ceased to be a member, beneficiary or prospective member
  • claim to be in one of the categories above and the dispute relates to whether they are such a person

Your dispute resolution arrangements won’t apply to certain disputes, eg where a court or tribunal has started proceedings relating to the dispute or the Pensions Ombudsman Service is investigating the dispute. Certain other prescribed disputes, for instance medical-related disputes, which may arise in relation to police and fire and rescue workers, are also exempted disputes.

Implementing your procedure

You must ensure that the internal dispute resolution procedure is implemented and should regularly assess its effectiveness.

The procedure must state:

  • how to apply for a dispute to be resolved
  • what must be included in an application
  • how decisions will be reached
  • how the applicant will be notified of the decision

The scheme manager must communicate information about the procedure to members and others. The scheme manager must also provide information about the Pensions Ombudsman when an application is received or when notifying an applicant of the decision.

Public Service toolkit online learning

You can learn about the requirement for schemes to have an internal dispute resolution procedure in the 'Resolving internal disputes' course. You must log in or sign up to use the Public Service toolkit.

Go to the Public Service toolkit

Check your internal dispute resolution procedure

Use our checklist to evaluate the effectiveness of your IDR procedure: