A decade late but SCT gets it right

Superannuation fund trustees have been placed on notice by a recent Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) determination that there are no excuses when it comes to keeping up to date and accurate member records.

But the SCT determination which has sent that message to super trustees only came as a result of an earlier SCT determination being set aside as a result of disgruntled superannuation fund member taking his case to the Federal Court.

The determination D17-18\063 dealt with the case of a fund member who had been the subject of no fewer than three successor fund transfers as a result of company takeovers before he was ultimately made redundant.

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Problems arose when the member’s final benefit in 2007 pay-out fell well short of his expectations and did not accord with earlier correspondence he had received from the superannuation funds to which had belonged.

Despite this, the Tribunal in 2007 decided to treat the complaint as “withdrawn” for lack of substance – something which triggered the members’ reference of the matter to the Federal Court which subsequently found the SCT’s decision to be unreasonable because the Tribunal had not examined the calculation of the member’s final benefit.

When the SCT last year acted in accordance with the Federal Court’s decision to re-examine the complaint it found itself being presented with new information by the trustee prompting it to set aside the original decision and substitute its own decision.

The net result for the super fund member was that he received an additional $142,828.20, before the interest which had accrued between 2007 and 2017, which nearly double his final benefit.

The underlying message from the SCT determination was that irrespective of the complexity which could flow from multiple successor fund transfers, superannuation fund trustees had an obligation to keep accurate member records capable of ensuring correct benefit calculations.

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