UK staff at IBM affected by controversial changes to its pension plan have been given the go-ahead in principle to claim damages following a High Court ruling.
According to the IBM Pensions Trust, a judge has ruled that members of the "Project Waltz" pension scheme will theoretically be able to claim for damages, but he did not determine whether any individuals actually suffered any recoverable loss.
Project Waltz was an initiative launched in 2009 to cut pension and retirement benefits for about 5,000 staff in order to save cash amid the financial crisis.
In a court ruling last April, a judge described the changes as "dramatic".
A remedies judgement was released by the High Court last week and a follow-up hearing was scheduled for this morning when parties met to decide the future timeframe of the case, IBM Pensions Trust said.
Adrian Spann, pensions trust manager at IBM Pensions Trust, said the recent hearing was positive news for staff.
"In summary, the remedies judgment is a good result for members affected by Project Waltz, with the judge finding that members are in principle entitled to a variety of substantial remedies," he said.
"Although the judge has ruled that damages claims can in principle be made, he has not determined any individual claims or decided that any member has in fact suffered recoverable loss. The resolution of such individual financial claims which fall outside the scheme are not part of the scope of the present proceedings."
In a statement, IBM said: "IBM respectfully, but fundamentally, disagrees with the court's decision. The court has acknowledged IBM's right to make changes in its UK pension programmes, which encompasses IBM's need to make changes in the fast-changing technology world.
"We believe the court applied an incorrect legal standard in restricting IBM's exercise of that right. IBM plans to seek leave to appeal this ruling."
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