Coillte pension deficit row resolved

An action over a €23m deficit in the pension scheme of State forestry body Coillte Teoranta, affecting 2,000 people, has been settled at the commercial court on undisclosed terms.

The case was listed for hearing on Tuesday but talks continued between the sides throughout the day after which Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan was asked to adjourn the matter yesterday to allow for final documents to be signed.

The judge was told by Brian O’Moore SC, for the scheme trustees, the case was finally settled and could be struck out with no order. No details of the settlement were disclosed.

Last month, after being told there was still no legally binding agreement in place to tackle the deficit, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he was listing the action to proceed to hearing.

On that occasion, Mr O’Moore said the matter had dragged on for half a decade but, since the court proceedings were taken last March, progress was achieved.

The court was previously told the agreement on addressing the deficit required approval of two government ministers — for public expenditure and reform and for agriculture.

In their action, the trustees claimed the company owes €23m under obligations in a trust deed of 2000 and a December 2009 funding proposal for the scheme entered into due to the scheme being in deficit in 2009.

The funding proposals required €34.5m cash and assets to be contributed by Coillte up front. While Coillte paid €3m cash in 2009 and €1.5m each year from 2009, late last year it only transferred €7m of the €30m cash assets it was to transfer.

Coillte claimed transfer of the remaining €23m was contingent on the sale of immature forests which required State approval.


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