Spirit of Enniskillen trustees liable for £100k pensions debt

John Gordon, the solicitor handling the charity's insolvency, says the trustees have behaved responsibly and is hopeful they won't be pursued for the debt

Enniskillen bombing
Enniskillen bombing

The trustees of the Spirit of Enniskillen Trust are personally liable for £100,000 of pensions debts, according to John Gordon, the solicitor handling the charity’s insolvency.

But Gordon, a solicitor at Napier & Sons, said that although it was a major problem, he hoped the trustees would not be pursued for the debts.

The charity, formed in 1989 to work with young people in the wake of that year's Enniskillen bombing, closed earlier this month because it had £250,000 of liabilities, principally to the Northern Ireland Charities Pension Scheme, and only £150,000 of assets, in the form of its building.

Because it is an unincorporated association, it does not have limited liability, meaning its trustees are personally responsible for its debts.

"This is a major problem," said John Gordon, "The charity closed down now because the gap was getting bigger. We’re hopeful that because the trustees have behaved responsibly they will not be pursued for the debt."

Pension schemes have a legal duty to ensure they recover as much money as they can, which could include pursuing the individual trustees. However, pursuing individuals is usually considered only after all other avenues have been exhausted, and only if it is financially worthwhile.

In previous cases involving unincorporated charities that closed down with pension debts outstanding, individual trustees have not been forced by the pension funds to pay out of their own pockets. But trustees of charities that have owed unpaid wages have been forced to make payments with their own money.

The Pensions Trust, the provider of the charity’s pension scheme, said it had not yet received any information from the charity itself and was therefore unable to comment.

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