The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has finalised its long-anticipated General Code of Practice and laid it in Parliament on 10 January 2024, with it expected to come into force on 27 March 2024.

As expected, it consolidates and updates 10 existing codes of practice into one set of expectations on scheme governance and administration. It details what TPR expects of a scheme that is required to maintain an effective system of governance and bring together many key aspects of running a scheme, particularly in terms of risk management.

TPR's press release reveals their hopes and aspirations for the General Code. Key points to note are:-

  • TPR envisages that the new format will make it easier for governing bodies to find TPR's expectations and assess whether their scheme meets those standards. TPR is already known to have a preference for professionalisation of pensions trustees in general, and ensuring that trustees can't hide behind lack of awareness or knowledge is surely a key plank in this strategy.
  • The General Code has a wide audience, and in many places refers to "governing bodies" rather than trustees to ensure that where appropriate the trustees or managers of occupational pension schemes, the managers of personal pension schemes, and scheme managers and pension boards of public service schemes are all included.
  • A common thread running through the General Code is the requirement to develop an "effective system of governance", with a focus on risk management. Scheme governing bodies will also be expected to demonstrate that they have appropriate procedures and policies in place to operate an effective system of governance. An 'own risk assessment' must be carried out and documented by schemes which have 100 members or more, and the Code affirms that governing bodies of other schemes may carry out an 'own risk assessment' as an example of good practice. TPR anticipate that this will help governing bodies focus on key areas in need of improvement in the governance and operation of their scheme.
  • Trustees and managers of occupational pension schemes will need to start adjusting their systems from 27 March 2024, but should not immediately panic in most cases, as TPR have helpfully described the development of an effective system of governance as "rebadging" existing good practice. The first schemes are expected to have to prepare their own risk assessments by 31 March 2026, so there will be time for governing bodies to take action.
  • The draft General Code which first appeared as long ago as March 2021 has been criticised for including content that might sit more comfortably in law or formal regulation; it should be noted that the DWP's Independent Review of The Pensions Regulator, which reported in September 2023, recommends some limited rule making powers so perhaps the further development of the code in this direction is a future treat that awaits us.

If you would like to discuss anything raised in this blog in more detail, please get in touch with a member of the pensions team or your usual Brodies contact.


Alistair Hill

Legal Director

Juliet Bayne


Lauren Smith

Trainee Solicitor