Court of Appeal decision highlights importance of clear pension communications — Benefits Canada

Andrea Boctor

Aug 13, 2021

A recent decision from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, Boreen v. Mosaic Esterhazy Holdings ULC, underscores the need for clear, unambiguous communications from pension administrators. The case dealt with a negligent misrepresentation claim brought by the common-law partner, Colleen Boreen, of the deceased plan holder, Lloyd Holmes, against the plan administrator, Mosaic. Though Mosaic had advised Lloyd that his separated spouse, Glenda, would still be entitled to the benefits if they were still legally married when he died and that he should seek legal advice, they sent him a pension statement listing Boreen as the beneficiary based upon Lloyd’s false declaration that he had a “former spouse” who was not entitled to benefits. After Lloyd’s death in 2014, Glenda successfully claimed the death benefits and Boreen sued Mosaic for negligent misrepresentation. The court ruled that the administrator had acted properly and Lloyd’s failure to follow the administrator’s earlier advice led to the result.

Benefits Canada spoke with Andrea Boctor, Chair of Osler’s Pensions & Benefits Group, for comment on the case.

Boreen affirms that a member’s beneficiary designation is not an indication of who is entitled but merely of whom the member has designated,” says Andrea. “It also confirms that a non-member cannot found a claim for negligent misrepresentation against a plan on a statement by the member that the plan did not provide to the non-member.”

For more information, read Julius Melnitzer’s full article, “Court of appeal decision highlights importance of clear pension communications,” at the Benefits Canada website.