Legal – Aitken’s pension may be off-limits to Baker Tilly.

Baker Tilly could be barred from touching disgraced former MP Jonathan Aitken’s £600,000 pension fund following two landmark Court of Appeal cases due to be heard later this month, writes Lucinda Kemeny. The cases, which will take place on 21-22 February, will question a previous decision made in 1996 when, in a ruling against bankrupt Ivan Landau, it was decided that the capital and proceeds from a personal pension were recoverable in bankruptcy. The two cases, Krasner v Dennison and Lesser v Lawrence, will challenge the Landau decision. The Court has also been asked to consider the cases in the context of human rights and public interest. An insolvency regulation source said that the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act already contains provisions to stop personal pensions being seized during bankruptcy from April 2001 and the Court could be swayed by government sentiment. ‘The Court of Appeal usually tries to lay down guidelines so this case is very important,’ he explained. BDO Stoy Hayward insolvency specialist Malcolm Cohen said the decision would be critical because a pension is crucial in almost every bankruptcy. Baker Tilly has put Aitken and its other bankruptcy cases on hold until a decision is made. If the court overturns the Landau ruling Aitken’s creditors will have to settle for his offer of money and leave his substantial pension fund alone. However, a significant number of less high-profile cases could also be affected and accountancy firms are bracing themselves for a rush of claims from disgruntled bankrupts who have already had their pensions seized.

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