Transfer to the Post Office company: supplementary provisions
218.Schedule 3 sets out a series of provisions regarding the vesting of property, rights and liabilities of the Post Office in the Post Office company.
219.Paragraph 1 provides that anything (including any legal proceedings) which is being done by or in relation to the Post Office immediately before the appointed day may be continued to be done by or in relation to the Post Office company after the appointed day. Anything done by or in relation to the Post Office for the purpose of the transfer to the Post Office company will, if it is in force immediately before the appointed day, have effect as if it were done by or in relation to the Post Office company in so far as that is required for it to have continuing effect after the transfer. The transfer to the Post Office company does not affect the validity of anything done by or in relation to the Post Office before the transfer.
220.Any agreement or any document which was made before the appointed day will have effect for the purposes or consequences of the transfer to the Post Office company as if any reference to the Post Office were references to the Post Office company and any references to an employee or other person serving the Post Office in a specified capacity were references to such a person as the Post Office company may appoint or, in default, to the officer who most closely corresponds with the original member or officer of the Post Office. Sub-paragraph (5) contains an order-making power for the Secretary of State to disapply, or apply with modifications, the provisions in subsections (1) to (4) of paragraph 1. The order-making power could be used to deal with an instance where it is inappropriate for a reference to the Post Office in a current document to be construed as a reference to the Post Office company after vesting day. Only sub-paragraphs (1) to (4) of paragraph 1 are subject to any provision made by or under the Act.
221.Paragraph 2 provides for the Post Office company to be liable, as from the appointed day, for the pension arrangements of the Post Office. In particular, paragraph 2(1) imposes the Post Office’s previous liabilities under the 1969 Act on the new Post Office company. Paragraph 3 confers similar powers in relation to the new Post Office company to those which currently exist in relation to the Post Office in respect of certain previous employees of the Cable and Wireless company. Paragraph 4 provides that certain moneys in the pension schemes which were provided under the Post Office Act 1969 are to be held by trustees – just as they are currently held by trustees. The Post Office’s pension funds are currently held by a corporate trustee company (Post Office Pensions Trustees Ltd), and the Trustee Board operates independently of the Post Office. The effect of paragraph 4(1) is to permit such arrangements to continue. Paragraph 4(2) provides that the Trustees in office immediately before the “appointed day” will remain the Trustees after the transformation, and the trusts themselves will be equally unaffected in substance by the transformation. Paragraph 4(3) defines the boundaries of the trusts which are held within the ambit of these transfer provisions – it is drawn in such a way as to embrace all the current pension schemes.
222.Paragraph 5 ensures that managers of welfare and other funds for persons (and their relatives and dependants) who are or have been engaged in the business of the Post Office have the power to alter these funds to take account of the transfer of the Post Office to the Post Office company. It maintains the rights of persons eligible for assistance under the existing funds and allows persons (and their relatives and dependants) who become engaged in the business of the Post Office company to become eligible.
223.Paragraph 6 provides that no relevant land right of third parties will operate or become exercisable by virtue of the vesting of the rights and liabilities of the Post Office in the Post Office company. “Relevant land right” is defined in sub-paragraph (2). A relevant land right will have effect in the case of vesting of the rights and liabilities of the Post Office in the Post Office company as if the Post Office company were the same person in law as the Post Office and no transfer of land had taken place. Fair compensation will be paid by the Post Office company to any person having a relevant land right but who cannot exercise it because of the provisions in this paragraph. The paragraph makes provision for the appointment of an arbitrator to deal with any dispute over such compensation.
224.Paragraph 7 deals with any other rights or liabilities of a third party which were enforceable against or by the Post Office and which by virtue of the Act have become enforceable against or by the Post Office company, and the value of any property or interest of the third party which is consequently reduced. “Third party” in this paragraph means any other person other than the Post Office and the Post Office company. Fair compensation will be paid by the Post Office company in such circumstances and any dispute as to whether and how much compensation should be payable, and provision is made for the appointment of an arbitrator.
225.Paragraph 8 provides that a person dealing with the Post Office company in respect of land transferred under section 62 of the Act shall not be bound or entitled to enquire whether Treasury consent to any previous dealing with the land was needed or, if it was needed, whether or not it was given. It re-enacts section 62 of the Post Office Act 1969 but modifies it to apply to the Post Office company.
226.The Post Office still owns much of the land purchased with Treasury consent. The proposed section has the effect of allowing third parties to deal solely with the Post Office company in respect of dealings in land. It removes the burden on third parties to enquire whether Treasury consent was given in respect of past dealings in land and also provides protection in the unlikely event that Treasury consent was not given. The provision will remove the risk that dealings in respect of land between the Post Office company and third parties could be prejudiced.
227.Paragraph 9 provides for the transfer of any foreign property, right or liability.
228.Paragraph 10 defines “the transitional period” referred to in this schedule as the period of continued existence of the Post Office after the appointed day.