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Besides advising trustees of some of the largest pension plans in Ireland on scheme matters,

A&L Goodbody was also highly active on corporate mandates, including David Main assisting Sumitomo Corporation with the Irish pensions aspects of its recommended takeover of Fyffes. Keavy Ryan has ‘expansive knowledge of the effect of M&A on employee benefits’, Rosaleen Boyle is ‘a go to person for employee share plans’, and Chris Comerford is also noted.

Arthur Cox’s ‘extremely professional’ team was active on a range of issues, including advising on the use of harvesting rights and trade receivables as contingent assets, and assisting with the transition of a semi-state scheme from funded to unfunded status. Practice head Philip Smith is ‘one of the best pensions lawyers in Ireland’ and Catherine Austin is also ‘an expert in the field’.

Eversheds Sutherland’s ‘down-to-earth’ approach makes it a favourite with trustees and sponsors of major pension schemes. Practice head Peter Fahy is advising the trustees of the Irish Examiner’s defined benefit (DB) pension scheme on the buy-out of the scheme’s existing pensioner liabilities. Other key figures are the ‘practical and patientIan Devlin and Fiona Thornton, who is now a senior consultant.

Mason Hayes & Curran is ‘going from strength to strength in the area of employee benefits’, with practice head Peggy Hughes noted for her ‘encyclopaedic knowledge of Irish pension law’ and Stephen Gillick singled out for his ‘share plan knowledge and pensions acumen’. Highlights included assisting the trustees of the Commission for Energy Regulation’s pension scheme with legislation compliance and advising Ervia on the payment of a supplementary pension in the scheme.

Matheson provides ‘thorough and technically effective’ advice on a range of trustee mandates, including assisting the trustees of St. Patrick’s Hospital 2005 pension scheme with the service of a termination notice by the employer in circumstances where there was a contractual funding agreement in place. Practice head Brian Buggy is ‘experienced and pragmatic’ and senior associate Jane McKeever is ‘a very strong communicator’.

McCann FitzGerald is ‘extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of pensions’, with practice head Maureen Dolana top-class lawyer who provides practical, measured and astute advice’. Dolan is advising Pfizer Pension Plans Trustees on the proposed restructuring of the two Pfizer DB pension schemes as part of a global restructuring. Senior associate Eleanor Cunningham advised Roche Ireland on the restructuring and wind-up of its two DB pension schemes.

At William Fry, practice head Liam Connellan and Michael Wolfe are ‘both excellent pensions lawyers, with considerable experience and great attention to detail’. Connellan advised Glanbia Co-operative Society on the pensions and employment law aspects of the proposed establishment of a new joint venture known as Glanbia Ireland. Other key contacts are Maura Roe, who is ‘extremely knowledgeable in the complex area of TUPE and share options’, and ‘superb’ associate Louise Harrison.

ByrneWallace’s practice spins off the firm’s strength in general employment work, with the public sector a particular specialism. Key figures include consultant Gary Byrne, who focuses on pensions litigation, and Sharon McCaffrey, who established a number of employee share incentive schemes. The Health Service Executive (HSE) and CRH are clients.

At LK Shields Solicitors, practice head Jamie McConville has ‘a great knowledge of pensions issues’ and handles contentious and non-contentious work. He is acting for members of the Retired Aviation Staff Association in their action against the state for reductions in their pensions, and assisted Brink’s Ireland with the winding-up of its DB pension scheme.

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Legal Developments in Ireland for Pensions and employee benefits

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    - Dillon Eustace

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    Employment Equality legislation in Ireland is to be found in the Employment Equality Act 1998 as amended by the Equality Act 2004. This legislation is extremely detailed but in effect makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against a person on the basis of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, and membership of the traveller community. These are referred to as the “discriminatory grounds”.
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