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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > North West > Human resources > Pensions > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Index of tables

  1. Pensions
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Next Generation Partners

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Rising stars

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DLA Piper UK LLP's pensions team, led by Liverpool managing partner Ben Miller is recognised for its trustee work, acting for the trustees of some the largest UK occupational schemes. The practice has a wide range of capabilities including scheme advisory and documentation work, as well as advising providers of small, self-administered schemes and self-invested personal pensions. Other areas of expertise include scheme mergers, reconstructions, scheme closures and pensions aspects of corporate matters. The team is also experienced in advising on de-risking strategies such as changes in benefit design and buy-in and buy-out of liabilities. Claire Bell, Jeremy Harris and senior associate Kate Beech are key team members.

Practice head(s):Ben Miller

Other key lawyers:Claire Bell; Jeremy Harris; Gary Davies; Kate Beech; Angela Stokes

Testimonials

'Strong technical pensions knowledge delivered in easy to follow language.'

'Excellent team, very professional - always delivers a quality outcome.'

'Claire Bell is an excellent partner with a reassuring and supportive attitude. Always delivers a quality product on time. Friendly and approachable but completely professional.'

'This practice is responsive, direct, pragmatic and efficient and very cost effective which leads to a happy client. They have a very practical and pragmatic 'can do' approach which leads to the client reaching where it wants to be with a minimum of fuss.'

Key Clients

Trustee of the Universities Superannuation Scheme

Trustee of the Royal Insurance Group Pension Scheme

Trustee of the VINCI Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Jacob's Bakery Retirement Benefit Scheme

Trustee of the Trinity Retirement Benefit Scheme

Trustee of the Medical Research Council Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Warburtons Pension and Life Assurance Plan

Trustees of the Navigator Terminals UK Pension and Life Assurance Plan

Trustee of the Svitzer Marine Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Horserace Totalisator Board (1968) Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advising the trustees of the pension plans of a large logistics company in relation to GMP equalisation.
  • Advising the trustee of the scheme of a large insurance company on a large scale rules consolidation exercise involving approximately 50 separate amending deeds and two bulk transfer agreements.
  • Advising the trustees of a scheme of a large bulk liquid storage provider in relation to covenant, risk management and other legal issues arising from a £220m refinancing of the principal employer's business.
  • Advising the UK's largest structural steel company in relation to the group's participation in a new master trust arrangement.
  • Advising the trustees of the pension scheme of the world's leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company in relation to liability management and benefit redesign.

Manchester partner Tim Green - 'the complete pensions lawyer' - is national head of pensions at DWF, which is known for its proficiency in pensions litigation, particularly in relation to the distressed market and pensions restructurings, as well as advising on complex multi-employer pension schemes. The department has expertise across a number of sectors such as retail, transport, utilities and insurance. 'Technically superb' senior associate Sinead Sheehan is well-regarded for her 'excellent eye for detail'.

Practice head(s):Tim Green

Other key lawyers:Sinead Sheehan; Jane Smith

Testimonials

'The DWF pensions team is a leading player in pensions, both nationally and in the North West. They have a stellar client list that most firms in the field would envy, and have been involved in many of the most significant cases or deals in recent years.'

'Tim Green is the complete pensions lawyer - he has a very commercial outlook combined with great technical know-how. His drive and vision make him extremely popular with his clients, his team at DWF and with other professionals.'

'Sinead Sheehan has an excellent eye for detail and is technically superb.'

'Tim Green is omnipresent, omniscient and always willing to help all the parties achieve the right answer

'Jane Smith loves the white heat of the negotiating room. A first rate front line operator.'

'Sinead Sheehan gets the toughest assignments, laughs at the adversity and brings home the best results for her grateful clients.'

Key Clients

WM Morrisons Plc

Trustee of the British Steel Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Carillion Pension Schemes (10+ schemes in PPF assessment period)

Trustees of the Nottingham City Transport Pension Fund

Trustee of Standard Life DC Master Trust

Trustee of the Christie, Manson & Woods PLSA

Pension Protection Fund

Burton's Biscuits

Trustee of the Princes Pension Scheme and the Princes (1977) Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Edmundson Electrical Group Pension Schemes

Bentley Motors Limited

Princes Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Safeway on the Safeway v Newton equalisation proceedings referred by the Court of Appeal to the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union, a case which concerns equal pay for equal work between the sexes.
  • Advising the Old British Steel Pension Scheme Trustee on benefit structures and the compensation to be provided under the PPF following the Tata Steel restructuring deal.
  • Advising the Carillion Pension Schemes Trustee on the consequences of insolvency of Carillion on its 11 pension arrangements including compensation and passage of the schemes through PPF assessment periods.
  • Advising the Trustee of the Nottingham City Transport Pension Scheme on the full range of business as usual pensions issues.
  • Providing trustee advice to the Trustee of Standard Life DC Master Trust in relation to transfers into the scheme.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's client base consists of trustees, employers and providers, which it advises on the full gambit of pensions issues including debt and liability management, pensions insurance, scheme funding solutions, scheme closures and scheme mergers. The practice is led by Ele Lovering, alongside Charmian Johnson, who is particularly adept at handling moral hazard investigations and advising employers and trustees on compromise deals with the Pension Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator. Helen May, Sarah Lown, Simon Daniel and principal associate Amanda Small are also key team members.

Practice head(s):Ele Lovering

Other key lawyers:Charmian Johnson; Jon Walters; Sarah Lown; Simon Daniel; Amanda Small; Helen May; Lauren O’Connor

Key Clients

Trustees of the MAN UK Group Pension Scheme

INEOS pension schemes

Carlsberg UK Limited Pension Scheme

The Co-operative Group’s Pension Schemes

Thomas Cook

Kellogg

Nestlé

Manchester Airport Group Pension Schemes

Avis Budget

Manchester United Group Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised a major manufacturer in the food sector on pensions and employment issues relating to the design and implementation of the closure of the defined benefit section of the Kellogg’s (Great Britain) Pension Fund, a £1bn hybrid scheme.
  • Advised Lloyds Development Capital on pensions aspects of its disposal of the NEC business - which includes the National Exhibition Centre, the International Convention Centre, the Genting Arena and the Barclaycard Arena - to Blackstone.
  • Advised the trustees of the MAN UK Group Pension Scheme on a broad range of matters including a bulk transfer of the assets and liabilities in respect of employees of one of the scheme’s participating employers.
  • Acted as employer-side legal advisers to Nissan’s UK business in relation to 2018 benefit change proposals.
  • Advised the regulatory arm of a non-departmental UK government body on the pensions aspects of its transition to a separate legal entity.

Pinsent Masons LLP's pension department advises in relation to some of the largest pension schemes in the country with significant experience of scheme restructuring, funding and security projects. The team also has substantial capability in pensions litigation, helping clients with investigations by The Pensions Regulator or the Pensions Ombudsman. The team's client base includes financial institutions and pension providers, as well as pension schemes and their employers. Stephen Scholefield leads the department; litigator Hayley Goldstone was promoted to partner in May 2018 and senior associate Robert Tellwright is also recommended.

Practice head(s):Stephen Scholefield

Other key lawyers:Pippa Read; Howard Ridley; Hayley Goldstone; Robert Tellwright; Peter White

Testimonials

'The pensions team at Pinsent Masons has a strong London and regional presence and the extensive network of pensions lawyers allows the team to service clients in a prompt and cost effective manner. The size of the team and collaborative working patterns means that they can tap into specialist advice from their tax, insurance, employment and data protection teams, amongst others.'

'Stephen Scholefield is always pragmatic and understands our business and any constraints within which we are working.'

'Personable, friendly, accessible. Technically hugely competent but wrapped in a very friendly package which was just right for the circumstances.'

'Stephen Scholefield is pragmatic, organised, experienced, knows his clients well and is good to work with.'

Key Clients

Balfour Beatty Pension Fund

Royal Ordnance Pension Schemes

Rentokil Initial plc

Unite the Union Pension Scheme

Newell Rubbermaid UK Pension Scheme

Mercer Limited and Mercer (Ireland) Limited

Baxi Group Pension Schemes

Babcock International Group Pension Scheme

Eurotunnel Pension Schemes

Laird Pension Scheme

Makro Staff Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advise the trustee of the Balfour Beatty Pension Fund on a wide range of issues, including an asset backed funding and security arrangement, member communications, member queries, investment matters and procedures to simplify and improve the governance of the day to day operation of the fund.
  • Providing a full legal service to the trustees of the two Royal Ordnance pension schemes, which relate to BAE Systems.
  • Advised Rentokil Initial on the buy-out of its pension scheme with Pension Insurance Corporation, one of the largest pension buy-out transactions of 2018.
  • Advising Unite the Union Pension Scheme on the use of contingent property assets, member communications, scheme mergers, a flexible apportionment arrangement, as well as routine compliance issues.
  • Advised the independent trustee of the BWI Retirement Benefits Scheme in securing benefits with Scottish Widows in a 'PPF plus' buy-out transaction.

Ian Mylrea - 'the man you want in your foxhole when the heat is really on' - is the head of Brabners LLP's pensions department, which acts for employers and trustees alike. The team has experience across the full range of scheme types, including defined benefit, defined contribution and hybrid schemes, as well as more specialised pension schemes such as self-administered and self-invested pensions. Consultant Andrew Ashley Taylor is also a key team member.

Practice head(s):Ian Mylrea

Other key lawyers:Andrew Ashley Taylor; Siu Yin Ho; Elspeth Beatty

Testimonials

'The team is solutions driven and extremely client focused. They can work quickly into challenging matters. They also work extremely professionally with other firms as part of complex multi-layered projects. They are an ideal firm in the local area to deal with issues that arise.'

'Ian Mylrea has an extremely strong market presence, and commands a wide network of key contacts. He can take the challenging issues and relay them in simple plain English. His client relationships are strong and they trust his judgement.'

'Completely in tune with the business community of the Northern Powerhouse.'

Key Clients

Trustees of the Arighi Bianchi & Company Limited Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Ingersoll-Rand Holdings Limited Retirement Benefits Plan (1974)

Trustees of the Unity (1993) Retirement Benefits Scheme (a GMB scheme)

Peel Ports (in relation to all 19 of their pension schemes)

Budenberg 4B Group Limited

@SIPP

Trustees of the H S Walsh and Sons Limited Managed Pension Plan

Lakeland Laboratories Limited

Praemium (Australian parent company and UK subsidiaries)

Alliance of participating employers in the Scottish Solicitors Staff Pension Fund

Walker & Sharpe

C.O.H. Baines Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the NCR (Scotland) Pension Plan Trustees on the assignment of approximately £500m of assets, a parent company guarantee for full buyout liabilities, and investment management and professional adviser agreements from the outgoing trustees to the new trustee.
  • Advised a large, national housing association on its ability to end its participation in the Local Government Pension Scheme and on the steps it would need to take in order to do so.
  • Advised the Trustees of the Ingersoll Rand Pension Scheme on their GDPR requirements to ensure they were compliant in all their communications and dealings with employees, pension beneficiaries and third parties.
  • Advising Liverpool Mutual Homes on the pensions aspects of the amalgamation between Liverpool Mutual Homes, Golden Gates Housing Trust, Torus 62 and Helena Partnerships, one of the largest mergers of two already large housing associations.
  • Advising the UK sponsor of a defined benefit pension scheme in respect of a proposed compromise with the Pension Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator.

The team at Gateley Plc is led by Patrick Kennedy, who is described as 'a pleasure to work with' and is well-versed on all aspects of pension law. He is also the founding director of Entrust, and independent professional trustee company which operates as part of the firm and helps organisations run their pension schemes effectively. Stuart Evans has particular expertise in master trusts and works on many schemes to which Entrust has been appointed as trustee.

Practice head(s):Patrick Kennedy

Other key lawyers:Stuart Evans; Stephen Maynard; Becky Ryding

Testimonials

'The lawyers in this team have a particularly good understanding of the trustee position - the team is particularly good at cutting through the complexity of pensions law to advise on key points.'

'Patrick Kennedy is very interesting, with many talents, engaging the room and bringing humour to a dry subject matter. He is a pleasure to work with.'

'Stuart Evans is very direct and gets the key issues, finding solutions quickly.'

'Stephen Maynard is a very good pensions lawyer who has a good understanding of this technical area of the law, with an ability to translate technicalities into clear, plain English.'

Work highlights

  • Represented a consortium of sureties in a £600m pension surety bond exercise.
  • Established a new pension scheme for employer to create an environment better suited to capturing sponsor support and auctioning ‘best idea’ solutions.
  • Protecting a family company’s interests to facilitate support for its pension scheme.
  • Supporting investment in important manufacturing facility to help the sponsor achieve good results and be better placed to support the pension scheme.
  • Transitioning two UK schemes with weak covenants into some of the best supported pension schemes in Europe.

Hill Dickinson LLP's broad pension practice led by Barry Gibb is skilled at advising on scheme mergers, design and restructuring, as well as funding solutions encompassing guarantees, security and escrow arrangements. The team also advises on closing schemes to future accrual and has expertise in the drafting and interpretation of pension-related documentation. Paula Warnock is also a key team member.

Practice head(s):Barry Gibb

Other key lawyers:Paula Warnock; Heather Lucas; Lisa Suares

Key Clients

Trustees of the MWH UK Limited Pension and Life Assurance Plan

Swissport GB Limited

The North of England Zoological Society

Trustees of the William Jackson Pension Plan

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics Ltd

Trustees of the A&P Group Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the Instem LSS Pension Scheme

Trustees of the PJKI Pension Scheme

Vynova Runcorn Limited

The Trustees of the Eden Friendly Society

Trustees of the Iggesund Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Goricon Metallurgical Services Limited Retirement Benefits Scheme

Tote (Successor Company) Limited (Betfred)

Trustees of HJ Enthoven Limited Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Milford Haven Port Authority RBS

Stobart Group

Trustees of Thomas Cook UK DC Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the MWH UK Limited Pension and Life Assurance Plan on a scheme restructure.
  • Advising Swissport Group in respect of its obligations towards the defined benefit pension schemes within the corporate group.
  • Advising The North of England Zoological Society on setting up an escrow account into which it can pay contributions in the event that the scheme’s funding deficit calculated on the solvency basis falls below a certain figure.
  • Advising the Trustees of the William Jackson Pension Plan in respect of the company’s decision to sell subsidiary company, Aunt Bessie’s Limited.
  • Advising Hellmann Worldwide Logistics on a rewrite of the Trust Deed and Rules within a very tight timeframe.

David Griffiths is at the helm of Squire Patton Boggs' Manchester pension team, which has been very busy in recent months advising pension funds and employers in relation to GDPR compliance. The team has a strong presence in public sector pensions, while other sector specialisms include utilities, manufacturing, chemical, engineering, automotive, healthcare, financial services and infrastructure. Victoria Leigh  is noted for her contentious experience.

Practice head(s):David Griffiths

Other key lawyers:Victoria Leigh

Testimonials

'David Griffiths is always very approachable and offers quick, clear and pragmatic solutions.'

Key Clients

Homestyle 2007 Pension Plan

Cruden Group

Trustees of the ABB Pension Plan

Nampak Pension Scheme

Marshalls Pension Scheme

PZ Cussons PLC Pension Trustees

Trustees of the Siddall and Hilton Pension Plan

PwCEE BV Pension Plan

West Midlands Pension Fund

Work highlights

  • Advising Cruden Group on the restructure of pension scheme deficits to avoid insolvency.
  • Handling complex deficit matter involving The Pensions Regulator for a newly-appointed trustee client.
  • Advising Trustees of the ABB Pension Plan on a cross-border guarantee on a £1bn pension scheme.
  • Advising trustees on a potential buyout situation involving PwC.

Mark Poulston, who heads up the pensions team at Weightmans LLP, has particular expertise in scheme termination and risk management work for trustees and employers, as well as track record in life insurance issues. Jane Marshall has a particular focus on the intersection of employment and pensions, such as pension scheme changes, TUPE transfers and outsourcing arrangements.

Practice head(s):Mark Poulston

Other key lawyers:Jane Marshall

Key Clients

Dorset NHS Trust

Equality and Human Rights Commission

National Scheme Advisory Board for the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme

Motor Insurers’ Bureau

Swissport

Cumbria University

N Brown Pension Trustees Limited

Well Pharmacy - the trading name for Bestway Panacea Healthcare Ltd

Sefton Borough Council

The Greenbank Project

Post Office Limited

The Football Pools

Work highlights

  • Advised Swissport Cargo Services on the successful termination of accrual for future service under a defined benefit pension scheme operated for cargo services employees at Heathrow Airport.
  • Advising the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, in its capacity as principal employer of a defined benefit pension scheme and an associated life insurance scheme, on various matters including amendments to the pension scheme trust deed and rules, GDPR compliance issues, and the provision of death in service benefits.
  • Advising the Equality & Human Rights Commission on the winding-up of its scheme, including advising on negotiations between the client, HM Treasury and the scheme trustees to conclude the winding-up of the scheme to the satisfaction of all parties.

gunnercooke LLP's team was bolstered in 2018 by the arrival of Suresh Bhatt from Gateley Plc. Bhatt, who covers both contentious and non-contentious matters, advises employers, trustees and law firms without pensions capabilities on a broad range of issues including corporate transactions, liability management, trust documentation drafting and liaising with the Pensions Regulator. Other key team member Wyn Derbyshire has extensive experience of pensions issues that can arise during corporate transactions.

Other key lawyers:Suresh Bhatt; Wyn Derbyshire

Shoosmiths LLP's pension department, under the leadership of Paul Carney, advises on the full spectrum of pensions issues, with particular strength in public service pension schemes, scheme mergers, closure of schemes to future accruals and risk management within schemes. The team also handles automatic enrolment issues, administration and investment management agreements as well as advising on the pensions aspects of corporate transactions. Associate Alexandra Ventham is also recommended.

Practice head(s):Paul Carney

Other key lawyers:Alexandra Ventham

Testimonials

'Excellent knowledge of public sector pension schemes. Pricing is very competitive. They have become our go-to people when it comes to legal assistance with pensions.'

'Paul Carney is excellent. He is always available when we need him and can turn things around very quickly for us. His reviews and legal advice is always of a very high standard and written in a way that is detailed, yet understandable. He is always willing to assist us and we would be lost without his knowledge and expertise'

'Paul Carney is not just a pensions lawyer of unrivalled experience, intellectual capability and a personal delight to deal with, but is also a jurist capable of distilling the most complex issue down to its essentials and building a solution from there. Add to this a keen commercial instinct and you see why the North West is blessed indeed with Paul's pensions legal capabilities.'

'Alexandra Ventham has the ability to calm the storm of a client's anxieties, and focus the mind on solutions she then implements with an ease matched in the world of tennis by vintage Roger Federer.'

Key Clients

PSA Peugeot Citroën UK

Trustees of the Guardian Media Group plc pension schemes

Elior UK plc

Markem-imaje Limited

Shoreham Port Authority

PSA Peugeot Citroën UK

Trustees of the Guardian Media Group plc pension schemes

Legal director Damien Garrould, who leads TLT's northwest pensions team from Manchester, is adept at advising on wide range of pension law matters including public sector outsourcings and pension scheme investments. Garrould also has particular expertise in relation to self-invested personal pension schemes as well as small self-administered schemes, and regularly provides pensions advice to the wider firm's employment clients.

Practice head(s):Damien Garrould

Testimonials

'Very knowledgable in their field, -they explain things in laymans terms so it is easy to understand the processes required and the risks involved.'

'Damian Garrould is very friendly, affable and knowledgable.'

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Legal Developments in North West for Pensions

  • Companies should plan now to minimise their pension protection levy

    The amount that pension schemes have to pay to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) for the year 2006/07 may have increased by as much as five times the previous year's levy. Employers who ultimately bear the cost of many pension schemes will need to make plans now to ensure the levy payable for the year 2008/09 is kept to a minimum.
    - Stephenson Harwood

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