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    • Tushar Bhate - Neon Legal

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Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s wide-ranging contentious and non-contentious pensions law expertise leads to regular instructions from trustees and sponsoring employers of UK pension schemes. The ‘very knowledgeable’ Suzanne Duff provided IBM with general pensions law advice on its occupational pension plans and workforce restructuring programmes while also acting for the client in a pensions-related Court of Appeal case involving employer’s duty of good faith. Noted for her expertise in handling pensions-related corporate and outsourcing work, Tracy Walsh has been advising Procter & Gamble on the pension implications of the sale of its beauty brands to Coty which involved the transfer of hundreds of staff in the company’s largest UK pension scheme, and assisted Accent Housing on pension law matters pertaining to its two-year plan to rationalise the group. ‘Good communicator and delegator’ Martin Poore heads the team and was retained by the trustees of the Sapa Holdings Limited Pension and Life Assurance Scheme to advise on the employer’s flexible retirement offer to members and a pension increase exchange offer. Other clients include the Signet Group and the trustee of the Go-Ahead Group Pension Plan.

Irwin Mitchell is ‘knowledgeable and experienced’ in assisting employers and trustees with the closure of schemes to future accrual, redocumentation projects, GDPR compliance and pension law elements of corporate transactions and also acts as trustee for a number of pension schemes. Senior associate Kate Byers now heads the team after former group head Nigel Bolton moved to Freeths LLP in November 2017. In recent work, the team advised on pension law matters pertaining to a voluntary redundancy programme and corporate restructure alongside occupational and personal pension benefits as well as maternity-related pension issues. Associate Lucy Herbert is another key member of the team. Clients include the Darlington-based financial institution RPMI, PAN Trustees and Fishing Co-operatives (UK) Retirement and Death Benefit Scheme.

Neon Legal is a pensions boutique with an extensive client base, which includes small family businesses, large companies, charities, schools, admitted bodies alongside public sector organisations and trustees. ‘Well-regarded and competent’ team head Tushar Bhate advised over 30 sponsoring employers on historic trustee decisions, and assisted a different client with the closure of a final salary scheme and its replacement with a money purchase agreement. In contentious work, he defended various individuals and companies in proceedings brought by HMRC and the Pensions Regulator. Consultant Robert O’Donovan has particular expertise in pensions law issues arising from commercial transactions.

At Mincoffs Solicitors LLP, the team is led by Nick Smith , who also heads the firm’s general employment practice. His expertise lies in advising employers and trustees on occupational pension schemes and issues arising from the cessation of accrual of future benefits while also providing assistance with freezing benefits, changing benefit structures and winding up schemes.

Ward Hadaway handles a wide range of advisory, transactional and trustee work and is led by Leeds-based Ian O’Toole. His experience includes establishing and winding up pension schemes, advising on scheme mergers and de-mergers alongside benefits and member issues as well as assisting employers with legacy issues, particularly in regard to liability reduction, and auto-enrollment matters.

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