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  1. Pensions
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Tushar Bhate - Neon Legal

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The ‘excellent’ team at Bond Dickinson LLP is ‘always on top of all issues’ and provides ‘consistently timely and knowledgeable advice’. Martin Poore, who is singled out as ‘a brilliant communicator and delegator’, leads the group, which includes ‘genuinely exceptional’ regulatory specialist Suzanne Duff; managing associate Gavin Ellison, who leads the firm’s auto-enrolment unit; and the ‘responsive, pragmatic and commercialTracy Walsh, who is noted for her expertise in employer debt schemes and pension scheme mergers. Walsh’s recent highlights include assisting Procter & Gamble with the pension elements of its $12.5m sale of its beauty brands to Coty, acting for the trustees of the Research Machines pension scheme in the scheme’s compliance audit, and advising Accent Housing Group on the impact of the group’s consolidation on its three separate pension arrangements. Other clients include IBM, Taylor Wimpey, Bellway and Northern Powergrid.

Pensions boutique Neon Legal fields ‘an incredibly skilled’ team that ‘inspires confidence in its clients’ and which is ‘a credit to the profession’. Tushar Bhate (‘a superb communicator who gives pragmatic and thoughtful advice’) leads the group, which focuses solely on commercial pensions issues. Recent highlights include assisting the trustees of the Barratt Group Pension & Life Assurance Scheme with a scheme merger, advising John N Dunn Group on the operation of the Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme and advising several employers on their participation in multi-employer industry schemes. Clients single out consultant Robert O’Donovan, who ‘knows the pensions world inside out and always considers all angles before moving forward’; he focuses on the pension elements of commercial transactions.

Forming part of the Yorkshire and North East pensions group led by Leed-based Nigel Bolton, Irwin Mitchell’s practice in Newcastle features associate Kate Byers, who heads the firm’s pensions documents practice and is recognised for her expertise in drafting and interpreting pensions documentation. Associate Lucy Herbert is also recommended and acts in scheme governance and compliance issues. Pan Trustees and Grant Thornton are clients; the team advised the latter on a business sale including the related rescue of the pension scheme from administration and the movement of the scheme to a new employer. Herbert also assisted the Fishing Co-operatives (UK) Ltd Retirement & Death Benefits Scheme with a governance review.

Nick Smith leads the practice at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP and also leads the firm’s general employment team; he has substantial experience handling issues arising from the closure of defined benefit occupational schemes, scheme mergers, clearance applications, employer buyout debt, scheme management and the withdrawal of pension benefits. The team also advises on auto-enrolment and employer pension duties. Clients include Telenomics Retail, Northern Bear and LB Foster Rail Technologies.

Ward Hadaway’s ‘practical and knowledgeable’ group ‘has the ability to take complex legal issues and convert them into practical solutions’. The practice acts for a mixture of employer and trustee clients including Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group, the trustees of the Air Products Pension Plan, the trustees of the Nifco UK Retirement Benefit Scheme, and J Barbour & Sons. Ian O’Toole is singled out for his ‘direct, to-the-point and practical advice that draws from a wide range of experience and knowledge’. In a recent highlight, O’Toole advised multiple clients on de-risking pension schemes, including Pension Protection Fund issues and pension benefit buyouts. Litigator Martin Woodford and associate solicitor Tristan Mander are also recommended; Woodford is assisting the North Yorkshire County Council with all scheme-related matters arising from its role as administering authority for the North Yorkshire Pension Fund.

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