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Blake Morgan LLP’s practice is led by John Hamilton, who ‘distils complex technical matters into clear and practical advice’; he assisted the trustees of C Brewer & Sons retirement benefits scheme with implementing a flexible retirement policy. At legal director level, Adrian Lamb has ‘detailed knowledge’ and revised Welplan’s trust deed and master trust documentation rules following the establishment of a separate trustee company, and Rupert Graham-Evans, who provides ‘professional and timely advice’, assisted Epicor Software UK with matters relating to its UK defined benefit scheme and a cross-border corporate transaction. The client roster also includes the trustees of Mizuho International retirement benefits scheme and Knowles (UK) (formerly Syfer Technology). Litigator Richard Portlock is another key contact and heads the pensions disputes practice.

Pitmans LLP has notable strength in drafting master trusts for group life and defined contribution schemes, an area that senior associate Symon Rowley is experienced in along with benefit restructurings and pension scheme documentation covering Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPPs) and Small Self-Administered Schemes (SSASs); he assisted Liberty SIPP with establishing new rules following legislative changes to pension flexibility. Highlights for David Hosford included assisting Wilsons Feeds Pension Scheme with obtaining Pension Protection Fund compensation by splitting the scheme into two sections and arranging for employers to participate in these. He also advised an independent trustee of Avalon Leisure Pension Scheme on debts, winding up the scheme and a benefits buyout for members.

Praise abounds partners at Shoosmiths LLP: national practice head David Thompson is ‘outstanding and has the technical skills of a QC’, Heather Chandler is ‘first class’, and Tracey Hemingway and Suzanne Burrell are also highly respected. Hemingway assisted Cargill with the £700m merger between Cargill Pension Plan (CPP) and Sun Valley Pension Scheme, and is advising the trustee of CPP on drafting new rules for the scheme. Burrell has extensive experience in the charity and cooperative sectors and provides day-to-day advice to the trustees of the RNIB retirement benefit scheme, handling death benefits, regulatory work, data protection and other matters. JDM Technology Group, the trustees of the United States Air Force and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce are also key clients of the ‘strong team’.

At Penningtons Manches LLP, the ‘friendly, incisive and dependableMaria Riccio is particularly recommended for defined benefit plan matters and acts for trustees, employers and intermediaries, ‘demonstrating a deftness of touch when dealing with clients’. The firm advised Rayner’s Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on participating in the NHS Pensions Scheme and also handled the review of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP’s UK pensions arrangements, which involved advice on implementation and auto-enrolment; the firm also assisted the company with making a bonus sacrifice. The ‘very experienced’ practice is prized for its ‘practical and commercial approach’ and counts Imerys Minerals, Bespoke Corporate Pensions and Sun Life Financial of Canada as clients. Associate Verity Cruse is also well regarded.

Stevens & Bolton LLP experienced an uptick in work for excepted group life policies and reviewed FW Kerridge’s trust deed and rules for an excepted group life policy that the client was establishing. Recently promoted partner Gabrielle Holgate heads the practice and ‘always provides excellent legal, technical and commercial advice in a highly responsive and pragmatic manner’ to employers and the trustees of defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. The trustees of Kaye Enterprises 1996 Pension Scheme instruct the firm on day-to-day matters relating to liability management and reducing risk. The practice also provides ongoing advice to Greenclose Hotels and thus far, has handled an enhanced transfer exercise and funding arrangements for the company’s pension scheme, which saw the firm restructure the company’s contributions to the scheme and assist with security documentation. Wincor Nixdorf International and CBRE are also clients.

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