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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 > Yorkshire and the Humber > Human resources > Pensions > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Pensions
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

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Addleshaw Goddard fields a pensions team that is ‘technically very strong, whose detailed knowledge of a very tricky area is extremely reassuring; advice is technically detailed but also business focused and delivered speedily’. Under the leadership of Rachel Rawnsley, who is ‘clearly an industry expert; she handles complex issues very well and helps clients work through often tricky matters expertly’, the practice is particularly noted for its sector expertise in relation to education, retail and consumer, manufacturing, financial services, and energy and utilities, as well as for its ability to handle a wide range of pension scheme matters, including advice on SIPPs and SSAS products, pensions litigation, independent trustee matters and professional services partnerships. Rawnsley and Jonathan Stewart acted for a pension scheme in relation to its parent company’s takeover by a Chinese investment company, which involved assessing the company covenants. In other highlights, Jade Murray advised the trustees of the £2bn Asda Group pension scheme on funding negotiations with Walmart following a change in capital allocation policy by Asda Stores; and Rachel Uttley advised the trustees of the Ibstock pension scheme on the proposed closure of the scheme to future accrual. Susan Garrett leads on pensions disputes.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s ‘excellent’ pensions practice attracts praise for providing ‘very professional, helpful and knowledgeable’ advice on a wide range of pensions schemes, from several million pounds to more than a billion pounds in value. Pensions insurance schemes are a key area of activity; Simon Evans acts for insurance companies such as Just Retirement as well as trustees of pensions schemes on all aspects of buy-in and buyout insurance policies. Highlights in 2016 included advising the trustees of Greggs Plc’s money purchase pension schemes on a merger of the three schemes and the winding up of the two transferring schemes, as well as advising the trustees of the Greggs employee retirement scheme on new scheme rules. Shelton heads the practice alongside pensions litigator Claire Carroll. Other key figures include Gemma Hanley, who ‘understands business requirements and gives comprehensive advice which is well explained and thorough’, and Andy Wright, who joined from Ashurst in London.

Pinsent Masons LLP fields an ‘outstanding’ pensions team in Leeds, which is singled out for its ‘professional, practical and timely service’, its knowledge of defined-contribution and money-purchase pensions issues, and its strength in contract schemes and independent governance committee issues. Jacqui Timmins heads the department, which includes Tom Barton, who is ‘a thought leader’ in the field of defined contribution. The practice acts for a number of the region’s largest employers and schemes, as well as pension providers such as Legal & General and Scottish Widows. In an illustration of its handling of buy-in/buyout transactions, Barton acted for Legal & General in the buyout of the Covidien UK pension plan and the IMI 2014 pension fund. Barton also acted for a national financial institution in an analysis of financial instruments for charge cap purposes. On the pensions disputes front, the firm acted for Royal London in a High Court case concerning pensions liberation scams, which settled a point of law regarding a key barrier to enabling trustees and pension providers to decline transfer requests to schemes suspected of pensions liberation scams. Timmins’ highlights included advising the trustees of the £1bn Croda pension scheme on benefit changes to the scheme, including the introduction of a life expectancy adjustment factor for members joining the scheme after 6 April 2016.

The Leeds-based Catherine McKenna leads the global pensions team at Squire Patton Boggs, which handles the full range of contentious and non-contentious matters for employers, trustees and pensions administrators. The firm’s trustee clients include the trustees of the Kelda Group pension plan, which it has been advising on the design and implementation of liability-driven investment arrangements; the trustees of the Norther Powergrid Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme, which the firm assisted with changes to address the abolition of contracting out, including proposed benefit changes; and the trustees of the Network Rail CARE and defined-contribution schemes, which the firm advised on governance and compliance issues in relation to data protection and exercise of discretions, as well as on the impact of the cessation of contracting out. Anthea Whitton has left the firm.

Irwin Mitchell’s pensions practice in Leeds is headed by Nigel Bolton; his expertise covers de-risking matters such as pension increase exchange and enhanced transfer value exercises, as well as negotiating and drafting pension adviser agreements. Clients include trustees, for which the practice has acted on equalisation issues, and corporates, for which the firm has acted on pension obligations arising from TUPE transfers.

Jo Ratcliffe heads the pensions practice at Walker Morris LLP, which includes nine other pensions specialists and acts for the independent trustees of major regional and UK-wide pension schemes, including Capital Group’s Pension and Life Assurance scheme and Manchester University’s superannuation scheme. Ratcliffe is ably assisted by senior associate Craig Looker, whose expertise covers public and private sector pensions issues, and Ruth Bamforth, who has extensive experience handling scheme reorganisations, amendments and windings-up. Gwendoline Davies leads the firm’s pensions litigation practice. Highlights included advising Banco do Brasil, which had a defined benefit and defined contribution in a hybrid master trust for banks, on its withdrawal from the master trust, which involved the abolition of contracting-out and winding-up issues; and advising the trustees of the Rockware 1999 pension scheme and Redfearn 2005 pension scheme on a three-way merger, which involved the sectionalisation of the Rockware scheme post merger.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP’s ‘very experienced and knowledgeable’ pensions practice provides advice that is ‘comprehensive yet understandable’. Leigh Holmes heads the department and specialises in scheme wind-ups as well as buy-ins and buyouts. Other key figures include consultant Raymond Ainscoe, whose wide-ranging expertise covers equalisation issues among other matters; Rebecca Cooke, who regularly handles third sector and public sector pensions issues, including outsourcing; and Victoria Acomb, who attracts praise for her ability to ‘explain issues at the appropriate level, considers the options and provides the best advice based on her substantial knowledge and experience’. Highlights included advising the trustees of the Friends Life master trust on governance issues, including adapting its new governance requirements to an insurance industry model; and advising the trustees of a UK pension plan on defined-contribution issues.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s ‘very proactive and responsive’ pensions practice acts for household names including Procter & Gamble and IBM. The Leeds-based team works closely with the firm’s Newcastle office, as well as the wider firm’s national office network, enabling the firm to cover a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters. Highlights included advising Procter & Gamble on the pension implications of the sale of its beauty brands to Coty, which involved the internal TUPE transfer of staff and the negotiation of the terms of the apportionment of employer debt with the pension scheme trustees; and on the pensions aspects of the procurement of new rolling stock for the Abellio East Anglia franchise. Alex Rodger’s expertise encompasses buy-in/buyout programmes and advice to transport and manufacturing sector clients.

CMS (which merged with Nabarro LLP in 2017) established a firm foothold in the pensions arena with the arrivals in 2015 of John Hanratty and senior associate Jayne Firth from DWF. Hanratty is a leading figure in public sector pension matters and acts for government departments, local authorities and not-for-profit organisations on trust-based and public sector schemes. Firth is noted for her expertise in public outsourcing projects, as well as acting for insurers, SIPP sponsors and public entities in a variety of pension arrangements. Highlights included advising the trustees of the Schindler Group 1988 pension scheme on the buyout of pensioner liabilities entered into in 2014.

Craig Engleman leads Rollits LLP’s pensions team, which has been advising education and charities sector clients on issues arising from transfers of employees into public sector pension schemes and on the automatic enrolment regime. Engleman is also acting on the pensions aspects of corporate transactions, and acts for trustees in a number of issues, from drafting amendments to scheme rules to scheme mergers and winding-up

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