Pensions and employee benefits in Ireland

A&L Goodbody LLP

A&L Goodbody LLP fields one of the largest pensions practices in Ireland and advises prominent multinationals on every aspect of occupational pension schemes and personal pension arrangements. In addition to this, it also represents clients in pensions ombudsman claims and has expertise in the mediation of pension disputes. The team is led by David Main  and also includes Keavy Ryan, David Franci and Chris Comerford.

Practice head(s):

David Main



‘ALG’s breadth of knowledge, attention to detail, responsiveness and assured advice all contribute to an overall service office that is pretty potent.’

‘The team is highly experienced, dedicated and provide practical solutions. They always get a clear understanding of their clients.’

‘Openness, availability, friendly. Each individual within the firm is very approachable and very generous with their time and always willing to take the time to listen and understand a client’s problem.’

‘The team at A&L Goodbody are exceptional to deal with. They seek to work in partnership with their clients and are very keen to develop a strong professional relationship. They are flexible, creative and always willing to listen.’

‘David Main – very safe hands and easy to deal with. David Francis – technically very strong, commercial and able to think outside the box for solutions to tricky issues. Chris Comerford – technically very able and commercial; covers all the points’

‘Best resourced and up to date knowledge. Commitment to clients. Excellent overseas associates.’

‘David Francis: Superb support -available at all times, always has best interest of client in mind.

‘Fantastic pensions client base – a wealth of relevant experience across the group.’

Key clients

Irish Airline Pilots Pensions DAC / Irish Airlines Pensions DAC

The trustees of the Bank of Ireland Staff Pensions Fund


Heineken Ireland Limited






Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Standard Life



Permanent TSB

Trustee of AA Ireland Pension Scheme

Trustees of Bank of Scotland (Ireland) Staff Benefits Scheme


Cook Medical

Collins aerospace

Northern Trust


Ark Life

Concern Worldwide

Kennedy Wilson Europe



Ark Life


Scottish & Southern Energy

MSD Ireland

Britvic plc

Cairn Homes plc

Glenveagh Properties plc

Irish Continental Group plc

Dalata Hotel Group plc

Oneview Healthcare plc

Marks & Spencer

Bank of America

Element Six (part of Anglo American)

GH Research plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Allied Irish Banks plc on its proposed acquisition of Goodbody Stockbrokers, subject to required regulatory approvals.
  • Advised Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation on its agreement to buy the meats and meals business of Kerry Consumer Foods in the UK and Ireland.
  • Advised HWM on the acquisition of the Irish business of Koger Inc which was funded by Lovell Minnick Partners.

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox’s team advises a wide range of trustees of pension schemes and corporate entities on benefit redesign, funding negotiations, restructuring and mergers of benefit schemes, among other matters. It also assists with issues arising from IORPS II Directive requirements. Philip Smith, who leads the practice, advises both trustees and employers on administration, restructuring, mergers, investment, governance, and corporate transactions. Sarah McCague advises on the management of funding deficit issues, the merger of pension schemes, scheme amendments and changes in the Pensions Act and in tax and finance legislation.

Practice head(s):

Philip Smith


‘Philip Smith gives sound and practical legal advice in clear and concise language with a measure of good humour thrown in which keeps everyone engaged. Sarah McCague gives clear and practical advice and is a pleasure to deal with.

‘The people on the pensions team are subject matter experts. When we ask them a question, their response is considered, comprehensive, timely and useful. They also are careful to make sure that they understand the question we are asking, before starting the work. This means that we get value for money for their services.’

‘The team is very responsive and provide clear advice and guidance. They are readily available for calls to discuss matters and explain them clearly to a non-legal person. They also provide updates which are extremely relevant to and useful for the current evolving pensions environment.’

‘The team provide practical advice and solutions to day to day issues we face. For us this allows us to deal with the issues quickly rather than first having to decipher long legal opinions.’

‘The professionalism and level of expertise that the team can offer to clients enables clients to be confident in the advice that they are receiving.’

‘Excellent interpersonal skills. Ability to distil complex legal matters into succinct opinions/advice. Seamless introduction of new members of the team particularly advent of Sarah McCague as the new promoted Partner on the team.’

‘Being approachable, engaged and responsive to client queries. True understanding of client needs.’

Sarah McCague is outstanding.

Key clients

Trustees of the daa Defined Contribution Retirement Savings Scheme

Trustees of Construction Executive Retirement Savings (ROI)

CRH plc

RTÉ (Trustees)

Bord Gáis Energy


Ervia / Irish Water

Trustees of the Zurich Ireland Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Bord na Mona General Employees’ Superannuation Scheme

Trustees of the RBS Group Ireland Retirement Savings Plan

Work highlights

  • Advised sponsoring employer on a project to merge DB schemes and buy-out annuities with a captive insurer.
  • Advised the trustees of a semi-state DB scheme on de-risking liability-driven investment management proposals and revision of funding proposal submissions to the Pensions Authority.
  • Advised the financial institution on repatriation of legacy cross-border Irish benefits from UK scheme into Ireland in advance of Brexit.

ByrneWallace LLP

ByrneWallace LLP advises on corporate M&As and restructurings, drafting and amending pension scheme documentation, restructuring pension schemes, the application of pensions regulatory and tax legislation, trusteeship, and scheme governance. It also acts for corporate trustees preparing for the full transposition of the IORPs II Directive into Irish law. The practice is led by Liam Connellan, whose clients include leading employers, scheme trustees, individuals and pensioner associations.

Practice head(s):

Liam Connellan

Other key lawyers:

Neil Keenan; Catherine Dowling


‘Market leading knowledge of the pensions sector; quick to respond and flexible to changing circumstances.’

‘Liam Connellan is a leading pensions expert who has a very easy to work with style. He is responsive, accessible, and able to break down complex topics for consideration by clients. He also has detailed knowledge of all elements of Irish pensions and can advise on a range of topics.’

‘Liam Connellan is very hands on and always makes himself available to provide partner support. His exceptional knowledge of pensions and associated legislation means he can get to the heart of issues easily and help clients come to practical solutions for their pension schemes.’

Key clients

Trustee Principles Limited

FCR Media Limited

Mainstream Renewable Power


Majority Shareholder of Interactive Services (Holdings) Limited

Staycity Investment Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Mainstream Renewable Power on its landmark agreement whereby Norwegian company Aker Horizons is to take a 75% equity stake in the business and the pensions-related issues of the agreement.
  • Advised Integrity360 Group on legal and tax issues (including pension-related issues) to the majority shareholder and the target in the cross-border acquisition of a majority stake in the Integrity360 Group.
  • Advised FCR Media Limited on the wind-up of the defined benefit Golden Pages Pension Plan.

Eversheds Sutherland

Led by Peter Fahy, Eversheds Sutherland’s team handles both contentious and non-contentious pension matters. It covers all types of pensions restructuring and liability management matters. The team also advises on the closure of pension schemes to future benefit accrual, enhanced transfer value exercises, pensions de-risking, investment contracts, funding agreements and data protection issues. Lorcan Keenan has a comprehensive knowledge of defined benefit scheme restructurings and pensions implications of corporate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Peter Fahy

Other key lawyers:

Lorcan Keenan; David McKeating


‘Regardless of the query, we consistently receive clear and timely advice when needed.’

‘Clear and consistent information. All advice provided is presented in a clear and understandable language rather than using legal jargon in responses shared.’

‘Their depth of knowledge of the subject matter, i.e. wind up of a pension scheme, impressed me.’

‘I dealt with Peter Fahy and Rachel Ahern and I was very impressed with their expertise of the subject matter and how they responded very quickly to any instruction/request.’

‘All the team are well versed in the requirements of our Pension schemes – they have always been ready to innovate where necessary.’

‘Our relationship with the relevant partners and their teams is excellent. All of the team members make themselves readily available and are efficient and professional in their approach. They are all, without exception a friendly group which helps.’

‘Peter Fahy is extremely experienced and extremely well regarded in his field.’

‘Eversheds provides a very professional but yet personal service. Their practitioners and approachable and have a very pragmatic approach to providing advices. In addition their fees are extremely competitive considering the very high level of service they provide.’

Key clients

Willis Towers Watson

CIE pension schemes

Siemens plc

Irish Blood Transfusion Service superannuation scheme

Trustees of the Bausch & Lomb pension schemes

KBC Ireland Pension Schemes

Primark Pension Trustees

Smurfit Kappa pension schemes

Irish Airlines Pilots Association

Irish Ferries Pension Scheme

Liberty Seguros Compania de Seguros y Reaseguros S.A.


JTI Ireland pension scheme

Irish Aviation Authority Pension Schemes

Zurich Life Assurance Plc


Goodbody EBT

Trustees of the Ove ARUP pension scheme

Trustees of the Wavin pension scheme

Trustees of the Keg Distributors pension scheme

PM Group

Construction Workers Pension scheme

Trustees of the P&O pension scheme

Trustees of the Friends First Retirement and Death Benefits scheme

Trustees of the Standard Life Republic of Ireland Staff Pension Scheme

Trustee Reckitt Benckiser Ireland Pension Fund

DXC Technology

J&E Davy

Trustees of the Renishaw Ireland Ltd pension scheme

JCI Johnson Controls

Irish Distillers Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the Trustees of the Goodbody Employee Benefit Trust on all aspects of the sale of the Trust’s 49% shareholding in Goodbody Stockbrokers to AIB.
  • Advising the Trustees of the Irish Ferries pension scheme on the €165m buy-out of the Scheme’s existing pensioner liabilities through a bulk annuity contract with New Ireland Assurance Company PLC.

Mason Hayes & Curran LLP

Mason Hayes & Curran LLP advises multinational clients, including employers, pension scheme trustees, and pension providers, both lay and professional services clients. Areas of expertise include pension scheme funding, restructuring exercises, pension specific data protection advice, wind-ups, liability management projects, cross-border pension schemes and insolvency issues related to this area. In addition, the group has extensive knowledge of public service pensions and aspects of TUPE regulations. The team is led by Stephen Gillick, who regularly advises on the pension aspects of corporate acquisitions and disposal. Peggy Hughes is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Gillick

Other key lawyers:

Peggy HughesPatrick O’Connor




‘The team is quick to respond and technically proficient. They provide excellent e-briefs on changes or updates to pension legislation.’

‘Very accessible and responsive. Easy to deal with and the advice we receive is normally very clear.’

‘The introduction of Stephen Gillick’s industry experience in the Pension Department has been invaluable.’

‘It is the great advice and 100% accuracy that gives Stephen Gillick such a top reputation in his field.’

Matheson LLP

Matheson LLP’s pensions group advises trustees and employers from both the private and public sectors. It covers all aspects of pension arrangements such as pension litigation, financial services, and Pensions Ombudsman. The practice is led by Deirdre Cummins, who handles both contentious and non-contentious matters including complex benefit restructurings and winding ups.

Practice head(s):

Deirdre Cummins


‘Excellent communication and explanation of complex legal issues.’

‘Dedicated personnel and collaborative approach. Matheson team, led by Deirdre Cummins are dedicated legal advisers, committed to clients and very easy to deal with.’

‘Strength in depth. Professional in approach. Excellent reputation for a high standard of service delivery.’

‘Excellent technical knowledge of pension and associated employment law. Responsive. Very affable and easy to deal with.’

‘Deirdre Cummins; considered in her approach and not afraid to call it as she sees it, the consummate professional. Diligent, meticulous and leaves no stone unturned on behalf of her clients.’

‘I have found the Pensions (and employee benefits) team within Matheson to always be engaging and pragmatic, with good response times and a ‘right first time’ approach.’

‘Strong technical capability in areas of pensions and employment law. Good collaboration with other advisers.’

‘Flexible and deadline focused; have shown willingness to work unsociable hours to meet tight client deadlines. Good communicators.’

McCann FitzGerald LLP

Led by Eleanor Cunningham, McCann FitzGerald LLP's team advises on pension litigation, GDPR-related breaches and complaints both before the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. Clients include multi-national corporate organisations, major domestic bodies, state and semi-state entities, SMEs and start-ups. In addition, it also advises on pension issues arising from Covid –19 such as scheme funding and governance, pension scheme benefits and accrual and death in service benefits. Consultant Catherine Austin has extensive expertise in the pensions aspects of M&A, IPOs and transfers of employees under TUPE.

Practice head(s):

Eleanor Cunningham

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Austin Clementine Farrell



Key clients

Aer Lingus

Pfizer Pension Plan Trustees

ESB Committee


Merck Sharpe and Dohme/MSD

Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Boston Scientific

Allied Irish Banks p.l.c.

Work highlights

  • Advised Allied Irish Bank plc on all pensions aspects arising from its acquisition from Ulster Bank/NatWest of Ulster Bank’s commercial banking division including its €4.2 billion corporate and commercial loan book and €2.8 billion of undrawn commitments together with related staff.
  • Advised ESB Defined Benefit Pension Scheme Committee and the in-house pension group in ESB on an on-going basis on various disputes, IDRs, Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman complaints and other contentious matters relating to member benefits.
  • Advised Aer Lingus Limited on multiple sets of High Court proceedings issued against it, Ireland, the Attorney General, the Trustee of the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme, SR Technics, and Dublin Airport Authority.

William Fry

Led by Ian Devlin, William Fry’s pensions and employment benefits team acts for pension funds and employers in restructuring exercises. It has vast experience in project management of employee share scheme issues in large, multi-jurisdictional transactions. Maura Roe is another key partner and has notable expertise in handling employee share schemes and incentive programmes.

Practice head(s):

Ian DevlinMaura Roe


‘Ian Devlin – I have great respect for him and his team and the work they do.’

Key clients

L Brands Fashion Retail Ireland

Emirates Airlines

Shoe Zone

Aergo Capital Limited


Primeline Group

Krispy Kreme



Premier Lotteries


Affiliates Management Company

Signet Jewellers



SOLAS, The Further Education and Training Authority

Phoenix Group

Boots Retail (Ireland) Limited

Kilsaran Concrete

Trustee Principles Limited

Glanbia Co-Operative Society Limited

Guinness Ireland Group Pension Scheme

Valeo Foods (Ireland)

Sanofi – Aventis

Mayfair Equity Partners

Edwards Lifesciences

Smurfit Kappa plc

Northgate Public Services

Aircraft Purchase Fleet Limited

J&E Davy


Sodexo Limited


DCC plc

Mincon plc


Univar Ireland Pension Schemes

Horse Racing Ireland

Ogletree Deakins

Acumen Aviation


Yew Grove REIT plc

LGC Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advised Fenergo on the treatment of share incentives held by 200 employees in several jurisdictions on acquisitions by a French/UK JV.
  • Advised the trustees of Univar’s Irish DB and DC pension schemes on various legal issues related to the sale by Univar Solutions Inc. of Distrupol to GPD Companies Inc.
  • Advised J&E Davy on its sale to Bank of Ireland and the sale of its fund business to IQ-EQ.