Pensions (non-contentious) in London

Allen & Overy LLP

The 'market-leading' non-contentious pensions team at Allen & Overy LLP is headed up by Neil Bowden, who has substantive experience in liability management. More broadly, the offering is split on a 50/50 basis between employer and trustee clients and covers legal areas such as advice on major strategic decisions and high-profile rectification projects (with an emphasis on those featuring significant financial/industrial risk). A recent highlight for the firm has been representing Lloyds Banking Group Pensions Trustees against Lloyds Bank in the industry test case regarding GMP equalisation. Key personnel include Jane Higgins, who has a 'remarkable breadth of experience', the 'authoritative and very commercial' Andy Cork, and technical expert Jessica Kerslake. On the contentious side, the firm's offering includes 'very reassuring' counsel Jason Shaw. He has proficiency in litigation involving the rectification of documents, professional negligence and claims by trustees against both administrators and advisers.

Practice head(s):

Neil Bowden

Testimonials

Market-leading. Frequently bring direct first-hand knowledge to help solve thorny problems. Thorough‘.

Exceptionally practical and accessible and helpful team, with a deep understanding of the issues‘.

Strong combination of technical excellence and commercial acumen‘.

The team has unrivalled strength in depth, not simply in relation to core pensions issues but also with respect to all key ancillary issues such as investment, banking, collateral and contingent structures, administration and so on. The team combines this knowledge and experience with a sensible and pragmatic style, supported by excellent communication skills. Communicating complex topics and concepts in accessible terms is a core strength of all team members. They are a delight to work with, at all levels of the firm‘.

Neil Bowden, who leads the team, has probably unrivalled experience across a wide range of schemes and circumstances. He wears this experience lightly, being down to earth and pragmatic, whilst never losing focus on the interests of members. Jane Higgins has a remarkable breadth of experience; she is incredibly hard working, with unrivalled attention to detail, completely focused on delivering for clients‘.

Jane Higgins and Neil Bowden are both excellent and a real pleasure to work with. They understand what is required, and produce no more and no less‘.

Neil Bowden has a deep knowledge of pensions law and our trustees followed him from his previous firm‘.

Andy Cork is authoritative and very commercial, good at explaining complex aspects of pensions law‘.

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group Pensions Trustees Limited

The Trustee of the BT Pension Scheme

The Trustee of the ICI Pension Fund

The Trustee of the Pfizer Group Pension Scheme

The Trustee of the Thomson Corporation Pension Scheme (Thomson Reuters)

RSA Insurance Group plc

Prudential Plc

The Trustee of the IHG UK Defined Contribution Pension Plan

Co-operative Group Limited

News UK

Work highlights

  • Advised ASDA Stores Limited, the sponsor of the ASDA Group Pension Scheme, on a full collateralised insurance buy-in covering the scheme’s £3.8bn of liabilities.
  • Advised the trustee of the Syngenta UK Pension Fund on the purchase of their first bulk annuity insurance policy with Phoenix Life Limited covering £250m of pensioner liabilities.
  • Advised HSBC on a longevity swap transaction between HSBC Bank (UK) Pension Scheme and Prudential Insurance Company of America, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial, Inc. The transaction is the second largest deal ever for a UK pension scheme and manages longevity risk in relation to £7bn of pensioner liabilities.

CMS

The pensions team at CMS , led by Mark Grant, has played a role in many major industry cases, and recently advised the scheme trustee for tech giant Atos on the £1bn merger of three schemes. The team acts for five of the UK's six largest private pension schemes, complementing its sector expertise with multidisciplinary knowledge of insurance, reinsurance, banking, structured finance and financial services regulation. In particular, the firm's specialist de-risking team utilises this approach on major longevity swaps. Keith Webster handles DC master trusts, Mark Atkinson assists with early asset backed funding matters while Neil Smith caters for substantive benefit restructures. The disputes resolution service has pursued a significant number of significant Part 7 (professional negligence) and Part 8 (equalisation) actions. The team, which also includes 'top notch' senior associate Alexandra Tomlinson, was recently boosted by the arrival of Tim Green, who previously led the national practice at DWF.

Practice head(s):

Mark Grant

Testimonials

They really are the standout firm for all things pensions. Their pension lawyers are brilliant and talk my language as well. The breadth and depth of the pensions team means there is very little that they haven’t seen or advised on before, so you always feel as though you are getting an answer based on experience, rather than just a fresh reading of the law‘.

The CMS team feel very much that – a team together, and part of my team, as a chair of trustees. There are no egos; they come across as collegiate, client-centric and down to earth. Their advice is pragmatic and works in the ‘real world’. For me, culturally they sit perfectly in the middle between the academic-leaning firms and the corporate-leaning firms, and seem to have a large enough footprint in the pensions industry that nothing ever phases them‘.

A strong large in-depth pensions practice‘.

Practical, pleasant and problem-solving‘.

CMS are leading providers of pensions law expertise, being one of a small group at the top of the pyramid. I would assess the team as at least equal to the best of the competitor group based on my experience of service delivery, technical knowledge, application of skill, attention to detail and client service‘.

Pension advice is usually a niche practice within firms, but the breadth and depth of the CMS practice really sets it apart. As a client this give us as access to deep industry expertise, comfort in conflict management and certainty that CMS can provide resource when we need it. This also gives us ready access to the full suite of CMS services beyond the pensions team as pensions are recognised as an important practice area within the firm‘.

Keith Webster is exceptional – clever, creative and very innovative‘.

Mark Atkinson is consistently superb‘.

Key clients

Stanhope Pension Trustee Limited

Rothesay Life Plc

Aon

Thomson Reuters

British Telecommunications Plc

LifeSight

Clara Pensions

Universities Superannuation Scheme

Barclays

Atos Pension Schemes Limited

Ernst & Young

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustee of the GEC 1972 Plan on a £4.7bn buy-out transaction with Rothesay Life, the UK’s largest ever pension transfer deal.
  • Advised the Atos trustee on the merger of three schemes into a £1bn scheme, including advising on a innovative funding structure routed via a Scottish Limited Partnership.
  • Advised DSSR on a ground-breaking regulated appointment arrangement, a unique arrangement for a traditional partnership.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Francois Barker and Jeremy Goodwin lead the pensions practice at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, with Barker heading up the overall team and Goodwin leading in London. Providing clients with assistance at the cutting-edge of industry developments, it has particular expertise in DB consolidation, master trusts and cross-border mergers. The team has recently been advising the Tesco Pension Scheme on groundbreaking new structures to make independent financial advisers available to advise scheme members. In addition, the team has assisted with the sector implications of global restructuring as well as concerns surrounding major de-risking deals. Mark Latimour leads the pensions investment practice while Sarah Swift, recognised for her 'depth of understanding', coordinates relations with multibillion-pound DC schemes. For disputes, Claire Carroll steers clients through professional negligence claims (representing both trustees and employers), rectification proceedings and various technical aspects of ombudsman complaints. In recent years, the firm has been acting for the Trustee of the Airways Pensions Scheme (a British Airways pension scheme) against the high-profile claim brought by BA.

Practice head(s):

Francois Barker; Jeremy Goodwin

Testimonials

‘The team has extensive sector knowledge and is able to position complex and often sensitive issues in a way that allows the business to achieve its commercial objectives. The practice always delivers technically excellent advice, at a transparent/reasonable cost, and within the business’s expected timetable. The team’s strategic outlook places them streets ‘ahead of the competition‘.

We value the pro-active and can do approach of our team who are thinking about us when we might not have asked for input. Pensions can be a very complex topic, but they manage the issues so that they are both topical and relevant and don’t waste our time. They would be very difficult to replace or better‘.

Eversheds have a very experienced and dedicated team, with a wealth of UK pensions experience, practical advice and market knowledge. They have access to wider resources which can be helpful when projects ramp up quickly‘.

The Eversheds Sutherland team are beginning to stand out in the UK pensions market as not just great practitioners but also thought leaders. The partners at Eversheds Sutherland are innovative, pragmatic and work closely with our team to ensure that the strategic agenda can be delivered‘.

Francois Barker stands out as one of the ‘big beasts’ of the UK pensions industry. He is a strategic thinker on pensions. He is also innovative and pragmatic when problem solving‘.

Jeremy Goodwin is a highly experienced, pragmatic, charismatic and engaged senior partner to deal with. He is able to navigate difficult issues and tricky personalities, which is an invaluable and underrated asset‘.

Mark Latimour leads an exceptionally strong pensions team. They work seamlessly, able to resource intensive projects with no compromise to client service or the overall quality of advice‘.

Sarah Swift has built up strong relationships across the stakeholders and her depth of understanding and listening to any concerns have enabled her and the team to have a balanced and effective approach to resolving issues. The team work seamlessly together to cover the work required. I always know they will deliver what they promise‘.

Key clients

Trustees of the Tesco PLC Pension Scheme and the Universities Superannuation Scheme on IFA advice on transfers

Legal & General in relation to the Rolls Royce buy out

John Lewis plc

Clara Trustees

Trustee of the ConocoPhillips pension scheme

Trustee of the GE Pension Plan

Trustee of the British Airways Pension Schemes

Republic Bank Limited in relation to the Petrotrin Pension Plan

Department for Transport

Trustee of the London Stock Exchange Group Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Acted for Legal & General Assurance Society on the £4.6bn all-risks buy-out of the Rolls Royce Pension Scheme.
  • Advised John Lewis plc on its consultation exercise in relation to the closure of the DB Section of the John Lewis pension scheme and on redesigning its DC section to reflect the comments received from the consultation exercise.
  • Acting for the Trustee of the Clara pension scheme, including drafting the documents needed to establish the pension scheme and to enable schemes to transfer into this DB consolidator in the future.

Hogan Lovells International LLP

The pensions team at Hogan Lovells International LLP caters for some of the largest schemes and financial institutions in the sector. Of particular note is its recent work for the Pension Protection Fund on two European court cases that have challenged the UK Government's implementation of European law pertaining to compensation payable. Team lead Katie Banks, described as 'second to none', is supported by Duncan Buchanan, Claire Southern and Faye Jarvis. As a collective, they handle the pensions implications of acquisitions, master trust authorisation, GMP equalisation (in respect of buy-outs) and the various complexities relating to winding-up. Angela Dimsdale-Gill and senior associate Nathan Sherlock are among the key figures for contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Katie Banks

Testimonials

The firm are incredible in every way. In particular, their ability to listen and ask the right questions means that the advice is always on point. They are pragmatic and courageous. Their advice is modern and it challenges traditional thinking. They have the ability to draw conclusions even if things are unclear and have not been tested. Whilst there are some other good solicitors elsewhere, no other firm even comes close‘.

Very strong team with different and complementary skills and styles. Always available and consistently high quality and implementable advice‘.

Hogan Lovells’ pension team have a unique combination of in-depth knowledge, practical application and approachability. The wide range of their services outside pensions means that if ever there is an ancillary issue, they have the ability to advise on it without having to go outside the firm‘.

Katie Banks has a bias towards action. Katie is a natural collaborator, with a skill for co-creating solutions. Katie demonstrates passion, courage and integrity. Katie is a leader of leaders, kind, thoughtful and intelligent on every level‘.

Claire Southern is the leader in the pensions field. Her experience advising trustees, regulators and companies is second to none‘.

Katie Banks is brilliant communicator, adored by my trustee board for her depth of knowledge and her ability to explain complex issues in straightforward terms‘.

Faye Jarvis is an extremely knowledgeable partner on pensions law and has a knack of getting trustees on side. This is an admirable quality in this age of needing lawyers more often than one would want.

Linklaters LLP

Representing a range of fund trustees, corporates, insurance companies and consolidation vehicles, the Linklaters LLP pensions team is renowned for its expertise in liability management. Specifically, the practice covers everything from 'trivial' commutations, PIE and ETV exercises through to complex buy-outs and longevity swaps. In addition, the management of section 75 debt issues, fund consolidation and contingent asset structures are also handled. Global pensions funds practice head Claire Petheram, described as 'clear and pragmatic', handles scheme mergers, equalisation, investment management and flexible benefit programmes. Rosalind Knowles assists with benefit change programmes and valuation negotiations, Philip Goss is experienced in scheme mergers/liability mitigation and John Sheppard is the go-to partner for SIPP arrangements. Contentious matters are handled by Mark Blyth ('the best in the business') with assistance from solicitor-advocate Geoff Egerton. The firm counts Lloyds Bank within its client portfolio and has a strong reputation for resolving cases prior to court action. Recent work of interest has touched on the equitable principle in pensions law, rectification of 'defective' rules and early retirement as it relates to ill-health.

Practice head(s):

Claire Petheram

Testimonials

‘Experts in their field, always available, clear and pragmatic advice‘.

‘First-rate client service – comprehensive knowledge, backed by excellent trustee engagement‘.

‘I have been using Linklaters for pensions advice for decades and have found that whilst they provide quality advice they are also excellent in finding practical solutions to problems. The stability of the team stands out too. Over many years of working with the pension lawyers at Linklaters I have only dealt with a small number of people there‘.

‘Linklaters provide quality advice. They are solution driven and work as part of the in-house team to provide support and assistance. They are pragmatic and commercial in their approach‘.

‘Strong front line team with clear, concise advice‘.

‘Very pragmatic and user friendly‘.

‘Claire Petheram is driven to find solutions to issues which arise but also to work closely with us in projects to ensure all legal aspects which need to be addressed are addressed before they become an issue. She is clear and pragmatic with her advice and knows our pension arrangements in depth so is able to anticipate hurdles and overcome them. She is calm but authoritative and a real ally to have on board in any negotiations‘.

‘Claire Petheram provides straightforward, pragmatic and plain English advice‘.

Key clients

Rolls-Royce

Rentokil

BAT

Tate & Lyle

BP

Trustee of the Railways Pension Scheme

Rothesay Life

Marks & Spencer

AstraZeneca

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Trustee of the Rolls-Royce UK Pension Fund in connection with bulk annuity contract with LGAS.
  • Acted for the Trustee of the British American Tobacco UK Pension Fund in connection with its buy-in contract with PIC.
  • Advised a Trustee of the Rentokil Initial (2015) Pension Scheme on issues associated with the buy-in contract concluded with PIC.

Sacker & Partners LLP

Dedicated pensions firm Sacker & Partners LLP has continued to build on its top-tier reputation in the market with an ever-sharpening focus on the environmental, social, and governance issues impacting the sector. Led by senior partner Ian Pittaway, an expert in defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, the firm counts the Bank of England and Nestlé amongst its roster of prestigious clients. Areas of expertise covered include: derisking solutions, billion-pound longevity swaps, buy-ins, IGCs and Mastertrusts. Edward Hayes specialises in corporate change while Janet BrownJacqui Reid and David Saunders advise on DC/DB arrangements. Fuat Sami is the name to note for corporate/project and trustee advisory matters. Contentious matters are overseen by pensions and investment litigation head Peter Murphy, key examples of which include misstatement claims, Part 8 applications and matters of professional negligence. In particular, a key highlight for the team was its representation of the Trustee of the ITV Pension Scheme, a historical issue requiring complex High Court rectification proceedings. James Bingham is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Ian Pittaway

Testimonials

The ultimate pensions practice. There is nothing they cannot do and everything is done to an exceptional standard. A standout firm in every way with some excellent lawyers and a superb client focused ethic. They go more than the extra mile‘.

An unparalleled depth of knowledge in pensions law and all ancillary areas of law relating to the operation of pension schemes (finance law expertise for parent company guarantees, data privacy expertise, etc). A pragmatic approach at all times‘.

A large team of specialist pensions lawyers across all facets of pensions and adjacent services. Sackers invest their time in the pensions industry, leading on issues that affect trustees and employers – ESG, legislative change, IGCs, Mastertrusts and DB developments. A very strong and diverse team‘.

Highly professional team. All members of the team are engaging and supportive. Always delivers on time with professional expertise both legal and pension wise‘.

David Saunders is nice, humorous and was sharp in identifying strategic barriers to achieving our goals‘.

David Saunders is respected by all the fund trustees for his sector knowledge, sound business advice and common sense approach. It is the last quality that makes him different from others in the sector in my experience‘.

Fuat Sami is our main point of contact. His expertise his highly valued within our company and we not hesitate to go to him personally or to recommend him or Sackers to others‘.

Janet Brown is pragmatic and down to earth‘.

Key clients

National Grid UK Pension Scheme

HSBC Bank (UK) Pension Scheme

Nestlé UK Pension Fund

TfL Pension Fund

John Lewis Partnership Trust for Pensions

Bank of England Staff Pension Fund

DHL Group Retirement Plan

GSK Pensions Scheme

Thomson Reuters pension schemes

Airways Pension Scheme (APS)

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the Airways Pension Scheme (APS) on the settlement of a longstanding dispute with British Airways about discretionary increases.
  • Advised the Trustees of the HSBC (UK) Pension Scheme on their £7bn longevity swap with PICA, the third largest longevity swap ever and the first to be intermediated through a Bermuda captive insurer.
  • Advised Honda on the pension implications of its decision to cease manufacturing in the UK.

Slaughter and May

Handling some of the largest schemes in the UK, the pensions team at Slaughter and May also counts premier clients such as Walmart and Royal Mail within its portfolio. Recent highlights include advising on the Rothesay Life-Asda Group £3.8bn buy-in/buy-out, assisting with Royal Mail's proposed collective money purchase scheme, as well as advising on the whole range of issues for the Railways Pension Trustee Company. The team lead is Charles Cameron, a specialist in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. He is supported by 'original thinker' Sandeep Maudgil (the 'go-to' for collective benefit schemes), 'intellectual giant' Daniel Schaffer (for mergers, demergers and covenants) and the 'very pragmatic' restructuring specialist Philip Linnard. Associates Chris Sharpe and Isobel Carruthers are additional names to note. For dispute resolution, the firm's offering includes experts Sarah Lee and Richard Jeens. Primarily handling work for major clients (such as the Trustees of the BT Pension Scheme), it undertakes High Court applications, professional negligence claims, mediation, benefits disputes and a multiplicity of ombudsman complaints.

Practice head(s):

Charles Cameron

Testimonials

I would go to the Slaughter and May pensions team whenever I required help with innovative or difficult issues. They are at the forefront of thinking in pensions and they can always be relied up to deliver an efficient solution. Excellent all round‘.

The team as a whole is responsive has a great breadth and depth of knowledge of the regulation and the scheme‘.

The team, works as a team i.e. no single point failure risk. The whole team are there for the client and knowledgeable on the matter in hand‘.

I found the team to be knowledgeable and pragmatic. They didn’t get bogged down in the unimportant details but instead presented an appropriate commercial solution. Partner knowledge is excellent and available when necessary. The associates are response, knowledgeable and driven‘.

Sandy Maudgil stands out as an original thinker who can come up with an innovative solution to a difficult scenario. Sandy has delivered on each and every occasion and supported us through some interesting times.’

‘Chris Sharpe is an up and coming associate with excellent skills who is clearly destined for bigger and better things‘.

Dan Schaffer is exemplary in the practical application his personal knowledge and guidance for matters associated with occupational pensions‘.

Daniel Schaffer is an intellectual giant with an immense knowledge of the pensions industry‘.

Philip Linnard has come up with innovative solutions to complex problems taking commercial considerations into consideration: very pragmatic‘.

Key clients

AkzoNobel and ICI

BT Pension Scheme (Trustees)

Caterpillar Pension Plan (Trustees)

Colgate Palmolive Pension Plan (Trustees)

Daily Mail

Derwent

Disney

E.ON UK PLC

Ovo Energy

PA Pension Scheme (Trustees)

Phillips 66 Pension Scheme (Trustees)

Prudential

Railways Pension Trustee Company (Trustee of Railways Pension Schemes (RPS) and other legacy railways related pension schemes)

Reckitt Benckiser

Royal Mail

SCA UK Pension Plan (Trustees)

Severn Trent Pension Schemes (Trustees)

Signature Aviation plc

Tata Steel

UK Asset Resolution

United Utilities

Walmart

Trustee Board of Universities Superannuation Scheme

3i Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Walmart on the £3.8bn buy-in/buy-out with Rothesay Life of the Asda Group Pension Scheme securing benefits for all of the Scheme’s 12,300 members.
  • Continue to advise Royal Mail on the development of a ground breaking “third kind” of pension scheme, namely CDC, as it continues its path to fruition in legislation.
  • Advised Railways Pension Trustee Company, the Trustee of the £30bn industry-wide Railways Pension Scheme, and other legacy railways related pension schemes, on a range of issues including in relation to franchising, exercise of trustee discretions, scheme wide and section specific rule changes, governance and rectification of member benefits.

Arc Pensions Law

Specialist firm Arc Pensions Law is led by senior partner Anna Rogers, who co-founded the firm in 2015; it now advises many law firms that do not have a specific focus on pensions law. Approximately 50% of the firm's work is geared towards advising trustees, particularly in relation to scheme governance matters, while other recent work highlights have touched on issues such as the implications of business acquisitions and disposals, benefit corrections, GMP equalisation and benefit cleansing. The team advises major names from the media, manufacturing and transportation sectors, and has recently been advising Mothercare Global Brands on the pensions implications of the Mothercare administration. Key team members include Anna Copestake, who is described as being 'in the top decile of the industry'; 'outstanding' managing partner Rosalind Connor; the 'highly recommended' Anne-Marie Winton, and senior associate Abigail Cohen.

Practice head(s):

Anna Rogers

Testimonials

We needed experts in the field of UK pensions law, its pitfalls and traps. We had retained counsel with regard to other fields and believed that an alternative view would be appropriate. Arc provided all that and more in terms of input, response to the regulator and keeping the other side honest. Could not have wished for better and a pleasure to deal with‘.

Arc Pensions Law is a specialist boutique pensions firm that is able to provide the full range of UK pensions legal advice. We particularly like their commercial approach and responsiveness on transactional matters, but they are equally adept at giving advice on day-to-day pensions issues for corporates and other clients. Their commercial approach stems from a genuinely deep understanding of the law and the market‘.

We ‘found’ Arc by way of recommendation – from day one the relationship has been superb. The relationship between partner and associates delivers a seamless service to us as client such that communication is fluid and effective. Whilst I can only compare Arc with legal firms that have a more general brief than just pensions, even so, Arc stands out in its capacity both to communicate the issues, draft the necessary papers and, most relevant, ensure client understanding of the law and the options‘.

Our working relationship is fundamentally with Anne-Marie Winton and Abigail Cohen; it is the synergy of that relationship which stands out and makes our relationship with Arc so effective – there is no scope for message advice confusion. Ensuring clarity is their mantra allied to prompt effective communication. The outcome is a client that feels entirely comfortable confident with the service provided – no anxiety on our part about asking the stupid question.

Anne-Marie Winton is always on hand to give commercial and pragmatic advice. She doesn’t sit on the fence and really helps to steer client conversations towards deliverable solutions‘.

Anna Copestake and Abigail Cohen make an outstanding team – professional, easy to work with and clear in their advice, especially in a fast-moving situation. Advice provides what you need to know – no fluff – but balanced with raising important risk considerations at the right moment‘.

I have two mutual master trust clients with Anna Copestake. I would place her comfortably in the top decile of the industry. Her knowledge of pensions legislation is unrivalled. Anna is also an excellent communicator, explaining complex issues with ease, but also in a way which is empathetic to challenges legislation might present, and without the ego or stuffiness lawyers can sometimes bring. Where answers aren’t obvious or clear cut, Anna works collaboratively to come up with solutions that both meet the client’s needs and of course fit within the law. I value these collaborations, and Anna’s pragmatism and general demeanour which make her a pleasure to work with. I also find Anna’s work on D&I to be inspirational – particularly her work around the promotion of young trustees‘.

Rosalind Connor is an outstanding pensions lawyer. She provides knowledgeable and practical advice in a range of challenging issues‘.

Key clients

Nampak Plastics Europe Limited

Colfax Corporation

Mothercare Global Brands Limited

Phoenix Group Holdings PLC

Systra SA

Trustees of the Cincinnati Machine Pension Plan

Bain Capital

 

Work highlights

  • Advised Colfax Corporation on the UK pensions aspects of its disposal of its global engineering business, Howden, to KPS Capital Partners LP.
  • Advised the professional trustee of the Cincinnati Machine Pension Plan as the employer became more financially distressed. As a result, the trustee was able to ensure that the CMPP was as well funded as possible, and in a good condition, when the company entered a creditor’s winding up.
  • Advised Mothercare Global Brands Limited on the pensions aspects of the administration of UK High Street leading brand name Mothercare UK Limited, whereby the pension scheme would continue outsider of the Pension Protection Fund, notwithstanding the administration of the scheme sponsor.

Baker McKenzie

The hugely experienced Jeanette Holland heads up the pensions practice in Baker McKenzie's London office. She is supported by Arron Slocombe, 'outstanding adviser' Robert West and Chantal Thompson, an expert in asset-backed funding arrangements, scheme mergers and corporate restructurings. Recent case highlights include advising on pensions aspects of GSK's joint venture with Pfizer (assisted by Jonathan Sharp) and the withdrawal of Trinity College from the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Associates Tom McNaughton and Lauren Awoyinka offer proficiency in bespoke funding and pro bono charity work. On the contentious side, the firm has argued in the High Court on RPI/CPI interpretation, participated in high value TPR investigations and has a significant track record in dealings with the Pensions Ombudsman. Where necessary, it has also pursued auto-enrolment compliance (as it relates to the gig economy) and taken critical matters to the European Court of Justice. Solicitor advocate Gemma Willingham is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Jeanette Holland

Testimonials

Extremely knowledgeable and capable. Always provide sound and appropriate advice. Real strength in depth at all levels‘.

The team are extremely knowledgeable, pragmatic and supportive. They are thoughtful around advising on particular case law that might be relevant and help relay advice in a way which is easy to articulate to others with less knowledge. They are highly regarded by all internally who work with them‘.

The team at Baker McKenzie demonstrate excellent client service and we have confidence that they will always meet an agreed deadline for providing work. The team also take into consideration all aspects of law, drawing on colleagues in other departments where needed, and are always fully up to speed on regulatory changes and developments‘.

Depth of knowledge, personable, practical, pragmatic and prompt advice‘.

Jonathan Sharp provides great client interaction and understanding of our culture and how it impacts our decision making. Proactive and supportive‘.

We work very closely with Arron Slocombe and Tom McNaughton who as individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and support to the projects we work on. They are always quick to provide insights that might be relevant and provide advice which goes above and beyond‘.

The individuals we work with demonstrate expert knowledge and experience on a wide range of pensions law.’

Key clients

Merchant Navy Officers Pension

Atos

Facebook

British American Tobacco

Panasonic

Dow Chemical

Alphabet (Google’s parent company)

Dr. Martens

Accenture

Lloyd’s of London

Trinity College Cambridge

Burges Salmon LLP

Led by Richard Knight, a specialist in GMP equalisation, reconciliation and GDPR, the pensions team at Burges Salmon LLP counts Panasonic and Honda as key clients. The large practice works with hundreds of trustee and employer clients across both the public and private sectors, and is notable for being on both the central and local government legal panels for pensions work. For contentious matters, the offering is steered by Justin Briggs, 'a real rainmaker' with extensive experience in the technical aspects of EU law. More broadly, the team handles cases relating to professional negligence, equalisation controversy, Ombudsman complaints and declaratory proceedings. Key personnel include the 'excellent' Suzanne Padmore, 'problem solver' Clive Pugh, the 'efficientRichard Pettit and public sector expert Michael Hayles.

Practice head(s):

Richard Knight

Testimonials

A great team of lawyers with experience across the field. Able to identify the client’s key needs and to focus resources appropriately‘.

Strong team, giving value for money, puts client and members first, pragmatic and realistic‘.

The members of the team are always available to answer queries, no matter how trivial. They know which topics require an instant answer. They make us aware of any topic that needs our attention even without asking. The team is very friendly. We are very confident in the advice that they offer us‘.

There is great strength across the team comprising detailed technical knowledge of regulations and a wider trust law and commercial perspective. This is a winning combination‘.

Justin Briggs is an excellent lawyer who will focus on getting the job done with the available resources. A good tactician.;

‘Suzanne Padmore is an excellent lawyer who will identify the key points. Able to drive a project with great efficiency. A pleasure to work with.’

‘Richard Pettit will manage the most intricate matters with care and efficiency‘.

Clive Pugh is the star of the team, he understands clients, in his presentations makes pensions fun. He is pragmatic, understands business and fees, has excellent knowledge and is a problem solver‘.

Clive Pugh is simply excellent. He has great commercial good sense and can see practical solutions to problems‘.

Key clients

Western Power Distribution (Employer)

Panasonic (Trustees)

Silentnight (Trustees)

Leonardo schemes – helicopters, electronics and Futureplanner (Trustees)

Honda (Trustees)

AT&T (Trustees)

Methodist Church (Trustees)

UK Atomic Energy Authority

Department for Education (Employer)

University of Oxford (Trustees)

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the Silentnight Pension Scheme in one of the most important regulatory cases brought by the Pensions Regulator.
  • Advised Honda on a billion-pound pension scheme in relation to a complex security and funding arrangement.
  • Advised Transport for Wales on the pension arrangements involved in the establishment of the Wales and Borders Rail Service, a newly created rail franchise for Wales.

Clifford Chance LLP

Representing major clients such as Swiss Re and Legal & General, Clifford Chance LLP handles a substantial range of heavyweight pensions work. Recent highlights have included Clare Hoxey's work on the pensions aspects of the multibillion-pound take private of Merlin Entertainment, Sarah McAleer's leading role for Legal & General on the £4.4bn Airways Pension Scheme buy-in, and London practice head's Hywel Robinson's advice to Melrose on the four-way split and deficit reduction arrangements for the GKN pension scheme. The team is recognised for its 'wide-ranging expertise' and delivering 'excellent value for money', and has strong connections in the industry, evidenced by Robinson's appointment as chair of the Association of Pension Lawyers (APL) and Hoxey and McAleer's positions on APL sub-committees.

Practice head(s):

Hywel Robinson

Other key lawyers:

Clare Hoxey; Sarah McAleer

Testimonials

My positive experience of Clifford Chance is based on access to high quality advice that is focused well beyond legal and regulatory requirements, addresses the commercial aspects of issues, is pragmatic and delivered (if necessary) to very tight deadlines. Clifford Chance deliver excellent value for money; particularly in difficult and challenging situations. I have not encountered a similar quality of service from other firms‘.

The team is extremely knowledgeable on pensions matters and have a long history with our scheme, so can translate that knowledge into scheme-specific advice. They are highly responsive and give clear advice. Further, they make considerable efforts and take time to ensure that as clients, we fully understand any legal issues. It is very reassuring to have access to such high calibre lawyers; particularly when they are happy to take time to answer some fairly basic questions.

Very responsive. Wide-ranging expertise. Get up to speed far quicker than other firms we have worked with‘.

Strong technical capabilities combined with good attention to detail‘.

I consider it a huge asset to have Hywel Robinson on my team rather than on the other side of the table‘.

Clare Hoxey is incredibly knowledgeable in her field, but has a wider knowledge of other areas of the law (general employment, corporate and banking) as well as a broader skillset of understanding commercial issues and challenges that businesses face‘.

Clare Hoxey is a truly standout partner. In the work we have completed together she has shown the ability to create innovative commercial solutions to complex problems. Without her unique qualities I doubt we would have been able to reach this stage‘.

‘Clare Hoxey and Rebecca Trapp have provided excellent service over the past year. I have greatly valued their clear, reasoned advice. Both are highly responsive and it has been a pleasure working with them.’

Key clients

CKA

Legal & General

Trustee of the Dairy Crest Group Pension Fund

Babcock International Group PLC

Melrose

Swiss Re

Trustee of a significant pensions scheme within the telecommunications sector

Fosun

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustee of the Dairy Crest Group Pension Fund on the takeover of Dairy Crest by Saputo.
  • Advised Legal & General on various bulk purchase annuity transactions and innovative products.
  • Advised Melrose on the four-way split and deficit reduction arrangements in relation to the GKN pension scheme.

Gowling WLG

The 'thorough and pragmatic' Jason Coates now leads the pensions team at Gowling WLG following the retirement of the long-serving Glyn Ryland. While known for its risk transfer expertise, the firm is equally adept with regards to major buy-outs (the team recently advised Rothesay Life on the largest full scheme buy-out ever undertaken in the UK to date), bulk annuities, master trust approvals and defined contribution schemes. Paul Feathers and legal director Kevin Gude are also key members of the team, with specialisms in liabilities and group insurance providers. Ian Gordon heads up the UK pensions disputes practice, which works with a range of both domestic and international clients. Areas covered include rectification proceedings, Part 8, breach of trust claims, member complaints, professional negligence, moral hazard and PPF issues. The team was recently boosted by the arrival of principal associate Charlotte Scholes from Pinsent Masons LLP.

Practice head(s):

Jason Coates

Testimonials

The practice instils confidence in clients by demonstrating a clear understanding of subject matter expertise supported by rationale and measured interpretation of the law. While that might be a reasonable expectation of any law firm, Gowling can be relied upon to demonstrate this in a helpful, supportive and commercially aware manner. Unlike some firms, the focus is always on finding practical and workable solutions‘.

This is a very proactive firm; the team works closely with the trustees and its advisers in providing clear, timely guidance and advice across a wide range of pensions related issues. More recently, advice on how to manage through the COVID 19 crisis has been invaluable. The firm has a very close focus on continuity of service and ensuring there is strength in depth within the team‘.

The strength of the firm is in the quality of its partners and the way they work together. They have been particularly good for me recently in a difficult but not really contentious negotiation‘.

Kevin Gude is clearly an expert in his field, delivering his input to clients with measured authority balanced with approachability. Beyond his obvious technical expertise I particularly value the extent to which Kevin can be relied on for open and honest conversation about complex issues and the practical challenges faced in addressing these – his advice is never less than helpful.’

Jason Coates maintains a good working relationship with me and is fully aware of key issues and developments. A standout feature of this firm has always been Jason’s attention to detail in ensuring continuity of service and flexibility both at partner level (in the event of his unavailability) and also at associate level where he has focused on natural succession‘.

Jason Coates is thorough and pragmatic, producing good guidance without cutting corners‘.

Key clients

Pension Protection Fund (PPF)

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

Thales UK Pension Scheme

Rothesay Life

Mitchells & Butlers Pension Plans

PGL Pension Scheme

Pirelli UK Pension Funds

Weetabix pension schemes

Volvo Car UK Limited

Fujitsu UK Services pension schemes

Work highlights

  • Advised insurer Rothesay Life on the £4.7bn buy-out in relation to the G.E.C. 1972 Plan, the largest full scheme buy-out ever undertaken in the UK to date.
  • Advised the trustee of the PGL Pension Scheme on the £1.1bn bulk annuity with Phoenix Life, which completed in March 2019.
  • Advised Bovis Homes on the pensions aspects of its £1.1bn acquisition of the Linden Homes and Partnership divisions of the Galliford Try Group.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

The pensions team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP handles a wide range of non-contentious matters, with a strong record of work on complex bulk annuity and reinsurance transactions. The practice has particular expertise in the energy sector where it represents the National Grid, the Trustees of the Ballylumford Power Pension Scheme and E.ON. Aside from this, the firm is equally adept at handling matters in the telecoms, media and technology industries, assisting with GMP equalisation, funding obligations, de-risking and buy-outs. Samantha Brown 'combines exceptional technical ability, commercial and strategic awareness and client handling skills', handling both contentious and non-contentious matters, working alongside Rachel Pinto and senior associate Michael Aherne. Major cases the firm has been involved with in recent years have included acting for Lloyds Banking Group in the landmark High Court equal pay proceedings concerning the need to equalise members' benefits for the effect of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions. Professional negligence expert Paul Lewis is another key figure for pensions disputes, while 'incredibly sharp' senior associate Antonia Pegden is also well-regarded.

Practice head(s):

Samantha Brown

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Pinto; Michael Aherne

Testimonials

The team provides a range of services; regular briefings to senior management are held which are tailored to our specific industry and situation. They have a long track record of experience with our company and schemes‘.

A strong team with effective peer review. A key feature is that advice is clear and specific‘.

HSF are longstanding advisers; their experience of our scheme and its complexities are invaluable‘.

Michael Aherne is always available and does really help trustees to achieve their objectives. His advice is clear, succinct and effective – this makes him good to work with‘.

Sam Brown is a first-class litigator whose performance is informed by her very high level non-contentious work‘.

Samantha Brown is a genius and one of overall best partners in the City; she combines exceptional technical ability, commercial and strategic awareness and client handling skills‘.

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group

Pension Insurance Corporation

Virgin Atlantic

G4S plc

Marathon Oil

TTL Chiltern Group Pension Scheme

Pension Protection Fund

Scottish Widows

Warner Media

Stagecoach plc

Trustees of the Ballylumford Power Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Autoliv Pension Scheme

EY

Mercer Limited

Trustees of the National Trust Pension Scheme

PA Consulting

Newsquest

Signet Group

TUI

Work highlights

  • Continue to act for Lloyds Banking Group in connection with the landmark High Court equal pay proceedings concerning the need to equalise members’ benefits for the effect of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions (GMPs).
  • Advised Virgin Atlantic on pensions aspects of the acquisition of Flybe and Flybe.com (the operating subsidiaries of Flybe Group) by Connect Airways, a joint venture company owned by Virgin Atlantic, the Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital.
  • Advised Pension Insurance Corporation on the £3.4bn buy-in of the British American Tobacco UK Pension Fund.

Mayer Brown International LLP

Pensions disputes head Stuart Pickford and insurance chief Will Glassey are the key names for contentious pensions matters in Mayer Brown International LLP's London office. Areas covered include: ombudsman complaints, High Court litigation, regulatory investigations, document rectification and overpayments. The firm's 'excellent' team also handles professional negligence claims, judicial review proceedings, investor group actions and applications for injunctions. Non-contentious work is led by Jay Doraisamy and Ian Wright, who offer expertise in benefit redesign and integrated investment. Clients can also draw on the firm's expertise in ring-fencing requirements and the UK implications of US Chapter 11 proceedings. The team has a strong record of work for clients drawn from the electricity, energy and financial services industries, while the team also recently advised the trustees of the Mothercare Staff Pension Scheme on the transfer of scheme liabilities following the company's administration. Other recommended personnel include Duncan Watson, Richard Evans, Edward Jewitt and Andrew Block.

Practice head(s):

Jay Doraisamy; Ian Wright

Testimonials

A wide and diversified client base. Covers all aspects of the pensions market‘.

The service feels very personal. Very good understanding of client and softer aspects required to get things done‘.

The team works well together to cover peaks and troughs of workload as well as cover key person risk. All team members are professional, with a willingness to help and resolve any issues in a balanced way‘.

Jay Doraisamy has provided brilliant and thoughtful pensions advice, exactly meeting our requirements and constantly goes beyond the request providing a wise and commercial overview‘.

Ian Wright has an outstanding ability to distil and convey complexity in a succinct manner. He understands the dynamics of our Trustee Board very well, and is a trusted adviser‘.

The pensions investment team lead by Edward Jewitt and supported by Duncan Watson deliver a high service level of detailed advice over a wide spectrum of asset classes and investment vehicles‘.

Duncan Watson has been key in dealing with more challenging issues on mandates as they arise. He has established good working relationships across the supplier/client base we have, which I believe are improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the work undertaken‘.

Key clients

BOC Pension Scheme; BOC Retirement Savings Plan; BOC Senior Executive Pension Scheme and Gist Pension Scheme

BT Pension Scheme

EDF Energy Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme

Electricity Supply Pension Scheme

Ford Hourly Paid Contributory Pension Fund; Ford Salaried Contributory Pension Fund; and Ford Senior Staff Pension Fund

Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund

Prudential Staff Pension Scheme

Reed Elsevier Pension Scheme

Santander (UK) Group Pension Scheme

UK Power Networks Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme and UK Power Networks Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the Mothercare Staff Pension Scheme and the Mothercare Executive Pension Scheme on the transfer of scheme liabilities from Mothercare UK Ltd (which has entered administration) to the acquirer of Mothercare’s international business (Mothercare Global Brand Limited).
  • Advised Trustees of the ITB Pension Funds on their successful application for authorisation as a DC master trust, and on issues as to governance and compliance under the master trust regime.
  • Advised the Trustee of the CalaChem Pension Fund in connection with its decision to enter into a bulk purchase annuity policy with Aviva to secure the benefits of the members of the Fund.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Isabel Nurse-Marsh leads the pensions disputes resolution offering at Pinsent Masons LLP. Supported by the 'unflappableBen Fairhead and the 'incredibly bright' Hayley Goldstone, the team covers matters such as moral hazard orders, judicial reviews of TPR, rectification/interpretation cases, scams and ombudsman complaints, and is also known for its tactical aversion of threatened claims. On the non-contentious side, ESG specialist Carolyn Saunders oversees a team that caters for both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. It handles issues concerning investments, master trust authorisation, exits from PPF assessments, scheme buy-outs, restructuring and longevity transfers. 'Absolute star' Mark Baker provides expertise with regards to defined contribution master trusts.

Practice head(s):

Carolyn Saunders

Other key lawyers:

Mark Baker

Testimonials

The Pinsents pensions team is: (a) extremely responsive; (b) technically excellent; (c) good value‘.

They provide considered recommendations, focusing on results and outcomes. Advice is provided timely and at a fair price‘.

Pinsent Masons’ experience of the market is obvious and their support was invaluable. I particularly valued their responsiveness and pragmatism. I would not hesitate to recommend the Pinsent Masons team to other trustees considering securing their liabilities through a bulk annuity transaction‘.

Very pleasant, organised individuals who are good communicators‘.

Mark Baker is an absolute star. He is pragmatic, commercial, provides innovation and certainty on pricing and has a great rapport with our business colleagues‘.

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group

Railpen as provider of administration and investment services to the Railways Pension Scheme

TPT Retirement Solutions

Legal & General WorkSave Mastertrust

Group Trustees of the RWE Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme (ESPS) and Group Trustees of the Innogy Group of the ESPS

Royal & Sun Alliance plc

Devonport Royal Dockyard Pension Scheme (a Babcock International Group scheme)

Nortel Networks UK Pension Trust Limited

Allianz Insurance plc

Costain Pension Scheme

Sotheby’s Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised 18 of the 37 authorised defined contribution master trusts, with combined assets over £15bn, through the authorisation process.
  • Advised the group trustees of the RWE Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme (ESPS) and Group Trustees of the Innogy Group of the ESPS on investment transfers and scheme sectionalisation during a pan-European €40bn corporate restructuring of RWE and E.On’s renewable businesses.
  • Advised Nortel Networks UK Pension Trust Limited throughout the PPF exit of a scheme and member options exercises with a goal to buy-out with Legal & General.

Squire Patton Boggs

The pensions practice group at Squire Patton Boggs is led by Clifford Sims and Wendy Hunter, who heads up the London team. They are assisted by 'first rate practitioner' Kirsty Bartlett, an expert on interactions with the Pensions Regulator. In particular, the team works with a significant number of regulated utility clients. The pensions disputes offering is led from Manchester by Victoria Leigh, an 'unflappable' practitioner with expertise in public sector pensions, as well as the intricacies surrounding tax matters, risk insurance, cyber-attacks and breaches of auto-enrolment. The national pensions disputes team also includes a number of key practitioners in Birmingham, while 'tirelessly devoted' Manchester associate Rebecca Green is also recommended. More broadly, the firm is known for its prowess in professional negligence (with significant emphasis on financial services) and its knowledge of self-administered schemes.

Practice head(s):

Wendy Hunter; Clifford Sims

Other key lawyers:

Kirsty Bartlett

Testimonials

Squire Patton Boggs understand not only the law, but our culture and are prepared to stand up for our interests, even when we had to deal with pressure from central government.

Long personal involvement with the trustees. Deep understanding of the issues faced by the scheme. Very good collaboration with other advisers. Easy to deal with. Thorough and professional‘.

What stands out for me is SPB’s ability and willingness to use their undoubted technical legal knowledge to provide practical advice of use in the real world; they are not ‘ivory tower’ lawyers. Their written and verbal advice is always clear, to the point and provided on time, even when dealing with challenging timescales‘.

High level of integrity and specialist knowledge. They are honest and friendly. If they don’t know the answer they find a specialist in the wider team that does. Very able to think and debate on their feet. Wendy Hunter is outstanding in her knowledge and delivery. Very helpful in meetings to bring the group back to the core issue.‘.

Wendy Hunter is on a par with the best non-contentious pensions lawyers: she has the perfect analytical mind for the intricacies of pensions legislation and documentation, and provides a superb client service. Anyone who does not use her is missing out. Kirsty Bartlett is a rather different personality and the perfect foil to Wendy: she is instinctively lighter-touch and more overtly client friendly, but couples those qualities with a comprehensive knowledge of the subject and is a first rate practitioner.’

‘Clifford Sims is vastly experienced and has a very sure touch‘.

Kirsty Bartlett’s approach is eminently pragmatic which is really helpful from an efficiency perspective‘.

The SPB team has real strength and depth and is a pleasure to work with. Stand out for me is Wendy Hunter, who has a huge understanding of pensions issues particularly relevant to regulated utilities and whose advice is valued by trustees and sponsors in that environment accordingly‘.

Clifford Sims is an experienced and knowledgeable partner, friendly, relaxed and approachable but determined to achieve a balanced and pragmatic solution for his clients. Inside his velvet glove there is a hand of steel‘.

Key clients

Norfolk Pension Fund/Greater Manchester Pension Fund

Golden Tree Asset Management S.A

Trustees of the Carello Lighting and Magnetti Marelli Retirement Benefits Schemes

Combined Nuclear Pension Plan

British Tourist Boards’ Staff Pension and Life Assurance Plan

Hertfordshire County Council

ICI Specialty Chemicals Pensions Trustee Limited

Anglian Water Group Pension Scheme

London Waste Limited Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised on a government consultation for the Norfolk Pension Fund and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which have combined funds of £90bn, which resulted in the draft consultation being rewritten and considerable savings made.
  • Advised the trustees of three pension plans sponsored by a UK plc on the £4bn takeover.
  • Advised the British Tourist Boards’ Staff Pension and Life Assurance Scheme  on a plan to sectionalise the scheme while simultaneously obtaining Crown Guarantees worth circa £200m.

Travers Smith LLP

Working for many of the UK's largest DC and DB schemes, the pensions team at Travers Smith LLP is led by the 'incredibly sensible, pragmatic and commercial' Daniel Gerring. The practice covers key pensions issues related to investment, liability management, funding structures, security and tax. Paul Stannard recently advised the trustees of the Arcadia pension schemes on funding and security arrangements with reference to Arcadia's CVAs, while Susie Daykin assisted the Sony UK scheme on the implications of a cross-border merger. Sebastian Reger is an expert in longevity transactions and has a significant track record in de-risking matters, while Karen Sahota is another name to note; she was promoted to senior counsel in July 2019.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Gerring

Testimonials

They have an excellent, strong team with in-depth knowledge of the pensions sector and a commercial approach to finding solutions to issues. The pensions team dovetail exceptionally well with other teams within Travers Smith and also with the trustees’ investment advisers, actuary etc to provide trustees with a full and clear picture of all the factors to consider to facilitate effective decision taking‘.

Excellent technical expertise. Smart partners. Responsive and great client service‘.

The key strength of this team is their dedication to clear and concise advice. There is no waste of excess presentation in their legal knowledge‘.

Travers Smith provide an excellent service, managing expectations well around turnaround times and scope/fees, and having depth and quality of resource to ensure delivery at busy times‘.

Good, down to earth team. Generally very responsive and always on things that matter‘.

Daniel Gerring is a standout lawyer: he is an expert in his field whilst importantly being incredibly sensible, pragmatic, commercial and overall strategic. Just what a Trustee Board needs in a legal adviser‘.

Key clients

Associated British Foods Pension Scheme

AXA UK Group Pension Scheme

C&J Clark Pension Fund and the Clarks Flexible Pension Scheme (sponsored by Clarks shoes)

Capgemini UK Pension Plan and Capgemini UK (2004) Pension Plan

Clara Pensions

Microsoft Corporation

NEST

Rothesay Life

Unilever UK Pension Scheme

Vodafone Group Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised NEST on the creation of an FCA-authorised subsidiary – NEST Invest.
  • Advised on funding and security arrangements for the pension schemes in connection with Arcadia’s company voluntary arrangements.
  • Advised on a £3.4bn buy-in relation to the British American Tobacco UK Pension Fund.

Dentons

The pensions practice at Dentons is part of the overall people, reward and mobility team, which is led by Virginia Allen and Eleanor Hart - who joined from Slaughter and May in early 2019 - and features the 'hugely experienced' insolvency expert Elmer Doonan. The London partners are supported by associates in Milton Keynes and Scotland to provide a joined-up, cost-effective offering across the UK. Key recent cases have seen the firm advise on complex issues concerning liability, excepted life policies, death in service arrangements and age discrimination, working with clients across sectors including travel, government and publishing. On the non-contentious side, the team regularly provides support on the pensions aspects of major corporate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Virginia Allen; Eleanor Hart

Other key lawyers:

Elmer Doonan

Testimonials

Very solid and dependable advice from Eleanor Hart and Elmer Doonan‘.

Eleanor Hart is very conscientious and hard-working.’

‘Elmer Doonan is now one of the elder statesmen amongst pensions solicitors and is able to bring an excellent mix of contentious and non-contentious experience‘.

Eleanor Hart is particularly strong. She is able to anticipate our needs and respond quickly. She provides significant value by quickly identifying and addressing problems‘.

Key clients

Centerbridge Partners L.P. (Centerbridge)

Alight Solutions

KPS Capital Partners

TUI UK Limited

KKR / LGC Science Group Holdings

Virgin Atlantic Airways

Trustees of the Delta (UK) Pension Scheme

Moore Stephens Master Trust

SONI Limited

BorgWarner Inc. (BorgWarner)

Work highlights

  • Provided pensions advice across 13 countries in connection with BorgWarner’s acquisition of Delphi Technologies PLC. Advised on a range of complex issues, including the merger of three UK defined benefit occupational pensions schemes.
  • Advised Virgin Atlantic Airways on setting up and amending pension scheme rules to put an Accepted Life Policy in place.
  • Advised SONI Limited on the implications of an arbitration award on back pay, including on how awards made in previous years will affect the pensions of retired members and members who have transferred out of the scheme.

DLA Piper

With the hire of Amrit Mclean from Aviva, the pensions team at DLA Piper  launched a new, dedicated de-risking offfering, enabling the firm to provide cross-sector expertise to insurers, trustees and corporate sponsors alike. The team works with big-name clients such as Heineken, Renault UK and Hitachi Rail Europe, assisting on matters related to as deferred liabilities and complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions. Matthew Swynnerton heads the London pensions team with assistance from Tamara Calvert, an expert on the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme. Recent key work has included advising the trustee of the Allied Domecq Pension Fund on a £3.8bn buy-in with Rothesay Life.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Swynnerton

Other key lawyers:

Tamara Calvert; Amrit Mclean

Testimonials

The specialist bulk annuity team has a wide range of experience on both insurer and trustee side, which shines through in their advice. They are proactive, pragmatic and detailed in their approach‘.

Amrit Mclean is fantastic to work with. She is very personable and collaborative, and also practical in her advice. She focuses on the key commercial points without losing sight of the detail. Her collaborative approach with all stakeholders is a breath of fresh air‘.

They think robustly about the challenges and the optimal way to address them in the interests of all stakeholders‘.

Tamara Calvert is friendly, approachable and always seems to be on call. She also has a knack of getting trustees on side‘.

Matthew Swynnerton is knowledgeable and clear in his approach, and easy to work with‘.

Key clients

Hitachi Rail Europe Limited

Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited

Novartis UK Pension Scheme

Aviva

National Grid (ESPS)

E.ON UK (ESPS)

Grainger Inc

Du Pont (U.K.) Limited Pensions Fund

Renault UK

Heineken

Fieldfisher

David Gallagher leads Fieldfisher's 'top-notch' pensions practice, working alongside the 'technically very impressive' Michael Calvert. The team is particularly renowned for its work for representative beneficiaries. The firm has recently handled a wide range of cases requiring the rectification of scheme documents, clarification on settlement structures and elucidation of the duties owed by trustees to sponsoring employers. Andrew Patten, a buy-out specialist described as 'exceptional', handles non-contentious matters. The firm is known for its footprint in the electricity, rail and utility sectors, and has been advising the professional independent trustee of the Carillion Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme on the issues affecting the scheme following Carillion's high-profile insolvency.

Practice head(s):

David Gallagher

Other key lawyers:

Michael Calvert; Andrew Patten

Testimonials

Fieldfisher’s pensions team is top-notch. The partners are available and flexible, and deliver concise, thoughtful, and pragmatic advice. The team addresses issues with an emphasis on meaningful results. Fieldfisher was one of several firms we worked with on a complex multinational restructuring, and we felt well advised in their hands. They are hard working and a real pleasure to work with‘.

They are excellent lawyers, providing great advice, in a speedy manner, and excellent client support. They are particularly good at working as a team in support to each other, us and our common clients – to an extent that demonstrates a clear gap when compared to their peers. They are a pleasure to work with, an excellent team, providing clear, constructive and commercially aware advice – we have no hesitation in recommending them‘.

Andrew Patten is exceptional. He has a deep knowledge of pensions policy and case law, is sensible, straightforward, and responsive‘.

Andrew Patten is excellent – commercially aware, clear and firm in his advice and provides fantastic support to his clients.’

‘Michael Calvert is technically very impressive‘.

Work highlights

  • Advising 20-20 Trustees (previously) Capital Cranfield), the professional independent trustee of the Carillion Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme, on the issues affecting the scheme which is in a Pension Protection Fund assessment period following the insolvency of Carillion.
  • Providing ongoing advice to the trustees of the Arriva Pension Schemes on employer covenant support, contingent assets and member cases for the trustees of five separate schemes sponsored by the Arriva transport group.
  • Providing pensions advice to the trustee of the industry-wide Electricity Supply Pension Scheme including work on scheme structure, liaison with government departments concerning the regulatory framework and attendance at Members general meetings.

Norton Rose Fulbright

The team at Norton Rose Fulbright is led by Peter Ford, who has decades of experience of all aspects of pensions law. He works in tandem with the 'stand-outLesley Browning , who has spent the last 20 years at the firm after joining with Ford, during which time she has 'skilfully steered some of the biggest industry-wide schemes through all legislative changes.' Recent work highlights have included acting for the Trustee of the Invensys Pension Scheme on the implementation of its GMP reconciliation and rectification programme; the wider team also advises on longevity swaps, fiduciary management arrangements, pooled/insured investment vehicles and custody arrangements. Clients can also benefit from the firm's strong track record on international matters, drawing on its huge global reach.

Practice head(s):

Peter Ford

Testimonials

Norton Rose Fulbright has one of the strongest pensions teams in the country, but quietly goes about delivering excellence. It has vast experience across all sectors and industries, its strengths and key capabilities being its people; in particular Peter Ford and Lesley Browning‘.

Responsive, commercial and user-friendly. I have found most other firms’ pension teams are not commercial and often raise issues which are not commercial and waste a lot of time of the clients on points which are not worth raising. This is really not the case with Norton Rose, who have helped cut through some of those points in a pragmatic way‘.

Peter Ford is one of the most experienced pensions lawyers in the country. There is almost no transaction, no restructuring, no investment product that he won’t have seen and know how to handle. He knows why the pensions legislation and so many current deeds and rules are drafted the way they are. That sort of insight and experience is invaluable in the management of the biggest, longest-lived pension schemes.’

‘Lesley Browning has extensive experience and knowledge. She has skilfully steered some of the biggest industry-wide schemes through all of the legislative and other changes of the last decade‘.

Lesley Browning stands out for us‘.

Key clients

Accolade Wines Ltd

AES Corporation

Arthur J Gallagher & Co

A. Schulman Inc. Limited

Aspen Insurance UK Limited

AXA UK plc

Barclays Bank plc

Bombardier Inc.

The Boston Consulting Group Limited

Canada Life Limited

Capital Cranfield Pension Trustees Limited

Carlsberg UK Limited

Carrier Pension Trustee Limited

CEMEX UK Pension Trust Limited

Cheviot Trustees Limited

Chubb Services UK Limited

Civil Aviation Authority

Colgate-Palmolive

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (UK) Staff Benefits Scheme Trustee Company Limited

Cooper Tyre & Rubber Co. Europe Limited

Crest Nicolson plc

Energizer Brands LLC

Hayward Tyler Pension Plan Trustees

HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Ltd

HSBC Master Trust Trustee Limited

Hydro Aluminium Deeside Ltd

Hyperion Insurance Group Limited

IMI plc

Invensys Pension Scheme Trustee Limited

Irish Pensions Trust Limited

John Menzies

Lancaster Landmark Hotel Company Limited

Lyondell Chemical Europe Inc.

Maersk Line UK Limited

McLaren Technology Group Limited

Mercer Limited

MS Amlin

Nordea Bank

Norsk Hydro

NPSO Limited (now Pay.UK Ltd)

Olympus Management Limited

P&H Pensions Trustee Limited

P&O Ferries Limited

Punter Southall Aspire Ltd

QBE

Renishaw plc

Rothesay Life

Royal Bank of Canada

Stena AB

Stena Drilling Limited

Stena Line Limited

Sun Life of Canada

Tokyo Electron Group Limited

Trustee of the IPT Group Pension Plan

Trustee of the Oxford Instruments Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Steel Construction Institute Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Bayerische Landesbank Retirement Benefits Scheme

Trustees of the BBVA London Pension Plan

Trustees of the Crown Agents Superannuation Scheme

Trustees of the Dover Harbour Board Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

Trustees of the J.J. Churchill Ltd Executive Pension Plan

Trustees of the M.C.C. Pension and Assurance Scheme

Trustees of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

Trustees of the Shaw Group UK 1997 Pension Scheme

Trustees of the SITA Defined Benefit Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Stena Drilling Ltd Money Purchase Scheme

Trustees of the Thomson Pension Fund

Trustees of the West of England Ship Owners Insurance

Services Ltd Retirement Benefits Scheme

V. Ships UK Ltd

Vitality Life Limited

Vroon Offshore UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustee of the Invensys Pension Scheme (which has assets of circa £5bn under management) on the implementation of its guaranteed minimum pensions (GMP) reconciliation and rectification programme.
  • Advised Renishaw on negotiations with the Pensions Regulator and trustees over a funding agreement for the UK pension scheme.
  • Advising the Cheviot Trust on a range of issues, from day-to-day administrative matters, to more complex issues of interpretation.

PwC LLP

The pensions team at PwC LLP is part of an integrated offering, working in conjunction with the firm's actuarial, tax and HR advisers to provide a more rounded service; the access to 'actuarial and benefit design expertise' is seen as 'a real strength'. Led by the 'tireless and energetic' Oliver Reece, the team advises on matters relating to scheme rectification, asset-backed funding arrangements, multi-jurisdictional reorganisations and debt mitigation agreements. The 'careful, perceptive and persistent' Fraser Sparks assists clients with member option programmes, bulk annuity transactions, benefit corrections, contingent funding arrangements and the application of the New Fair Deal. David Farmer, described as a 'considerable presence' in the sector, covers issues such as TPR clearance, section 75 debt and benefit design changes.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Reece

Other key lawyers:

Fraser Sparks; David Farmer

Testimonials

The huge range of work that the PwC empire brings to its pensions team makes it stand out from the crowd‘.

The ability within the firm to access actuarial and benefit design expertise is a real strength, which sets them apart from solicitor firms‘.

Their team thinks about issues and problems from the client’s perspective, considering understanding the broader environment rather than simply the narrow legal issue‘.

Oliver Reece manages with aplomb an enormous workload and numerous competing claims on his time; he is tireless, energetic and a great creative blue-sky thinker. Fraser Sparks is more low key than Oliver, and they form an excellent double act; careful, perceptive and persistent, he is always looking for novel solutions to his cases. David Farmer is forceful, commercial and a considerable presence both personally and intellectually‘.

David Farmer has extensive pensions experience in specialist pensions departments in solicitors firms. He has a very practical approach, even when dealing with rather impractical clients. He is someone whom clients clearly respect and have confidence in‘.

David Farmer is especially client-friendly. He gets inside their business and helps to address issues that really matter to them‘.

Key clients

BBC

Work highlights

  • Advising the BBC on all aspects of pensions law.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood's pensions disputes is proficient in navigating the expanding territory of sector legislation, expertly handling cases concerning referrals of actuaries to regulatory bodies, the handling of client money and moral hazard. Led by representative beneficiary expert Helena Berman and the 'measured and astute' Philip Goodchild, it regularly handles Pensions Regulator and Financial Conduct Authority cases. A recent highlight for the firm was advising on Arriva's challenge to the UK Government’s management of risk in rail procurement. The 'very popularMark Catchpole leads on non-contentious matters. Supported by Graham Wrightson, 'a very sound lawyer with great judgement', the team is notable for handling advisory matters for both trustees and sponsors, covering buy-ins, transfers to DC Trusts and increase exchange options. The well-regarded Stephen Richards has strengthened the team since joining as a partner from Allen & Overy LLP in mid-2018.

Practice head(s):

Mark Catchpole

Testimonials

They are very approachable and very knowledgeable.’

Very high commitment from the team, with a can-do attitude. Great expertise evident in the complex subject matters. Proactive versus competitors‘.

Prompt service and capable team‘.

As a full service law firm, SH are able to provide support for all aspects of advice required by pensions clients. SH are highly transparent and provide very good value for money‘.

They really know the client and all the issues that may affect them‘.

Graham Wrightson is approachable with excellent all-round knowledge and expertise. He quickly appreciates the client’s issues and communicates the technical details to them comprehensively but in an easily accessible way. One of the best‘.

Graham Wrightson is a very sound lawyer with great judgement, and is able to handle challenging clients by giving realistic and pragmatic advice. Clients like him due to his approachability. He is able to handle tricky, complex situations.

Stephen Richards is a very charismatic and able lawyer. He seems to be a real rainmaker – since joining the firm they have picked up some very big clients.’

Philip Goodchild is very knowledgeable, easy to talk to, collegiate and confident. He is very accessible and provides the trustees with confidence that they are acting properly and in accordance with their duties‘.

Key clients

Barnardo’s Staff Pension Scheme

Royal Society Pension Plan

Victrex Plc

Chartered Insurance Institute

Paramount/Universal Pictures Pension Fund

The Royal College of Physicians

Institute of Physics Pensions Scheme

Artemis Pension Scheme

Trustees of Textron Limited Pension Fund

Roadchef Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the First UK Bus Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the Bic UK Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised on a number of high profile de-risking transactions, including some significant buy-ins, scheme restructurings and transfer to master trusts.
  • Advised the Trustees of the First UK Bus Pension Scheme, one of the largest UK pension schemes in its sector (with 20,000 defined benefit and 20,000 defined contribution members), on a number of issues including flexible apportionment arrangements, sectionalisation, GMP equalisation and member queries.
  • Advised the Trustees of the Bic UK Pension Scheme in a Court of Appeal case concerning whether pension in payment increases referable to pre 1997 pensionable service had been validly granted.

Addleshaw Goddard

Addleshaw Goddard's pensions offering has a strong reputation for trustee support, the sector impact of corporate transactions, negligence claims and liberation fraud. Catherine McAllister , Rachel Rawnsley and Susan Garrett are the key partners.

Practice head(s):

Catherine McAllister

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Rawnsley; Susan Garrett

Ashurst

Ashurst advises clients on some of the most complex aspects of pensions law, including the multiple intricacies of both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. The London pensions team is led by the 'highly knowledgeable' John Gordon, and has recently been advising Virgin, Stagecoach and SNCF on their legal challenge to the DfT's disqualification of their West Coast Partnership bid over pensions issues. The firm's non-contentious work covers the full spectrum of rail industry pensions issues, particularly in relation to negotiations with the regulator. Clients further benefit from the wider firm's strong track record in restructuring matters.

Practice head(s):

John Gordon

Testimonials

There is close integration between Ashurst’s pensions team and its commercial litigation group. This means Ashurst’s pensions team has valuable experience in heavyweight commercial litigation‘.

Good sound advice, very thorough‘.

John Gordon is excellent. Technically, he is a highly accomplished pensions lawyer. Commercially, he is excellent at understanding clients’ business needs‘.

John Gordon is extremely flexible, highly knowledgeable and able to translate difficult concepts for laymen and counsel teams whilst not losing sight of the important detail‘.

We deal mainly with John Gordon who is very thorough and provides sound advice. He will always go the extra mile‘.

Key clients

On behalf of Thomas Cook PLC and subsidiaries (in liquidation) (acting for Alix Partners)

Keolis Amey as the new franchise operator for rail services for Wales and Borders

West Coast Trains Limited

The Trustees of the NIAB (1996) Pension Scheme

Clement Clarke Pensions Trustees Limited

Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest metals and mining corporations

Interserve plc

Navigator Terminals Limited

Gleacher Shacklock LLP and Arma Partners LLP (Inferno)

JPIMedia Limited (Oculus)

Work highlights

  • Acted for Alix Partners with regards to the Thomas Cook liquidation; provided pensions advice throughout the repatriation and winding-up process.
  • Provided detailed advice on the pensions aspects of Keolis Amey’s successful bid for the 15-year Wales and Borders Rail Franchise.
  • Provided pensions advice to Virgin, Stagecoach and SNCF relating to their bid for the new flagship West Coast Partnership franchise with DfT including the new HS2 service to take over after the West Coast franchise Direct Award.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Led by David Dennison, the pensions team at  Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP advises on all areas of relevance from the merger of plans to the winding up of schemes. Additional areas handled include Ombudsman claims, the impacts on corporate mergers and both employee share plans and incentive arrangements.

Practice head(s):

David Dennison

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

The pensions team at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, led by the 'exceptional' Michael M. Jones, acts for household name clients such as Caffè Nero and Ericsson, as well as substantive number of charity/not-for-profit interests. The team has a strong track record of work for third sector operations on the pensions implications of restructuring, and also advises on funding matters, risk reduction, the pensions aspects of M&A, regulatory clearance and the complexities of PPF 'pre-pack' arrangements. Legal director Esther White specialises in instructions arising from corporate restructuring and auto-enrolment.

Practice head(s):

Michael M. Jones

Other key lawyers:

Esther White

Testimonials

I would recommend their depth of knowledge, response times as well as the proactive nature of the advice‘.

Michael Jones is an exceptional lawyer. He is extremely knowledgeable and his advice is always practical‘.

Key clients

City & Guilds

Westminster Abbey

Smith & Williamson Trustees Ltd

DST Systems

Dalriada Trustees Limited

Ericsson

Atkin Trustees Limited

Caffé Nero

Macfarlanes LLP

At Macfarlanes LLP, practice head Camilla Barry assists on the pensions aspects of M&A deals while Andrew Barton leads the firm's de-risking practice. More broadly, clients can source advice on the management of sector issues such as section 75 debts, clearance applications and a range of disputes.

Practice head(s):

Camilla Barry

Osborne Clarke LLP

At Osborne Clarke LLP, the pensions practice is led by the well-regarded 'industry insider' Jonathan Hazlett. Attracting clients from the employer, trustee, membership and consultancy sides, it is particularly known for its expertise in professional negligence claims. In addition, the team covers complex Part 8 rectification issues, scheme construction applications and  investigations by the Pensions Regulator. Moreover, clients can benefit from the team's strong track record on risk management and claims emanating from corporate insolvency and restructuring. On the non-contentious side, big-ticket instructions are pursued for both national and international interests. Recent highlights include: liability management in relation to documentation errors, pensions advice on multibillion-pound mergers, high profile scheme failures and occupational scheme issues arising from ESG investment. Key team members include Charles Crowne, 'terrific' senior associate Katherine King and Claire Rankin, who joined as a partner from Burges Salmon LLP in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Hazlett

Other key lawyers:

Claire Rankin

Testimonials

This is a leading pension team offering practical and sensible advice for pension trustees. As a charity, we are particularly pleased with the service we get from the team and the availability of our contact individuals in the pensions team‘.

Claire Rankin provides sensible and practical advice to a range of trustees with a variety of backgrounds. Claire helps all the trustees understand the issues and the decisions we have to take‘.

Key clients

Pension Protection Fund

LGPS National Procurement Framework for Legal Services (including sole legal adviser to the Environment Agency Pension Fund)

Transport for London

Dell Corporation Limited

Berendsen Healthcare Limited

SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK Limited

Senior plc Pension Plan

Students’ Union Superannuation Fund

Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund

Grant Thornton Pension Fund

House of Fraser Pension Scheme

Muntons plc Retirement Benefits Scheme

Kohler Mira Pension Scheme

Sharp Electronics (UK) Limited Pension Scheme

Bank of Ireland UK Pension Fund

Reed Smith LLP

Simon Hartley, William Sutton and consultant Justine Senior are the key names for pensions in Reed Smith LLP's London office. Assisting with key scheme aspects such as running, restructuring and winding-up, the team represents both employers and trustees in relation to guarantees, escrow arrangements, security packages and apportionment considerations. Clients can also benefit from the firm's track record in handling the mergers of schemes.

Testimonials

Prompt, pragmatic advice which is easy to understand, with strong recommendations where required. Good engagement. Excellent value for money – there has never been a situation where they look to generate fees without reason‘.

A small closely linked team providing profession support to pension schemes. Easy to access and very responsive to needs of the chair and trustee directors‘.

Small but focused team, delivering a personal service‘.

Will Sutton and Justine Senior are both first class. They are highly responsive,on top of their subject, practical and pragmatic in their opinions and advice‘.

Justine Senior and Will Sutton both provide an excellent and timely service. They provide advice that is comprehensive but easy to understand, with helpful guidance where appropriate and recommendations where necessary‘.

Justine Senior and Will Sutton have been leading this work for at least 10 years. Each provides superb support and the cover conscientiously for each other within the practice‘.

Simon Hartley is our pension adviser and I have yet to meet an adviser that has such depth of experience and professionalism. His wisdom is quiet, understated but definitely worth listening to. I have seen him calm acrimonious debate by his style of waiting, listening and then inputting his expertise to the benefit of all. First class!

Simmons & Simmons

The de-risking of DB arrangements forms a significant part of the pensions work at Simmons & Simmons, where the team is led by the 'excellentDanny Tsang. He recently advised the trustees of the SmithKline Beecham pension plan, while Bristol-based consultant James Dean has assisted BASF with substantial changes to its scheme documentation. Other notable clients include Anheuser-Busch InBev Group and the Zurich Financial Services UK Pension Scheme. The team has also advised on closures to future accrual, restructuring, liability management, enhanced transfer offers and buy-ins/buy-outs.

Practice head(s):

Danny Tsang

Other key lawyers:

James Dean

Testimonials

Simmons & Simmons is a very professional team of lawyers; they are friendly, very client focused, and supportive of each other‘.

They’re expert friendly and easy to use‘.

Danny Tsang is an excellent lawyer, and highly client focused.’

Key clients

GlaxoSmithKline

Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE)

BASF

Doosan Babcock Trustees

Anheuser-Busch InBev Group

West Ferry Printers Pension Scheme

Zurich Financial Services UK Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Ongoing advisory work for the trustees of the SmithKline Beecham Pension Plan and SmithKline Beecham Senior Executive Pension Plan, two of GlaxoSmithKline’s £1bn-plus pension arrangements.
  • Advising BASF on a wide range of pensions matters, including substantial changes to the plan documentation to consolidate several sections and complex historic provisions.
  • Advised AB InBev UK Ltd Pension Trust Limited and Stag Brewing Pensions Limited, the respective trustees of two significant UK pension plans for the Anheuser-Busch InBev Group, on the integration of various new membership and contribution structures into one of the schemes.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

From Newcastle, Martin Poore leads the UK pensions law team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. The team handles corporate and scheme restructurings across a range of sectors, acting for prestigious clients such as Procter & Gamble, Taylor Wimpey and IBM. 'Great technician' Suzanne Duff handles both contentious and non-contentious pensions matters, working alongside commercial litigator Richard Collins, who has particular expertise in equalisation and benefits issues. The team advises on a broad range of pensions issues, covering scheme rectification, historical errors, enhanced protection, professional negligence and FCA mis-selling investigations. The team also includes Tracy Walsh, a specialist in employer debt regimes, outsourcing transactions, mergers and innovative funding arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Martin Poore

Other key lawyers:

Tracy Walsh

Testimonials

The team are approachable and readily available. The resources seem to mirror our needs and despite very little face-to-face contact there is little confusion in our communications‘.

Our usual contact is well-established and give a timely service to us whenever needed‘.

BDB Pitmans

The pensions team at BDB Pitmans advises on the full range of DB and DC pension scheme issues, and has a track record of work on benefit restructuring, The practice, which is spread across the firm's London, Reading and Southampton offices, handles a significant quotient of buy in/buy out projects, GMP equalisation matters and executive arrangements such as SIPPs, SSASs and QROPS, and is increasingly working with public sector schemes on outsourcing, TUPE transfers and member disputes. The team is led by Chris Netiatis and David Hosford , both of who previously worked at Pitmans prior to the 2018 merger with Bircham Dyson Bell.

Practice head(s):

Chris Netiatis; David Hosford

Testimonials

A small but growing pensions team. My schemes are relatively small but they give a large-scheme service. Have a broad range of pension skills and able to draw on the wider firm for non-pension related business.

The practice is very approachable and have a good understanding of our requirements. They pitch their advice at a suitable level and provide clear explanations on the more technical issues. They interact well with us and liaise with other legal firms on our behalf in a very professional manner. Their team has been able to support us on a variety of issues in a seamless manner‘.

Chris Netiatis advises us on a very wide variety of issues and is extremely approachable and good humoured. Chris manages his team very well, meets deadlines and is always accessible. Chris explains technical issues in an understandable manner‘.

Chris Netiatis is knowledgeable, personable, able to explain complex issues to lay trustees and approachable‘.

Key clients

Trustees of the Chas A Blatchford & Sons Limited Group Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Claude Lyons Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of Rockspring Property Investment Managers Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Accuride Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Danfoss Power Solutions Pension Plan

The Trustees of the Edwards Wildman Palmer UK LLP Pension Scheme

Trustees of SCB Holdings (Sandy) Limited Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (GB) Limited Pension & Life Assurance Scheme

Trustees of the Pizza Hut (UK) Investment Plan

Trustees of the Red Funnel Staff Pension Scheme

Collegia Partners Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the SCB Holdings (Sandy) Limited Pension Fund on the buy-in of DB liabilities c£27m, a commercial solution to GMP equalisation and the winding up of the fund.
  • Advised Collegia Partners on establishing a new personal pension product, including FCA authorisations, automatic enrolment obligations and drafting governing documents.
  • Advised the Trustees of the Accuride Pension Scheme on the transfer of DC liabilities to a master trust and historic sex equalisation issues.

Clyde & Co LLP

The pensions team at Clyde & Co LLP is renowned for advising on claims against professionals and financial advisers. In particular, recent highlights have featured pleas relating to defective drafting of documentation and poor advice regarding restructurings and mergers. Headed by the 'utterly brilliant' Neil Jamieson, it also includes 'terrific' legal director Ivan Wilkinson, an authority in professional liability matters. The firm's non-contentious offering covers trustee liability insurance, de-risking (including bulk annuities) and local authority outsourcing. Overseen by Terry Saeedi and featuring senior associate Matthew Ambler (both described as 'exceptional'), it has substantive expertise in the utilities sector.

Practice head(s):

Terry Saeedi

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Ambler

Testimonials

Clyde & Co have consistently met and exceeded our expectations as pension scheme lawyers. Their advice is grounded not only in a deep understanding of the law, but also by reference to how that law should be applied to our specific circumstances and trust obligations. This approach enables clear decisions to be made by the Trustee Board, having regard to all relevant factors, and, equally importantly, disregarding factors that are not relevant to the decision‘.

The members of the team are very knowledgeable in the specialist areas of pensions and employee benefits such as group life assurance arrangements. As an in-house legal team these are not areas where we had the necessary experience and expertise to advise the business and really appreciated their advice and guidance‘.

Very knowledgeable on all pension matters and quick to respond‘.

Terry Saeedi and Matthew Ambler have consistently provided exceptional service. They are always responsive, thoughtful and analytical in the advice provided, and understand that the Trustee Board needs a clear position to be articulated in order for decision to be made. What has made both Terry and Matthew stand out is the effort that they have made to fully understand our Trust Deed and rules, and to ensure that the advice given is aligned to all specific Trustee obligations across several scheme sections with different benefit promises‘.

Key clients

The Trustees of the Ulster Bank Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised The Trustees of the Ulster Bank Pension Scheme on proposals to merge a scheme with another group sponsored scheme.

Irwin Mitchell

National pensions head Martin Jenkins and Penny Cogher lead the pensions team at Irwin Mitchell. With an emphasis on clients in the education, charity and manufacturing sectors, the firm utilises its private wealth knowledge to deliver specialist expertise in matters such as pensions tax. In addition, clients can draw on the firm's strong track record of advising on auto-enrolment, re-enrolment, contribution increases, salary sacrifice and the impact of TUPE transfers. For developing areas of law, it is increasingly working on DB risk management (buy outs, guarantees and funding agreements), DC governance and mastertrust issues.

Practice head(s):

Penny Cogher; Martin Jenkins

Testimonials

I have found the team both technically very knowledgeable and very responsive to the requirements of the particular client. They are constructive and tactful in dealing with difficult situations‘.

Penny Cogher was very readily available when necessary as a result of tight deadlines‘.

Key clients

Pan Trustees

Brown Shipley

Guinness Mahon

Owners of the Waterloo Group Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised a global manufacturing company on pension regulator issues arising from corporate changes.
  • Advised a school on putting in place a charge to assist with funding issues and also advising and documenting pension changes
  • Advised a client on all aspects of the transfer and winding up of a DC section.

Taylor Wessing LLP

With 'excellent' knowledge of the sector, Mark Smith leads the pensions offering in Taylor Wessing LLP's London office. Recent complex work has including advising on the pensions aspects of company restructurings, as well as rectification matters, PPF compensation and the assessment of risky investments. In particular, the firm is known for its competence in fraud cases (with a special emphasis on charges relating to pensions liberation schemes). Non-contentious matters have been pursued for major clients such as billionaire businesswoman Lady Cristina Green, who the firm advised on pensions issues relating to the restructuring of Arcadia. 'Exceptional' senior associate Hadassah Shulman is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Mark Smith

Other key lawyers:

Hadassah Shulman

Testimonials

A great law firm that treats us like we are their number one client – always available and quick turnaround time when providing advice‘.

The team are reliable and provide very detailed advice on highly complex issues. They are approachable and always available‘.

Small team of expert pension lawyers. Quick, fast, comprehensive advice. Brilliant team approach working together with other advisers‘.

Very collaborative. The right specialist breath of lawyers are available to support. They understand the aims of the desired outcome of my company and understand the advice/guidance being sought, even if not always understood by us the client.’

Mark Smith is very responsive and provides timely accurate advice. He is excellent at managing expectations when it is a very complex matter‘.

Hadassah Shulman is exceptional in her support, advice, recommendations and overall approach to the complex project we are working on. Her professionalism is outstanding and is a valued member of my companies extended family‘.

Key clients

Lady Cristina Green

Independent Trustee Services Limited

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

FIS

PAN Trustees

Trustees of the Royal British Legion Staff Pension Fund

Trustee of the Visa UK Pension Plan

Pi Trustees

Afton Chemical

Press Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Lady Cristina Green on the restructuring of Arcadia, which included the negotiation of the pensions terms with the trustees of Arcadia’s two DB pension schemes, The Pensions Regulator and the PPF
  • Advised the Press Association on terminating existing funding and security arrangements with its pension scheme trustee and on a buy-in of the benefits that took the place of the previous arrangements.
  • Advised a professional trustee appointed by the Pensions Regulator to investigate a pension scheme suspected of having been used as a vehicle for pensions liberation fraud on recovery of assets, compensation claims and associated matters.

TLT

TLT 's pensions disputes offering features the combined talents of overall practice head Sasha Butterworth, Ed Fiddick and Victoria Mabbett, all of who are based in Bristol. The team has tackled a range of cases concerning matters including deficient advice on scheme amendments, the formulation of loss of chance claims and competing interpretations of principal employer status. A key recent highlight has been representing members of the Bic UK Pension Scheme in relation to amendments and the recovery of alleged overpayments. The firm's non-contentious portfolio includes work touching on full scheme liabilities, acquisitions of SIPP books and tax liabilities relating to non-standard assets. The 'very responsive' Chris Crighton is dual qualified to practise in Northern Ireland.

Practice head(s):

Sasha Butterworth

Other key lawyers:

Chris Crighton

Testimonials

‘The team is pragmatic, has a depth of knowledge and is transparent and competitive’.

‘Sasha Butterworth is straight-talking, clear and concise’.

Key clients

Arkema Bostik Pension Trustee Limited

Fujitsu Retirement Services Trustee

Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime

Travelers

Biffa Waste Services Limited

Trustees of Colas (UK) Pension Plan

WHSmith

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the Institute of Biomedical Science Pension Scheme on the legal aspects of a full scheme liabilities buy-in with Aviva.
  • For Hartley Pensions Limited, provided strategic advice on and implemented two separate acquisitions of SIPP books, the book of GPC SIPP Limited (In Administration) and Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Limited (In Administration).

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Martin McFall leads the pensions team at Trowers & Hamlins LLP, supported by senior associates Deborah Shumate and Michael Rhode. Counting Toyota, Bic and Brighton & Hove City Council within their client portfolio, the team has of late advised on benefit designs, employer covenants and large-scale voluntary transfers, as well as restructurings, amalgamations and the pensions aspects of corporate transactions. The team are praised for 'putting themselves in the client's shoes and seeing the problem from their point of view.' Recent work of note has included advising Bic UK on the recovery of historic overpayments to scheme members.

Practice head(s):

Martin McFall

Other key lawyers:

Deborah Shumate; Michael Rhode

Testimonials

Trowers is excellent at explaining technical legal options in a clear and coherent manner that a lay person can relate to – this has made for an excellent working relationship between legal, consultants and trustees‘.

The ever-shifting landscape of our work requires timely and pragmatic solutions – the Trowers team always delivers on such requirements‘.

They understand the problem, they are there to find solutions for you and they know their stuff. You want this team on your side.

Straightforward and easy to deal with. Simplifies complex issues and adopts the client’s position in recommending courses of action (with appropriate risks identified). And then delivers to the agreed plan and timescale‘.

They put themselves in the client’s shoes and see the problem from your point of view. They will devise a strategy to deal with the issue as you expect them to. You want Deborah Shumante, Martin McFall and Michael Rhode on your side‘.

Deborah Shumate instils confidence based on her subject matter expertise, knowledge of the sector and client. Flexible and supports/challenges in a constructive manner. And has a good sense of humour‘.

Key clients

Bic

Sovereign Housing Group

Citizen Housing Group

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Longhurst Group

Toyota plc

Brighton & Hove City Council

Work highlights

  • Advised Bic UK as the sponsoring employer of the Bic UK Pension Scheme on innovative solutions to the recovery of historic pension overpayments to scheme members.
  • Advised Sovereign Housing Group on the bulk transfer of its pension liabilities from the Social Housing Pension Scheme to a stand-alone salary-related pension arrangement administered by TPT Retirement Limited.
  • Advised Citizen Housing Group on the statutory amalgamation of its subsidiary organisations and the resolution of pension issues with its defined benefit pension schemes.

Wedlake Bell LLP

Wedlake Bell LLP advises on pensions strategy, liability management, corporate transactions, trusteeship and governance issues. Led by cross-border specialist Justin McGilloway, the team also assists clients with matters such as closing schemes to future accrual and winding-up. The 'lively minded' Alison Hills handles everything from self-administered schemes to multi-employer variants and regularly works with clients in the manufacturing, leisure and tourism sectors. 'Enduring practitioner' Clive Weber draws on his significant experience to effectively advise a range of trustees, employers and individuals.

Practice head(s):

Justin McGilloway

Other key lawyers:

Alison Hills; Clive Weber

Testimonials

This is a small team which is strong on knowledge and researching new issues. You know who will be dealing with your matter – this is important to me as the issues I instruct on are usually pretty strange‘.

Justin McGilloway is effective in building the firm’s presence. He has a warm and engaging personality and is very client responsive.’

‘Clive Weber is one of the most enduring practitioners in this area and it shows with the depth of knowledge and experience he brings to his cases; you cannot buy the wisdom that Clive has acquired as a result of his many years of work in the field. He has a low key but determined and effective approach. A very safe pair of hands.

‘Alison Hills provides excellent support‘.

Alison Hills stands out – lively minded and pragmatic as well as detailed and sees the whole picture‘.

Key clients

Royal London

Ingersoll Rand Inc.

Scandinavian Airlines Pension and Assurance Scheme

Buhler Limited

Terrence Higgins Pension & Assurance Scheme

Natixis Pension Scheme

Steamship Insurance Management Services Limited Pension Scheme

Carlton Tower Pension Scheme

Jotun Paints (Europe) Limited Pension Scheme

Capital Radio Pension Plan

Carpenters Company Pension Scheme

Tenneco Automotive (UK) Pension Scheme

Sumi Agro Pension Scheme

Davis Langdon LLP Pension Scheme

Concentrix (a subsidiary of SYNNEX Corporation)

Global Association of Risk Professionals

Work highlights

  • Advising the trustees of the Scandinavian Airlines Pension and Assurance Scheme on a restructuring exercise with particular focus on the PPF entry rules. Advice covered issues including the admission of a new employer to the scheme, replacement of an existing employer, reopening the scheme to future accrual to enable both employers to employ active members of the scheme, a flexible apportionment arrangement, and the addition of a new parent company guarantee.
  • Assisting Capital Radio Pension Plan with the update of the plan documentation and amending policies in relation to flexible working/late retirement.
  • Advising the trustees of the Jotun Paints (Europe) Limited Pension Scheme on scheme funding and employer covenant issues.