Pensions (non-contentious) in London

Allen & Overy LLP

The 'unparalleled team' at Allen & Overy LLP has a strong reputation for trustee-side work, including risk transfer projects, multi-jurisdictional and -scheme mergers and sophisticated long-term funding structures. The team is well-versed in governance restructuring work, in addition to pensions change and rectification matters. Areas that have seen an uptick for the group include preparing schemes, sponsors and lenders for the Pensions Schemes Act 2021, as well as master trust transfer arrangements. Taking the lead is Neil Bowden, who takes 'a pragmatic approach' to advising trustees and employers on issues such as guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisations and liability management. 'Super lawyer' Jane Higgins is a seasoned pensions lawyer with knowledge in governance and the impact of banking reform on banking sector pensions; while Andy Cork is deeply focused on trustee work, advising on major strategic projects. Jessica Kerslake ('excellent on a larger projects') and pension fund investment expert MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto were made partners in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

Neil Bowden

Other key lawyers:

Jane Higgins; Andy Cork; Jessica Kerslake; MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto; Isabel France; Derek Sloan

Testimonials

‘A&O have always been ready and willing to go the extra mile and ensure you are valued as a client. They have specialist experts both within their pension team on areas such as GMP equalisation and risk transfer, and across the wider firm so are able to call in specialist colleagues in areas such as banking and derivative trading as well as re-structuring. They provide regular pension updates in an easily digestible format which are a valuable tools for both professional and lay trustees.’

‘Jessica Kerslake was excellent on a large project, twisting to UK DB pensions in the context of a major merger. She was responsive and extremely thoughtful, and very engaged throughout an extremely complex process’

‘This is an unparalleled team in my experience, providing strength in depth coverage of all matters relevant to trustees, not simply with respect to pure pensions issues but also with respect to risk transfer, insurance, litigation, and all other activities that are increasingly important for trustees,. The pensions team has very broad capabilities, with strength in depth, but is also able to call upon seamless support from other specialists within the wider firm. All members of the team consistently demonstrate a robust but pragmatic approach, allied to clear and accessible advice and communications suitable for both lay and professional trustees.’

‘Neil Bowden is an extremely experienced pensions lawyer, who allies extensive knowledge and experience with a very sensible, down to earth and pragmatic style. He is robust and authoritative, but never condescending or arrogant. He has earned the complete trust and confidence of the trustee board. Jane Higgins is a super lawyer: very experienced, impressively hard working, very responsive, and always accessible. Her communication skills are first rate.’

‘Allen and Overy have been our lawyers for circa 50 years. It is important to us to have the continuity and through the great relationship we have we would not think about moving firms.’

‘Jess Kerslake and Neil Bowden are highly intelligent, very knowledgeable about our individual pension scheme. They are able to relate to the Trustee is a clear way at their level of understanding of pensions. They are pragmatic and practical.’

‘We receive consistently excellent service from A&O. In the last year, a significant change to the way our plan is run required complex contract reviews – these were time consuming but the work was completed to a prompt timescale.’

‘Neil Bowden has worked with us for more than a decade. He is a trusted partner to our trustees and they value his insight. His pragmatic approach works well for us.’

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group Pensions Trustees Limited

The First UK Bus Pension Scheme Trustee Limited

Visa Europe Pension Trustee Limited

Liberty Global

CMS

CMS continues to dominate in the pensions space, fielding ' a refreshingly commercial and pragmatic' team with expertise across the spectrum of the pensions space, able to draw on a standalone de-risking practice. In a demonstration of the group's strengths, it recently advised Clara-Pensions as the first commercial defined benefit pension scheme consolidator to complete the regulator's assessment process; a matter where Keith Webster made a significant contribution. The department is led by Mark Grant, who also chairs the pensions ombudsman liaison group, with a strong client roster of employers and trustees. Mark Atkinson has experience in GMP equalisations and winding-ups; Neil Smith is noted for benefit restructuring and liability reduction exercises; and Emma Frost is an expert in risk transfer transactions. Johanna Clarke has experience in advising on distressed covenants, as well as focusing on defined contribution master trusts.

Practice head(s):

Mark Grant

Other key lawyers:

Mark Atkinson; Keith Webster; Neil Smith; Pete Coyne; Emma Frost; Kate Richards; Laura Clarke

Testimonials

‘The size and resulting strength and depth of the pensions team make it stand out against others’

‘Keith Webster is a ‘stand-out’ lawyer – he has a highly valued mix of commercial awareness, technical brilliance and creative thinking’

‘Staggering strength in depth, fantastic programme of talks showcasing their junior talent .’

‘Neil Smith is your best friend in the law, in life, the universe and everything.’

‘CMS are refreshingly commercial and pragmatic.’

‘Dominic Harris is a fantastic example of what how a lead partner should demonstrate technical ability and pragmatism. I would always want him on my side.’

‘Very strong pensions team with good client facing skills’

Key clients

British Telecommunications (BT)

Pension Protection Fund

Sky Pension Plan

Clara-Pensions

Aon

Barclays

New Airways Pension Scheme Trustee

Sainsburys

NatWest

Ernst & Young

Work highlights

  • Advised British Telecommunications (BT) on the valuation and funding arrangements for its UK pension scheme (BTPS), one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK.
  • Advised Clara-Pensions Limited develop its “member first” commercial consolidator proposition, on the intention of obtaining successful TPR assessment, allowing the first transactions to take place. This significant milestone was achieved in late 2021.
  • Advised the Fujitsu General (U.K) Co. Limited Pension and Life Assurance Plan Trustee on the merger of the UK sponsor into a German subsidiary, and the subsequent buy out and wind up of the scheme.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

'Responsive and flexible, and always giving sound and practical advice', the team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is known for its large private sector scheme and trustee and employer clients, which it advises on the waterfront of pensions issues. The group has experience in fundamental benefits reviews, as well as international pensions-related work, drawing on the firm's global office network. It is also adept at pensions insurance, advising insurance providers on buy-ins and buy-outs. In September 2021, the team was joined by Michael Jones from Pinsent Masons LLP, adding significant expertise in defined benefit and defined contribution master trusts. Francois Barker  is a veteran of the pensions space, often advising industry bodies on the direction of pensions law and policy. He co-leads the department with Jeremy Goodwin, who is an expert in trustees' responsibilities and duties. The duo is praise by clients for being 'approachable, facilitative and helpful'. Also recommended are Steven Hull , Sarah Swift  and Mark Latimour .

Practice head(s):

Francois Barker; Jeremy Goodwin

Other key lawyers:

Steven Hull; Sarah Swift; Mark Latimour; Laura Brook; Michael Jones

Testimonials

‘The team we use are responsive and flexible, and always give sound and practical advice. The team has adapted to our philosophy and work ethic and has responded well to our needs. They are diverse and have supported bringing on their junior staff to work on complex projects’

‘Very responsive and easy to work with. Steve Hull is very experienced and knowledgeable and I have been impressed by Laura Brook. The associates who have been involved are focussed and confident in supporting the Trustees’

‘The Eversheds pensions team are stand out in their field. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for advice.’

‘Jeremy Goodwin is calm and compelling. An excellent lawyer whom I trust implicitly.’

‘Very joined up behind the scenes, resulting in seamless support across different technical areas. Clear, pragmatic and real world advice.’

‘Francois Barker and Jeremy Goodwin both approachable, facilitative and helpful. Very quick to understand complex issues and provide prompt, clear and practical advice.’

‘Depth of expertise coupled with strong dose of pragmatism and really strong communication skills’

Key clients

Department for Transport

Tesco PLC Pension Scheme

GE Pension Trustees Limited

DXC Technology Company

Now:Pensions Trust

Legal & General

Universities Superannuation Scheme

Deloitte UK Pension Scheme

HSBC Bank UK Pension Scheme

Howden Joinery Group PLC

Work highlights

  • Advised Tesco PLC Pension Scheme on multiple ESG initiatives.
  • Advising GE Pension Trustees Limited in relation to the closure of the £7bn GE Pension Plan to future accrual with certain active member benefits continued for closure members, including advice on the process, negotiations with the company, preparation of legal documentation, member communications and assistance with liaising with unions.
  • Advising DXC on two key pension projects: the buy-out of the £1.5 Billion EDS 1994 Pension Scheme into a DXC’s own captive insurer, and the continuation of the project to merge DXC’s £9 Billion UK pension schemes into a single merged scheme.

Hogan Lovells International LLP

'Technically excellent, commercially switched on, and clearly enjoy working together', the team at Hogan Lovells International LLP works closely with other highly-rated departments in the firm to provide a full-service to pensions clients; utilising capital markets and insurance lawyers for derivatives and longevity solutions and the privacy department for GDPR compliance. The group is known for advising on novel funding solutions and buy-in deals, in addition to GMP equalisations and master trust matters. Katie Banks  leads the offering, regularly advising on the pensions aspects of corporate deals. Edward Brown  is most known for de-risking issues, including buy-ins, buy-outs and longevity transactions; and Claire Southern  is an expert in derivative instruments for trustees and the VAT recoverability of pension scheme expenses.

Practice head(s):

Katie Banks

Other key lawyers:

Edward Brown; Claire Southern; Faye Jarvis

Testimonials

‘Faye Jarvis is always on top form with instant recall, trusted advice, alternatives and recommendations.’

‘This is my legal team of choice. I think the breadth of knowledge is very good and a particular advantage is the depth of disciplines across the firm so if we have issues which span more than one discipline, they are able to help. The team speak “plain English” rather than “legal speak”. They are also able to translate complex issues, eg VAT issues as spoken by HMRC, into plain English that can be understood by trustees.’

‘The team is technically excellent, commercially switched on, and clearly enjoy working together. Claire Southern is a genius at making the most complex issues easy to understand. She can find a way through any problem.’

‘It is always a pleasure to work with the team. I have full confidence that the Trustees will be well-advised and Claire will find a solution to the most arcane problem.’

‘The lawyers at Hogan Lovells are best in class. They provide relevant and appropriate advice that factors in the audience and practical position as well as being robust and able to stand up to scrutiny. They are trusted partners who have a long standing relationship with us and therefore they ‘get’ us.’

‘Claire Southern is a highly professional partner who consistently delivers advice of the highest calibre. She makes it easy for a legal lay person to understand and act upon her advice. She is supported by a very strong team who work well with us.’

‘The advice is pragmatic, the approach is flexible, the detail is appropriate and the team take note of commercial considerations and ensure a balanced view.’

‘Very knowledgeable team with active involvement in industry developments. Innovative ideas to provide pragmatic solutions to clients. Always an eye to ensuring value for money within billing practices.’

‘Transparent and accountable approach to billing. Commercial: cost-certainty provided where at all possible. There are no surprises when I receive the invoices. Team availability and responsiveness is great – they have never missed a deadline. They work well with our other advisers and help ensure collaboration with the Trustee Board – they are a trusted partner.’

‘Edward Brown – my go-to lawyer! He is exceptional – technically excellent, nimble, pragmatic. Member issues are dealt with in plain English and with empathy. Edward’s advice is clear, and he always puts forward his view/recommendation – he does not sit on the fence and is unafraid to speak out. He presents with energy and enthusiasm which is infectious. And he “gets us”.’

‘The team at HL is very knowledgeable and the work is well delegated to the appropriate level. Responses are quick and detailed. There is a strong focus on providing clear advise and pragmatic solutions. We have worked on some complex issues this year yet the team has responded quickly and managed our needs well. The team is very approachable and works well with our other advisers.’

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the Grafton UK Pension Scheme on negotiating a substitute sponsoring employer for the pension scheme in connection with the sale by the Grafton Group of its traditional builders’ manufacturing businesses to Huws Gray for an enterprise value of £520 million.
  • Advised Gallaher on a £1.7 billion bulk purchase annuity transaction by Standard Life covering all members of the Gallaher Pension Scheme.
  • Advised Patron Capital Partners (Patron) on the sale of Punch Pubs for circa £1 billion to private equity firm Fortress. Punch Pubs is a leading owner of approximately 1,300 tenanted pubs in the UK making it one of the UK’s largest pub companies.

Linklaters LLP

At Linklaters LLP, the standalone pensions practice acts for trustees, employers, insurance companies and consolidation vehicles, and handles the gamut of pensions issues. For investments, the group is well-versed in ESG and fiduciary management; on the fund consolidation front, it has significant experience in master trust arrangements and related authorisations; the funding offering includes advice on long-term funding agreements. Liability management is another core competency, and the group is often instructed on buy-ins, buy-outs and longevity swap structures; while the team is also noted for supporting colleagues with corporate reorganisations, transactions and insolvencies. Claire Petheram  heads the global practice, and is experienced in scheme mergers and consolidations, as well as benefit changes and equalisation issues, also areas of expertise for Tim Cox. Rosalind Knowles  leads the pensions investment team, bringing together experts in investment management, derivatives, structured projects, and pensions. Philip Goss is praised by clients for his expertise in de-risking projects.

Practice head(s):

Claire Petheram

Other key lawyers:

Tim Cox; Rosalind Knowles; Philip Goss; John Sheppard; Sarah Parkin

Testimonials

‘Strength in depth and consistent. Very thorough and responsive. Very strong associates in the team making for a very good pipeline.’

‘Team has wide experience of UK pensions landscape and developing trends including; longevity hedging, Climate reporting and contingent security. Continues to add and develop junior staff effectively and works seamlessly with other specialists in the firm.’

‘Phil Goss is highly capable and technically strong. Shows good commercial judgement and is creative and pragmatic in seeking solutions.’

‘Not only do they have extensive knowledge and understanding of the schemes, they are pension specialists which is essential to perform their role. In addition to the pensions expertise, I have been impressed with the wider Linklaters offering.’

Key clients

Rentokil Initial Pension Trustee Limited, as Trustee of the Rentokil Initial 2015 Pension Scheme

AXA UK plc and AXA UK Pension Trustees Limited

Barclays Pension Funds Trustees Limited

MMC UK Pension Funds Trustees Limited

British Airways plc

Trustee of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Vesuvius Pension Plan

RBS International Employees’ Pension Trustees Limited (Trustee of the RBS International Pension Trust and the Trustee of the RBSI Widows and Orphans Purpose Trust)

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustee of the Barclays Bank UK Retirement Fund on a c.£5bn longevity insurance transaction.
  • Advised the Trustee of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme through a challenging and highly politicised Select Committee process.
  • Advised the Rentokil Initial 2015 Pension Scheme on a full buy-out.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP has built out a strong pensions practice geared towards employer and pension provider clients, with growing coverage of the buy-in, buy-out and longevity hedging transactional space. The group is well-versed in regulatory and governance issues, and is noted for its advice on ESG issues. It has recent experience in defined benefit scheme winding-ups and closures, and master trust transactions, and is also regularly called upon to assist with data subject access requests. Carolyn Saunders  is a key name in the practice, heaving led the team until November 2021. She now focuses on expanding the firm's pensions-related ESG practice. The department is currently led by Stephen Scholefield, an expert in strategic and day-to-day governance issues. Matthew De Ferrars  is an expert in defined benefit risk transfers, advising on pension buy-outs, longevity transactions and assisting trustees with winding-up projects, while Raj Sharma  focuses on pensions regulatory matters.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Scholefield; Carolyn Saunders

Other key lawyers:

Matthew de Ferrars; Raj Sharma; Mark Baker; Christina Bowyer

Testimonials

‘The team is cost effective, approachable and direct. I think a key differentiator for the Pinsents team is that their advice is very targeted and commercial – they generally hit the nail on the head and get straight to the steer on the issue at hand.’

‘Matthew de Ferrars in London is absolutely top rank. I have been both instructed by him and he has also provided professional services to me. Unstinting praise for him in both respects. Stephen Scholefield is now the eminence grise whose experience is invaluable. Mark Baker in London is also excellent.’

‘Clever, technical lawyers, very thorough’

‘Mark Baker is calm and steadfast and makes a special effort to understand the commercial circumstances’

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group (£46 billion scheme)

TPT Retirement Solutions (£9.5 billion scheme)

Legal & General Worksave Mastertrust (£20 billion scheme)

Group Trustees of the RWE Group of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme (ESPS)  (£5.8 billion scheme)

Group Trustees of the Npower Group of the ESPS (£305 million scheme)

SEI Master Trust (£2 billion Scheme)

Devonport Royal Dockyard Pension Scheme (a Babcock International Group scheme) (£2 billion scheme)

Allianz Insurance plc (£1.5 billion scheme)

Costain Pension Scheme (£750 million scheme)

Pension Insurance Corporation plc

Work highlights

  • Appointed to the Pensions Insurance Corporation’s (PIC) legal panel following a competitive process, which includes advising PIC on the negotiation of bulk annuity transactions.
  • Advised on the largest acquisition of a master trust the industry has seen, by SEI of the Atlas Master Trust from Capita, with assets of around £2bn.
  • Advising a £20bn master trust on its ground-breaking net zero commitment, as well as other ESG considerations.

Sacker & Partners LLP

A joy to work with‘, pensions boutique Sacker & Partners LLP has developed a pre-eminent offering that provides employers, pension scheme and trustee clients with a comprehensive service. The firm is at the forefront of developments in the pensions industry, and is increasingly active in advising on ESG and climate risk issues that affect pensions. Following the retirement of Ian Pittaway in 2021, the firm has been led by David Saunders, who is an expert in pensions-related transactional support. Janet Brown  has significant experience in advising trustee clients on issues such as defined contribution feeder schemes and scheme closures; Fuat Sami is regularly instructed on transactional support issues, including in relation to reorganisations; while clients comment that  Edward Hayes  is ‘always available, understands trustees’ questions and concerns, provides a balanced and comprehensive analysis of an issue, and then gives clear conclusions’. Jacqui Reid  (‘absolutely fantastic in the patient way she has “herded cats” and facilitated the development of an industry consensus on some tricky issue‘) is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

David Saunders

Other key lawyers:

Janet Brown; Stuart O’Brien; Fuat Sami; Eleanor Daplyn; Edward Hayes; Jacqui Reid

Testimonials

‘Their level of expertise and ability to apply them sensitively to the problems faced by and issues raised by their clients. The solicitors I deal with are friendly, responsive and professional. They get to the heart of the issue and their advice is clear, concise and adds value. They make you feel they are part of your team, adding value.’

‘Excellent interpersonal skills, good emotional intelligence, supportive, clear in their advice, add value in finding solutions, proportionate, accessible. I most value the quality of the relationship and their responsiveness when it is important. I have a lot of confidence in them and their advice.’

‘Fuat Sami is the lead partner and makes himself readily available for discussions. Has a good understanding of our requirements and what the Pension trustees are looking to achieve and can tailor his advice accordingly.’

‘Main contact point was through Stuart O’Brien who was always able to provide a clear, concise explanation of technical pension subject matters to non-technical individuals.

‘This team is unique because of the people. Not just because of the breadth and depth of experience they bring, but how they work together and communicate with each other. It always seems like a well connected and seamless experience.’

‘Edward Hayes and Janet Brown are our engagement partners. Edward is always available, understands trustees’ questions and concerns, provides a balanced and comprehensive analysis of an issue, and then gives clear conclusions. He is a very calm and steady adviser and support for the trustees. Janet is equally experienced and happily supports, or substitutes for, Edward seamlessly. Janet advises us with clarity and enthusiasm.’

‘Jacqui Reid has been absolutely fantastic in the patient way she has “herded cats” and facilitated the development of an industry consensus on some tricky issues. Her deep understanding of the complex pensions world, combined with her patience, diplomacy and perseverance have proved highly effective and significant in advancing good governance in workplace pensions. Without her and the backing of Sackers, I cannot imagine how these outcomes could have been achieved.’

‘We love the team at Sackers – they make pensions law interesting. Responses are always comprehensive and clear. Work is delegated to the appropriate level but this does not impact on quality. The lawyers we deal with all have such unique personalities, they are a joy to work with. We have worked on some new and complex issues over the last year and Sackers have helped us find solutions with the minimum of fuss.’

Key clients

HSBC Bank (UK) Pension Scheme

Railways Pension Scheme

Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP)

TFL Pension Fund

John Lewis Partnership Trust for Pensions

Bank of England Staff Pension Fund

Trustee of the Boots Pension Scheme

The Trustee of the GSK Pension Scheme and the GSK Pension Fund

The Trustee of the TotalEnergies UK Pension Plan

Airways Pension Scheme (APS)

The Trustee of the Nationwide Pension Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised Crown Holdings on the biggest bulk annuity deal of 2021 and one of the largest single-transaction full scheme buy-outs ever undertaken: a £2.2bn buy-in to buy-out transaction for its defined benefit pension scheme, the Metal Box Pension Scheme
  • Advised the Trustee of the Royal Mail Pension Plan on a significant corporate reorganisation involving a material subsidiary of the Plan sponsor.
  • Advised the Trustee of the Boots Pension Scheme on the $6.5bn sale by Walgreens of its Alliance Healthcare businesses to AmerisourceBergen.

Slaughter and May

Slaughter and May is described as 'the firm to go to when you want something done that has never been done before, or in a way that's never been done before'. The practice has a strong advisory focus, while also handling complex transactional matters, acting for both trustees and sponsors, and is made up of 'exceptional pensions lawyers who have the ability not just to communicate complexity clearly, but to provide strategic guidance to find a way through difficult challenges.' Key names include practice head Charles Cameron, 'big-hitter' Sandeep Maudgill and the highly regarded Daniel Schaffer.

Practice head(s):

Charles Cameron

Other key lawyers:

Sandeep Maudgil; Daniel Schaffer; Chris Sharpe; Hugh Gittins; Edward Hunnisett; Isobel Carruthers

Testimonials

‘Sandeep Maudgil is a true pensions big-hitter – with a formidable mastery of the technical detail allied with a highly personable approach and a sharp strategic focus.’

‘Chris Sharpe is a pleasure to deal with. He is extremely responsive and competent, and the advice he gives is thoughtful and pragmatic.’

‘Charles Cameron – very client focussed, committed and commercial. Highly approachable and excellent bedside manner. Hugely enjoyable to work with.

‘Sandy Maudgil is our main contact. He is the best technical lawyer out there and gets right down in the trenches with his client – he combines that with a real creative flair and a surprisingly fun and engaging personality (for a lawyer!)’

‘Daniel Schaffer stands out for his analytical skill and capability to cover all aspects of a case to deliver successful outcomes.’

‘Charles Cameron is able to straddle both the big picture and details and delegates as required within the team.’

‘Hugh Gittins – excellent all-round pensions law knowledge. Great at remembering detail, and is a genuine pleasure to deal with.’

‘Dan Schaffer and Isobel Carruthers have very good commercial ideology on the needs of the client.’

Key clients

AkzoNobel and ICI

BT Pension Scheme (Trustees)

Caterpillar Pension Plans (Trustees)

Colgate Palmolive (UK) Pension Plan (Trustees)

Daily Mail (DMGT)

De La Rue

E.ON

Essentra

FirstGroup

Fortress Investment Group

GlaxoSmithKline plc

Interserve

Legal & General

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

Royal Mail

SCA UK Pension Plan (Trustees)

Severn Trent pension schemes (Trustees)

Tata Steel UK (British Steel Pension Scheme)

Texas Instruments

United Utilities

Viridor

Walmart

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustee of the £65bn BT Pension Scheme on the June 2020 triennial valuation including a £2bn asset backed funding arrangement secured against the EE business and an innovative new “stabiliser” mechanism reducing the risk of future trapped surplus.
  • Advised Daily Mail and General Trust on negotiations with the trustees of the £3.2bn Daily Mail pension schemes to reach agreement on mitigation measures addressing the covenant impact of a special distribution to all shareholders.
  • Advised Fortress on their negotiations with the trustees of the £6bn Morrisons pension schemes to reach agreement on a package of funding measures supporting the pension schemes to buyout, in the context of the contested bid process for Morrisons.

Travers Smith LLP

Travers Smith LLP is ‘at the top of its game in the world of pensions’ and is also praised for ‘leading the way in diversity and inclusion within this sector.’ The team, which is led by Daniel Gerring, is well-regarded for ‘providing a fully integrated approach to work for pension clients at a very high level‘ combining specialists from other areas such as structured finance and derivatives to provide a more rounded service to clients. The pure pensions specialists in the team also include ‘exceptional problem solver’ Susie Daykin; typical work covers covenant and distress, de-risking and major transactions, with recent high-profile work including advising the administrators of Laura Ashley in relation to the retailer’s UK defined benefit pension scheme.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Gerring

Other key lawyers:

Susie Daykin; Jonathan Gilmour; Peter Hughes; David James; Dan Naylor; Andy Lewis; Karen Sahota; Niamh Hamlyn

Testimonials

‘Daniel Gerring is very simply the best pension lawyer I have ever come across – he is incredibly bright, yet plain speaking, accessible, fair, pragmatic and effective. He provided first class strategic and commercial support.’

‘David James is a very knowledgeable and safe pair of hands as well and can be relied on totally.’

‘Dan Naylor has given us excellent helpful advice for a number of years.’

‘Daniel Gerring is a DB pensions legal expert in the UK. I value his honesty, pragmatism, proactive advice. Daniel is always thoughtful, mindful of how he can offer advice in a cost effective way and how he can leverage his knowledge of the industry and the regulator to help us move forward.’

‘Andrew Lewis is a hugely impressive up and coming pensions partner. He has excellent technical knowledge combined with first class communication skills which make his advice robust and very clear. He is pragmatic, responsive and builda excellent relationships with the trustee board.’

‘I would specifically call out David James whose attention to detail, tenacity, good humour and ability to really zero in on the key issues with the innovation to solve tough problems makes him second to none. Having him onboard is a huge reassurance.’

‘Susie Daykin is a standout performer. Total dedication, creative, a good communicator and very easy to work with.’

‘Susie Daykin deserves particular mention – an exceptional problem solver.’

Key clients

AWE

Arcadia

ING UK

The Independent Television News (ITN) Limited Pension Scheme

Laura Ashley

Mirror

Rothesay Life

Sony

Unilever

Willis Towers Watson

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustee on the valuation of the £1bn+ MGN Pension Scheme including Pensions Regulator involvement.
  • Advised the trustee of the circa £800m Sony United Kingdom Pension Scheme on a full scheme buy-in with Rothesay Life.
  • Advised Stena Line which was acting as representative employer in a Part 8 Claim in the High Court concerning the Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund (MNRPF).

Arc Pensions Law

The team at specialist pensions firm Arc Pensions Law is based across two offices in London and Leeds, and is well-regarded for 'converting technically complex legal points into much more palatable and user-friendly language.' The London team includes a number of heavyweight figures in the pensions world, including founding partner Anna Rogers, managing partner Rosalind Connor, the 'trusted and well-respected' Anna Copestake and 'outstanding professional' Jane Kola, who specialises in advising pension schemes on the legal aspects of their investments. The firm prides itself on acting for a balanced mix of trustees and employeers, as well as handling the pensions aspects of big ticket corporate deals, such as the £7bn take-private of Morrisons by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Practice head(s):

Anna Rogers

Other key lawyers:

Anna Copestake; Jane Kola; Rosalind Connor; Kris Weber

Testimonials

‘Impressive expertise in pensions law, and very skilled at converting technically complex legal points into much more palatable and user-friendly language.’

‘Anna Copestake is a trusted and well-respected partner to the pension scheme. She not only has extensive pensions expertise, but is active externally with other players in the industry. She is adept at spotting things that makes the client’s life easier and has an interest in the client being satisfied. She is very personable and attentive, and is a willing contributor, raising issues when needed.’

‘Jane Kola is an outstanding professional. She is down-to-earth and non-judgemental. She will deliver advice in a comprehensive way and ensures understanding of the key points and risks. She will present an opinion on all matters, providing the pros and cons either way, but differs from competitors we have dealt with in the past as she does not just sit on the fence and will express her own view with clear rationale.’

‘Arc are a growing force in the pensions market for legal advice. A dynamic team, practical advice and transparent fee structure. Prompt advice to pension scheme trustees with a sensible, risk-based approach.’

‘Ever since Arc Law was set up, I knew the experienced lawyers who moved from other leading law firms to start this practice. It has gone from strength to strength and the depth of team now means I can be assured of immediate and heavyweight legal support.’

‘Anna Copestake – excellent all round. Technical expertise, superb client skills and responsive. Hard to beat!’

‘The partners are all so personable and focussed on what is important for me. Billing is seamless – I feel kept in the loop and can have open and transparent conversations around fees.’

‘Anna Copestake is fantastic. Very impressed’

Key clients

Littlewoods Pensions Scheme

National Express Plc

Cobham Limited

Clayton Dubilier & Rice

Burtons Foods Limited

British Dental Association

CSL Behring Group

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustee of Littlewoods Pension Scheme on a market leading benefit restructuring to accelerate securing benefits for all members
  • Advised private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice on the pensions aspects of £7 billion ‘take private’ of WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC
  • Advised the British Dental Association on security package negotiations with the trustees of the pension scheme

Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie's London pensions practice, which has 'significant bench strength at partner and senior associate level', is now headed up by Arron Slocombe, who has taken over leadership of the team from Jeanette Holland . Clients include a range of trustees, corporate and providers; the team is able to draw on the wider firm's huge international platform to expertly handle significant multi-jurisdictional matters. Recent high-profile work has included advising GSK on pensions aspects of the demerger of its global consumer healthcare joint venture with Pfizer, a matter led by Jonathan Sharp. Other key names include Chantal Thompson and of counsel Tom McNaughton.

Practice head(s):

Arron Slocombe

Other key lawyers:

Jeanette Holland; Tom McNaughton; Hannah Moxon; Mark Solomon; Chantal Thompson; Jonathan Sharp

Testimonials

‘Jeanette Holland – superb knowledge, amazing at simplifying complex areas while still flagging risks appropriately. Also wonderful to work with.’

‘They provide high quality legal advice that is pragmatic and couched so as to be understandable to the lay person. Significant bench strength at partner and senior associate level.’

‘Arron Slocombe has developed into a leading practitioner who provides the reassurance required on all matters.’

‘Baker McKenzie seek to establish long-term relationships with the clients, and advise their clients based on an understanding of the scheme’s needs and long-term objectives. They quickly learn about new propositions and are extremely capable at managing large and complex projects. Their multi-disciplinary nature is a key strength, as well as being an international firm, ensuring they are able to advise on any issue in its entirety. Baker McKenzie have been early supporters of diversity and inclusion.’

‘Most of my work has been with Jeanette Holland, Tom McNaughton and Hannah Moxon, who have each provided a first class level of service. They ensure work is carried out at the right level, providing value for money whilst ensuring the development of junior members of the team. They have advised on new and innovative projects, quickly grasping the detail of a proposition, and advising in the context of the scheme’s overall objectives. They have been able to identify solutions to problems.’

‘Arron Slocombe cares about his clients and makes each one feel special.’

‘No matter how large or small the issue is, Arron Slocombe’s team give it the same careful consideration and response. They are always reliable and you never have to chase them. Arron will always allocate the task to the appropriate member of the team and they will respond quickly.’

‘We have worked with Arron Slocombe since he was an associate – he is a pleasure to deal with. He is very understanding and never confrontational. Mark Solomon has also worked on projects with us and he is also highly regarded.’

Key clients

Accenture

Arqiva Trustees

Atos

Avis Trustees

British Land

Cameron Trustees

Chr Hansen Holding A/S

Emerson

GSK

KKR & Co. Inc.

JPMorgan Pension Fund Trustees – of two pension funds

McDermott

Merchant Navy Officers Pension

PerkinElmer

Punter Southall Pension Solutions Limited and trustees of the Stoneport Pension Scheme

Standard Life DC Master Trust

Tyco Electronics UK Pension Plan

Workday

Work highlights

  • Advising GSK on the pensions and benefits aspects of the high profile demerger of its global consumer healthcare joint venture with Pfizer.
  • Advising Emerson in a joint venture with its software business with rival Aspen Technology (AspenTech) in an $11bn deal to bring together both companies’ expertise in industrial software applications.
  • Advised the corporate trustee on the transfer of the deferred member benefits from the Cameron DC Plan to the Scottish Widows Master Trust.

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP's non-contentious pensions team is spread across Bristol, London and Edinburgh. The practice works with both trustees and employer clients on a national and international level, with a particular niche in Northern Irish expertise, as well as Scots law knowledge, rounding out its UK-wide offering. It has a particular focus on public sector matters, personal pension schemes and regulatory matters, working with big-name clients in sectors including telecoms, financial services, retail and automotive. Key names include practice head Richard Knight; he leads the team from Bristol, working alongside a strong team of partners including the 'superb' Clive Pugh and the well-regarded Susannah Young.

Practice head(s):

Richard Knight

Other key lawyers:

Clive Pugh; Richard Pettit; Michael Hayles; Susannah Young; Alice Honeywill; Chris Brown; Crispin Freeman; Charlotte Osmond

Testimonials

‘Burges Salmon have a really strong pensions team, both in terms of skill and experience – I would highly recommend them. There is real breadth and depth within the team and I have been particularly impressed by Clive Pugh and Crispin Freeman.’

‘They have significant experience in dealing with pension schemes, and participate in UK pension wide forums and thus have a deep knowledge of current pension legislation and issues.’

‘Clive Pugh – superb, pragmatic, excellent speaker- makes pensions fun, cares about members.’

‘Alice Honeywill – first class relationship lead. Practical, pragmatic and very personable.’

‘Charlotte Osmond – good support, friendly and engaging.’

‘Alice Honeywill provides clear, practical and pragmatic advice. Her supporting team has been very helpful when we have had particular problems to solve with appropriate expertise and resources being appled quickly and effectively.’

‘Value for money, wide expertise.’

Key clients

AT & T Istel Pension Plan

RiverStone Management Pension & Life Assurance Plan

Clarks Shoes

Honda- Group UK Pension Scheme

Transport for Wales

United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Trustees of the Silentnight Pension Scheme

Bespak Plc Retirement Benefits Scheme

QinetiQ Pension Scheme

Western Power Distribution

Trustees of the Cardiff University Pension Fund

Trustees of the C F Fertilisers Pension Schemes

London Luton Airport Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advising the Trustees of the Silentnight Pension Scheme on a regulatory case that is widely regarded as the case that led to the introduction of the Pensions Regulator’s stronger powers under the Pension Schemes Act 2021.
  • Advising Clarks on negotiations with the trustees of Clarks’ defined benefit pension scheme, UK/US lenders, overseas private equity sponsors and the Pensions Regulator on the restructuring and refinancing of the Clarks group.
  • Advising the trustees of the three UK pension schemes sponsored by CF Fertilisers Limited, a key UK fertiliser manufacturer which also provides 100% of the UK’s food grade carbon dioxide.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper‘s practice combines experts in pensions, tax, structured finance, litigation, restructuring and funds, with the ability to draw on colleagues across the firm’s international office network, to advise on the spectrum of pensions issues; with a dedicated de-risking practice that is under the leadership of Amrit Mclean, in whom clients have ‘great confidence‘. The broader group led by Matthew Swynnerton, who has exceptional knowledge in auto-enrolment issues, and supported the UK government’s pensions minister on drafting the conditions for transfers regulations in November 2021. Tamara Calvert has a strong client list of energy sector employers, and is an expert in the pensions aspects of outsourcing contracts. Joel Eytle specialises in pensions regulation.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Swynnerton; Amrit Mclean

Other key lawyers:

Tamara Calvert; Joel Eytle

Testimonials

‘Very knowledgeable and in-depth understanding of the detail. Easy to work with, personable and approachable. Always willing to help and answer queries.’

‘Amrit Mclean is very easy to deal with, knowledgeable about the specifics of the market and detail of each transaction we work on. We have great confidence in her and her team.’

‘Great team with an excellent commercial focus which is different to other firms’

‘Amrit Maclean’s inhouse experience in the pension de-risking sector means you get the right commercial advice and recommendations which is very useful on particular transactions involving extensive due diligence on pension schemes.’

‘Matthew Swynnerton has been a very strong support as we built and launched the UK’s first gig economy worker pension scheme. He has been responsive, collaborative and innovative in this very complex area.’

‘Tamara Calvert is an exceptional person within the sector as her knowledge and ability to disseminate ESPS Rules and associated information in an easy way is hard to match.’

Key clients

Hitachi Rail Europe Limited

Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited

Novartis UK Pension Scheme

Aviva

National Grid (ESPS)

E.ON UK (ESPS)

Grainger Inc /Cromwell Group (Holdings) Limited

Du Pont (U.K.) Limited Pensions Fund

Renault UK

Heineken

Gowling WLG

At Gowling WLG, lawyers advise schemes, trustees and employers on a wide variety of pensions issues. On the scheme advisory front, the group is experienced in advising on ESG issues, GMP equalisations and the spectrum of transactions. For employers, the group handles liability management mandates, as well as contribution notice requirements. It also has several public sector pensions mandates, and area where Paul Carberry  is noted. Pensions risk transfers are led on by Paul Feathers  with the support of legal director Sara Chambers. Jason Coates  heads the overall pensions group and has developed a specialism in pensions-related ESG. Also recommended is legal director Maddy Frost, who is adept at advising trustee-side clients.

Practice head(s):

Jason Coates

Other key lawyers:

Paul Feathers; Maddy Frost; Liz Wood; Sara Chambers; Paul Carberry

Testimonials

‘The team has a broad range of relevant skills, for example they were pro-active in introducing the trustees to specialists in covenant assessment and then helped us integrate that dimension into a legal framework.’

‘We’re lucky, we have great people working on our account who have been with us for many years. So in addition to sky high levels of technical/legal skill we also benefit from their deep understanding of our circumstances and our industry. In addition I’d also emphasise that Gowling seem to have a very special knack for rendering complex legal issues accessible to lay trustees!’

‘A great understanding of our requirements and an ability to tailor the advice to our needs.’

‘Personable but professional getting things done and being patient with the sponsoring employers unique processes.’

‘We enjoy working with Gowling’s hands on team and consider them a trusted partner for the trustees of the pension scheme.’

‘They are proactive and provide straightforward advice in an informal manner. Timely service and I trust them to prioritise our interests. They offer some innovative billing and charging structures. Fees are competitive with London based firms.’

‘We have an excellent team at Gowling, that deliver sound, pragmatic advice on time.’

Key clients

Rothesay Life

The Trustee of the ICL Group Pension Plan, a Fujitsu pension scheme

Legal & General

Rhone Capital

Thales (UK) Pension Scheme

Fujitsu UK Services pension schemes

Trafalgar House Pension Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Rothesay on the £236 million full scheme buy-in for the Signet Group Pension Scheme (Scheme), which operates Ernest Jones and H. Samuel jewellery business.
  • Advised the Trustee of the ICL Group Pension Plan, a Fujitsu pension scheme when it insured longevity risk relating to £3.7 billion of scheme liabilities, with Swiss Re providing the reinsurance coverage.
  • Advised the Trustee of the Fund on an Assured Payment Policy (APP) with Legal and General Society (LGAS). This transaction is valued at £925m and is the largest APP to date.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is known for its strength in de-risking mandates, handling numerous bulk annuity and reinsurance transactions for a variety of employers. including its recent advice to PIC on the £2.2bn buy-out of the Metal Box pension scheme. The team also has an active regulatory practice, bringing together disputes, public law and regulatory lawyers. Alison Brown  heads the global employment, pensions and incentives practice, while Samantha Brown, who co-leads the industry-wide Women in Pensions Network, heads the UK pensions practice, specialising in de-risking. Rachel Pinto is another lawyer of note, with experience in de-risking and the pensions aspects of corporate transactions; while Michael Aherne, promoted to partner in 2021, is a specialist in energy sector pensions, as well as taking the lead on pensions investment fund work.

Practice head(s):

Samantha Brown

Other key lawyers:

Alison Brown; Rachel Pinto; Michael Aherne; Ian Gault; Mark Howard

Testimonials

‘In my experience they are very competent, commercial and do not waste time. The team works well together and our work is done at the right level’

‘Rachel Pinto is always available and when she isn’t dealing with a particular issue, knows, immediately, what is happening.’

‘Very responsive, very good technical knowledge that they can advise in a digestible and commercial manner’

‘Michael Aherne is a very strong technical lawyer who is very responsive and provides high quality, balanced, commercial advice.’

‘Able to quickly pick up technically complex issues and quickly identify solution or potential approaches. Focus on the matter at hand and avoid adding extra complexity.’

‘Samantha Brown – Wide range of industry expertise, including advising Trustee, Corporate and Insurance Company clients which she brings to bear. Helps us get set out clear negotiation position and get to constructive solutions.’

‘Michael Aherne is always responsive and gives advice that is well thought through.’

Key clients

Pension Insurance Corporation

JP Morgan

KKR

Signet Group

Stagecoach

TUI

Trustees of the Provident Financial Pension Scheme

BlackRock

Engie

G4S

Chevron

Marsh & McLennan Companies

The Board of the Pensions Protection Fund (the PPF)

Work highlights

  • Advised Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) on multiple transactions worth c£3 billion in the past 12 months.  This includes advising PIC on the £2.2bn buy out of the Metal Box Pension Scheme and the £400m transaction with the Trustees of the BAT Pension Fund
  • Advised Trustees of the Provident Financial Pension Scheme on the implications for the Scheme of the high-profile Scheme of Arrangement put forward by Provident Financial in respect of its Consumer Credit Division.

Mayer Brown International LLP

The team at Mayer Brown International LLP is praised by clients as 'very focused on practical solutions', with a strength in advising trustee and employer clients on high-profile pensions mandates, including GMP equalisation and conversion projects. The group is also well-versed in restructuring and insolvency matters, in coordination with other departments within the firm, and in cross-border pensions matters alongside colleagues across the firm's global office network. The group is co-led by Jay Doraisamy, who has broad experience across benefit redesign, funding arrangements and banking reform ring-fencing requirements; and Ian Wright  whose handles investments, funding and employer covenant issues. Giles Bywater assists with the pensions aspects of corporate transactions, in addition to advising trustees on the purchase of bulk annuity policies. Senior associate Liam Kellett is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jay Doraisamy; Ian Wright

Other key lawyers:

Giles Bywater; Liam Kellett; George Carr

Testimonials

‘Jay Doraisamy is appropriately proactive. It would be easy for a lawyer just to cover everything in excruciating detail but Jay is proportionate and practical while complete.’

‘My key contact in Duncan Watson, who provides very clear communications on what’s required, issues, solutions to enable us to manage a varying workload. He is always available to discuss any concerns and effectively manages difficult issues.’

‘Excellent team – pro-active, pragmatic and personable. The team is very good at presenting the quarterly training sessions for the Trustee Board.’

‘I have a lot of contact with Jay Doraisamy who provides thoughtful and pragmatic pensions advice. Jay is excellent and enjoys the confidence of the Trustee Board.’

‘Bills are transparent showing a full breakdown of costs, what cost has been incurred by Mayer Brown and what has been passed onto the client. Discounts are applied where work has been unnecessarily delayed.’

‘They have an excellent breadth of team and all are very knowledgeable, personable and approachable.’

‘Duncan Watson understands our business, how we operate internally, our risk appetite and the need for pragmatic solutions.’

‘Our lead partner is Jay Doraisamy. She is responsive, pragmatic, proactive and very personable to deal with. Her advice to the trustee is always well delivered and received, thorough in its preparation, and clearly articulated both verbally and in writing.’

Key clients

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

Mothercare Pension Schemes

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

JMEPS Trustees Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Metal Box on GMP equalisation and conversion, a highly complex exercise, one of the first schemes doing this for both pensioners and deferred members.
  • Advised the trustees of the Prudential Staff Pension Scheme on a complex longevity swap transaction covering £3.7 billion of pension liabilities relating to over 20,000 pensioners.
  • Assisted Electricity Supply Pension Scheme with negotiating and advising the trustee on approximately 50 investment transactions.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright's lawyers receive plaudits from clients for their 'breadth and depth of experience, ability to draw on different competencies across the team, pragmatic approach, connections in the market'. The group is able to assist employers, trustees, insurers, lenders and providers with the spectrum of pensions issues, with an active pensions-related transactions practice, an employer advisory workstream that involves funding negotiations, trustee engagement and information sharing, as well as liability management and de-risking. On the trustee side, the team advises on all legal aspects of the administration and management of schemes, with particular expertise in regulatory issues. Lesley Browning  heads the department, with a varied practice that includes day-to-day regulatory and governance issues, corporate transactions and matters relating to scheme mergers and custody agreements. Shane O’Reilly  is also well-regarded for regulatory and transactional issues, and has recent experience in GMP equalisations. In July 2021, the group was joined from the pensions regulator by counsel Graeme Tricker.

Practice head(s):

Lesley Browning

Other key lawyers:

Shane O’Reilly; Graeme Tricker

Testimonials

‘In all cases NRF have managed to very effectively find a solution, through a balanced combination of high quality technical legal advice coupled with – where and when required – pragmatic and approach. NRF are undoubtedly a very much trusted and reliable partner to us, working seamlessly alongside the Trustees as well as our other advisors.’

‘We have always been extremely satisfied with our NRF advisors, both the current team as well as their predecessors. Our current team, Shane O´Reilly and Graeme Tricker are both, in my opinion, first in class – both in terms of the quality of their technical legal advice as well as their client and project management experience and expertise. As I noted above, we have encountered some non-trivial obstacles with the wind-up of the plan, which Shane and Graeme have really taken on board and managed to navigate for the Trustees, very often having to distil what was extremely complex legal challenge into a manageable practical solution.’

‘Vast amount of experience in pensions legal matters.’

‘The team is very commercial and have helped us get through a number of difficult transactions. On most occasions, the other side have complained about their own lawyers and praised Norton Rose Fulbright showing how good a job Norton Rose Fulbright do particularly when faced with having to deal with poor performances from other lawyers.’

‘Lesley Browning is a safe pair of hands. We trust her absolutely and she always delivers. A pleasure to work with.’

‘Breadth and depth of experience, ability to draw on different competencies across the team, pragmatic approach, connections in the market’

‘Approaches difficult issues with good humour and pragmatism, open to ideas and willing to collaborate to come up with solutions, flexible ways of working, very accessible and responsive.’

‘The team understands the company well and the quality of its advice demonstrates that. The produce high quality summaries that are understandable to all. These are supported by detailed reasoning for those who need the full background. The people with whom we work closely have collaborate well in meetings and are mindful of the company’s objectives – they tailor their advice accordingly.’

Key clients

Abellio Transport Holdings B.V.

Abellio Transport Holdings Ltd

Accolade Wines Ltd

AES Corporation

AmTrust International Limited

A. Schulman Limited

AXA UK plc

Bain Capital

Bank of Ireland

Barclays Bank plc

Bombardier Inc.

The Boston Consulting Group Limited

BMO Asset Management (Holdings) Plc

Canada Life Limited

Carnival plc

Carlsberg UK Limited

Carrier Pension Trustee Limited

Charles Taylor Limited

Chubb Services UK Limited

Civil Aviation Authority

Colgate-Palmolive (UK) Limited

Cooper Tyre & Rubber Co. Europe Limited

Crest Nicholson plc

Dalriada Trustees Limited

DHL International (Ireland) Ltd

Energizer Brands LLC

FCA

FTI Consulting LLP

GFG Alliance

Hayward Tyler Pension Plan Trustees

HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Ltd

HSBC Master Trust Trustee Limited

HSBC Retirement Services Limited

Hydro Aluminium Deeside Ltd

Hydro Aluminium UK Limited

Hydro Building Systems UK Ltd

Hyperion Insurance Group Limited

IMI plc

ING Bank NV

Invensys Pension 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 plc

Munich Re

Nordea Bank

Norsk Hydro ASA

Northern Marine Management Ltd

Olympus Management Limited

Oxford Instruments Plc

P&O Ferries Limited

Post Office Limited

QBE

RGA UK Services

RWE A G

Renishaw plc

Rothesay Life

Royal Bank of Canada

Russell Investments Limited

Sandvik AB

SNC Lavalin

Stena AB (publ)

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 and Death Benefits Plan

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 (1973)

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

Trustees of the Marylebone Cricket Club 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 Thomson Pension Fund

Trustees of the West of England Ship Owners Insurance Services Ltd Retirement Benefits Scheme

USAA Limited

V. Ships UK Ltd

Vitality Life Limited

Vroon Offshore UK Limited

Wincanton Pension Scheme Trustees

Work highlights

  • Advised Olympus Property Holding Limited on an insurer buy-out of the Earls Court & Olympia Pension Scheme, including advice from our German colleagues on German regulatory restrictions relevant to the client’s (non-UK) investor group.
  • Advised Lyondell Chemical Europe Inc. on a project to harmonise money purchase benefits, including advice on potential section 75 debt issues, age discrimination, trustee negotiations and consultation requirements.
  • Advised Renishaw plc on a complex benefits rectification exercise, involving sex equalisation and potential over- and under-payments.

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs is noted for predominantly advising trustees on the gamut of their pensions law requirements, with specialisms in regulatory compliance, investments, data protection and de-risking. The group has a particular strength in pensions schemes for utilities companies, and is also well-versed in public sector and not-for-profit organisation schemes. Wendy Hunter is an expert in public to private sector transfers, investments and the pensions aspects of corporate transactions. She jointly heads the department with Clifford Sims , who specialises in pensions-related investment and financial services issues. The duo are ably supported by 2022 minted partner Chris Harper, who is building a strong pensions practice, with a focus on pensions investments in relation to the not-for-profit sector; and senior associate Simon James.

Practice head(s):

Clifford Sims; Wendy Hunter

Other key lawyers:

Kirsty Bartlett; Chris Harper; Simon James

Testimonials

‘Personalised service with named contacts. Team is well managed and focused on us as a client. Very easy to bring in additional or specialist resource where needed.’

‘Thoroughly professional in their dealings with a large group of stakeholders who have different agendas. Always courteous and delivering a pragmatic approach to solving problems in order to obtain the best outcome.’

‘Very personable and professional team. Keen to assist in an accurate but pragmatic manner. Very sympathetic to trustee concerns, but clear and tough when needed.’

‘Kirsty Bartlett is excellent. She explains tricky issues very clearly and ensures that there is full understanding. If repeating for clarification is needed, she is always happy to. She endeavours to be pragmatic at all times but won’t cut corners either. A very safe pair of hands. Chris Harper is similarly a safe pair of hands and, whilst not as polished as Kirsty, has an equally professional in all the work he does.’

‘Wendy Hunter is exceptional, a true partner. I know I can always get a well rounded response to issues, works well with our other advisers and excellent communication with a diverse group of trustees. A true partner.’

Key clients

Essex County Council/ ACCESS Pool

West Midlands Pension Fund

Agfa Group UK Pension Plan

Merchant Investors Staff Pension Plan

West Northamptonshire Council

Cobham Pension Plan

Lincoln’s Inn Staff Pension Scheme

Anglian Water Group Pension Trustee Limited

Combined Nuclear Pension Plan

Manpower Pension Plan

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood's 'innovative and forward thinking’ pensions law group, which includes pensions advisory and litigation lawyers, is able to handle the spectrum of pensions issues for employers, funds and trustees, with a particular specialism in banking sector pensions. It is also known for its GMP conversion work. Philip Goodchild  heads the non-contentious pensions team, and has recent experience in scheme sectionalisations, and pensions increase exchange matters. Stephen Richards  is an expert in banking sector pensions schemes, and is known for assisting with transfers to defined contribution master trusts. Graham Wrightson  ('straightforward, organised, clear and tough when he needs to be') is another lawyer with an all-round pensions practice, and is particularly experienced in buy-ins and buy-outs. Senior associate Naeem Noor  is praised by clients for offering 'sensible and practical advice’

Practice head(s):

Philip Goodchild

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Richards; Graham Wrightson; Naeem Noor

Testimonials

‘We have a longstanding relationship in a range of business environments. They know me well and know I approach my work and adjust their style accordingly. Graham Wrightson is excellent. Knowledgeable, flexible and focused on helping us achieve our objectives.’

‘Naeem Noor gives sensible and practical advice’

‘I have worked with Stephen Richards for a few years and I find him extremely patient with our lay organisation. I have had to contact Stephen on occasions outside of normal working hours and at the weekend and he has always responded to my request for advice. His team is very responsive and follow Stephens work ethic.’

‘Very cerebral, analytical, and well organised.’

‘Graham Wrightson – straightforward, organised, clear and tough when he needs to be. very calm under fire in pressure cooker situations. Steve Richards – he is a real rainmaker and has attracted a lot of big name clients.’

‘The advice provided by Stephen Richards and his team is always clear and concise and provided in an easy to follow format. You don’t have to chase the team or follow them up on any work as they turn the work around very quickly and concisely.’

‘Philip Goodchild and Dan Bowman are highly valued by the Trustees for their clear and conscientious advise They collaborated with the employers advisers and were able to obtain cut through on these complex projects’

‘The dynamics of the team work very well with our trustee board. Graham Wrightson and Daniel Bowman have made themselves available whenever requested and sometimes at very short notice. The ability to relay advice that is sometimes very complex in a way that all of our trustees understand is a skill on its own and not all of our advisors previously have managed to do this.’

Key clients

Trustee client of pension Plan sponsored by two Hollywood film studios

Trustee of an authorised Master Trust

Trustee company client

Textron Group pension funds

Wightlink Pension Scheme

Trustee client of a hybrid pension scheme

Belmond Hotels employer group

NNB Generation Company (SZC) Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised trustee client of pension Plan sponsored by two Hollywood film studios on a proposed split of the plan into two separate sections.
  • Advised trustee of an authorised master trust on the proposed purchase of the master trust employer
  • Advised trustees of the Wightlink Pension Scheme on closing the plan to future benefit accrual for members.

Addleshaw Goddard

Clients see the pensions lawyers at Addleshaw Goddard as 'excellent, considered and thoughtful', advising employers, trustees, representative beneficiaries and pensions professionals on the spectrum of pensions issues, including public sector scheme issues and scheme investments. Rachel Rawnsley heads the national pensions practice, while the London team is headed by Catherine McAllister . Judith Donnelly is the name to note for public sector pensions.

Practice head(s):

Catherine McAllister; Rachel Rawnsley

Other key lawyers:

Judith Donnelly; Jade Murray

Testimonials

‘Catherine McAllister provides high quality pragmatic advice and has particular expertise in distilling complex topics in an understandable way to her clients.’

‘Knowledge in depth’

‘Our lead lawyer is excellent, considered and thoughtful.’

Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance LLP's group is well-placed to assist with the pensions aspects of corporate transactions, working closely with other departments within the firm. The team also advises a wide variety of standalone pensions clients on the spectrum of regulatory issues. Taking the lead is Hywel Robinson, who is a seasoned pensions generalist, with expertise in cross-border membership issues, asset pooling, as well as assisting investment providers with products and funds. Clare Hoxey has a specialism in advising insurance clients on de-risking products, while Sarah McAleer is noted for M&A and transactional-related pensions issues.

Practice head(s):

Hywel Robinson

Other key lawyers:

Clare Hoxey; Sarah McAleer

Testimonials

‘The team are extremely experienced and deliver on each project. They are without equal in delivery and also providing a very commercial approach’

‘Hywel Robinson is the partner and has a vast range of experience but also incorporates this with a sense of commerciality that is rare for a lawyer, particularly in the pensions world!’

‘Very good team which superb strength in depth.’

‘Hywel Robinson leads the team and is really good. Hands on, responsive and very easy to deal with . He makes the apparently complex very understandable.’

Key clients

Legal & General

Trustee of the Dairy Crest Group Pension Fund

Advice to a listed engineering support services group which sponsors several material DB schemes

Trustee of a significant pensions scheme within the retail sector

Citibank NA

Telefonica Tech

Saint-Gobain

Mitchells and Butlers plc

Work highlights

  • Advising Telefonica Tech on the pensions aspects of its £340 million acquisition of Cancom Ltd, a leading cloud and digital services provider in UK and Ireland.
  • Advising on a range of matters for Saint-Gobain, including the splitting of its main UK pension scheme into new pension arrangements covering different parts of the group.

Dentons

The team at Dentons houses pensions veterans with experience in advising on all issues pertaining to defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, in addition to life assurance agreements and healthcare trusts. The group has expertise in transactional work related to pensions and regularly supports the corporate team on multi-jurisdictional deals. Taking the lead is Eleanor Hart, commended for having 'a wealth of experience and is accomplished in a range of complex restructuring, financing and related issues of crucial importance to pension schemes'. A former practice head who became a consultant in 2020, Elmer Doonan  is a well-respected expert in insolvency-related pensions matters, and continues to advise trustees and employers on pension restructurings, acquisitions and disposals.

Practice head(s):

Eleanor Hart

Other key lawyers:

Elmer Doonan

Testimonials

‘Very responsive and approachable. Advice always provided to time and provides both legal and practical advice of great benefit to clients. Clear commitment to diversity and inclusion, sharing workshops and talks with clients which is much appreciated.’

‘Consistent provision of clear legal advice, including advice on operational/practical issue. As an in-house lawyer, relatively new to the area, this has been of huge benefit to the business team.’

‘The Dentons pensions team is relatively small but punches above its weight. The pensions non-contentious team is led by Eleanor Hart who has a wealth of experience in restructuring and similar issues. The members of the disputes team all have considerable technical expertise and are involved in a mix of high profile matters and (unusually) also ones of national importance which are anonymised in the interests of national security and other concern.’

‘Eleanor Hart has a wealth of experience and is accomplished in a range of complex restructuring, financing and related issues of crucial importance to pension schemes. Elmer Doonan is refreshingly upbeat, candid and fun to work with and brings an unusual tax and other technical expertise with the instincts of a litigator and deals with matters which are ordinarily matters for the non-litigious team such as applications for clearance to HMRC.’

‘Eleanor Hart, as successor to Elmer Doonan, is technically very sound and a very pleasant person.’

Key clients

Edrington Group

Total

Capita

CBRE

Trustees of the Delta Air Lines UK Staff Pension Scheme

Howden

Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill

Ministry of Defence

Virgin Atlantic Airways

Sita Information Networking Computing UK Limited

Government Legal Department

The Cabinet Office

Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy

Diamond Power Speciality Limited

Pelion S.A.

KKR

J Sainsbury plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Capita on the strategic sale of its master trust business, including navigating the implications of the new master trust regulatory regime.
  • Advising CBRE on the cross-border pensions aspects of its acquisition of a 60% majority interest and strategic partnership with Turner & Townsend Partners Limited.
  • Advising Howden on the cross-border pensions aspects of its purchase of CPI Group.

Macfarlanes LLP

Macfarlanes LLP's team is noted by clients for being 'technically very strong, also commercial and pragmatic'. The group advises employers, corporate groups and trustees in relation to the management of their pensions liability, as well as defined benefit scheme consolidations. The group is well-versed in pensions regulation, funding negotiations, section 75 debt management and intra-group reorganisations, as well as technical benefit issues, scheme closures and benefit changes. The department is jointly led by Camilla Barry , an expert in the powers of the pensions regulator; and Andrew Barton, who specialises in insurance issues related to scheme de-risking projects. Madison Isted is an expert in advising insurers on pensions de-risking, while Stacey Yon is another key lawyer with knowledge across the pensions space.

Practice head(s):

Camilla Barry; Andrew Barton

Other key lawyers:

Madison Isted; Stacey Yon

Testimonials

‘The firm is looking for solutions within the ambit of the law. Easy to deal with and very responsive.’

‘Camilla Barry has been super to work with explaining complex legal concepts in a non-legal language thus making it easier to understand and interpret. She is always available in emergencies even when on holiday’

‘Andrew Barton and Madison Isted are standout players in the insurance and reinsurance market. Their industry expertise and dedication on matters are unparalleled. They both collaborate really well with us, our business teams and with law firms on the other side of our transactions. Their work is always seamless and it is a pleasure having them on our deals.’

‘Both Andrew and Madison are extremely diligent, responsive and hardworking and have taken the time to understand our business back to front. They always add significant value with their expertise of the industry and transactions which they are involved are seamless. I cannot fault any aspect of their model.’

‘Pro-active, excellent service and advice. The team has strength in depth at different levels, with a diverse range of lawyers. Responsive and alert to assist and advise.’

‘Camilla Barry is an outstanding pension lawyer, with a great depth of experience and expertise. Proactive and pleasant, forthright and commercially aware.’

‘Very experienced and responsive and cut through the detail very quickly and effectively to focus and obtain instructions on key areas. They provide a great service and are able to meet challenging transaction deadlines.’

‘Andrew Barton is very experienced and is fully involved and leads the work extremely well and can be relied on to give straight answers and find solutions. Alex Cibulskis is very efficient and handles complex issues and agreements very well which is impressive given his PQE and certainly operates above other associates of a similar level.’

‘Technically very strong, also commercial and pragmatic. Responsive and able to prioritize effectively.’

‘Camilla Barry is particularly good on complex matters but also pragmatic (a problem solver). Camilla has been a trusted adviser over many years.’

Key clients

Legal and General Assurance Society Limited

IAC/InterActive

The Trustees of the United Airlines Pension Scheme

Binderholz UK Holding Limited

The Pension SuperFund

Siris Capital LLC

Apollo Management International LLP

GBT Travel Services UK Limited

Pernod Ricard S.A.

Barloworld UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Legal & General on a c.£650m defined benefit pension risk transfer (buy-in) transaction with the trustees of the Mitchells & Butlers Executive Pension Plan.
  • Advised Legal & General in connection with its £760m defined benefit pension risk transfer transaction with the trustees of the Sanofi.
  • Advised Legal & General in connection with its £250m defined benefit pension buy-in transaction with the trustee of the Selecta UK Pension Plan.

Osborne Clarke LLP

In 2022, Osborne Clarke LLP's pensions department received a major boost, with the arrival of the Reading-based pensions team from BDB Pitmans, including former practice heads Chris Netiatis and David Hosford. The group provides a full service to employer and trustee clients, with substantial expertise in corporate restructuring ad insolvency issues, risk settlement and liability management work for defined benefit schemes, as well as a strong offering for public sector pension scheme work. Jonathan Hazlett heads the team from the firm's offices in Bristol, and is an expert in corporate restructuring and M&A-related pensions work. Other key lawyers in Bristol include Paul Matthews, who has experience in advising on defined benefit scheme closures, as well as master trusts. Brent Wright  is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Hazlett

Other key lawyers:

Paul Matthews; Brent Wright; Claire Rankin; Chris Netiatis; David Hosford

Testimonials

‘Each member of this practice that I have worked with has been personable, taken care to explain themselves clearly and check my understanding, and worked with me to achieve my deadlines and targets. They all peak plain English yet are not condescending. They are contemporary and credible, transparent and diligent’

‘Brent Wright is knowledgeable with a commercial viewpoint, has the highest standards of integrity, is personable and pragmatic. He possesses good influencing skills, pushing back as appropriate, yet open to challenge. He is thorough and reliable.’

‘They are expert, collaborative people who are carry out their work in a supportive and professional manner.’

‘Jonathan Hazlett and the team are exceptional – they hold much of our corporate memory on pensions issues but are entirely gracious about sharing that; it’s particularly important given our scheme is entirely unique. They are willing any able to put in intense amounts of resource at short notice and work extremely well with our actuaries. They are pleasant to get along with and that’s extremely important to us in terms of not being adversarial with our counterparties. They are inventive and have found creative solutions to some very peculiar circumstances which have presented themselves (the pandemic being the least of them).’

‘Jonathan Hazlett is great and we have known him for years.’

Key clients

Pension Protection Fund

Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund

Keyser Ullman Group Pension Fund (part of HSBC)

Senior plc Pension Plan

Transport for London

Pennon Group Pension Scheme

LGPS Pension Funds

National Education Union

ITW Pension Fund

Lincoln Staff Benefits Plan

Work highlights

  • Reappointed to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) legal panel.
  • Advising the trustees of the Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund on the legal aspects of the tendering, market evaluation, contract and benefit specification related to the buy-in of approximately 60% of the pensioner liabilities – representing some £1.8 billion.
  • Advising the trustee of the Pennon Group Pension Scheme on a closure to DB accrual, assisted with the transition to a new administration provider (in-house admin to XPS), advised on how to respond to the Pensions Regulator in the context of a corporate transaction, and advised on various discretionary cases under the Trust Deed and Rules.

PwC LLP

PwC LLP's pensions offering focuses on advising large corporates and pension schemes in the UK, as well as trustees, on novel issues relating to pensions liabilities and concerning corporate transactions and structuring work. It is increasingly active in the ESG space, assisting companies and trustees with the transition to more sustainable models. The legal function works closely with the firm's wider consultancy wings, including tax and accounting, enabling it to provide a well-rounded pensions service. The department is headed by Oliver Reece , who has a strong track-record in pensions-related regulatory matters (particularly in relation to moral hazard), as well as in M&A and corporate restructurings. Fraser Sparks  is an expert in benefit correction issues, liability management, bulk annuity transactions and establishing, closing and winding-up schemes. Elizabeth Ramsaran takes the lead on the ESG piece.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Reece

Other key lawyers:

Fraser Sparks; David Farmer; Elizabeth Ramsaran; Carol Dick; Lindsay O’Farrell

Testimonials

‘They bridge the gap between PwC consulting services and specialist legal advice; very commercially astute in their approach.’

‘Oliver Rees is a very sure hand on the tiller and extremely fertile mind. David Farmer is first class.’

‘Pragmatic, very quick to provide advice.’

‘Fraser Sparks is very pragmatic, reliable, clear advice, experienced. Carol Dick is knowledgeable, good with clients.’

‘Works as part of a multidisciplinary team with actuaries, investment , tax, accounting and covenant experts. This enables them to bring a team together that covers all the pensions input a client may need for a project, it enables them to bring a wide range of corporate , transactional, refinancing and restructuring experience to help solve problems.’

‘ I have worked with Oliver Reece, David Farmer, Fraser Sparks and Carol Dick. They are each experienced pensions lawyers but also , through working in the PwC multidiscipline environment, have both commercial and wider business experiences. Hence as well as legal opinion they bring commercial advice to problems.’

Key clients

adidas AG

Appreciate Group PLC

Aptiv PLC

Aspinall Capital Holdings

Balfour Beatty Plc

Barclays UKRF Trustee

British Broadcasting Corporation

Central Bureau For Educational Visits

Corbion N.V.

Davidson Kempner

Federated Pension Scheme for Imperial College London

Federated Pension Scheme for University College Hospital London

Fujitsu General (Euro) GmbH

Inchcape PLC

Iggesund Paperboard (Workington) Limited

IMI Plc

Kloeckner Metals

National Timber Group Midco Limited

The Pension Superfund

Pentland Group Limited

Phoenix Group

Portunes Group Limited

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Smiths News plc

Sumitomo

The Trustees of the KPSS (UK) Ltd

United Utilities

Volvo

Wellcome Trust

Work highlights

  • After advising on Fujitsu General’s UK company on a cross-border merger, advised the client on the process of securing its UK pension scheme’s liabilities with an insurance company and then terminating the pension scheme.
  • Advising Tensar Corporation, a global leader in specialist construction engineering, on the pensions implications relating to its sale to US-based Commercial Metals Company.
  • Advising adidas AG on the pensions aspects of its 2.5bn euro sale of Reebok to Authentic Brands.

Reed Smith LLP

Reed Smith LLP's 'small but highly skilled pensions legal team' is most known for its trustee-side work, specialising in negotiations involving sophisticated funding structures, mergers and de-mergers, restructurings, as well as regulatory issues and litigation risk management. The core group consists of Justine Senior, who has vast experience in day-to-day scheme management issues, as well as restructuring work; William Sutton, whose practice spans scheme mergers and closures, funding and investments, buy-ins and buy-outs, as well as age discrimination and auto-enrolment issues. Simon Hartley is another key individual who advises on scheme documentation, mergers, funding and covenant negotiations and investment issues.

Practice head(s):

Simon Hartley; Justine Senior; Will Sutton

Testimonials

‘This is a small but highly skilled pensions legal team who provide excellent service to my schemes at a fair cost’

‘Key pensions partners I work with are Justine Senior and Will Sutton. Both are easy to access and very responsive. Behind them is strong support in specialist areas if needed’

‘They give us what we need from our legal adviser – clear, concise, easy to understand advice and guidance that allows the pension scheme Trustee to make good timely decisions. All of which is provided at fees which we deem to be good value for money’

‘Justine Senior and Will Sutton – without fail they have provided valuable and timely support, regardless of the issue’

‘We rate Will Sutton and Justine Senior very highly. They understand the scheme, work very well with the Trustee Directors and are commercial and pragmatic when necessary.’

‘Knowledgeable and cut through the detail to offer sensible and considered solutions and advice.’

‘Justine and Will are long term advisers on one of my schemes and for several years on the second. They have provided consistent and reliable advice which is why we selected them for the second scheme. They passionately care about getting the best outcomes for the Trustees and members.’

They stand out because they go the extra mile. They have stewarded us through some very difficult times to the current strong positions. Justine in particular takes on the task of coordinating with other advisers on complex projects we have undertaken. Will has developed an expertise in liability transfer which has become essential to us.’

Simmons & Simmons

Simmons & Simmons' lawyers are commended by clients for 'an excellent knowledge of the pension world, and applying it to advising clients with their unique requirements and circumstances'. The group has a number of longstanding trustee and employer clients, which it advises on issues including funding, de-risking, pensions issues arising from M&A, as well as providing support in investigations and regulatory compliance. The group has particular expertise in the financial services sector. Taking the lead is Danny Tsang  ('an excellent advisor on the law and commercial implications'), who has expertise in restructuring of pensions schemes and benefit structures, and assisting insolvency practitioners in stressed and distressed situations. Bristol-based consultant James Dean has a specialism in pension scheme investments, corporate restructurings and de-risking projects, while Edward Smith  has a strength in pension scheme redesigns, funding negotiations and reduction of past service liabilities.

Practice head(s):

Danny Tsang

Other key lawyers:

James Dean; Edward Smith

Testimonials

‘The team has an excellent knowledge of the pension world, and applying it to advising clients with their unique requirements and circumstances. They take the trouble to understanding their clients. The team works well together and is mutually supportive. They develop their younger members through exposure to clients. The partners and senior lawyers are excellent.’

‘Danny Tsang in the partner we deal with. He’s readily available, despite his many other clients in the UK and overseas. He spends much of his time with us developing his team. James Dean is based in Bristol and supports his colleagues by stepping in when asked. He communicates very well, and is clear.’

‘Consistent and dependable on problem solving great communication skills easy to contact at all times happy to give 10/10’

‘Danny Tsang and Ed Smith have consistently gave us a quality service and sound advice during difficult times we are well pleased with all the team at the firm..’

‘Danny Tsang is an excellent advisor on the law and commercial implications.’

‘Edward Smith has attention to detail, depth and breadth of knowledge, excellent availability, great presenting style.’

‘My key point of contact is James Dean. Working with James has been exceptionally easy and in a short space of time, he has very much become an extended member of the team. I feel very reassured with James’ technical knowledge, but what makes the difference is his ability to breakdown complex situations in to commercial solutions and deliver them in a genuinely down to earth, yet professional manner.’

‘Ed Smith is certainly a standout from my dealing with him over a number of years. Excellent presentation skills and interactions with Trustee Boards.’

Key clients

Partners Group

DXC Technology

GlaxoSmithKline

Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE)

BASF plc

Doosan Babcock Trustees

Anheuser-Busch InBev Group

West Ferry Printers Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advises GlaxoSmithKline on a wide range of pensions issues, including day-to-day governance and supporting the trustees with corporate and regulatory issues.
  • Advised BASF on a range of pensions matters, including the make-up of the Scheme’s trustee body, substantial changes to the plan documentation to consolidate several sections and complex restructurings.
  • 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, since 2011, providing ongoing support and advice to the Trustees, and assisting with the integration of various new membership and contribution structures into one of the schemes.

Ashurst

Ashurst's pensions offering advises on issues concerning defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, with a particular focus on supporting the firm's corporate department on the pensions aspects of corporate transactions. It has a specialism in rail industry schemes, restructurings and matters involving the pensions regulator. The key contact is John Gordon, who has recent experience in major corporate deals, pension issues arising from rail franchise bids, and restructuring, insolvency and refinancing situations.

Practice head(s):

John Gordon

Testimonials

John Gordon is exceptional. His level of commerciality sets him apart from others in the field.

Key clients

Wm Morrisons Supermarkets Limited

Babcock International Group plc

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

Keolis Amey

PPL Corporation

The Trustees of the NIAB (1996) Pension Scheme

Clement Clarke Pensions Trustees Limited

Dalriada Trustees Limited

AVEVA Group

Robert Bosch GmbH, acting through its UK subsidiary Robert Bosch UK Holdings Limited

Kier Group plc

Navigator Terminals Limited

Insight Investment Management Limited

The Trustee of the Dartford River Crossing Pension Scheme

Biffa plc

Work highlights

  • Advised (and continue to advise) Wm Morrison Supermarkets Limited, on the recommended cash offer for the company by Market Bidco Limited (a newly incorporated entity formed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLP)
  • Advised Babcock International Group in relation to a number of significant disposals, including the disposal of its UK Power business to M Group Services (PAI Partners)
  • Provided key advice to Keolis Amey (“KA”) as to the impact of Covid-19 on the Wales and Borders Franchise and related obligations, resulting in a new set of bespoke arrangements.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has carved out a niche in advising charities and not-for-profit organisations on pensions issues, working closely with the insolvency team to assist with restructurings. The group also has a strong private sector pensions practice, where lawyers advise on funding, risk reduction, M&A, restructuring and pensions regulator clearance. The group is led by Michael Jones , who is an expert in advising companies, trustees and individual on the waterfront of issues affecting employer sponsored occupational pension schemes. Legal director Esther White  is a specialist in pension-related issues arising from restructuring, M&A and auto-enrolment regulations.

Practice head(s):

Michael Jones

Other key lawyers:

Esther White

Testimonials

‘Good range of experience and skills. Work well as part of a collaborative team.’

‘Michael Jones leads the team well providing clear direction. He has a good range of experience and is a good collaborative worker.’

Key clients

City & Guilds

SS&C UK Limited

Dalriada Trustees Limited

Ericsson

CBC Pension Services

Caffé Nero

Goodwin Proctor

Work highlights

  • Advising a multinational in relation to the winding up of its occupational pension scheme.
  • Advising a client in relation to governance of and structure of its trustee board.

Clyde & Co

Clyde & Co's team is characterised by clients as being composed of 'very helpful, collaborative people who are solution focussed and easy to deal with'. The group advises employers, trustees and individuals in relation to defined benefit and defined contribution pension schemes and life assurance schemes, building on the wider firm's expertise in insurance law. It is also strong for pensions-related professional indemnity issues. Terry Saeedi heads the practice, and 'when she speaks people know it is worth listening to'. Senior associate Paul Hodges often supports Saeedi, utilising his expertise in pension scheme restructurings and closures of defined benefit schemes; while senior associate Matthew Ambler takes the lead on public sector pensions issues.

Practice head(s):

Terry Saeedi

Other key lawyers:

Paul Hodges; Matthew Ambler

Testimonials

‘Very helpful, collaborative people who are solution focussed and easy to deal with.’

‘Matthew Ambler is my main point of contact. I value him for the clarity and pragmatism within his advice. He doesn’t get bogged down with the legal background but focusses on the solution to the problem. Terry Saeedi is also very good to deal with. She doesn’t speak at meetings just for the sake of it – she says what is needed and always makes very valuable point i.e. when she speaks people know it is worth listening to.’

‘Very helpful advice and easy to communicate with.’

‘Matthew Ambler provides very good service to us on pensions advice’

gunnercooke LLP

Clients feel that gunnercooke LLP's modern, flexible structure 'makes it very agile - in the post-pandemic world they seem to be pulling in well-respected partners from all over the country'. The team benefits from the firm's professional trustee company, gcTrustees, which acts as a trustee of numerous pension schemes. Parminder Latimer advises trustees, employers and individuals on all aspects of pensions issues, in addition to working with the corporate department in transactions involving defined benefit and public sector schemes. Helen Miles is chair of the NHS pensions board and is experienced in matters requiring clearance from the pensions regulator. Adam Bushby  is well-versed in de-riskings, GMP equalisations and pension scheme winding-ups.

Other key lawyers:

Parminder Latimer; Helen Miles; Adam Bushby

Testimonials

‘Overall I think it is their pragmatic approach to matters I have referred to them.’

‘Adam Bushby, is very personable friendly and approachable and takes a pragmatic view.’

‘The structure of gunnercooke makes it very agile, particularly in the post-pandemic world they seem to be pulling in well respected partners from all over the country.’

‘Adam Bushby has a wealth of experience and is one of those rare individuals with genuine breadth of experience in both contentious and non-contentious work. Parminder Latimer is conscientious and dedicated with a tremendous appetite for work.’

‘Helen Miles is a great partner to work with. She has great technical knowledge combined with real commercial and practical advice. She is always available and turns things around in a timely manner. Can’t recommend her highly enough. And best of all the charging rates are reasonable, from a lawyer! Would definitely recommend’

‘Helen Miles – her disarmingly friendly persona does not disguise her astonishing talent. Her ability to boil complex matters down to the things that matter never ceases to amaze us.’

Key clients

BBCS

The Kennel Club

Shoe Zone Pension Scheme

Colt Life Assurance and Retirement Scheme

Bridon Group (2013) Pension Scheme

Chartered Management Institute

B E Wedge Holdings Limited Pension

Inspired Gaming Group Pension Scheme

Dalriada Trustees Limited

Methodist Church

Work highlights

  • Advising Kamco Ltd in relation to a pension litigation matter against the Trustee of the Plumbing Pension Scheme.
  • Advising The Kennel Club Limited on the closure of the staff pension scheme.
  • Advising Hitachi Data Systems Retirement Benefit Plan on the insurance company buyout.

Irwin Mitchell

At Irwin Mitchell, pensions lawyers are based across the London and Newcastle offices, with a service that is particularly strong for higher education, outsourcing contractors, charity and manufacturing sector clients. The group is well-versed in pensions tax for UK and overseas schemes, as well as specialising in auto- and re-enrolment issues, schemes for new employers, contribution increases, salary sacrifice and TUPE transfers. In London, Penny Cogher  (with a 'depth of technical knowledge') heads the group, advising trustees and employers, on all aspects of pensions issues pertaining to defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, including buy-ins and buy-outs, master trusts and GMP equalisation; while Martin Jenkins  is an expert in benefit reviews and de-risking.

Practice head(s):

Penny Cogher

Other key lawyers:

Martin Jenkins

Testimonials

‘I am aware that clients have particularly valued receiving clear and helpful communications from Penny Cogher. It is not always easy to give comprehensible advice on pensions matters to lay clients. I am impressed by the depth of Penny’s technical knowledge of the area.’

‘Penny Cogher was responsive to email communications and good at ensuring client timescales were met.’

Taylor Wessing LLP

Taylor Wessing LLP has a strong offering that caters to professional trustees, as well as advising on the pensions aspects of company restructurings, bringing together pensions experts with specialists in fraud matters and restructuring issues. The group was bolstered by the arrival of Anna Taylor from Linklaters in January 2022, adding an expert in trustee advisory and projects work, including buy-ins and GMP conversion mandates. Taking the lead is Mark Smith, who has vast experience in restructurings, asset transfers, buy-ins and buy-outs. Also recommended is Angela Sharma, a senior professional support lawyer attached to the pensions group.

Practice head(s):

Mark Smith

Other key lawyers:

Anna Taylor; Angela Sharma; Georgie Wardrop; Afshan Mallik

Testimonials

‘I work directly with Mark Smith and he is excellent in terms of his advice, guidance and communications. He keeps us updated at all times and explains the various options and implications of each proposal before making recommendations as to the best way forward.’

‘Mark Smith is technically very strong; a deep understanding of the issues and how to resolve them.’

Mark Smith is excellent at communication and always focuses on the key issues’

‘Mark Smith handles our pension matters and is clearly expert in his field. On a personal level we have built a strong relationship which is something I value highly.’

‘They are consummate experts in the field of pensions.’

‘My experience of the Taylor Wessing team is that they deliver extremely thorough, meticulous advice which considers the issue in hand from all angles. Timescales are adhered to and budgets prepared and monitored.’

‘Mark Smith is always available to provide advice – sometimes to very challenging deadlines. He works collaboratively with all stakeholders and co-ordinates advice across different specialties and jurisdictions.’

‘The stand out partner for me at Taylor Wessing is Mark Smith. He always pulls out all the stops to deliver the highest level of legal advice to Trustees to ensure they can in turn make informed decisions on a full range of issues. Needless to say Mark and his team are a delight to work with and I value their support and friendship greatly.’

Key clients

Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund Trustees Limited

JC Flowers

Independent Trustee Services Limited

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

FIS

Pi Trustees

Trustees of the Royal British Legion Staff Pension Fund

Trustees of the Visa UK Pension Plan

Press Association

Sofina Foods

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustee of the Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund on various important matters in relation to the scheme, working closely with the trustee board and other advisers to deliver joined-up and effective advice.
  • Advised Press Association on issues arising in connection with converting its policy into a buy-out of members’ benefits and winding up the scheme.
  • Advised JC Flowers on pensions issues in connection with the sale of Interactive Investor, the UK’s leading subscription-based direct investing platform, to abrdn plc, the global investment company and asset manager.

TLT

TLT's standalone pensions team has a strong regulatory practice, recently advising on a high-profile super-fund issue. The team is also adept at SIPP and SSAS work, in addition to handling a healthy diet of public sector pensions work, owing to its position on the government legal department's pensions panel. The group is led by Sasha Butterworth, who is an expert in new pension structures and products, governance and regulatory issues, as well as advising employers on pension legacy matters. Kate Beech is an expert in GMP equalisation and liability management. Chris Crighton and Lizzie Stone are also lawyers of note.

Practice head(s):

Sasha Butterworth

Other key lawyers:

Chris Crighton; Lizzie Stone; Kate Beech

Testimonials

‘The team is exceptional in that they are continuously able to meet our demands on timing and report as and when required, they give succinct responses and always add value be ensuring that the whole of an issue id=s captured. On fees they are negotiable and the outcome is that were receive excellent value for the money.’

‘Sasha Butterworth is great to work with, vastly intelligent and able to summaries issues in a way that it is understood by everyone without further work. She is always available and an excellent listener who ensures that they cover all issues’

‘Expertise across pensions and tax issues, clear presentation of extremely complex advice. Excellent communication, including on billing and likely cost of instructions and effective use of resourcing at the right levels to provide value for money to the client.’

‘On an extremely complex set of instructions, the advice provided was clear and precise with key pointers highlighted for client action. Written advice was followed up by a helpful call to talk through areas of detail. The lead partner is approachable and responsive.’

Key clients

Anglian Water

Government Legal Department

Fujitsu Technology Solutions International Pension Plan Trustee

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited

Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime

Viridor Waste Management Limited

WHSmith

Travelers

Arkema Bostik Pension Trustee Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustee of the Fujitsu Technology Services International Limited Pension Plan on the successful bulk transfer of the Defined Contribution (DC) Section of the Plan to the Legal & General WorkSave Mastertrust.
  • Advised the Trustees of the Koito Europe on the pensions aspects of its plan to buy out its scheme liabilities and then wind up the scheme.

White & Case LLP

US firm White & Case LLP has a multi-disciplinary pensions practice in London, focusing on employer issues and the pensions aspects of corporate transactions and restructuring deals. The practice is led by Nicholas Greenacre, who also heads the EMEA employment, compensation and benefits group. Associate Kate Russell is increasingly active in the pensions space.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Greenacre

Other key lawyers:

Kate Russell

Testimonials

‘Nicholas Greenacre provides pragmatic advice coupled with an excellent technical knowledge of the UK pensions and benefits landscape. Written and verbal communications are always very clear and concise. Utilises a broad range of associates within the practice all of which are very capable.’

‘Nicholas Greenacre always makes himself available, even at short notice and provides measured and practical responses to often complex situations.’

Key clients

EIG Global Energy Partners

Kentech

Faurecia

Diamond S Shipping Inc

Anchorage + Ideal Standard International S.A.

Basalt Infrastructure Partners LLP

VISA Inc

Work highlights

  • Advised EIG Global Energy Partners on the pensions aspects relating to the agreement to acquire the 1332 MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station and 49 MW battery at West Burton B in Nottinghamshire, England from EDF Energy, and on related commercial and financing documentation. The transaction creates West Burton Energy as a leading supplier of electricity in the United Kingdom.
  • Advised Kentech, an energy & industrial services support company based in the UAE, and a portfolio company of Blue Water Energy, on the pensions aspects of its acquisition of the oil & gas and engineering & consulting business of SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian listed services company.
  • Advised Faurecia, a top ten worldwide automotive supplier, on the sale of its Acoustics and Soft Trim (AST) division to the Adler Pelzer Group (APG), a worldwide leader in automotive acoustic and thermal components and systems.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Clients appreciate that the pensions lawyers at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP 'seek to solve problems and work collaboratively with co-advisers'. The group has well-rounded expertise in pensions issues facing trustees, providers, insurers and sponsoring employers. Martin Poore heads the Newcastle-based department, drawing on specialisms in interpretation of scheme rules, legislative compliance, scheme and corporate sponsor restructuring and liability management. Suzanne Duff  advises trustees ad sponsors on all aspects of occupational pension schemes, as well as handling contentious issues, while Bristol's Tracy Walsh  stands out for her experience in advising on the structure of scheme mergers, and negotiating scheme closures and benefit redesigns.

Practice head(s):

Martin Poore

Other key lawyers:

Suzanne Duff; Tracy Walsh

Testimonials

‘Womble Bond Dickinson provide top quality pensions advice that is both strategic and commercial. They work hard to understand our business and make sure that their advice is appropriate to our situation. They seek to solve problems and work collaboratively with co-advisers. Their fees are also very reasonable in comparison to other national firms.’

‘Tracy Walsh leads our advice team and provides clear, strategic advice that gets to the heart of the issue. Tracy is a trusted adviser for our business.’

Key clients

Liverpool Victoria Financial Services Limited

Northern Powergrid (North East) plc

Trustee of the Go-Ahead Group Pension Plan

The Trustees of the Newcastle Building Society Pension and Assurance Scheme

Trustees of the Sapa Holdings Limited Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advising LV= on the participation of a new group company in the Aon Master Trust including advising on the commercial agreements relating to its participation.
  • Advising LV= on the participation of a new group company in the Aon Master Trust including advising on the commercial agreements relating to its participation.
  • Advising the Trustee of the Go-Ahead Pension Plan on its ongoing obligations in relation to the pension plan (a complex hybrid pension arrangement) and support the Trustee’s in-house pension administration centre on day-to-day issues

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP's pensions group brings together public, private and charitable sector expertise, advising sponsors of occupational pension schemes, and trustees. The team is led by Martin McFall, rated by clients for being 'excellent at explaining complicated pensions issues in a straightforward manner', who is experienced in benefit restructuring, liability management and scheme wind-ups. In November 2021, Rebecca McKay left for an in-house position with Just Group.

Practice head(s):

Martin McFall

Testimonials

‘Martin McFall is extremely responsive and commercially focused. He’s excellent at explaining complicated pensions issues in a straightforward manner. He is an absolute pleasure to work with and I always know I can trust his advice to be spot on.’

‘Trowers have a deep understanding of the social housing sector with a breath of expertise in all matters relating to general and M&A advice.’

‘Martin McFall has an excellent understanding of the social housing sector and the important role pensions advice has in M&A activity. Martin has excellent relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders, helping smooth communications and improving the pace of a transaction.’

Key clients

Bristows LLP

Incommunities Limited

Flagship Housing

London Borough of Hillingdon

National Autistic Society

Toyota plc

Youth First

Brighton & Hove City Council

Cheshire Pension Fund

Bic

Vivendi S.A

Karbon Homes

Paradigm Housing

Work highlights

  • Advised Bristows and Waterland on its acquisition of the Priory Group from Acadia Healthcare for £1,078 million.
  • Advised global brand Bic on its legacy UK pension arrangement and resolving disputed pensions overpayments for scheme members
  • Advised Karbon Homes on a complex restructuring of its pension arrangements under the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Wedlake Bell LLP

Wedlake Bell LLP's 'very pleasant to deal with' pensions and employee benefit group works closely with teams across the wider firm, including the banking and finance, and insolvency and restructuring, teams to offer a broad pensions practice. The group has experience in advising employers on final salary schemes, in regulatory issues such as auto-enrolment, and in pensions matters pertaining to divorce. Heading the department is Justin McGilloway , who is ably supported by Alison Hills and Clive Weber , who 'brings the advantage of very many years experience in the field'.

Practice head(s):

Justin McGilloway

Other key lawyers:

Alison Hills; Clive Weber

Testimonials

‘Very pleasant to deal with.’

‘Clive Weber brings the advantage of very many years experience in the field.’

Key clients

Trane UK Limited Retirement Benefit Plan (Trustees of the Plan)

Scandinavian Airlines Pension and Assurance Scheme (Trustees of the Scheme)

The Staff Pension and Life Assurance Scheme of the Grand Lodge

(Trustees of the Scheme)

Jotun Paints (Europe) Limited Pension Scheme (Trustees of the Scheme)

Capital Radio Pension and Assurance Scheme (Trustees of the Scheme)

Steamship Insurance Management Services Limited Pension and Assurance Scheme (Trustees of the Scheme)

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited

South-African Co-operative Citrus Exchange Limited Pension and Assurance Scheme (Trustees of the Scheme)

Louvre Fiduciary Group Limited

Trustees of the Carpenters’ Company Pension and Assurance Scheme (Trustees of the Scheme)

Natixis Pension Scheme

Sumi Agro Pension Scheme

The Museum Association Pension Plan

Global Association of Risk Professionals

The Carlton Tower Pension Scheme

Capital Radio Pension Plan

Buhler Limited

M&G Investments

Trad Scaffolding Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising The Carlton Tower Limited on the closure to accrual of its final salary pension scheme.
  • Advising the Trustees of The Trane UK Limited Retirement Benefit Plan (formerly the Ingersoll- Rand Holdings Limited Retirement Benefits Plan (1974)) on historic documentation issues.
  • Advising South-African Co-operative Citrus Exchange Limited Pension and Assurance Scheme on the buy-out of the scheme’s liabilities.