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Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Pensions (non-contentious)
  2. Pensions: dispute resolution
  3. Hall of Fame
  4. Leading individuals
  5. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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DWF has 'come on leaps and bounds in the last few years reflecting its continued growth, understanding of the market and expertise in the area'. National head Tim Green is 'poised, confident, organised and provides a bespoke service' and London team leader Amanda Banister is 'technically brilliant and a really bright and thoughtful lawyer'; national commercial litigation head Joel Heap is also a name to note. Recent highlights include Green acting for Safeway in Safeway v Newton, a high-profile equlaisation matter; and Banister defending the Board of the PPF in a challenge to the PPF compensation limits alleging they are insufficient to meet the requirements of the EU Insolvency Directive. Other clients include Dalriada Trustees, Favier and the trustees of Prudential Platinum Pension Plan.

Boutique employment firm Signet Partners LLP is 'a great firm for dealing with technical pensions issues' and 'punches well above its weight' with a client roster spanning trustees, employers, scheme members, industry bodies and representative beneficiaries. Group head Deborah Latimer 'takes an intelligent, efficient and sharp approach to all challenges as a commercially minded litigator' and 'has an absolute wealth of experience to draw on'; she recently handled a scheme closure, represented a client in rectification proceedings and acted in a professional negligence claim.

Allen & Overy LLP 'expertly combines technical expertise and commercial acumen' to provide 'an excellent service that is pragmatic, responsive and client-oriented'. The 'outstanding' Maria Stimpson leads the department, which includes the 'excellent' Neil Bowden, the 'talented' Däna Burstow and the 'highly knowledgeable' Jane Higgins. Bowden's recent mandates include advising the trustees of the BT Pension Scheme on the proposed transfer of its additional voluntary contribution (AVC) arrangement and acting for the trustees of the ICI Pension Fund on a high-profile derisking matter including advising on 14 tranches of insurance covering £9bn of liabilities. Other highlights include Burstow's advice to Arriva on the restructuring of its defined benefit (DB) pension arrangements; Stimpson's work on restructuring for the trustees of the hibu Pension Plan; and Higgins and Bowden's work for the trustees of the Lloyds Banking Group Pensions Trust on an application to the High Court regarding whether guaranteed minimum pensions (GMPs) need to be equalised. Other key individuals include counsel Jessica Kerslake, who 'provides top-quality advice', newly promoted partner Andy Cork, who 'communicates clearly, and consultant Derek Sloan. Stephen Richards joined Stephenson Harwood.

CMS has 'one of the best pensions offerings in the country'. The practice's 'unrivalled resources' enables it to provide 'incredible tailored advice, a commercially minded approach and an ability to remove the fluff to get straight to the point and find the best solution'. Recent non-contentious highlights include Mark Atkinson advising the trustees of the ICI Pension Fund on issues arising from the corporate activity of the scheme's sponsors, Maria Rodia assisting Scottish Hydro-Electric Pension Scheme and Scotia Gas Networks Pension Scheme with the hedging of £1.2bn of longevity risk via two buy-ins and a longevity swap, and Keith Webster acting for BT on the management of its pension deficit. On the contentious side, Webster recently represented BT in a court application regarding its ability to move pension increases to a different index away from RPI and acted for the Wedgwood Pension Trustees in a Part 8 application establishing whether its closure to accrual was valid. Other key practitioners include 'utterly unflappable and savvy' team head Mark Grant, Neal Gibson and 'masterful negotiator' Neil Smith. Clients also single out the 'exceptionally bright and refreshingly pragmatic' Dominic Harris, Jennifer Bell, who has 'very sound judgment'; the 'brilliant' Emma Frost, the 'highly knowledgeable' Simon Pilcher and senior associate Alexandra Tomlinson.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's 'market-leading pensions practice' provides 'a first-class service' with 'top-notch strategic guidance, excellent technical breadth and a level of commercialism that cannot be beaten'.¬†On the non-contentious side, Francois Barker, who ‚Äėhas the commercial overview to back up the specialist pensions knowledge‚Äô, leads the global practice while Jeremy Goodwin, who clients praise as ‚Äėone of the best pensions partners in the City‚Äô, heads up the London team. Recent highlights include Goodwin advising the trustees of the General Motors pensions scheme on the switch of its sponsoring employer and assisting the trustees of the BHS Pensions Scheme with the establishment of the BHS2 Pension Scheme following negotiations with Sir Philip Green. Contentious team head Claire Carroll, who is ‚Äėa very authoritative and measured lawyer‚Äô, and Jennifer Miles¬†are the key names for pension litigation matters; Miles recently defended Airways Pension Scheme Trustees in High Court proceedings brought by BA challenging the validity of decisions made by the trustees, and represented Barnardo's in its Supreme Court appeal relating to whether the trustees can adopt an index other than RPI. British Airways pensions schemes, P&O Pension Scheme, GE Pension Plan and Deloitte are also clients.

Clients 'unreservedly recommend' the 'excellent' team at Hogan Lovells International LLP, which is 'first-class across the board' and is 'top notch in terms of content, performance level and responsiveness'. The non-contentious team is 'truly unmatched' with key names including group head Katie Banks, who is 'clearly a leading light in the pensions world'; longevity hedge and investigations expert Edward Brown, and the 'incredibly pragmatic and client-friendly' Duncan Buchanan. The practice recently assisted the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) with the restructuring of Tata Steel Pension Scheme and advised Lloyds Banking Group and Scottish Widows on the acquisition of Zurich's UK workplace pensions and savings business. Angela Dimsdale Gill is the key name for litigation mandates; she recently represented the trustees of the Nortel Networks UK Pension Plan and the Board of the PPF in pension deficit recovery litigation and acted for ITV in the high-profile Box Clever pension scheme regulatory proceedings. Nicholas Heaton, Matthew Bullen and senior associate Nathan Sherlock are also names to note.

Linklaters LLP's 'service levels are of the highest standard' with 'a detailed and methodical approach that sets it apart from the rest'. While historically recognised for its strong non-contentious practice, the firm also fields a robust litigation team; Ruth Goldman leads the transactional side while Mark Blyth is 'simply the best pensions litigator around'. Goldman's recent work includes advising MMC UK Pension Fund Trustee on a longevity swap; other non-contentious work includes Philip Goss assisting Sir Philip Green, Arcadia Group and Taveta Investments with issues surrounding the BHS pension schemes and managing associate John Sheppard handling the pensions elements of the merger between Centrica's European oil and gas exploration and production business with Bayerngas Norge for SWM. On the contentious side the group represented the trustees of the Staveley Pension Scheme in proceedings relating to the issuance of a financial support direction, and acted for Sir Philip Green and Taveta Investments in the inquiry into the BHS schemes. Also recommended are Claire Petheram, Rosalind Knowles, 'highly pragmatic' managing associate Alasdair Smith and 'clear and practical' managing associate Geoff Egerton.

'First-class boutique' Sacker & Partners LLP is 'incredibly strong for all types of pensions work'. Ian Pittaway and Peter Murphy lead the non-contentious and contentious practices respectively; Mark Greenlees and defined contribution scheme expert Helen Ball are also names to note. The group's contentious work includes representing the trustees of the HSBC Bank UK Pension Scheme in multiple member complaints and acting for the trustees of the Carillion Pension Scheme in the inquiry and regulator investigation relating to anti-avoidance powers regarding the company's insolvency. Non-contentious highlights include advising the trustees of the Express Pension Scheme and the Arla Foods Pension Scheme on the scheme merger which used an asset-backed contribution structure to equalise funding levels, assisting EDS Trustee with the spin-off of the enterprise services division from Hewlett Packard Enterprises to DXC, and acting for Meredith on the pensions aspects of its $2.8bn offer for Time. The National Grid Pension Scheme, Royal Mail Pension Plan and the TfL Pension Fund are also clients. Ralph McClelland, Lucy Dunbar and Jacqui Reid all made partner in 2018.

Charles Cameron (who is noted for his 'thoughtful insight') heads the department at Slaughter and May, which is 'a leader in the field' for non-contentious work and was bolstered by the recruitment of Daniel Schaffer from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in 2017, who is praised as 'ruthlessly good' and 'extremely creative'. Recent mandates include Cameron, newly promoted partner Phil Linnard and Padraig Cronin advising Tata Steel on the restructuring of the British Steel Pension Scheme; Sandeep Maudgil assisting the Royal Mail with the closure of the RMG section of the Royal Mail Pension Plan and the design of a replacement plan; and Schaffer and Maudgil acting for the Railways Pension Trustee Company on multiple transfers and structural changes. The group is also becoming increasingly involved in pensions litigation; it recently represented the trustees of the BT Pension Scheme in Part 8 proceedings in the High Court and acted for Granada Group in High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings relating to whether it is obliged to maintain gilts as security for the pension benefits of former directors. Senior counsel Isobel Carruthers joined from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Philip Bennett retired in 2017.

Baker McKenzie 'demonstrates exceptional industry knowledge' and 'really makes an effort to know its clients and provide a positive experience across the board'. Jeanette Holland leads the team with senior counsel Robert West 'providing sound useful advice thanks to his extensive expertise in the field'. Key areas of strength for the team include derisking issues, funding and investment mandates, corporate support work and matters with a global element. Recent highlights include advising Serco on the conversion of a longevity swap to a buy-in policy, acting for Emerson Electric on the pensions aspects of its £$3.2bn acquisition of Pentair's valves and controls unit, and assisting Post Holdings with the pensions components of its acquisition of Weetabix. The group is also active in pensions litigation with notable expertise in cases regarding indexing issues and equalisation requirements. Arron Slocombe and Chantal Thompson are also names to note.

With 'a top-tier practice, strong presence in pensions litigation' and 'first-class knowledge of the transactional side of the coin', Pinsent Masons LLP's 'sensible and pragmatic' team 'performs in the premier league of pensions law firms'. Carolyn Saunders leads the group; she recently advised the trustees of the Singapore Airlines Scheme on the implications of a corporate restructuring. 'No-holds-barred litigator' Isabel Nurse-Marsh heads up the pensions litigation practice and recently represented Gracebay and the Silentnight Group in a claim against the Pensions Regulator relating to issues surrounding its sale; she also acted for Wandel & Goltermann in a High Court claim regarding the validity of pension scheme deeds. Other key individuals include the 'highly tactical' Ben Fairhead, who defended Dalriada in proceedings brought by the regulator regarding fraud claims; Raj Sharma, who assisted the group trustees of the RWE power Group of the Electricity Supply Pensions Scheme with the reorganisation of the fund into two new funds; senior associate Charlotte Scholes, and the 'extremely knowledgable' Matthew de Ferrars. Hayley Goldstone made partner in 2018.

The 'personable and highly strategic' Daniel Gerring leads the department at Travers Smith LLP, which 'clearly understands the client's needs and has the knowledge to execute a comprehensive and reliable plan'. The team handles investment, risk and liability management work, contractual issues, funding matters and pensions disputes. In a recent highlight, the 'excellent' Paul Stannard advised the trustees of the British Steel Pension Scheme on separating the scheme from its sponsoring employer and establishing a new scheme; other work includes Gerring assisting the trustees of the MGN Pension Scheme with its merger with the Mirror Group Pension Scheme, Philip Stear advising the trustees of the Dow Services UK Pension Plan on the company's separation into three independent companies, and the 'thorough and determined' Dan Naylor handling the non-US pensions elements of Micro Focus' merger with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Susie Daykin is recommended for trustee advisory work and derisking transactions, and senior associate Karen Sahota is 'brilliant'.

Under the joint leadership of Anna Rogers, who is 'a calm and authoritative influence', and Chris Mullen, who has 'excellent technical knowledge', 'outstanding' specialist pensions boutique ARC Pensions Law is 'a growing force in the market'. Rogers recently acted for the Littlewoods Pension Scheme trustees on an invitation to insurers to tender for bulk annuity transactions and advised Bovis Homes Pension Scheme Trustee on the employer's proposal to stop future accrual of defined benefits. Other highlights included Anne-Marie Winton assisting Sealed Air with the pensions aspects of a disposal restructuring and handling a Regulated Apportionment Arrangement (RAA) negotiation for Hoover. Highlights for Rogers involved advising Bovis Homes Pension Scheme Trustee on the employer's proposal to stop future accrual of defined benefits. Other key practitioners include newly promoted partner and 'rising star' Anna Copestake, Rosalind Connor (a 'class act'), and Jane Kola, who joined from Gowling WLG in 2017.

Burges Salmon LLP's pensions practice is 'easily comparable to some of the best City firms' and 'fields a team of strong tactical thinkers who step up to the plate every single time'. Richard Knight and the 'genuinely fantastic' Justin Briggs lead the non-contentious and contentious teams respectively; Knight recently advised on equalisation issues and Briggs represented the affected members and representative beneficiary of the Safeway Pension Scheme in an equalisation claim that has been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Other key names to note include 'highly analytical' legal director Suzanne Padmore, 'incredibly knowledgeable' public sector pension specialist Michael Hayles, regulatory and funding expert Clive Pugh, who is 'the star of the team'; Tim Illston, Alice Honeywill and Susannah Young.

Clifford Chance LLP stands out for its expertise in investment and transactional issues, particularly buy-ins and buy-outs; recent examples include assisting The Co-operative Bank with dividing its pension scheme into two separate sections and advising the trustees of the Dairy Crest Group Pension Fund on the decision to change the fund's index. The team also acted for AA on changes to its DB pension scheme, handled a potential rectification action for Mitchells & Butlers, and advised the trustees of the Brimar Limited Pension Plan on the plan's entry into the PPF. Hywel Robinson leads the department, which also includes Clare Hoxey, senior associate Rebecca Trapp and newly promoted partner Sarah McAleer. Imogen Clark retired.

Matthew Swynnerton leads the 'practical, high-quality, responsive and commercial' practice at DLA Piper and is praised by clients as 'highly responsible and approachable' and 'able to demonstrate a deep knowledge of pensions law which he deploys with great pragmatism'. Tamara Calvert is also singled out as 'prompt, efficient and an expert in her clients' needs'. Key areas of expertise include scheme advisory and documentation advice, multi-jurisdictional transactions, pension fraud and compliance issues. Recent mandates include Swynnerton assisting the Working Group with the Combating Pension Scams Code of Practice and Calvert advising the trustees of the Allied Domecq Pension Fund on a member complaint relating to the revaluation of deferred pensions. The Premier League, Aviva, Novartis UK Pensions Scheme, Uber and Hitachi Rail Europe are also clients. David Young in Leeds is the key name for pensions litigation.

Fieldfisher's 'effective and commercial team' is knowledgeable of pensions schemes in the utilities, transport, public and not-for-profit sectors; clients include South East Water, the Trustees of the Carillion Group of the Electiricty Supply Pension Scheme (ESPS) and the trustees of the General Medical Council Pension Scheme. The 'extremely client-focused' David Gallagher heads up the department and recently led advice to the trustees of the British Energy Generation Group of the ESPS on issues including transferring members between schemes, creating new benefit schedules, negotiating new funding arrangements and handling individual member cases. Clients also praise 'excellent technical lawyer' Michael Calvert and 'brilliant' director Andrew Patten; the pair worked with Gallagher to assist Electricity Pensions Trustee Limited with the restructuring of NWE nPower's group of the ESPS to create two new groups and acted for the trustees of multiple Arriva pension schemes on its statutory consultation procedure and GDPR compliance. Ann Benzimra and Simon Moore are key names for pensions litigation.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP's pensions practice advises companies and trustees on occupational pension plans with expertise in cross-border transactions, product development, funding matters, scheme mergers, benefit changes, insolvency, liability reduction and restructuring work. Key names include Charles Magoffin, Andrew Murphy and Dawn Heath; Magoffin is regularly instructed by financial institutions to assist with derisking matters, Murphy focuses on transitional work and Heath specialises in DB pension schemes.

Gowling WLG 'is a standout firm for pensions litigation' with 'vast industry knowledge, an attentive approach and professional acumen'. Team head Peter Shave is 'measured, unflappable and an excellent tactician'; he recently represented the board of the PPF in proceedings aiming to establish the meaning and effect of the compensation cap provisions, and acted for Thales Pension Trustees in a Part 8 application. Ian Gordon 'leaves no stone unturned' and represented a motor trade business in a negligence claim against two law firms and acted for the trustees of a pension scheme in proceedings relating to the scheme's employer attempting to change the basis on which pensions are increased under the scheme's rules. Jason Coates and Paul Feathers are the key names for non-contentious work; Coates advised the trustees of the UK pension arrangements of Fujitsu Services on scheme advisory work and Feathers assisted Rothesay Life with its pensions risk transfer transactions. Principal associate Nicky Yarwood is recommended and Jane Kola joined ARC Pensions Law.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's 'outstanding' team includes Alison Brown and Paul Lewis, who lead the non-contentious and litigation elements respectively; Brown is 'excellent commercially' and Lewis is 'exceptional at understanding complex issues'. Clients also single out Samantha Brown, who is 'superb in combining technical brilliance with excellent judgement and strategical awareness'; newly promoted partner and derisking expert Rachel Pinto, who 'provides incredible service throughout'; and 'excellent' senior associate and former barrister James Rickards, who joined from Chambers of Michael Bowes QC, Christopher Gibson QC and Andrew S.  Recent mandates include representing Lloyds Bank in Part 8 proceedings relating to GMPs and advising Irish Life Assurance on a bulk annuity transaction.  Daniel Schaffer joined Slaughter and May.

Mayer Brown International LLP's 'high-quality pensions law team' provides 'well-considered and timely advice' and is 'highly responsive and thorough in its approach'. Ian Wright and Jay Doraisamy jointly head the non-contentious group and Stuart Pickford leads the pensions litigation practice. Recent non-contentious highlights include acting for the PPF on the settlement of the Hoover Pension Scheme's benefit deficit, assisting the Atkins Pension Plan with the pensions components of WS Atkin's takeover by SNC-Lavalin Group, and advising Molins UK Pension Fund on the implications of the sale of part of the sponsoring employer's business. On the contentious side, the group represented JMEPS Trustees in a Pensions Ombudsman complaint relating to the distribution of a lump sum death benefit and acted for the trustees of a substantial DB scheme in a member complaint. The BT Pension Scheme, Kingfisher Pension Trustee and Prudential Staff Pensions are also clients. Other key names include Richard Evans, Edward Jewitt, Andrew Block and Richard Goldstein. Philippa James retired.

Norton Rose Fulbright fields a team of 'incredibly thorough lawyers with a deep knowledge of the industry' who 'always deliver on time' led by Peter Ford. Ford's recent work includes advising the trustees of the Invensys Pension Scheme on changes to the scheme's benefit structure, compliance issues and a review of pension increase provisions. Lesley Browning is also a key name to note; she assisted Carrier Pension Trustee with the closure of the Carrier (UK) Pension Scheme to future benefit accrual, advised the trustees of the Stena Drilling Final Salary Pension Scheme on the scheme's merger into a group arrangement and handled John Menzies' closure of its DB pension scheme to future accrual. Katie Stephen is recommended for contentious mandates.

With 'a growing presence in the pensions space', PwC Legal LLP 'is not only increasing in depth but is demonstrating innovative ways of assisting clients' across pensions indexation, bulk annuity transactions, VAT issues and fiduciary management agreements. Oliver Reece heads up the group, which was recently bolstered by the recruitment of Marcus Fink from Ashurst. In a recent highlight, Fraser Sparks advised Stena on the merger of its five UK DB schemes into a single pension scheme; he also assisted the Zoological Society of London with the closure of its DB pension scheme to future accrual. David Farmer is also recommended; he advised De La Rue on an index change.

Squire Patton Boggs' 'knowledgeable and approachable group' is recognised for its expertise in the public, not-for-profit, investment and utilities sectors and counts Hertfordshire County Council, Merseyside Pension Fund and Action for Children Pension Fund Trustee as clients. London practice head Wendy Hunter has 'a keen eye for detail' and recently advised the trustees of the Combined Nuclear Pension Plan on issues surrounding a Chapter 11 process and assisted the trustees of the Anglian Water Group Pension Scheme with the division of the scheme. Clifford Sims leads the national practice and Victoria Leigh heads up the pensions disputes group; Leigh recently acted for a representative beneficiary in an application for rectification.

Stephenson Harwood 'has an excellent reputation in the pensions litigation market' with team co-head and 'tremendous litigator' Helena Berman, the 'first-rate and strategically brilliant' Jenny McKeown and the 'brilliant' co-head Philip Goodchild making the group 'a first choice for clients'. Recent mandates include representing the representative beneficiary of the BT Pension Scheme in proceedings opposing the BT's application to change the scheme's price index, acting for Honda Motor Europe and Honda of the UK Manufacturing in rectification claims, and representing the trustees of the Barnardo's Staff Pension Scheme in the Supreme Court in a claim relating to indexing issues. The non-contentious group is led by the 'knowledgeable and experienced' Mark Catchpole; he advised Bic Pension Scheme on issues relating to benefits payable to different member classes and assisted the Bank of Montreal with the introduction of new arrangements. Clients also single out senior associate Naeem Noor, who 'always delivers'.

Addleshaw Goddard fields  'a strong team with a high degree of technical knowledge'. Its pensions expertise encompasses auto-enrolment issues, public sector pension work and pension products with particular expertise in self-invested personal pension (SIPP) and small self-administered scheme (SSAS) products. The national practice is led by Rachel Rawnsley, who 'instils confidence in clients', and includes pension products team head Jade Murray, who is 'always great and an excellent strategist'; Catherine McAllister, who leads the public sector pensions team; Rachel Uttley and Susan Garrett, who is the key name for contentious matters.

David Dennison leads the department at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP and regularly handles pension plan mergers, outsourcing issues, pension plan closures, ombudsman claims, restructurings and investment-related work. The team is also highly regarded for its experience handling the pensions elements of wider corporate transactions. Clients include Thames Water, D.E UK Pension Plan, Lockheed Martin UK Pension Plan, Linpac Group Pension Fund and World Duty Free Group Pension Fund.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP provides 'good practical pensions advice' across funding issues, risk reduction, M&A, restructurings, regulator work, pre-pack arrangements and compliance mandates with substantial experience in the charity and not-for-profit sectors. Recent highlights include advising a client in the education sector on the pensions elements of its transfer to academy status, assisting a telecoms client with the pensions aspects of a corporate restructuring and handling the transferral of pensions liabilities for a motor trading client. Other clients include Westminster Abbey, Ericsson and PS Independent Trustee. Michael Jones leads the department, which also includes senior associates Lee Colgate and Esther White, and legal director Andy Williams.

Dentons fields 'an experienced team that produces good sound advice for clients and really has their best interests at heart' with expertise in pensions litigation, insolvency related matters, investment work and corporate support with notable public sector strength. Elmer Doonan heads up the team and has 'a very practical streak allowing him to see the bigger picture'; his recent work includes advising the Bank of China on issues arising from the closure of its pension scheme to new members and future accrual, assisting Fleet Trustees with a new actuarial valuation, and representing the representative beneficiaries of the Barnardo's Staff Pension Scheme in a Supreme Court case regarding indexing changes. The firm expanded its UK offering with a merger with legacy firm Maclay Murray & Spens LLP that brought David Knox into the team.

Macfarlanes LLP has a 'knowledgeable, responsive and experienced team' that provides 'technically brilliant, pragmatic and commercial advice'. Camilla Barry  heads the group and is 'an expert in the field; she is a safe pair of hands with a down-to-earth approach'. bARRY recently advised Pernod Ricard on the redesign of its death benefits, assisted Darty with the actuarial valuation of its pension scheme, and acted for South Downs Trustees on the pensions elements of the sale of Portsmouth Water to Ancala Partners. Legal & General Assurance Society, Hogg Robinson and Visa are also clients. Andrew Barton leads the firm's pensions derisking practice.

Jonathan Hazlett leads the 'excellent' team at Osborne Clarke and is recognised as 'a good team player who can always be relied on for sensible and practical advice' with notable experience in PPF matters and the not-for-profit, railway and shipping sectors; clients include TfL and the Environment Agency. Recent contentious highlights for the team include representing the representative beneficiary of the Gleeds Retirement Benefits Scheme in a High Court appeal relating to a Part 8 application and Paul Matthews acting for Vocalink in rectification proceedings. On the non-contentious side, Matthews advised trustees of the Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund on the implications of an employer leaving the fund, Hazlett assisted the trustees of the Lincoln Staff Pensions Plan with liability management exercises, and Mark Womersley handled the creation of the Brunel Pension Partnership for ten Local Government Pension Scheme funds.

The 'excellent' team at Reed Smith LLP 'always keeps its clients well informed and provides pragmatic and commercial advice'. The group advises corporates and trustees on the relationship between employers and their schemes, investment issues and corporate support work. In a recent highlight, practice head Simon Hartley acted for a scheme on a buy-in of a tranche of benefits. Other key team members include 'highly responsive' consultant Justine Senior and public sector specialist William Sutton, who 'understands his clients' needs well'.

Simmons & Simmons has 'truly exceptional expertise across pensions law' and 'a talented team' led by the 'knowledgeable and wise' Danny Tsang, who handles pensions scheme restructurings and mergers for corporate clients. Tsang's recent work includes advising XL Catlin Services on the pensions aspects of the international merger between XL and Catlin. Clients also single out James Dean, who provides 'sound advice and has good client awareness' and the 'brilliant' Michael Wyman; Wyman assisted Zurich UK Pension Scheme with the appointment of a new investment manager, acted for the trustees of the SmithKline Beecham pension plan in member disputes and investment matters, and advised the Gallaher Group on the proposed closure of its DB pension schemes to future accrual.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is 'a key player in pensions litigation' and has 'a sophisticated service that puts the client front and centre'. Recent contentious mandates include 'tremendously experienced' pensions litigation head Suzanne Duff acting for IBM in the Court of Appeal in proceedings relating to the employer's duty of good faith. Managing associate Joanna Bromhead is also a key name to note for pensions litigation. On the non-contentious side, Martin Poore leads the group and Tracy Walsh heads up the public and voluntary sector pensions unit. Poore recently assisted Signet Group with the closure of its DB scheme to future accrual and Walsh advised Procter & Gamble on the pension elements of the sale of its beauty brands to Coty. Go-Ahead Group, Carnival and Bellway are also clients.

Ashurst is noted for assisting corporate clients with the pensions elements of transactional work; it recently advised Berendsen on the pensions aspects of its takeover by Elis, assisted the Aveva Group with its acquisition of Schneider Electric's industrial software business and handled the pensions issues relating to the Bank of England's takeover of the Chaps payment system. Counsel John Gordon, who joined from Linklaters LLP, leads the group following Marcus Fink's departure to PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP; he has notable experience structuring pension scheme benefits, liability management, funding issues and regulatory mandates. Angela Pearson leads the contentious team and recently repesented First Data in the Court of Appeal in proceedings relating to pension increases under the governing documentation of its FDR Limited Pension Scheme.

Mark Howard leads the department at Clyde & Co LLP, which 'works hard to find commercial solutions to complex issues' and 'inspires confidence in clients'. The group has notable experience in PPF issues, bulk annuities, derisking mandates and trustee liability insurance work; recent highlights include advising on the pension elements of Liberty House Group's acquisition of Covpress and assisting Just with its bulk annuity policies. The British Medical Association Pension Scheme, NHBC Pension Scheme and Saudi Arabian Airlines are also clients. Other key individuals include Terry Saeedi who joined the Leeds office from Gordons LLP and senior associate Paul Hodges, who 'provides practical solutions'.

Noted for its 'good industry knowledge and expertise', DAC Beachcroft LLP is active in the public, retail, health and charity sectors; clients include the trustees of the Aircraft Research Association Pension Scheme, McDonalds and London Luton Airport. Recent work includes advising the trustees on the winding up of the Conran Shop occupational pension scheme, assisting Lancashire County Council with the pensions elements of the merger of its investment and administration services and acting for Mitie on the pension aspects of multiple outsourcings. The 'calm, pragmatic and knowledgeable' Neil Bhan leads the group, which includes senior associate Joanna Taylor.

Freeths LLP is active in the charity sector, regularly acts for local government clients and handles new pension products, PPF issues and corporate transactions. The 'responsive and understanding' Parminder Latimer leads the national group; her recent work includes advising Ultra Electronics Pension Trustee Company on new consolidated Trust Deed and Rules and GDPR compliance, and assisting Kikki.K with its UK obligations relating to auto-enrolment and overseas secondees. Tarmac Holdings and Travis Perkins are also clients. Other key practitioners include litigator Louise Wilson and Nigel Bolton, who joined the Leeds office from Irwin Mitchell.

Penny Cogher and Martin Jenkins jointly lead Irwin Mitchell's national team; Cogher is 'truly invaluable in her experience and knowledge' and Mitchell is 'an exceptional practitioner'. Key areas of expertise include pensions tax work, auto-enrolment issues and corporate support work; Jenkins recently advised Covpress on the sale of the business and related issues including rescuing its pension scheme out of PPF administration and transferring it to a new employer, and acted for the Council of Mortgage Lenders on the pensions aspects of its amalgamation with UK Finance. Rpmi and Pan Trustees are also clients.

Pitmans LLP's team of 'highly competent lawyers establish a good working relationship with clients' and 'provide pragmatic, clear and commercial advice in a timely fashion'. Department head Chris Netiatis is 'astute and personable' and handles transactional work, liability reductions and regulatory issues; he recently advised the trustees of the Olivetti (UK) Limited Pension and Life Assurance Scheme on benefit corrections and handled the establishment of a final salary scheme for the trustees of the Fire Brigades Union Pension Scheme. Clients also single out litigator David Archer and Denise Fawcett, who is experienced in insolvency matters and regulatory work.

Taylor Wessing LLP stands out for its 'first-rate service' in pension fraud and fields 'an outstanding team with deep experience and an ability to provide practical solutions'. The department is led by 'go-to person' Mark Smith , who 'has a rare ability to find a path through the most complex situations' and is noted for his expertise acting for professional trustees in litigation and restructuring disputes. The group's recent non-contentious mandates include advising Pi trustees on an investigation for pensions liberation fraud, assisting Rutland Partners on the pensions element of its acquisition of Armitage Pet Care, and handling a proposed bulk transfer of assets and liabilites to a master trust and related scheme wind up for the trustees of Lynx Technology Limited Pension and Life Assurance Scheme. Independent Trustee Services, the trustees of the Royal British Legion Staff Pension Fund and the trustees of the Visa UK Pension Plan are also clients.

Sasha Butterworth leads the pensions and incentives team at TLT, which advises trustees and employers across asset-backed funding arrangements, restructurings, buy-ins and litigation. Butterworth's work includes outsourcing issues, risk reduction work and scheme mergers, and associate Chris Crighton advised an industry-wide pension scheme on its proposed closure to future accrual and assisted the UK branch of an international bank on funding arrangements for its DB pension scheme. Ed Fiddick, newly promoted partner Victoria Mabbett and Chris Owen are the key names for contentious mandates; Mabbett recently represented the trustees of the Wandel & Goltermann Retirement Benefits Scheme in a Part 8 claim.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP's 'great industry knowledge, attention to detail and client care' makes it 'a strong alternative in the pensions space'. Team head Martin McFall 'has the knack of making complex issues more understandable' and is recognised for his expertise in benefit restructuring, liability management, scheme windups and Local Government Pension Scheme matters. His recent work includes advising Bic Worldwide on its obligations and duties as a sponsoring employer and assisting Castles and Coasts Housing Association with the pension elements of a merger. Rebecca McKay is also a key name to note; she specialises in investment issues.

Wedlake Bell LLP's 'responsive, knowledgeable and partner-driven team' provides 'an excellent service that is sensible, pragmatic and technically strong'. Justin McGilloway leads the department, which also counts Clive Weber and partner Alison Hills as key names. McGilloway led advice to WNS Services on the pensions components of its outsourcing contracts with financial services companies, Weber assisted Buhler and the trustees of a single-employer final salary scheme with the implications of a principal employer being acquired, and McGilloway and Hills acted for the trustees of the Jotun Paints (Europe) Limited Pension Scheme on scheme funding and employer covenant issues. The Scandinavian Airlines System Pension and Assurance Scheme, Natixis Pension Scheme and Carlton Tower Pension Scheme are also clients.

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