Pensions in North West

DLA Piper

DLA Piper advises the trustees and sponsors of some of the UK’s largest pension schemes on matters encompassing bulk transfers, pension scheme mergers, and the establishment of new pension schemes. The practice is also frequently instructed to respond to Pension Ombudsman complaints, and additionally handles the pension aspects of transactions such as outsourcings and the acquisition of companies. The team is led from Liverpool by Ben Miller, who also serves as national head of pensions at the firm. Gary Davies is another key partner with experience in handling complex matters related to defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Claire Bell left the firm in April 2021, joining Deloitte Legal.

Practice head(s):

Ben Miller

Other key lawyers:

Gary Davies

Testimonials

‘The DLA team have great skills in bringing to life complex matters and injecting some much needed pragmatism.’

‘Gary Davies and Ben Miller both impress me and continue to do so. They have both been a welcome support during some complex matters. Very approachable and both deliver over and above expectations.’

‘The team have a very strong team across Liverpool and Manchester. They have a very direct style and can cut through complex matters easily. They are equipped to handle challenging projects to tight timescales. The team run very high quality events and training and form an integral part of the North West market.’

‘Ben Miller is a market leading pensions lawyer with a very personable style. He is ideally placed to handle contentious and challenging matters. Gary Davies is a very strong lawyer with a very methodic and pragmatic style. He is an excellent case manager working through challenging projects.’

‘Friendly, pragmatic, and very service-orientated make this team a pleasure to work with.’

‘Ben Miller – an impressive, confident, pragmatic adviser, who has the Trustees’ back and is ready to go into battle when required. Gary Davies – A very safe pair of hands, good as distilling tricky concepts into layman terms, and enjoyable to work with.’

‘The Pensions team is very joined up and works very well together on a range of issues, as well as leveraging their internal resource on specialist matters. Their approach is practical, pragmatic and cost effective.’

‘Ben Miller has been with the firm many years and is hugely reliable in terms of knowledge. However, one trait which stands out for me is Ben’s ability to take a pragmatic approach to issues. Whilst firmly advising the scheme trustees, Ben is able to see the whole picture and take account of the supporting employer’s position. This is immensely helpful when trying to navigate sensitive or financial discussions. Ben is one of the few advisers I have met who I feel is truly trying to work FOR us and for our benefit.’

Key clients

Trustee of the Universities Superannuation Scheme

Trustees of Warburtons Pension and Life Assurance Plan

Manchester Airport Group plc (“MAG”)

Trustee of the Royal Insurance Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Tremco Illbruck Pension PlanYes

The Trustees of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme

The Trustees of RollalongPension Scheme

The Trustees of the Atlas Ward Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the BDP Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the Beatson Clark Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the Charles Stanley & Co Ltd RBS

The Trustees of the Greif UK Works Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the James Gibbons Pension Scheme (1981)

The Trustees of the Jenks & Cattell Engineering Limited

The Trustees of the Owens Corning Pension Plan

The Trustees of the Pension Plan of Posford Haskoning

The Trustees of the Royal Agricultural Society of England

The Trustees of the Samuel Banner Staff Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the Union of Democratic Workers

The Trustees of the Wheelabrator Pension Scheme

The Trustee of the Timpson Group plc Pension Scheme

The Trustees of Johnson Group Defined Benefit Scheme

Trustees of the Carrs Billington Agriculture Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Harvest Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Pension and Life Assurance Plan of Griffiths & Armour

Trustees of the Severfield plc Pension Scheme

The Trustees of the Weatherbys Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

PJH Group Ltd

Northumbrian Water Group Limited

Trustees of the Navigator Terminals UK Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

Lubrizol LimitedYes

Cerestar UK Pension Trust Limited

Bangor University

Arena Housing Group Pension Trustees Limited

Alpla UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Trustee of the Universities Superannuation Scheme in responding to approximately 11 Pensions Ombudsman cases over the past 12 months, working with Counsel and advised onover 25 IDR claims.
  • Advising the Trustee of the Svitzer Marine Pension Scheme on the legal issues arising from a multi-scheme merger, which will be secured through insurance contracts.
  • Advised Manchester Airport Group on the completed bulk transfer of all DC benefits into Legal & General’s master trust scheme.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP advises an enviable client base, including household name sponsors, trustees and major master trusts, on pension matters. The team's work encompasses all areas of pension law, including providing regulatory guidance, handling risk management transactions, and advising on pension issues arising from corporate transactions. The Manchester office acts with the firm's offices around the world to advise on the UK aspects of cross-border matters, such as compliance reviews of pan-European pension schemes. Ele Lovering leads the sizeable team, and has experience in de-risking, restructurings and mergers. Charmian Johnson has a focus on matters with international dimensions, and Jon Walters has broad expertise in acting for defined benefit and defined contribution funds. Elsewhere, Simon Daniel handles high-value buy-outs and investments. Principal associates Amanda Small and Lauren O’Connor and director Sarah Lown are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Ele Lovering

Other key lawyers:

Jon Walters; Simon Daniel; Charmain Johnson; Amanda Small; Lauren O’Connor; Sarah Lown

Testimonials

‘The team understands how we like to work, they’re good value for money, and I rarely if ever get surprises on fees. The service is heavily partner-led, and for the most part done to a high standard. Referrals to other teams within Eversheds are managed well, and they have a decent well of resource on which to draw.’

‘The team is led by Ele Lovering, who gets stuck in when she needs to and lets the team handle it when she doesn’t, maintaining a good overview throughout. Simon Daniel is an absolute pleasure to deal with on the investment side’.

‘Ele Lovering, good on fees, always willing to discuss. Amanda Small, excellent day to day work with practical advice.’

‘The strength is in the team approach. There are able and willing substitutes available in the event of accidents or holidays or illness. This Fund has confidence in the team and the substitutes.’

‘Jon Walters is one of the lead partners. He has developed the team to meet this Fund’s particular requirements. He is a guiding hand behind the scenes but he is always available. Lauren O’Connor is the prime day to day contact and she normally attends each Trustee meeting. To the Trustee she has the knowledge and experience to be partner level.’

‘I have worked with the Eversheds Sutherland Pensions Team in Manchester for the last 18 years, and although some individuals have changed throughout this time, there has always been a good spread of experience and knowledge of our scheme which means that the advice is always sound and relevant. ’

‘The Pensions Team in Manchester work together very well and you always feel that they are informed of all issues ongoing with the scheme, and you feel confident in the advice that is being given. The team is led by Jon Walters whom has worked on our scheme for the past 15 years. Jon and his associates are all very approachable and work with our trustee board very well, bringing relevant and timely legal advice appropriate to our scheme. ’

‘Great communication of difficult concepts into advice I can work with. Pensions is a complex area to say the least, getting more complex and wide ranging over time. The contacts I have are always aware of the issues I raise (and they give me a broad spread of relevant information in newsletters and seminars) and if on occasion they are not fully expert in them, have been very good at bringing in other specialists from the wider practice.’

Key clients

The Trustees of the various Co-Operative Group Pension Schemes

KCOM Pension Scheme trustees

DuPont

Kellogg

Milk Pension Fund Trustees

MSD Animal Health Pension Scheme Trustees

Murco

Old Bushmills Pension Scheme

Trustees of the various Manchester Airport Group Pension Schemes

Trustees of the Aegon DC Master Trust

Trustees of the Cabot Pension Schemes

Trustees of the Man UK Group Pension Schemes

Trustees of the Raytheon Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Swissport GB Pension Scheme

Joy Global Pension Scheme Trustees

Ecolab Inc/Ecolab Limited

Jungheinrich Pension Scheme Trustees

T-Mobile Pension Scheme Trustees

Trustees of the various INEOS Group Pension Schemes

Outokumpu Stainless Limited

Avis Budget

Carlsberg UK Limited Pension Scheme Trustees

Work highlights

  • Provided regular legal and regulatory advice to Amundito ensure the UK section of their pan-European pension plan (an IORP established in Luxembourg) is compliant.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP stands out for its experience in high-value risk and liability management transactions, including buy-ins, buy-outs and bulk annuities. The team provides ongoing advice to trustees and sponsors on governance and changes to schemes; it also has an active litigation practice advising on challenges to these changes. The team's contentious work additionally encompasses complaints to the Pension Ombudsman and professional negligence claims. Stephen Scholefield leads the team, handling ongoing advisory work as well as transactions. Howard Ridley and Robert Tellwright specialise in buy-outs and buy-ins, while Hayley Goldstone is a specialist pensions litigator. Pippa Read is another name to note, with a focus on governance and benefit changes.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Scholefield

Other key lawyers:

Howard Ridley; Robert Tellwright; Hayley Goldstone; Pippa Read; Peter White

Testimonials

‘Pippa Read provides good clear advice.’

‘We use Pinsent Masons across 4 of our DB pension schemes and we have input from their Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow Partners. For us their key strengths are pension law coupled with the ability to provide actionable advice as opposed to leaving one to interpret what has been advised as the lawful position.’

‘Rob Tellwright always provides measured thorough advice. He is always friendly, courteous and professional. ’

‘The partner in charge of our account takes a pragmatic approach to issues so we don’t waste money on unnecessary advice. He uses assistants very effectively so we do not incur unnecessary costs from using a partner to do work which an assistant or junior could do. Finally he is flexible on fees where needed’

‘Our principal contact with the the firm is Robert Tellwright- he is reliable, available and gives one confidence when delivering advice.’

‘Integrity, pragmatism and responsiveness. Always feel can rely on the clear advice provided, but also the discussion beforehand to ensure our focus is on the right issues thereby ensuring value for money.’

‘Stephen Scholefield is exemplary – his calm demeanor in times of stressful discussion with the sponsor and/or TPR has been very welcome. Peter White is more junior but enthusiastic and thorough.’

‘Last March, at the start of the pandemic, the Company approached the Trustees for a 12 month deferral of the Asset Backed Contribution arrangement. This was at short notice, with a payment due within days of the request. Pinsent Masons took a very pragmatic approach and worked to find the most optimal solution and the most cost effective method.’

‘Stephen Scholefield is always very responsive and fully understands the issues the Trustees have to face (whilst also acknowledging the Company position). He is always prompt in his replies and clear in the delivery of advice.’

Key clients

Balfour Beatty Pension Fund

Royal Ordnance Pension Schemes

Laird Pension Scheme

Unite the Union Pension Scheme

Newell Rubbermaid UK Pension Scheme

Mercer Limited and Mercer (Ireland) Limited

Baxi Group Pension Schemes

Just Group

Legal & General

Eurotunnel Pension Schemes

Work highlights

  • Advised the Balfour Beatty Pension Fund on a wide range of pension issues.
  • Advised Just Group on several bulk annuity transactions, including its £340m bulk annuity transaction for over 1,800 pensioners of the Ibstock Pension Scheme. This was Just Group’s largest bulk annuity transaction to-date and also marked its 200th transaction in the market.
  • Providing a full legal service to the trustees of the Unite the Union Pension Scheme.

Brabners LLP

Brabners LLP provides advice to trustees and sponsoring employers on the full spectrum of pension matters, from mergers to the closure of schemes to future accrual. Other areas of focus include negotiations with the Pensions Regulator and the Pension Protection Fund and acting in professional negligence claims against legal and actuarial advisors. While the team's client base draws from a diverse range of sectors, the practice has especially strong links to housing associations. Ian Mylrea leads the team, which was joined by Caroline Curran from PwC LLP in April 2020. Curran is experienced in liability management and funding arrangments for defined benefit and defined contribution funds. Solicitor Siu Yin Ho is another name to note, and advises the trustees of public and private sector pension schemes.

Practice head(s):

Ian Mylrea

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Curran; Andrew Ashley Taylor; Siu Yin Ho

Testimonials

‘They were extremely helpful in getting us through a complicated pensions process involving the Pensions Regulator and the Pensions Protection Fund. They kept everything tight, to schedule and to budget. Most of all, they were able to explain things for me as a legal layman.’

‘All of the team earned my respect and gratitude. Ian Mylrea oversaw the project from the beginning and has been an excellent mentor for me throughout the whole process. Whilst maintaining a friendly approach he has been extremely efficient in his handling of the issues at hand.

‘The Brabners team have really expanded their presence in the North West. They now have a strong team which delivers pragmatic and sensible advice. They are very client focused offering pragmatic and clear advice on complex situations.’

‘Ian Mylrea has a very personable style and is very active in his local market. He can review complex matters and finds pragmatic solutions focused on the clients needs. Sui Yin has developed very well and is extremely responsive. She manages client expectations and delivers clear advice. Caroline Curran has been an excellent addition to the team, with good experience of challenging contentious matters. This gives good balance to the existing team.’

‘I have been impressed by how Brabners work so cross-functionally, surpassing by quite some way what I have experienced elsewhere. My main contact is Ian Mylrea, Head of Pensions. However, he has collaborated with colleagues from other areas of Brabners to ensure that I get excellent advice with input from specialists. It is reassuring to be introduced to Ian.’

‘Ian Mylrea has been very easy to work with, coupling technical excellence with pragmatism and a sense of humour. I always feel comfortable asking Ian to clarify or explain something again in lay-man.’

‘Caroline Curran is a very commercial and pragmatic lawyer who seeks to use her experience and knowledge to obtain real value for us rather than pursuing unrealistic and costly options ’

‘Ian Mylrea has been an excellent point of contact for the work and has been timely in response, communicative and delivered exactly what was required. Ian inspires confidence and clearly works with an excellent team.’

Key clients

Trustees of the National Association of School Masters and Union of Women Teachers Managed Pension Plan

Trustees of the Dunlop GRG Holdings Limited Pension Scheme

Peel Ports

Budenberg 4B Group Limited

Trustees of the Hydreco Hydraulics –Section of the Deloitte Master Plan

Panasonic Manufacturing (UK) Limited

Trustees of the Beaverbrooks the Jewellers Limited Staff Pension and Life Assurance Plan

Faltec Europe Limited

Trustees of the Unity (1993) Retirement Benefits Scheme (a GMB scheme)

Cobalt Housing Limited

Riverside Group Limited

Trustees of the Clydebank Co-operative Society Limited Employees’ Superannuation Fund

Toyota Financial Services Limited

James Hall & Co

Jigsaw Homes Group Limited

Peaks & Plains Housing Trust

Trustees of the Germinal Holdings Limited Retirement & Death Benefits Plan

Trustees of the Farr Filtration Pension Scheme

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School

Trustees of the Terrence Higgins Trust Pension and Assurance Scheme

Your Housing Group Limited

Railway Housing Association and Benefit Fund

Trustees of the H.S.T. Feeds Limited Retirement Benefits Scheme

Bridgestone Europe NV/SA, UK Branch

The Very Group (in relation to the Littlewoods Pension Scheme)

Work highlights

  • Advised trustees of GMB pension scheme on the merger of two GMB pension schemes, resulting in combined funds of approximately £200M. As part of this, advised on complicated negotiations relating to security.
  • Advised James Hall plc on the implementation of an £25m property-based asset backed funding (ABF) arrangement, working with our corporate and property teams. ABF projects are complex but the firm’s experience and commercial approach meant that the project was completed on time and within budget.
  • Advised Budenberg 4B Group Limited in respect of a proposed compromise of its defined benefit pension scheme with the Pension Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator.

CMS

The CMS Manchester pensions practice draws on the national firm's expertise in pensions law to advise master trusts and industry-wide schemes on contentious and non-contentious matters. The practice is active in advising trustees of pension schemes whose sponsors are insolvent, providing assistance with Pension Protection Fund eligibility and the winding-up of schemes. It also stands out for its experience in de-risking transactions. Practice head Tim Green is highly regarded in the market, and has previously acted in pensions litigation before the Court of Justice of the European Union. Sheffield-based John Hanratty frequently collaborates with the Manchester office.

Practice head(s):

Tim Green

Other key lawyers:

Alexandra Tomlinson; Kayleigh Garforth; John Hanratty

Testimonials

‘The pensions team is able to draw on several lawyers with a depth of knowledge and expertise in any complex area of pensions law. The Pensions Team has the resource available to undertake project specific issues or ongoing advice to trustees providing continuity and variety of talent.’

‘The almost scary size and scale of the CMS pensions legal resource sets this team apart.’

‘Tim Green is omnipresent. He holds the North West pensions legal market in the palm of his hand.’

‘I have been lucky to receive advice from John Hanratty and Tim Green. They are outstanding in their subject knowledge and their advice and I highly recommend them both. John and Tim are patient, clear, hard-working, solutions-focused and always go the extra mile. They have helped our organisation immeasurably.’

‘As counsel instructed by solicitors in this practice and advising their clients, my observation is that the practice offers a dynamic combination of sound, well researched, ad well articulated, strategic and legal judgment and excellent client care. ’

‘There is no doubt that the acquisition of Tim Green from DWF Legal has been a brilliant move. Tim epitomizes the dynamic combination I referred to above, as well as being an excellent bringer-in of business. I have substantial person experience of the client loyalty he inspires. ’

‘They have the immense resources of CMS, the leading firm in this area, with regional rates. Dedicated to growing pensions in the North West. ’

‘Tim Green – one of the best pensions partners anywhere in the UK. Has a great combination of legal/strategic thinking and an understanding of commercial reality which is the perfect mix for pensions work.’

Key clients

Trustee of the Motor Industry Pension Plan

Trustee of the Nottingham City Transport Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Cosmosair Plc Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

Manpower

TPT Retirement Solutions

Trustee of the Time Warner Money Purchase Pension Plan

Trustee of the British Regional Airlines Group Pension Scheme (Flybe)

Trustee of the Lord Corporation (Europe) Ltd Staff Pension Plan

Trustee of the Pension & Life Assurance Scheme for the Family Planning Association

Trustee of the Reynards UK Ltd Section of the SME Centralised Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Betty & Taylors Management Pension Plan

Oasis Community Learning

Work highlights

  • Advising a trustee of the Motor Industry Pension Plan on pensions litigation, winding up sections and buy outs, Section 75 statutory debt matters, and assessment period matters for sections within MIPP following employer insolvency.
  • Advising a trustee of the £12bn TPR Retirement Solutions Master Trust on day to day issues, transfers, benefit structures, ombudsman matters and more
  • Advising a trustee of the Reynards Section of the SME Centralised Pension Scheme in relation to pensions issues consequent upon sponsor insolvency including PPF eligibility, assessment period matters and petitioning the court for compulsory liquidation

DWF

DWF's pension practice counts professional trustees, pension providers, and household name employers amonst its clients. The team provides advice on matters such as winding-up schemes and risk management; it also handles contentious pension issues, such as disputes around equalisation. Elsewhere, the practice is active in assisting with the pension aspects of corporate transactions. Senior associate Sinead Sheehan leads the team, and is praised by clients for her 'clear and pragmatic advice'.

Practice head(s):

Sinead Sheehan; Colin Greig

Other key lawyers:

Lucinda Burgoine

Testimonials

‘Impressive market reach across pension advisory and pension litigation gives this team a cutting edge.’

‘Sinead Sheehan has that rare talent, mastery of detail, and sees the big picture. Lucinda Burgoine – Jeeves-like unhurried haste, calm in the face of pension legal life’s never-ending storm.’

‘Sinead Sheehan and Lucinda Burgoine display an excellent attention to detail. They make an excellent team and provide thorough, commercially focussed advice in a timely manner.’

‘Sinead Sheehan provides clear and pragmatic advice, achieving the best outcomes for her clients. ’

Key clients

WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc

Trustee of the Princes Pension Scheme and the Princes (1977) Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Edmundson Electrical Group Pension Schemes

Bentley Motors Limited

Work highlights

  • Providing a range of ad hoc legal advice to Morrisons PLC and advising Safeway Limited in equalisation proceedings.
  • Advising the Trustee of the Princes Pension Scheme and the Princes (1977) Pension Scheme on business matters including obligations and ongoing responsibilities under GDPR, application and implementation of Lloyds Banking judgment and GMP equalisation, and MNT and general trustee arrangements.
  • Providing the full range of pensions advice to the Edmundson Electrical Group, including multiple different pensions arrangements.   Advice including ad hoc advisory matters from GMP reconciliation and adherence of new employers, in addition to project work including benefit specification advice and consolidation of pension scheme documentation.

Fieldfisher

Since Jeremy Harris joined the firm in 2019, Fieldfisher's pensions team has developed a significant practice advising trustees and sponsoring employers. In 2020, the team aided clients on matters including the merger of defined-benefit schemes, the winding-up of master trusts, and issues related to actuarial valuations. The team also provided advice on issues related to coronavirus, such as the impact of furlough on pension schemes. Harris has 30 years' experience in this space, handling pension compliance issues as well as transactions.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Harris

Testimonials

‘Very approachable – happy to talk over queries & reach pragmatic solutions – not overly devoted to showing technical excellence (which is good) although it is clear this is a given.’

‘Jeremy Harris is excellent and very capable.’

Key clients

Trustees of the Sibelco UK Occupational Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Cooper Consolidated Pension Plan

Trustees of the MTL Instruments Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Willsher & Quick Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Warwick International Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of the WJB Pension Fund

Trustees of the Blankstone Sington Staff Pension Fund

Gateway Trustees Limited

Trustees of the JSB Electrical Staff Pension Scheme

Organon SIPP Services Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising on the impact of the Pension Schemes Bill 2019-21 on the employer’s obligations to share information with the trustees of its £1 billion defined benefit pension scheme and on the restrictions on corporate transactions and dividend payments.
  • Advising Trustees of DB pension scheme sponsored by UK subsidiaries of a multinational company in relation to the appropriate changes to a group company guarantee and on other matters on a triennial actuarial valuation of a £200 million defined benefit pension scheme.
  • Advising Trustees of three UK DB pension schemes sponsored by employers controlled by a US multinational in relation to the impact of triennial actuarial valuations of the UK DB pension schemes (£50-£100 million each) on the terms of group company guarantees and on other matters.

Gateley Plc

Under the leadership of Patrick Kennedy, Gateley Plc has developed a varied pensions practice, acting for trustees and sponsoring employers. The team stands out for its experience in the niche area of surety pension bonds. The pension team operates alongside Entrust, the firm's independent professional trustee company; it also offers the Enplan service platform to sponsoring employers, providing assistance with scheme governance and administration. Stuart Evans and associates Jess Pigg and Hannah Francois lead on this work.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Kennedy

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Evans; Jess Pigg; Hannah Francois; Stephen Maynard

Testimonials

‘Pragmatic lawyers that also work as professional independent trustees that enables them to see the world through the eyes of the client.’

‘Patrick Kennedy is an intelligent pensions partner who provides creative solutions. He is excellent to work with and there is never a dull moment with Patrick in the room. Stuart Evans is pragmatic and personable in his approach and is attracting lots of DB schemes into their DB consolidation vehicle. Jess Pigg is also a pleasure to work with and very efficient and organised in her approach. Hannah Francois is also an associate to watch and is quick to grasp key points and provides solutions to client issues.’

‘Excellent pensions trustee work.’

Hill Dickinson LLP

Hill Dickinson LLP provides comprehensive advice to the trustees and sponsors of pension schemes, assisting on buy-ins and buy-outs, changes to Trust Deeds and Rules, and the winding-up of schemes.  The practice has recently been engaged in advising clients facing liquidity issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, aiding them in restructuring their schemes. Barry Gibb leads the practice, handling advisory work as well as transactions. Paula Warnock is also a key contact and is valued by clients for her ‘extensive legal knowledge’.

Practice head(s):

Barry Gibb

Other key lawyers:

Paula Warnock

Testimonials

‘I use this practice for pensions advisory services. The quality of advice is excellent.’

‘Barry Gibb – first class advice and client engagement.’

‘A friendly, professional team who have extensive knowledge and experience and use this to give responsive, pragmatic and practical advice.’

‘Paula Warnock is a pleasure to work with – always quick to understand the issue and providing practical advice based on extensive legal knowledge.’

‘Reliable. Depth in the team. Breadth of service/sectors.’

‘Very accessible. Excellent briefings. Consistent approach.’

Key clients

Vynova Runcorn Limited

Swissport Group

Trustees of the A&P Group Pension Scheme

Keysight Technologies UK Limited

Trustees of the Chapelthorpe plc Pension Fund

Trustees of Seddon Group 1972 Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Greenwood & Coope Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Brandsby Agricultural Trading Association Employees’ Superannuation Scheme

William Jackson Trustees Limited

Trustees of the H J Enthoven Limited Pension Scheme and H J Enthoven Limited

Iggesund Paperboard (Workington) Limited and the Trustees of the Iggesund (UK) Pension Scheme

Port of Milford Haven

Trustees of the Erasteel (UK) Limited (1989) Pension and Assurance Scheme

Trustees of the PJKI Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Trustees of the Woodbridge Foam (UK) Ltd Retirement Benefit Scheme

Greystone Financial Services Limited

Trustees of the Grant Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Rickerby Limited Staff Pension and Assurance Scheme

Trustees of Hughes TV and Audio Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

Parkwood Hold

Work highlights

  • Jointly advising Iggesund Paperboard (Workington) Limited and the Trustee of the Iggesund (UK) Pension Scheme, the sponsoring employer and the Trustee to seek a court order to rectify the Deed and Rules of the Scheme to reinstate a power to enable an alternate prices index to be used for pension increases and revaluation.
  • Advising Keysight Technologies UK Limited, the sponsoring employer in relation to a scheme funding solution to ensure the pension scheme was adequately funding without the risk of a trapped surplus using short and long term escrow arrangements along with security and parent company guarantees.
  • Advising the Trustees of the Brandsby Agricultural Trading Association Limited Employees’ Superannuation Scheme regarding a buy-out during the pandemic’s first lockdown. The buy-out was one of the first transfers from L&G’s new fiduciary management mandate to an L&G bulk annuity policy.

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs routinely acts for pension sponsors and trustees in sectors including regulated utilities, manufacturing and the public sector, such as local governments. The team's work spans transactions, risk management, litigation, and investigations by the Pensions Ombudsman. The practice also acts for the trustees of master trusts. Practice head David Griffiths has decades of experience advising on all kinds of pension schemes, and also serves as a professional trustee. Victoria Leigh leads the team's contentious work.

Practice head(s):

David Griffiths

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Leigh

Testimonials

‘Pragmatic, proportionate legal advice and a willingness to work collaboratively with other stakeholders to achieve the best outcome. An ability to think more widely than just legal considerations which are relevant to an issue.’

‘David Griffiths has consistently delivered considered, timely legal advice aimed at overcoming barriers to achieving the desired outcome for our scheme.’

‘Very robust knowledge of a highly specialist area. Sage counsel offered in a unemotional way, quickly and responsively. ’

‘We value their commercial and practical approach. Great availability of partners and reasonable cost.’

‘It does not matter what questions, queries or problems you give the team, they always deal with everything in a calm, efficient and professional manner. I know that I am in good hands and can ask them anything and they will deliver.’

‘David Griffiths has a superb knowledge of our schemes and has worked with us for many years. I really value his integrity, experience and patience; he always provides an exceptional service. ’

‘I have worked with David Griffiths on many different schemes and always found the advice to be effective and non-contentious.’

‘Absolutely fantastic, the Emergency Service of the legal world. We instructed Squire Patton Boggs in a multi-partite dispute which has involved not only mitigating a substantial liability for our client but also some unusual points of constitutional law.’

Key clients

Representative Beneficiary for the Cobb Europe Limited Pension Scheme

Trustees of PZ Cussons PLC Pension Plans

Trustees of Nampak Staff Pension Plan

Amey plc and Trustee of the Amey OS Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Aviva Master Trust

Trustees of the Sappi UK Pension Scheme.

Trustee of Graphic Packaging UK Limited Pension Scheme

Trustee of Brammer Services Retirement Benefits Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustee through a £100m buy-in/buy-out deal, against a very tight timetable, and achieving the trustee’s objectives.
  • Advised trustees, in one transaction, and the employer, in another transaction, both transactions facilitating the disposal of businesses and release of corporate value. The transactions involved flexible apportionment of pension liabilities, funding guarantees and other funding vehicles such as escrow accounts.
  • Advised the Trustees of Graphic Packaging UK Pension Scheme on a range of liability management issues including benefit verification and revised investment arrangements.

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP stands out for the variety of clients that it advises on pension matters, from private sector trustees and employers to public sector institutions such as councils and the emergency services. The practice's work including advising on risk management, the winding up of pension schemes, and pension issues arising from corporate transactions and insolvencies. Practice head Mark Poulston has more than 20 years' experience in this area; elsewhere, Jane Marshall has experience in pensions and employment law. She is particularly active in areas where the two overlap, such as TUPE transfers.

Practice head(s):

Mark Poulston

Other key lawyers:

Jane Marshall

Testimonials

‘I find Weightmans very responsive and flexible in their approach to offering advice. In this context, our company uses them to help decide on the apportionment of death in service benefits and their advice is always clear and concise. They are very approachable and happy to discuss their recommendations/advice rather than expect us to rely on the production of a written report.’

‘Weightmans are great at appointing the right member of their team to a particular matter. They also provide a number of value added services, tailored to an organisation’s specific needs.’

‘Mark Poulston has been doing some work for both organisations that I represent, which involves re-writing the Trust Deeds of a staff life assurance scheme. Mark is always efficient and clear and he has a great ability to make complicated matters accessible to the client. He will also provide separate updates for different parts of the organisation, making them relevant to the reader.’

‘Very pragmatic, straightforward advice even when complex, sensitive and contentious issues are being dealt with. They have the ability to work collegiately within a multi-disciplined team involving external actuaries, pension administrators, and PR advisors together with in house finance, Communications, and employee relations experts.’

‘Mark Poulston and colleagues within the pensions and employment team have the ability and desire to respond to the needs of their clients in a pragmatic way and pass on their detailed technical expertise in a manner which is helpful and informative providing very cost effective solutions to conclude matters within very tight deadlines – nothing is too much trouble and their tireless pursuit of providing excellent customer service makes them a pleasure to do business with.’

Key clients

The Scheme Advisory Board for the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme

Swissport GB Limited

Equality and Human Rights Commission

British Insurance Brokers’ Association

Surrey and Sussex Police

Southbank Centre Limited

Colas Limited

N Brown Pension Trustees Limited

Bridgewater School

The Post Office

The Football Pools Limited

Anixter Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising on the current Firefighters’ Pension Schemes and helping shape future changes to the schemes.
  • Advising on withdrawal from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and the future provision of defined contribution pensions to teaching staff.
  • Advising several employer clients on the potential termination of their trust based occupational pension scheme and the implementation of a new defined contribution scheme for future pension provision.

gunnercooke LLP

The partners at gunnercooke LLP handle pension matters ranging from buy-ins to the closure of defined benefit schemes, as well as the pension aspects of corporate transactions and outsourcing. Suresh Bhatt and Ginevra Gatrell are the key figures in the Manchester office, which frequently collaborates with the firm's London team. Both Bhatt and Gatrell are pension specialists; Bhatt is 'extremely personable' while Gatrell is praised for her connections to the pension sector.

Other key lawyers:

Suresh Bhatt; Ginevra Gatrell

Testimonials

‘I was referred to the Ginevra Gatrell by another legal firm who advised me that she was the pensions expert that they use. So the fact that another legal firm sees her as an expert to refer their clients to, or who they would use themselves, speaks volumes about her knowledge and expertise.’

‘I first used Ginevra Gatrell over 12 months ago and it was clear from the outset that she is a subject matter expert. Her connections in the pension industry are wide-reaching which is another positive of using her. She has worked directly with me and also supported my clients. She has a calm and confident manner which puts clients at ease and also explains the obvious complexities of pension law in a way that is understandable. Ginevra’s response times are exceptional and I never have to chase for work – a rarity in the legal world in my experience. Throughout the pandemic, I have never found her to be unavailable and she has used technology to ensure that communication remains clear.’

‘Suresh Bhatt is readily available and manages contact and workload in an effective and professional manner, whilst always extremely personable. ’

Work highlights

  • Advised a pension scheme on securing £89.2M of pensioner liabilities through a buy-in.
  • Advising the trustees of pension scheme on the equalisation of guaranteed minimum pensions and securing those benefits.

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP is active in advising on a broad range of pension law issues, including complex matters requiring negotiations with trustees and trade unions. Buy-ins, winding-up projects, and scheme mergers are all frequently handled by the team; it is also continuing to expand its contentious practice. Paul Carney leads the Manchester-based team, which frequently collaborates with the firm’s other offices around the UK. Associate Alexandra Ventham is another key contact in the team.

Practice head(s):

Paul Carney

Other key lawyers:

Alexandra Ventham

Testimonials

‘This practices provides exceptional value for money. It is truly a partner-led service but with some outstanding team members.’

‘Paul Carney rapidly finds his way to the heart of matters. I value his deep experience in pensions and his friendly manner.’

‘Very responsive and personal service given by the team who tailor their communications to make each client feel important and excellent and building up trust. They take time to really consider what is appropriate to bill and ensure that the client understands the value given.’

‘Paul Carney – excellent calm and responsive advice, detailed but commercial and has a great manner for communicating complex subjects simply to clients. Alexandra Ventham – excellent eye for detail and a real star for the future.’

‘The Shoosmiths Pensions team are very client focused, professional and friendly. They come across as human. ’

‘I have worked with one partner in the team as well as taking part in one of the webinars providing updates and information. The advice received is consistently good, helpful and concise. The webinar I took part in was professional and provided useful guidance. ’

‘I have worked with one of the partners in the team, Paul Carney. Paul will always make himself available for a meeting requiring specific advice or for a call with a quick query. Paul has come to understand our business and is therefore able to provide helpful and detailed advice. His overall approach to helping and advising the company is excellent, he is good at keeping in touch and is great to work with. ’

Key clients

PSA Peugeot Citroën UK

Trustees of the Shoreham Port Authority Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Sydney Packetts and Sons Ltd RBS

Ampleforth Abbey Trustees

Trustees of the British Salt Pension Scheme

Henkel Limited

Trustees of the Evergreen Pension Plan

Trustees of the Guardian Media Group plc legacy pension schemes

The Growth Company

Work highlights

  • Advised a leading producer of automobiles in relation to a restructuring of the provision of employment benefits in the UK including closing three occupational defined benefit scheme to the future accrual of benefits.
  • Advised the Trustees of the Evergreen Pension Plan in relation to the establishment of an asset backed contribution/ central asset reserve vehicle.

TLT

TLT‘s pensions team handles a broad range of matters in this area, from bulk transfers to the pension aspects of corporate transactions. The team particularly stands out for its knowledge of SIPP and SASS schemes, advising providers on regulatory issues as well as handling the acquisition and disposal of these funds. Damien Garrould leads the team, which frequently collaborates with the wider firm’s offices in Bristol and London.

Practice head(s):

Damien Garrould

Other key lawyers:

Kate Beech

Testimonials

‘The mix of knowledge combined with unique specialists provides good support to our particular needs.’

‘Damien Garrould is responsive and quickly identifies the pertinent points in a no-nonsense manner with helps limit the fees charged and allows us to be proactive with our advice requests.’

‘The team are really extremely knowledgeable and you always feel in trusted hands. The great thing about the TLT pension team is they help provide solutions whether this is in providing materials to guide the team or assisting with draft responses.’

‘Damien Garrould is really approachable, providing great advice but also adding value add in terms of how the company can develop’

‘The pensions department are our “go-to” solicitors for pension technical/legal help. They are very knowledgeable and have good response times. They provide welcome industry insight and when asked a question provide a clear answer. Other firms we have worked with do not appear to be able to provide straight answers! This department also provides helpful information with regard to current pension issues which is greatly appreciated.’

‘Damien Garrould is our “go-to” Solicitor for our Pension schemes. Damien is approachable, knowledgeable and has good response times. I would happily recommend Damien.’

Key clients

Hartley Pensions Limited

Inchcape Retail Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Hartley on the acquisition of a large portfolio of self-invested personal pension schemes (SIPPs) from Guinness Mahon Trust Corporation Limited (In Administration). This was a portfolio of approximately 4,000 SIPPs.
  • Acted for Inchcape Retail Limited on five separate acquisitions and disposals of dealerships. In the latest instructions, we advised on the pensions aspects of the disposal of a dealership in the south of England.