Pensions in North

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The Newcastle-based team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP provides its diverse and national client base with ‘down to earth, commercial advice’. The practice is able to benefit from its links to regulatory bodies as well as its reputation in the field of public and voluntary sector pensions. Martin Poore leads the practice- experienced in the field, his expertise ranges from scheme restructuring to legislative compliance. Key practitioner Suzanne Duff advises sponsors and trustees on a variety of issues surrounding occupational pension schemes.

Practice head(s):

Martin Poore

Other key lawyers:

Suzanne Duff; Gavin Ellison; Tracy Walsh


‘Down to earth, commercial advice, which untangled a potentially complex set of issues surrounding the transition from a long standing company pension scheme with DB as well as DC elements to a Master Trust. The team were refreshing to deal with.’

‘I have worked with lawyers who see their technical understanding as a weapon to beat their clients with if questions are asked and challenges over advice are made. The refreshing style of the partner meant that it felt like a truly collaborative partnership, where her advice was shared discussed and agreed as she built up a trusting relationship with us.’

‘Very pro-active with the advice they give.’

‘Understand the pension scheme and what is required. Gavin Ellison is excellent.’

‘The practice is always available, has the correct level of services for our needs and is responsive to requests.’

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

Selby College

Work highlights

  • Advising Liverpool Victoria Financial Services Limited on the participation of a new group company in the Aon Master Trust including advising on the commercial agreements relating to its participation.
  • Advising Northern Powergrid on its section of the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme (ESPS) and its own occupational money purchase scheme.
  • Advising the Trustee of the Go-Ahead Group Pension Plan on its ongoing obligations in relation to the pension plan (a complex hybrid pension arrangement).

Irwin Mitchell

With senior associate Kate Byers leading the team in Newcastle together with London-based national head of pensions Martin Jenkins , the practice at Irwin Mitchell provides a full range of advice to trustees and employers. Byers is described as ‘extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of pensions law’, with expertise including drafting pension scheme documentation. Associate Lucy Herbert also plays a key role with experience in a range of matters, from governance compliance to restructuring projects.

Practice head(s):

Martin Jenkins; Kate Byers

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Herbert


‘The service we receive as trustees is professional, proactive, pragmatic and delivered in a distinctive personal style. We are always able to place total reliance on the advice given and the work carried out.’ 

‘The IM team are readily available at a senior level and provide informed, experienced advice to help on all our pensions projects. They are clear and pragmatic and have helped to diffuse many potentially difficult situations and prevented unnecessary escalation of work. Their fees are very competitive and represent the best combination of price and performance.’

‘Martin Jenkins, Lucy Herbert and Kate Byers. They are an extraordinary team capable of managing any pensions project requiring their input and advice. They have a nuanced way of dealing effectively with the different personalities of their clients to ‘read the room’ so they are helpful at all times. They are the only firm where I truly feel they never find problems to increase fee-time. But they do find all the hidden risks and highlight how they could be dealt with. I would highly recommend them.’

‘Kate Byers at Irwin Mitchell has been the legal advisor for our pension scheme trustees for a number of years now, and we have retained her services as she moved between law firms (previously she worked for DWF). Kate provides our trustees with an exemplary service, she is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of pensions law and is very accessible when required. Kate has advised our trustees on a number of complex pension matters and always explains things in a straightforward and easy to understand way.’

‘Collaborative in developing a deed register and timelines for balance of powers that helps immensely when dealing with pre and post scheme change queries. I know that I can rely on my partner to provide sound advice with the ability to translate it into a more non legal narrative.’

‘My experience of working with Kate Byers has been developed over a significant period that has allowed her to understand how our Trustees work, what the priorities are and I view the engagement as a partnership that provides a lot of mutual trust.’

Key clients

PAN Trustees UK LLP (and other companies within their corporate group)

Trusteeship: Fishing Co-operative (UK) Ltd Retirement & Death Benefits Scheme

Work highlights

  • Provided the trustee board of a pension scheme for the non teaching staff of a Russell Group university with detailed legal, technical and tax analysis in order to assist them as they put in place proposals to ensure the trustee board meets its obligation to equalise for the unequal effect of GMPs.
  • Acted for the newly appointed trustee board of a DB Master Trust in negotiating all of its global agreement with the master trust plan provider, including actuarial, administration, data sharing and investment agreements; and template deeds and agreements for use by incoming employers.
  • Advised the employer of a pension scheme in the manufacturing sector on the impact of a potential group restructure on their pension scheme and their obligations as scheme sponsor and participating employers.

Neon Legal

Pensions boutique Neon Legal in Newcastle acts for a range of clients, from small family businesses, public sector organisations and trustees to FTSE 100 companies. The practice has experience in complex and high-volume matters such as large pension scheme wind-ups. Tushar Bhate heads up the team, drawing on ‘a brilliant knowledge of pensions law’ with particular expertise in public sector schemes.

Practice head(s):

Tushar Bhate


‘They are independent pensions experts and it is great to work with a firm whose position is very clear, with no pressures for cross-selling of services. They are also very pragmatic and easy to deal with.’

‘Tushar Bhate is a great person to have on our side. He has a brilliant knowledge of pensions law but also has a way of making complicated issues seem relatively straightforward and he is always open to a chat about how to approach any particular issue.’

Key clients

Barratt Pension Trustee Limited

Vale Mill (Rochdale) Ltd Pension Scheme

JE Hartley Limited Staff Pension Scheme

All We Can Charity

Star Compliance

InvestAcc Pension Administration Limited

James Walker Pension Scheme

James Walker Group Limited

Milton Keynes Education Trust

Club & Institute Union Staff Superannuation Fund

Wakefield College

Can-Pack UK Ltd

Practical Action Employee Benefits Scheme

MHM Trustee Services Ltd

Ormiston Academies Trust

The Beneden Hospital Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised numerous employers of the Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme in respect of their section 75 liabilities and implications of a Petition to the Court of Sessions and claims to the Pensions Ombudsman.
  • Advised numerous FE colleges on the pensions implications of consolidation.