Pensions in Scotland

Pinsent Masons LLP

Commended for its wide-ranging expertise, Pinsent Masons LLP provides employers, trustees and funds - spanning both the private and public sectors - with the full range of pensions services. This includes buy-outs and buy-ins, investments, scheme administration and governance issues. Working in conjunction with its corporate colleagues, the practice is also well placed to handle pension aspects pertaining to M&A transactions as well as those arising from solvent and insolvent corporate restructurings. Ian Gordon, who also acts as an independent trustee of a number of pension schemes, heads the team, which includes defined benefit pension scheme expert Ruth Tobias and legal director Mairi Carlin, who specialises in the pensions aspects of public sector outsourcing.

Practice head(s):

Ian Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Ruth Tobias; Mairi Carlin


Real strength in depth and some exceptional individuals. They combine technical rigour with a commercial and practical attitude that makes them a key player in any major trustee decision.

The Pinsent Masons team provides the trustees with excellent support, they have an in-depth knowledge of the scheme and the issues it is facing and take a full part in discussion/ advising across the full spectrum of issues.

They are comfortable discussing across the full range of issues and do not confine themselves to just legal matters. I welcome their invaluable advice and support.

The team is efficient at bringing in partner colleagues from other teams such as banking and investments to provide other specialist advice whenever necessary.

My overall impression is of a well-led team with strength in depth down through all levels of experience and knowledge to produce a highly competent client-friendly culture.

Over the last few years the team has guided us through a number of extremely complex change projects, providing us with expert advice in a very timely, pragmatic and cost-effective way.

Very timely in their response and also very pragmatic. Special mention and thanks to Mairi Carlin and Ian Gordon who have both been outstanding.

Ian Gordon ia technically excellent, calm and thoughtful, inspires confidence. Someone you always want in your camp.

Special mention and thanks to Mairi Carlin and Ian Gordon who have both been outstanding.

Ruth Tobias and Mairi Carlin were professional, engaged, timely with responses, proactive with advice and pragmatic with solutions.

Ruth Tobias is an exceptionally knowledgeable pensions lawyer with a very practical approach. Her advice is always prompt, very high quality and in a style which can be easily understood by the various stakeholders of our pension scheme.

Key clients

Plumbing and Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme

Babcock Naval Services Pension Scheme

Lothian Pension Fund

Trustees of the Scottish Solicitors Staff Pension Fund

RBS Ulster Bank

Fife Council


Franklin Templeton Global Investors Ltd

The Trustees of the Mowi Scotland Pension Scheme

University of Aberdeen

Work highlights

  • Advising the Trustee of the Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme on all employer debt-related matters.
  • Advising Lothian Pension Fund on all aspects of pensions, litigation, funds and governance work.
  • Advised the trustee of Babcock Naval Services Pension Scheme on every aspect of the transfer of past service pension benefits from the Babcock Scheme to the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme.
  • Advised the Trustee of the Scottish Solicitors’ Staff Pension Fund, a multi-employer final salary arrangement with over 40 employers, on a number of withdrawal requests from participating employers.
  • Advising new client Fife Council on a range of pensions issues, including on managing relationships with admission bodies.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn acts for an extensive roster of corporate and pension trustee clients and demonstrates particular sectoral strength in financial services, higher education and energy. Jointly led by Andrew Holehouse, Louisa Knox and Edwin Mustard, who handle a wide range of pensions law issues, the team is well equipped to guide clients through, among other matters, investment and risk transfers alongside the transfer of defined contribution and defined benefit assets and liabilities into consolidation vehicles. Senior associate Richard Jones is noted for his investment expertise.

Other key lawyers:

Richard Jones


Good communication and personal contact.

Good knowledge of our scheme.

Key clients

Standard Life Staff Pension Scheme

ScottishPower Pension Scheme

The Miller Group Pension Scheme

A.G. Barr plc Retirement Benefits Scheme

University of Edinburgh Staff Benefits Scheme

The University of St Andrews Superannuation and Life Assurance Scheme

Universal Music Group Pension Scheme

John Wood Group plc Retirement Benefits Scheme

Scottish Hydro-Electric Pension Scheme (SSE)

Work highlights

  • Advised the Scottish Hydro-Electric Pension Scheme (SHEPS) on the conversion of its longevity swap with Legal & General into a bulk annuity policy with Pension Insurance Corporation plc, further reducing risk and volatility for SHEPS and the scheme’s sponsor, SSE plc.
  • Advised the Trustees of the Miller Group Limited Pension Scheme on a pension scheme investment transaction, using investment vehicles in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Providing ongoing advice to the Trustee of the ScottishPower Pension Scheme, a multi-billion pound final salary pension scheme sponsored by Scottish Power UK plc. Recently, this included advice on multiple tax queries, the implications for the scheme of Llodys Bank Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) equalisation judgement, and on various investment changes, among other matters.
  • Advised the Trustee of the A.G. Barr plc (2008) Pension and Life Assurance Scheme on the negotiation of a second bulk annuity policy with Canada Life to cover a second tranche of pensioner members.
  • Advised the Trustees of the John Wood Group plc Retirement Benefits Scheme on its merger and amalgamations with the Wood Pension Plan.

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP has recently been particularly active advising trustees and companies from the manufacturing, engineering, financial services and public sectors on pensions matters pertaining to transactions, restructurings and projects with the aim to de-risk defined benefit pension schemes and, on the defined contribution side, to move existing schemes over to master trust arrangements. Juliet Bayne heads the practice and provides advice on the full spectrum of pension law.

Practice head(s):

Juliet Bayne


They are attentive and responsive to our needs as a client and I find their advice practical and sound. They are effective in their communication internally and with us as a client.

The Brodies pension team provides an excellent balance of technical knowledge and practical common sense advice and the team is structured in such a way that an appropriate individual is always available when required.

Clear and comprehensive advice is provided efficiently.

Very knowledgeable about local government pension regulations. Gives good practical advice. Very quick to respond.

Brodies’ pension team is highly regarded by professional pension trustees who value their knowledge and approachability.

Very capable and diverse firm with exceptional legal knowledge.

The team is direct with their advice and also earn the trust and respect of both professional and lay trustees very rapidly. They have an exceptional level of commitment to their clients in my view.

Under the leadership of Juliet Bayne they get to the point and then amplify what needs amplified later. They thus provide proper leadership on legal matters to me and my fellow trustees. They take ownership and stand behind the advice they provide.

Juliet Bayne is an experienced pensions lawyer.

Juliet Bayne sets the standard and the style of their business.

Juliet Bayne displays an excellent understanding of clients’ situations, and has used her deep knowledge of the pensions landscape to help them navigate a number of potentially challenging situations to a successful conclusion. Her collaborative approach over the long term results in a great deal of trust being built up with her clients and the advisers she works alongside.

Juliet Bayne is very professional but also very personable and a team player who interacts well with other advisers. Juliet clearly has in-depth pensions expertise.

Juliet Bayne is always a pleasure to deal with, intelligent, knowledgeable and practical, with very strong communication skills.

Key clients

Menzies Pension Fund (Trustees of the John Menzies plc defined benefit pension fund)

Spirit Energy

BPI Pension Trustees Limited (Trustee of the British Polythene Pension Scheme)

Trustees of the Howden Group Pension Plan

Trustees of the Moorbrook Textiles Limited Retirement Benefits Scheme

Aberdeen City Council

Intel Corporation

Trustees of the Aon McMillen Ltd Retirement Benefits Scheme

Trustee of the Gates UK Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Clyde Bergemann Power Group Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustees of the Howden Group Pension Plan on a £230m buy-in with Legal & General (L&G), thereby eliminating risk and fully securing members’ benefits.
  • Instructed by Aberdeen City Council to assist with the merger of the Strathclyde Pension Fund (No. 3) Fund, into the Aberdeen City Council Transport Fund, both of which are further funds within the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).
  • Advised BPI Pension Trustees Limited as Trustee of the British Polythene Pension Scheme on the pensions impact of the proposed takeover of RPC Group PLC.
  • Advised the Trustees of the Menzies Money Purchase Pension Scheme on the establishment of a new pension scheme and moving 3,000 members to it.
  • Advising Art & Terroir SA on the pension aspects of the acquisition of the Glenturret Limited.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP provides corporates and trustees with transactional and investment assistance - with the former being an area of particular expertise for team head Sarah Phillips -, alongside advice on scheme administration, scheme liabilities, various governance and compliance issues and contentious matters. Its work spans various sectors, most notably the financial services, public and third sectors.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Margaret Meehan


Members of the team we have dealt with are always friendly and approachable giving us the advice we need in clear concise terms, recognising both the legal and business implications of the situation.

They deal with matters promptly and give clear advice rather than a range of possible answers.

Technically sound and provides clear, practical advice; looks for solutions.

Burness Paull seeks to really support and understand their clients’ needs. They are a firm you want to turn to in a crisis. The quality of their lawyers and their advice is very high, they are pragmatic in approach, and they offer competitive rates. They also appear to operate a very supportive culture for their staff.

The pensions practice is incredible. The intellectual rigour is first-class and everything is wrapped around with strategic, client-focused and pragmatic advice. They always think long-term and holistically. They can translate complex legal argument into language that non-lawyer colleagues can understand. Above all, their focus is on the client’s overall interests. They always make us feel as if they have our back. This is invaluable for us.

The team clearly had the confidence of their client, understood the transaction, were pragmatic and very responsive.

Sarah Phillips is very easy to deal with and very responsive and effective – she knew what was important and enabled the transaction to proceed quickly which both parties which both parties wanted to do.

Margaret Meehan always gives advice that cuts straight to what the law means for the business. She doesn’t waste time on legal “rabbit holes” whereas with some other law firms one sometimes gets the impression that legal commentary goes on for too long because the lawyers want to demonstrate how clever they are.

Margaret Meehan makes herself available and is a pleasure to deal with.

Key clients

Aegon UK

Lothian Pension Fund

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

Santander UK

Nucleus Financial Group

John Menzies plc

Phoenix Life & Standard Life

Lloyds Banking Group

Maersk/ Total

Ulster Bank

Baxters Food Group Pension Scheme

Ahlstrom Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised the Trustee of the Aegon UK Staff Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme on a £144m buy-in of pensioner liabilities with Phoenix Life.
  • Acted for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in re-writing the rules of the MPs’ pension scheme and advised on benefit design issues.
  • Advised Insight Venture Partners on the pensions aspects of the client’s large investment in ContractPod Technologies.
  • Advised Genstar Capital LLC on the pensions aspects of the acquisition of OEConnection LLC.
  • Advised Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) on a tendering process for pensions support services covering administration, governance/ scheme secretarial support, actuarial and investment consultancy.


Covering various sectors, DWF receives regular instructions from trustees, employers and pension providers to assist with scheme restructurings, benefit transfers, investments, wind-ups, documentation reviews and governance issues, among other matters. June Crombie heads the practice from Glasgow and covers a wide range of pensions matters, including pension disputes.

Practice head(s):

June Crombie

Other key lawyers:

Colin Greig


They are a pleasure to work with, and we have no hesitation in engaging them when we can.

I have found them swift to return with advice. And to give sound advice.

Good advice. Quick responses.

Colin Greig is excellent at identifying the key issues and providing strong advice in relation to them. He also has a strong understanding of wider factors and is very good at identifying other potential approaches to achieve one’s objectives.

June Crombie remains a practitioner who is held in very high regard, both by clients and her peers. Her advice and attention to detail is excellent.

June Crombie is my main point of contact. She gives a very personal service from a very strong knowledge base and is very flexible in the way she works with us. In the minds of the trustees she is a very important member of the team. She also ensures we get good value for money.

June Crombie has excellent knowledge and experience.

Key clients

Dairy UK

Cornwall County Council

Mattioli Woods plc

Ipsum Group Limited



Aliter Capital LLP

NorthEdge Capital

20-20 Trustees Limited

The Church of Scotland

Work highlights

  • Advising North Lanarkshire Leisure on restructuring-related pensions matters.
  • Advised Ipsum Group Limited on pensions matters pertaining to restructuring arrangements.
  • Provided PLC Group Scheme Trustees with advice on the move to a master trust under a new regime.
  • Acted for a group of employers in Scotland in the consolidation of a group-wide death benefit provision.
  • Advised Boost (Bidco) Limited on the pensions aspects of the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Sponge UK Limited.

MacRoberts LLP

MacRoberts LLP provides trustees and employers with a wide range of pension services, including liability management exercises, transfer of liabilities, wind-ups, investments, governance and M&A transactions. It has also carved out a strong practice handling asset-backed funding arrangements with James Keith, who made partner in May 2019, typically taking the lead in this space. The practice is led by Martyn Shaw and serves clients from an array of industries but has recently been particularly active in the manufacturing, engineering, retail, public and third sectors.

Practice head(s):

Martyn Shaw

Other key lawyers:

James Keith


The firm’s pension team certainly has experience and good delivery and explanation skills.’

We find the team approachable, technically proficient and commercial. They offer competitive pricing and stick to it. Their focus is very much on delivering outcomes.

Martyn Shaw – great focus on the bigger picture and the key elements in getting things done.

What makes this practice unique is Martyn Shaw. His knowledge of the marketplace, experience, commercial awareness and willingness to give exactly what we look for (namely good, strong, positive advice as to what we should, or should not, do) is absolutely second-to-none – and we make that comment from detailed experience.

James Keith – technical expertise and thoroughness.

James Keith is excellent. Very collaborative with a focus very much on delivering outcomes. Excellent technical skill.

Key clients

Jacobs U.K. Limited (and the trustees of its various pension schemes)

The Scottish Government

The Martin Currie Retirement and Death Benefits Plan

The TPS Benefits Scheme

The Chivas Brothers Pension Scheme

The SIG plc Retirement Benefits Plan

Gleaner Limited

The J. & J. Denholm Group and the trustees of its defined benefit and defined contribution pension schemes

Genoyer S.A.

The Edinburgh Airport Pension Plan

Work highlights

  • Lead adviser and project manager providing advice to the Trustee of the Babtie Group Ltd Superannuation and Life Assurance Scheme and the Trustee of the Jacobs Engineering UK Limited Pension Scheme on the re-certification with the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) of an asset-backed funding arrangement for two defined benefit pension schemes of the Jacobs group.
  • Acted for the Trustee of the T.P.S. Benefits Scheme on the re-certification with the PPF of a £25m TYPE A parent company guarantee.
  • Provided advice to the Trustees of the Jacobs Defined Contribution Plan (UK) on the employer’s proposal to close both the DC Plan and the Group Personal Pension Plan (as part of $3 billion global merger) to future contributions from September 2019.
  • Acting for the Trustee of the T.P.S. Benefits Scheme on the transfer of defined benefit funding liabilities between sponsoring employers of the scheme.
  • Advised the trustees of two defined benefit schemes of a major international transport group on an asset-backed funding arrangement.


CMS' practice is led by Alastair Hill, who handles current and legacy defined contribution pension propositions for clients spanning various sectors and acts for defined benefit and defined contribution occupational pension scheme trustees, employers and managers. Its workload includes transactional and governance matters.

Practice head(s):

Alistair Hill

Other key lawyers:

Jae Fassam


Jae Fassam is a very knowledgeable and a highly regarded pensions lawyer.

Key clients

Virgin Money

Northern Ireland Water

Galderma (U.K) Limited

Royal Blind


Scotia Gas Networks Pension Scheme

University of Glasgow

Savoy Hotel

Tilney Discretionary Investment Management

Cameron Flow Control Technology

NEC Semiconductors

Work highlights

  • Advised Galderma S.A./ Galderma (UK) Limited on the establishment of a new pension arrangement for UK employees and the transfer to it of their existing benefits from the Nestlé UK Pension Fund.
  • Assisted the principal shareholder Clyde Blowers Capital S.à r.l. and others with pension law matters pertaining to the sale of Hydreco Hydraulics Group to Duplomatic MS.
  • Acted for the Trustees of the Highlands and Islands Airports Pension Scheme in acquiring a security over the terminal at Inverness Airport as a contingent asset to secure scheme funding.
  • Providing the University of Glasgow with day-to-day pensions advice. Recently, this included advice on Guaranteed Minimum Pension Equalisation, among other matters.