Pensions in Scotland

Pinsent Masons LLP

'Providing professional, seamless service', Pinsent Masons LLP has impressive strength in the pensions sector which translates into a steady flow of contentious and non-contentious mandates from employers, trustees and funds. The 'knowledgeable and pragmatic' team led by the 'highly experienced' Ian Gordon stands out for advising trustees of various defined benefit schemes on pension scheme funding agreements and security packages alongside buy-in and buy-out insurance contracts, among other issues. In the transactional space, where the team benefits from its strong co-operation with its corporate team, the group is well versed in handling pensions aspects of M&A transactions including pensions issues arising from solvent and insolvent corporate restructurings. The 'deeply knowledgeable, pragmatic and efficientRuth Tobias is 'highly recommended' for defined pension schemes.

Practice head(s):

Ian Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Ruth Tobias; Jae Fassam; Mairi Carlin


The team has real bench strength.

Ruth Tobias is meticulous in her legal advice. She has a no-nonsense approach and gives clear and decisive opinions.

Provides straight-forward and solution-oriented advice.

Excellent communication.

The team is not afraid to offer advice that may not suit the client.

Like a good musical quartet, each individual works within a seamless approach while at the same time delivering individual excellence.

Jae Fassam is very knowledgeable and provides pragmatic and measured advice.’

Key clients

The Plumbing and Mechanical Services(UK) Industry Pension Scheme

Babcock Naval Services Pension Scheme

Forth Ports Group Pension Scheme

Lothian Pension Fund

Trustees of the Scottish Solicitors Staff Pension Fund

RBS Ulster Bank

Marine Harvest Pension Scheme

The R&A

Trustees of Global Santa Fe North Sea Final Salary Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advising the trustee of this £2bn non-associated multi-employer fund on the method, calculation and recovery of statutory debts going back over 10 years.
  • Advised the client on the transfer of past service pension benefits from the Babcock scheme to the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme.
  • Advising the £6bn Lothian Pension Fund on all aspects of pensions, litigation, funds and governance work.
  • Involved in a number of issues on an on-going basis relating to pensions and reward work for RBS and Ulster Bank.
  • Advising the trustees on their duties in relation to a proposal by the company to close the defined benefits section of the scheme to future accrual and on a transfer of the DC Section of the scheme to a master trust.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Frequently working in conjunction with various other departments, Shepherd and Wedderburn's 'strong' pensions team is recognised for its broad offering and has a fine reputation acting for corporates and pension trustee clients, most notably in the financial services, higher education and energy sectors. Recently, the team handled various employment and GDPR matters pertaining to pension schemes alongside scheme documentation and scheme reorganisations as well as transactional matters. Andrew Holehouse, Louisa Knox, who is 'very pleasant to work with', and Edwin Mustard are the main contacts.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Holehouse; Louisa Knox; Edwin Mustard

Other key lawyers:

‘ Shepherd and Wedderburn ‘ 


‘Shepherd and Wedderburn are simply the best in terms of both breadth and depth. The team is uniformly a pleasure to deal with at both a personal and business level. They are responsive, efficient and always practical’.

‘Louisa Knox makes pensions fun, has a fantastic grasp of her subject, a quick brain and is excellent at suggesting practical solutions’.

Key clients

Scottish Widows Retirement Benefits Scheme

The Standard Life Staff Pension Scheme

ScottishPower Pension Scheme

Scottish Amicable Staff Pension Scheme

A.G. Barr Retirement Benefits Scheme

The University of Edinburgh Staff Benefits Scheme

The Miller Group Pension Scheme

Universal Music Group Pension Scheme

John Wood Group Retirement Benefits Scheme

Scottish Hydro-Electric Pension Scheme (SSE)

Work highlights

  • Advising the trustees of the scheme, a multi-billion pound hybrid final salary/ DC pension scheme sponsored by Standard Life Aberdeen, on all aspects of pensions law. Recently, the team advised the client on the implications of the £3bn sale of Standard Life Assurance to the Phoenix Group.
  • Acting for the trustee of the ScottishPower Pension Scheme, a multi-billion pound final salary pension scheme sponsored by Scottish Power UK. Recently, this included advice on the implementation of the scheme’s GDPR compliance project and scheme-specific advice on various investment-related matters, among other issues.
  • The team advised the trustee on GDPR compliance requirements and various governance-related matters, including documenting historic benefits of members and providing training on 21st Century Trusteeship and the Prudential M&G demerger.
  • Advising the client on various pension law matters; recently this included assistance with the appointment of JLT as scheme secretary, a change in policy around partial transfers and GDPR scheme compliance.
  • Advising the trustee of the newly established Coats UK Pension Scheme in relation to a consolidation of the three historic pension schemes associated with the Coats Group.

Brodies LLP

Juliet Bayne's 'absolutely committed and professional' team at Brodies LLP puts significant emphasis on pension trustee work, advising on defined pension schemes and the transfer of existing schemes to master trust arrangements, while also providing corporate employers with transactional pension law support and assisting various public sector clients with sector specific pension law matters.

Practice head(s):

Juliet Bayne


Juliet Bayne takes ownership of issues and leads her team by example. She is a good communicator and delivers advice in a clear and easily understood manner.

Charges realistic fees.

Tasks are appropriately resourced between senior and junior staff with good levels of oversight.

Genuine expertise in the niche area of local government pension schemes.

Hard-working, conscientious, professional, intelligent, pragmatic.

Does not sit on the fence and is willing to give a firm opinion on issues even if it’s not the answer the client wants to hear.’

Provides an excellent service.

Meets deadlines very effectively.

Juliet Bayne is always prepared to deal with matters regardless of her other deadlines.’

Key clients

Menzies Pension Fund

Baxters Food Group

BPI Pension Trustees

Prudential Assurance Company

Trustees of the Howden Group Pension Plan

Intel Corporation

Trustees of the Emtelle UK Defined Benefit Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Gates UK Pension Scheme

Lothian Pension Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised on the controlled entry of British Steel Pension Scheme into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), part of the joint venture between Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel.
  • Advised this long-standing client on a bespoke deferred premium buy-out with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC).
  • On-going advice on a rectification project concerning the equalisation of normal retirement ages.
  • Provided advice on a benefit redesign exercise which ultimately enabled this pension scheme to be bought out with an insurer and all members’ benefits secured.
  • Advice on preparing the buy-out and wind-up of a long-running occupational defined benefit pension scheme with a complex benefit structure.

Burness Paull LLP

With particular strength in corporate pensions advisory work, Burness Paull LLP is frequently called upon to advise on pensions aspects of M&A, private equity, investment and refinancing work. The 'highly responsive, technically sound and client-focused' team is led by the 'cool-headed and incredibly personableSarah Phillips and acts for a number of well known corporates, most notably from the finance, oil and gas and public sectors, as well as trustees. Pension litigation is another key area of expertise.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Margaret Meehan; Jennifer Adams; Deborah Adam; Caroline McIntyre


The team appropriately measures risks against practical consequences.’

Deborah Adam is very personable and professional; she delivers clear and concise advice in difficult circumstances and brings extensive experience of how issues can play out in practice.

Quite simply good advice presented very clearly with obvious commercial experience.

Margaret Meehan is cool, calm and collected as well as very knowledgeable and experienced; she gives clear, commercial and authoritative advice that is solution-oriented.

Client focus is second to none.

Bright, articulate and thorough, which, coupled with a strong commercial focus makes a strong practice.

The pensions team joins up well with other practices which reflects well on the firm as a whole.

The team seems to enjoy what they do which rubs off on clients and other advisors.

Sarah Phillips’ technical knowledge is excellent and her ability to read situations and guide clients through complex issues is impressive. She has a very relaxed delivery style and clients relate to her easily.

Margaret Meehan is incredibly clever but also down-to-earth and easy to work with which is not always true of clever lawyers!’

Key clients

John Menzies

MGM Assurance (Trustees)

Airdrie Savings Bank

A-Plan Holdco

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

The Trustees of the Glenmorangie Pension Scheme

ARC Pensions Law

Nucleus Financial Group

Lloyds Banking Group

Lothian Pension Fund

Trustees of the Havelock Europa Retirement Benefits Scheme

The Trustees of the Church of Scotland Pension Schemes

Work highlights

  • Acted for A-Plan Holdco in the share purchase of Endsleigh Insurance (owned by Zurich Insurance Group) involving pension liability restructuring matters.
  • Assisted John Menzies with the pensions aspects of the sale of its distribution business.
  • Advised the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on proposed changes to the MPs’ pension scheme.
  • Advised Calachem on the closure of its occupational defined contribution pension scheme and the transfer of members’ benefits to contract-based pension arrangements.
  • Advised the trustees of the pension scheme of Havelock Europa on their negotiations with the company and the pensions regulator in the run up to the company entering administration.


With a strong profile for financial services, technology, utilities and life sciences sector work, CMS frequently advises employers on pension law matters arising from transactions, GDPR compliance, pension scheme governance, trustee changes and funding matters. Alastair Hill heads the team.

Practice head(s):

Alistair Hill

Key clients

NEC Semiconductors

Alliance Trust Savings

Raytheon Systems

Royal Blind


Scotia Gas Networks Pension Scheme

University of Glasgow

Tilney Discretionary Investment Management

Cameron Flow Control Technology

Work highlights

  • Provided international guidance on pensions and other employee benefits in respect of Francisco Partners’ strategic global acquisition and take-private of Verifone.
  • Advised the client on pension law matters pertaining to its acquisition of a group of companies from the Kelda Group that operates four wastewater treatment works serving the North East of Scotland.
  • On-going advice on GDPR compliance and guaranteed minimum pension equalisation as well as investment management and custody agreements, among other matters.


The 'very reliable' June Crombie is 'a safe pair of hands' and heads up the 'very experienced and knowledgeable' team at DWF, which counts employers, trustees and providers of pension products to its clients. Typical work includes advice on defined pension schemes, pension scheme transfers, pension liability matters and pension law issues arising from transactions as well as regulatory concerns. The practice is also experienced in pension litigation.

Practice head(s):

June Crombie

Other key lawyers:

Colin Greig


June Crombie always goes beyond what might be expected of her. She is a well known face in the Scottish pension industry and has many years of experience of dealing with employers, trustees and advisors.

Always gets the job done.

Excellent communicators in explaining practical pension solutions to their clients.

Colin Greig is first class and has a genuine understanding of the needs of his clients, enabling him to achieve workable solutions to complex areas of work.

Key clients



Pension Protection Fund

IKEA GreenTech


The Church of Scotland


Aliter Capital


Clyde (Topco)

North Lanarkshire Leisure

20-20 Trustees

Work highlights

  • Advised the client on pension liability matters arising from the acquisition of target companies.
  • Advised the client on pension liability matters arising from the acquisition of target companies.
  • Advised the client on moving a death benefit provision from a registered death benefit scheme to an excepted group life arrangement.
  • Assisted the client with pension matters pertaining to a transaction.
  • Advised the client on pension liabilities.

MacRoberts LLP

MacRoberts LLP handles regular instructions from trustees of various pension schemes and employers pertaining to gender equalisation, pension scheme liability, investment structures and wind-ups alongside M&A transactions. 'Extremely good technical lawyerMartyn Shaw heads the 'pragmatic' team; he is 'commercially aware and understands how the legal issues fit into the bigger picture'.

Practice head(s):

Martyn Shaw

Other key lawyers:

James Keith


James Keith is a safe pair of hands and a pleasure to work with; he turns around any issue in a prompt fashion while never compromising on quality.

Martyn Shaw is calm and assured and provides his clients with confidence.

Pragmatic and commercial outlook.

James Keith is an excellent lawyer with terrific attention to detail.

Very pleasant to work with.

The team has a can-do attitude. They are very focused on achieving good outcomes for their clients.

Good commercial acumen.

Martyn Shaw is a highly professional lawyer with real gravitas.

Key clients

Jacobs UK (and the trustees of its various pension schemes)

Johnston Press (and the trustees of the Johnston Press Pension Plan)

The Scottish Government

The T.P.S. Benefits Scheme

The MacRae & Dick Retirement Benefits Scheme


Scottish Leather Group

The Travis Perkins Pension & Dependants’ Pension Scheme

The SIG Retirement Benefits Plan

Work highlights

  • Advising the trustees of the scheme in connection with a change of third party administrator and undertaking the review and adjustment of the proposed administration agreements with particular focus on TUPE and data protection.
  • Advised the client on a scheme funding package.
  • Advised the trustee on a proposed change in the scheme’s pension benefit structure.
  • Following advising the trustee of the scheme on the successful implementation of a £30m medically underwritten buy-in funding deal with Just Retirement, the team provided advice on the scheme’s investment powers (including amending the scheme’s statement of investment principles) and the financial services compensation scheme, among other matters.
  • Advising the scheme trustees on equalising normal pension dates of males and females (including the preparation and completion of supporting affidavits) and on the equalisation of guaranteed minimum pension benefits of males and females.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern is particularly experienced in self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) and small self-administered schemes (SSASs) and assists pension providers, trustees and scheme members with scheme documentation, scheme borrowings and investments. In other work, the team led by 'responsive, knowledgeable and structured' senior associate Steven Dunn also advises clients on issues arising from their participation in public sector pension schemes.

Practice head(s):

Steven Dunn

Key clients

Yorsipp/ Yorsipp Trustees

PSFM/ PSFM Trustees

Monument SSAS

Trustees of the STUC General Council Staff Pension Scheme

Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

Scottish and Northern Irish Plumbing Employers’ Federation

Edinburgh Napier University

University of the West of Scotland

Glasgow Caledonian University

Fife Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Yorsipp on its governing documentation for self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) and small self-administered schemes (SSASs) and on the general scheme administration.
  • Continues to advise PSFM on its documentation for self-invested personal pensions and small self-administered schemes as well as on general scheme administration and on the legislative requirements in relation to proposed scheme investments and loans.
  • Continues to advise the trustees on their defined benefit (DB) pension scheme and its ongoing administration, including the provision of a contingent asset agreement.
  • Advising several members of the RCN on pension entitlements under the National Health Service Superannuation Scheme (NHSSS) including the interpretation of the governing regulations, the calculation of their pension entitlements and whether or not they had retained Mental Health Officer or Special Class Status.
  • Advising the federation on concerns arising from its member firms’ participation in a multi-employer DB scheme and on potential section 75 liabilities arising from this.


Having a 'breadth of expertise' in scheme de-risking and corporate support work, Dentons routinely advises on funding matters, equality compliance and buy-outs alongside pension law matters arising from mergers and acquisitions. The 'very pragmatic' team also handles contentious work and is led by the 'dynamic and engagingDavid Knox, who divides his time between Edinburgh and London.

Practice head(s):

David Knox


Excellent collaboration and communication within different areas of expertise and hierarchy across the firm.’

Good communication with the client.

Key clients

Babcock & Wilcox UK

Barnado’s Pension Scheme Members

Barry Callebaut Belgium

Emmaus UK


W.L. Gore

Highland Distillers


MSA Trustees

Work highlights

  • Successful defence (before the UK Supreme Court) for representative beneficiaries of the Barnardo’s Pension Scheme, whose employer wanted to save many millions of pounds by switching the basis of pension increases from Retail Prices Index to Consumer Prices Index.
  • Acted for Emtelle UK in the buy-out and wind-up of its pension scheme.
  • Advised WL Gore on the funding, guarantees and closure of its pension scheme.
  • Advised the Edrington Group employers (Highland Distillers was purchased by the Erdington Group) on pension funding and de-risking of schemes affected by the sale of Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse assets.
  • Advised the Mining Safety Applications trustees on the buy-out and wind-up of a complex historic scheme.