Pensions in West Midlands

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has one of the largest pensions teams in the Midlands. The practice advises the trustees of many of the Midlands’ most prominent pension schemes as well as many local employers on their pension obligations. The first-rate team also advises a number of Midlands-based LGPS pension funds in addition to many well-known clients that are based further afield. Names to note include Liz Fallon who is responsible for the pensions team internationally. Gary Delderfield heads the national public sector pensions offering and Emma King leads the Midlands pensions team. Sarah Franklin is adept at advising trustees and scheme sponsors on all aspects of their occupational pension schemes. Principal associate Gavin Paul has significant experience of advising trustees and sponsoring employers operating in the private sector on the full range of pension issues.

Practice head(s):

Emma King

Testimonials

Gary Delderfield is one of the leaders on public sector pensions. Eversheds is doing a lot of good work. Sarah Franklin is very impressive.

Key clients

NGN Pension Scheme Trustees

Goodyear Dunlop Tyres UK Ltd Pension Plan

TRW Automotive Inc

Trustees of the Calor Group Retirement Benefits Plan

Clara Pension Trustees

Wm Morrison and Safeway Pension Scheme Trustees

Borders to Coast Pensions Partnership Limited

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing

West Midlands Pension Fund in the LGPS

Wales & West Utilities Pension Scheme Trustee

Siemens plc

Unipart

Work highlights

  • Advising the trustee of the Baptist Pension Scheme (an industry-wide hybrid pension scheme with approximately 1,200 participating employers) on a broad range of matters.
  • Supported the trustee of the NGN pension scheme in relation to a PIE proposal that was put forward by the company.
  • Advising the trustee of the newly established Clara Pension Trust (which is one of the first DB consolidators in the UK market).
  • Representing the Safeway pension scheme trustee in court proceedings that have been brought by the company in order to determine the date on which normal retirement ages were validly equalised.
  • Advising two entities in the Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing group on exiting from the Social Housing Pension Scheme (SHPS) by way of a £130m bulk transfer of DB benefits out of The Pensions Trust by creating a new pension scheme to receive the transfer and moving current DC benefits out of SHPS to the Flexible Retirement Plan.

Gowling WLG

The pensions team at Gowling WLG is a heavyweight team with almost 50 pensions lawyers. It has an excellent client list acting for numerous household names and pension schemes with billions of pounds worth of assets. Richard Black is recommended for his advice to trustees of some of the largest schemes in the UK and Richard Lee focuses on pension scheme changes, auto-enrolment as well as defined contribution schemes. Paul Carberry is another key figure and heads up the team’s public sector pensions unit. Elizabeth Gane advises trustees on complex funding issues and mergers. There have been some changes to the team as Christopher Stiles and Joanne Tibbott were promoted to the partnership in May 2019.  Glyn Ryland is now a director of The Trustee Corporation Ltd at  Squire Patton Boggs. Jason Coates is the new head of the team.

Practice head(s):

Jason Coates

Testimonials

Richard Black is very caring about the client experience and strives to give a top-quality service’.

Richard Black is brilliant with clients and really understands his clients and their businesses. Paul Carberry is one of the leaders in his field for public sector pensions‘.

Richard Black is a great lawyer and a very engaging person, clients love him.  Liz Gane is doing more and more high-profile work ‘.

Richard Lee and the team have been a real pleasure to work with, providing knowledgeable and clearly understandable advice in a timely manner. Attention to detail and in-depth knowledge of our pension arrangements’.

Practical advice given in understandable language – they are pleasant people to work with. Pragmatic and friendly. Special call out for Liz Gane‘.

Sara Chambers has a very measured, calm and reasonable approach‘.

A very well-resourced team, high-calibre individuals, service orientated that is focused on the client and resolving the issue at hand within the legal boundaries which apply. Richard Black is exceptional’.

The people are very down to earth, very efficient and really care about the job they do and the client on a personal basis. Good communicators and manage workload very well‘.

Key clients

Pension Protection Fund (PPF)

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

Thales UK Pension Scheme

Rothesay Life

Mitchells & Butlers Pension Plans

PGL Pension Scheme

Pirelli UK Pension Funds

Weetabix pension schemes

Volvo Car UK Ltd

Fujitsu UK Services pension schemes

Work highlights

  • Acted for Bovis Homes Ltd on the pensions aspects of the £1.1bn acquisition of the Linden Homes and Partnership divisions of the Galliford Try Group in November 2019.
  • Advised the trustee of the Delphi Technologies pension scheme on the £1bn merger of three pension schemes.
  • Advised the trustee of the PGL pension scheme on the £1.1bn bulk annuity with Phoenix Life in 2019.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP has a full-service offering advising master trusts, DB/DC occupational pension schemes, life companies and pension providers. The group’s work spans corporate advisory and public sector matters, advising a range of employers across different sectors with particular expertise in the AMT and higher education sectors. Simon Laight leads the national insured pensions practice, specialising in pension products for insurers and other providers, with considerable skill in master trusts, platforms and other areas such as decumulation products. Aside from advising trustees and corporate sponsors, Nick Stones is known for helping organisations in the public and education sectors in particular.

Practice head(s):

Simon Laight; Nick Stones

Testimonials

‘Nick Stones is technically excellent and very solutions driven. He is very good at finding the answer‘.

The team has a practical and commercial approach. Simon Laight knows his stuff and puts relatively complex and technical matters across in a readily understandable way‘.

Key clients

Babcock International Group Pension Scheme

Michelin Pension & Life Assurance Plan

Serco plc

Fujitsu Group

Barratt Developments plc

GKN

Trustee [Cadbury]

Glanbia Group

Zurich

Work highlights

  • Nick Stones led the team that acted on the first material bulk transfer of a pension schemes liabilities to a DB consolidator / master trust.
  • Advising the trustee of a large pension scheme about the impact of inadvertent changes made by a former legal adviser to the way in which members benefits are revalued and how future pensions are linked to inflation; this culminated in a successful rectification hearing at the High Court.
  • Advised Zurich on the sale of its £11bn UK Wealth platform to Embark Group; Simon Laight devised the process for customer migration.
  • Advising Babcock International Group Pension Scheme on various matters including the cessation of DB accrual and bulk transfers.  
  • Providing a full legal service to the trustee of Michelin Pension & Life Assurance Plan advising on diverse matters such as scheme documentation and amendment, funding, benefit security, risk reduction, communications and member disputes.

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs has a strong team nationally and internationally that specialises in pensions, benefits and investment matters. The group has an excellent public sector pensions offering and Victoria Jeacock is well-regarded for her work in this area. Matthew Giles is a highly experienced practitioner who heads the team locally. Helen Miles leads on pension trustee and corporate advisory matters for a broad range of significant clients. In addition the practice has a large number of not-for-profit clients. It also acts for many well-known names in the automotive, manufacturing, chemical and engineering sectors and other industries such as financial services and healthcare. The team recently added Glyn Ryland from Gowling WLG and Vivien Cockerill to its ranks as directors of The Trustee Corporation Ltd. Kate Bailey has been promoted to director. Other key members of the team include London-based Clifford Sims, who is the national head of the group, and Philip Sutton, who is also recommended.

Testimonials

The team provides a clear analysis of very complex issues‘.

Matthew Giles is very measured, calm and adopts a reasonable approach‘.

Matthew Giles has a wonderful ability to distill matters to the essentials and then communicate these in a simple, direct style. There are no airs and graces about him’.

Philip Sutton is very approachable and is a very steady pair of hands‘.

Philip Sutton is a very calm and logical person‘.

Clifford Sims – very experienced, always prepared and provides solid and reasoned advice’.

This is a dynamic team that is always on top of the workload. The lawyers have depth of knowledge and can deliver this in a practical way without over-complicating the issues. Clear advice that can be acted on. This is a young and energetic team. Bubbly and determined to provide a quality outcome‘.

Key clients

Goodyear Tyres UK Ltd

Coats Group plc

Fergusson Wild Group Pension & Assurance Scheme

Fiat Group Pension Scheme

Wilkinson Group Retirement Benefits Scheme

Dun & Bradstreet (UK) Pension Plan

Sandvik Pension Plan 2001

Aston Martin Lagonda Pension Scheme

IMS (UK) Pension Plan

Meggitt Pension Plan

University of Southampton Pension Scheme for Non-Academic Staff

IMI 2014 Pensioner Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustee of the Dun & Bradstreet (UK) Pension Plan on the UK pensions aspects of the $6.9bn takeover of the sponsoring employer’s US parent Dun & Bradstreet Corp.
  • Negotiated a bespoke guarantee from the Italian parent company, on behalf of the trustee of the Fiat Group Pension Scheme as part of the scheme’s actuarial valuation.
  • Advised the trustees of the Sandvik Pension Plan 2001 on the UK pensions impact of the proposed $1.3bn global separation and listing of its Sandvik Materials Technology business.
  • Continuing to advise the trustees of the FKI Group Pension Scheme on various matters – in 2019, the team dealt with the transfer of the FKI Group Pension Scheme (value circa £600m) to the Honeywell Pension Plan by way of a sectionalised merger.
  • Advised the trustees of the Fergusson Wild Group Pension & Assurance Scheme on the resolution of an actuarial valuation which had been rejected by the Pensions Regulator.

Gateley Plc

Over the last year Gateley Plc has advised on a wide range of pensions issues including buy-outs, scheme closures and consolidation of scheme documents as well as scheme funding issues. The group has also been busy advising on flexible apportionment arrangements and pensions issues on corporate transactions as well as on a successful rectification claim. Its client base continues to grow and includes a wide range of local, national and international clients across several sectors such as industrial engineering, pharmaceuticals and financial services. Practice head Michael Collins is prominent in the market. Kate Lloyd advises both trustees and sponsoring employers on a multitude of areas such as scheme mergers and acquisitions,  the GDPR and member issues as well as on the setting up of new forms of contingent assets.

Practice head(s):

Michael Collins

Other key lawyers:

Kate Lloyd

Key clients

A.S. Watson (Health & Beauty UK) Pension Plan

Macmillan Publishers’ Pension Schemes

Hill & Smith 2016 Pension Scheme

Manganese Bronze Group Pension Trustees Ltd

Police Mutual Assurance Society Staff Pension Fund

NCL Investments Ltd Pension Scheme (Smith & Williamson)

Britax Childcare

Aurum Retirement Benefits Scheme

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems (Europe) Pension Scheme

Nufarm UK Ltd

Charles River Pension Plan

Dosco Overseas Engineering (1973) Pension and Assurance Scheme

Phoenix Medical Supplies Pension Scheme

ZF Services

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustees of the pension and life assurance plan of Macmillan Ltd in respect of a rectification claim.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP has particular expertise in the public sector and routinely advises on local government, firefighters, teachers and national health pension schemes. The team’s expertise also extends to social housing pension schemes and universities superannuation schemes. The practice is well-equipped to advise on the full spectrum of public sector and quasi-public sector schemes. Other strengths include helping charities in the management  of their pensions when there is a restructuring of their operations. Douglas Mullen leads the pensions work in the department and is renowned for his expertise in the social housing and local government sectors. Matthew Gregson is also well-regarded.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Gregson

Other key lawyers:

Douglas Mullen

Key clients

Pickering & Ferens Homes

Nottinghamshire Pension Fund (Nottinghamshire County Council)

Radis UK

Sports & Leisure Management Ltd

Spurgeons

National Autistic Society

Thirteen Housing Group

S4E

Methodist Homes

Lincolnshire Housing Partnership

Work highlights

  • Advised the National Autistic Society on the impact of the McCloud decision on its  participation in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and Local Government Pension Scheme.
  • Advised Sport and Leisure Management on managing its pensions risk in the Local Government Pension Scheme in multiple contracts with local authorities.
  • Advised Co-operatives UK on ceasing participation in the PACE defined benefit scheme and on putting in place a deferred debt arrangement.
  • Advised Radis in its negotiation of the terms of a contract when it tendered for a contract to provide Extra Care services  that were run by Newport City Council, to ensure that it was properly protected against potentially unquantifiable additional pension costs.
  • Instructed by a charity to advise on the pensions implications of a planned TUPE transfer of staff upon the commencement of a contract with a local authority to provide support services to those with learning disabilities in that local authority area.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a national reach and considerable experience in a number of key sectors such as automotive and agribusiness. It has particular expertise in the charities/not-for-profit and education sectors. The practice is also recognised for its work on public sector pension schemes such as the LGPS, TPS, CSPS and NHSPS. The team under the leadership of Clare Grice is adept at advising on outsourcing matters for public sector bodies and local authorities as well as on the management of LGPS liabilities. The team has recently won a number of significant new instructions and in the past year has also been active in advising several NHS trusts on various tax issues for NHS staff, including annual and lifetime allowances.

Practice head(s):

Clare Grice

Testimonials

The team is friendly, efficient and works well for its clients. Clare Grice was my main adviser. I found Clare always available and willing to help. She was very approachable and knowledgeable‘.

Key clients

RSPB

Trustees of the Wade Furniture Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of the LG Harris & Co Ltd Pension Scheme

Strutt and Parker (Farms) Ltd

The London Institute of Finance and Banking Pension Scheme

Baxter Healthcare Ltd

The Trustees of the Hotel and Catering Management Association 1977 Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme

Oxford Packaging Ltd

Trustees of the Drywite Retirement Benefits Plan

Trustees of the Brambles Enterprises (1996) Pension Scheme and the Brambles United Kingdom Pension Plan

Trinity College, Cambridge

Trustees of the Hamilton Acorn Pension Scheme

Work highlights

  • Advised Trinity College, Cambridge on its withdrawal from the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and on the establishment of a new section of its stand-alone defined benefits scheme which replicates USS benefits.
  • Provided strategic pensions and corporate pensions advice on the sale of Strutt & Parker Farms.
  • Advised the trustees of the LG Harris pension scheme on the buy-out of the scheme and on the merger with another scheme and on the subsequent buy-out of that scheme.
  • Advised the trustees of the London Institute of Banking and Finance pension fund on various issues.
  • Working closely with employment colleagues, the team has been advising on the closure of the Baxter Pension Plan to future accrual.