Pensions in West Midlands

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP fields a large team that advises the trustees of many of the most prominent pension schemes. The first-rate team advises a large number of employers on their pension obligations in addition to advising various Midlands based LGPS pension funds. Gary Delderfield heads the national public sector pensions offering. Emma King continues to be involved in pension scheme restructurings and other issues such as liability management projects for various key clients. Sarah Franklin is a primary contact for the specialist pension education sector team. Georgina Rankin and Gavin Paul are also well-regarded.

Practice head(s):

Emma King

Other key lawyers:

Gary Delderfield; Sarah Franklin; Georgina Rankin; Gavin Paul; James Ellis

Testimonials

‘Extremely proactive and responsive team’.

‘The lawyers are extremely thorough and robust in their advice but also very pragmatic in supporting the trustees to achieve our desired outcomes. Our invoices are never excessive and are often less than they might have been, even where it has not been possible to agree a budget in advance’.

‘James Ellis and Emma King have embedded themselves as trusted advisers for our scheme, swiftly developing a deep understanding of our rules, culture and personalities across the trustee board. I have been hugely impressed by how they have made themselves so available and have drawn on support from their colleagues when needed’.

‘The team is very quick to respond and really focuses on the legal advice – the lawyers don’t attempt to write up legal advice that is not needed or over-long – they are very good at getting straight to the point which is extremely helpful’.

‘Emma King and James Ellis are very friendly and easy to work with – work in a collaborative way with us and are very responsive. They make themselves available at short notice and are willing to talk complex issues through to help get to a solution’.

‘For public sector work Gary Delderfield is extremely well-regarded and works for some high-profile public sector clients‘.

Key clients

Evonik UK Holdings Limited

Trustee of the Clara Pension Trust

The Baptist Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Northern Gas Networks Pension Scheme

Siemens plc

Northumberland Council

Warwick University Pension Scheme

Ultra Electronics Pension Scheme

Rolls-Royce plc

Wolverhampton City Council

Gowling WLG

Gowling WLG has a heavyweight team with approximately 50 pensions lawyers who act for numerous household names in addition to defined benefit and defined contribution pension schemes that have billions of pounds worth of assets. Key names include Richard Black, who advises the trustees of some of the largest schemes in the UK; Paul Carberry advises a broad mix of trustees and employers on a wide range of pension matters and Richard Lee  who heads up the combined human resources team of lawyers who specialise in pensions, employment and benefits law. Elizabeth Gane ’s practice is primarily trustee focused. Christopher Stiles and Joanne Tibbott are other key members of the 'very responsive and technically excellent' team.

Practice head(s):

Jason Coates

Other key lawyers:

Richard Black; Paul Carberry; Richard Lee; Elizabeth Gane; Christopher Stiles; Joanne Tibbott; Sara Chambers

Testimonials

‘The team has great strength and depth with expertise in all sub-specialisms. The lawyers are responsive and pragmatic, and tend to be sensitive to costs management. Chris Stiles is pragmatic and calm with excellent mastery of the detail, seemingly across all sub-specialisms, but a rare ability to explain things simply for a wide audience’.

‘We appointed Gowlings a couple of years ago and have been very pleased with this decision. We have a high degree of understanding of pensions within our business, so matters which we refer to our legal advisers would be expected to be complex and out-of-the-ordinary. We were looking for an established pensions legal practice with depth of knowledge, expertise and resource. Gowlings meets our requirements. We have also been very pleased with the access the lawyers have offered to their colleagues within other parts of their business with specialised experience and knowledge which has helped us tremendously’.

‘The lawyers are very accessible – it’s really easy to get hold of them and they respond very quickly to requests, often working within very tight timescales to meet our needs. Communication is excellent – both in terms of keeping us updated of progress and also the advice delivered. They are very clear in terms of the advice and any caveats or suggested follow-up work. Most of my contact has been with Paul Carberry and Jason Coates both of whom I found to be excellent. I really enjoy working with the team at Gowlings’.

‘Very solution focused and able to condense legal issues into easily digested formats. Paul Carberry holds his clear in-depth knowledge lightly, never making one feel stupid for asking a question and is always responsive. He brings an appropriate sense of humour to a debate’.

‘Extremely reliable and responsive with strong attention to value for money. Very personable and capable team with excellent client management. The lawyers really care about the client and meeting their needs’.

‘Richard Black: very strong overall lead, inspires confidence and has great empathy for the client and their needs. Goes above and beyond what is expected. Amazing sense of humour. All of the team clearly gets on really well together and works as a united group of people. Client always feels well informed and that a task will just get done, and cost will be managed as far as possible’.

‘Good all round pensions law experience, with significant expertise in Master Trust legislation and regulation. I particularly appreciate the speed with which the lawyers adopted technology to ensure that home working did not affect the quality of service and accessibility of their services’.

‘Highly responsive to all requests for legal advice, particularly in short notice urgent pieces of work which are common in a fast growing commercial master trust. Joanne Tibbott is a pleasure to work with. She has strong client-centric communication and management skills, as well as demonstrating the expert advice we need’.

Key clients

Pension Protection Fund (PPF)

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

Rothesay

Fujitsu UK Services pension schemes

Thales (UK) Pension Scheme

Trafalgar House Pension Trust

Pirelli UK Pension Funds

Mitchells & Butlers Pension Plan

Weetabix Pension Plans

Rolls-Royce Retirement Savings Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised the the trustee of the Delphi Technologies Scheme in relation to a new funding and covenant support package with Borg Warner, the new owner of Delphi Technologies following a takeover which completed in October 2020.
  • Advised the trustees of the G4S Pension Scheme in relation to negotiations on funding and support packages, following the scheme’s sponsor being the subject of a takeover bid.
  • Supported the trustee of the UBS (UK) Pension & Life Assurance Scheme on its £1.4bn longevity swap with Zurich and Canada Life Re which completed in summer 2020.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP has a 'very well organised team' that covers a broad spectrum of matters from advising on master trusts, DB/DC occupational pension schemes to life companies and pension providers. In addition it has a proven track record of handling a significant number of high profile and high-value projects. Simon Laight leads the national insured pensions practice and specialises in pension products for insurers and other providers. Nick Stones regularly advises trustees and corporate sponsors. Stones is also recommended for his public sector pension work and for his expertise in the education and commercial sector. Daniel Shelley advises trustees and employers of defined benefit and hybrid pension schemes specialising in schemes in excess of £1bn.

Practice head(s):

Simon Laight; Nick Stones

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Shelley; Katie Ivens; Richard Williams

Testimonials

‘The team gives very pragmatic advice and helps us to find solutions to difficult issues. This is very refreshing – the lawyers certainly do not make a mountain out of a molehill. Their fees are also good value compared to other firms. Daniel Shelley, Katie Ivens and Richard Williams have been excellent and they have been particularly helpful in guiding new trustees through some very tricky issues’.

‘The team provides well thought out, pragmatic and sound advice together with practical solutions to issues and problems that pension scheme trustees face’.

‘The individuals I work with are approachable, friendly, knowledgeable and able to assist trustees in a helpful and practical way which is always appreciated. I value their input into many of the ways in which pension schemes are run, their availability, and the solution finding approach they take. In particular Daniel Shelley and Katie Ivens have helped tremendously to complete some significant projects in recent years’.

‘The team produces high quality work, within agreed timescales for a reasonable cost. The lawyers are generally available to discuss a complete range of issues within their competence- ranging from complicated legal queries to industry related issues’.

‘Simon Laight is a capable leader of this practice. He builds strong relationships and strives to meet client demands – offering pragmatic solutions to sometimes complex issues’.

‘Partners are very knowledgeable and the whole team is very strong. Very collaborative in approach and proactively provide updates on key areas the trustees should be focusing on. Incredibly responsive, being available at short notice and turning urgent advice around really quickly’.

Nick Stones is well-regarded and well-known for his work in the public sector‘.

Katie Ivens has consistently delivered a high level of client service, along with a pragmatic advisory approach. Sometimes we need our advisers to be more open and tell us what they think we should do. A straight answer can often be a little harder to get, but Katie does this and does it admirably. That’s only possible because she’s taken the time to ‘know her client’ and understand our objectives, motivations, concerns and the many and varied priorities are driving our decision making process‘.

Key clients

Babcock International Group Pension Scheme

Michelin Pension & Life Assurance Plan

Serco Plc

Fujitsu Group

Barratt Developments Plc

[Trustee] GKN Pension Schemes

[Trustee] Cadbury Mondelez Pension Fund

Glanbia Group

Zurich

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustee of a £1bn+ pension scheme on a landmark three-way merger with two other pension schemes.
  • Advised numerous leading master trusts through unprecedented asset growth reaching around £35bn by the end of 2020, including being instructed for one provider alone on over £800m of asset transfers-in.
  • Advised an international healthcare company on a project designed to rationalise its pension offering across its UK workforce, resulting in the closure to accrual of a £1.6bn defined benefit scheme and the transition to master trust for £160m of defined contribution liabilities.

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs has a robust team nationally and internationally that is strong in the public and private sector and 'deals with complex matters while explaining options clearly'. Key specialisms include advising on  regulatory compliance, investment, disputes and data protection issues. The group has a significant market presence in regulated utilities (especially water, nuclear and electricity sponsored schemes) and also has many not-for-profit clients, clients in the faith sector, industry bodies as well as trade associations and trade unions. Matthew Giles is a seasoned practitioner who leads the practice that includes Philip Sutton and former Gowling WLG practice head Glyn Ryland, who joined the Trustee Corporation - a professional independent trustee company which is part of the firm - in 2020. Newly promoted partner Victoria Jeacock co-ordinates its national public sector pensions group.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Giles; Clifford Sims

Other key lawyers:

Philip Sutton: Glyn Ryland; Victoria Jeacock

Testimonials

‘A strong and effective team. I was pleased to see Victoria Jeacock being promoted to partner recently – very well deserved’.

‘The team is knowledgeable and led by an experienced partner. The team has been able to draw in additional specialisms from the wider firm. We have worked closely with Matthew Giles – his knowledge of both our scheme and the wider pensions legislation and practical application has been incredibly helpful. He is also commercial and puts forward pragmatic solutions to complex situations’.

‘The SPB team is one of the strongest in the Midlands market. The lawyers are extremely impressive. They have worked hard on social media and communications and provide excellent content to clients and the wider market’.

‘I find that Phil Sutton gets to the route of issues quickly and is very helpful in delivering commercial advice. The lawyers price competitively and understand what is important to trustees’.

‘The firm has immense expertise in pensions law and related areas including investments and banking. The firm provides a complete pensions service including preparation of legal documents, legal advice, information about developments in pensions law as well as pensions training’.

‘Clifford Sims explains complex issues in a clear and straightforward way and quickly gains respect from his audience. Phil Sutton is very detailed and thorough in his advice’.

‘Its collaborative style leads to a seamless service delivery, with that service being delivered at a cost that frankly continues to surprise me at its value for money. I truly believe that we receive a quality of advice comparable with any of the big London firms, at a considerably lower cost’.

‘Matthew Giles delivers on point advice that is tempered with a commercial insight and a keen understanding of the practicalities. His ability to outline issues and solutions in a way that is understandable to all is a quality that is rare but so very valuable. All in all, it means that things just get done’.

Key clients

Jaguar Land Rover Pension Trustees Limited

Goodyear Tyres UK Limited

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

  • Advising the trustees on the UK pensions aspects of $1.3bn global separation and listing of its Sandvik Materials Technology business.
  • Advising on UK pensions aspects of the $52bn global merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Groupe PSA (formerly PSA Peugeot Citroën) which concluded in January 2021.
  • Guiding the pension trustee through funding negotiations with $3.4bn market capitalisation aerospace company Meggitt plc.

Gateley Plc

Michael Collins leads the team at Gateley Plc that advises trustees and their employers on their duties and liabilities as well as supporting companies on any pension issues as they arise during corporate transactions. The group has been busy advising on DB schemes with assets ranging from £500,000 to over £1.7bn as well as advising on DC occupational pension schemes, contract based schemes, SSASs and SIPPS. Kate Lloyd also plays a pivotal role in the team and has particular expertise in assisting clients in the resolution of historic issues with their pension schemes in addition to advising on issues such as pension plan funding and pension plan reconstructions.

Practice head(s):

Michael Collins

Other key lawyers:

Kate Lloyd

Testimonials

‘There is always a specialised team member brought to the trustees’ attention that provides joined up support. Having work with Michael Collins for over 10 years, he continues to provide ongoing quality and proactive support to the trustees, whenever the support is required’.

‘Excellent client relationship, practicable no sitting on the fence gives solid advice. Easy to approach and engage with, can freely discuss many issues in particular with Michael Collins’.

‘Great friendly supportive service, reasonable rates and always available.’

‘I have worked exclusively with Michael Collins. Knowledgeable, supportive, friendly, readily available’.

‘Michael Collins: clear, well focused advice, both written and verbal, that is promptly delivered, contains strong and straightforward advice in a easily digestible style. A very valuable member of the advisory team’.

‘We receive concise advice in plain English which is easily understood by non-lawyers. The advice frequently sets outs the pros and cons and provides the recommended action. Billing is very detailed’.

Key clients

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

Macmillan Pension Plan

Hill & Smith 2016 Pension Scheme

Charles River Pension Plan

Police Mutual Assurance Society Staff Pension Fund

NCL Investments Limited Pension Scheme (Smith & Williamson)

Britax Childcare Limited Pension Schemes

Phoenix Medical Supplies Pension Scheme

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems (Europe) Pension Scheme

Dunlop Slazenger Pension Scheme

FTA Pension Plan

Work highlights

  • Advising Superdrug Pension Trustees Limited (trustee of the A.S. Watson (Health & Beauty UK) Pension Plan) on the transfer of money purchase section to an authorised master trust.
  • Advising LDC on its investment in Ross Trustees.
  • Advising Police Mutual Staff Pension Fund on the transfer of its employer’s business to Royal London and a contemporaneous merger of the scheme into the Royal London scheme.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP has particular experience in advising on public sector pension schemes and frequently advises on local government, firefighters, teachers and national health service pension schemes. The team that is led by Anna Dabek is vastly experienced in advising on social housing pension schemes as well as the universities superannuation scheme. Other strengths include helping charities on the management of their pensions and the firm is renowned for its expertise in the health and social care sectors. Newly-promoted partner Douglas Mullen receives plaudits for his social housing and local government sector expertise.

Practice head(s):

Anna Dabek

Other key lawyers:

Douglas Mullen

Testimonials

‘As a client I was very happy with the service I received. The partner handling my case was very approachable and knowledgeable on local government pension schemes’.

‘A professional team that sets clear, realistic timeframes. The lawyers give good clear advice that is easy to consider and respond to. They work very hard to meet our deadlines’.

Key clients

Sports & Leisure Management t/a Everyone Active

Nottinghamshire Pension Fund

Thirteen Housing Group

Believe Housing

National Autistic Society

Spurgeons

Connexus Housing Group

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Leicestershire Pension Fund

Work highlights

  • Advising Sport and Leisure Management on the allocation of risk in relation to the Local Government Pensions Scheme for staff transferring in.
  • Drafted a template subsumption agreement for the Leicestershire Pension Fund to document the arrangements of Council employees.
  • Advised Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council on pensions contracts and access to the Local Government Pensions Scheme in relation to the Council’s ten-year maintenance contract.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a national reach with a wealth of experience on both the trustee and the employer side. The team advises in many sectors from financial services, automotive, agribusiness as well as in the charities/not-for-profit sector, health and education. It also garners praise for its work on public sector pension schemes such as LGPS, the TPS, the CSPS and the NHSPS. Clare Grice heads the department and has particular strength in the charities, not-for-profit, health and education sectors. Senior associate Sarah Gosling recently joined the team from Squire Patton Boggs.

Practice head(s):

Clare Grice

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Gosling

Testimonials

Claire Grice is very level-headed and has experience beyond her years‘.

Exceptionally helpful, user friendly, down-to-earth and effective‘.

Key clients

Archant

Trustees of the Wade Furniture Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of the LG Harris & Co Limited Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Strutt and Parker (Farms) Limited Staff

Pension Fund

The Trustees of the London Institute of Finance and Banking

Pension Fund

Baxter Healthcare Limited

RSPB

Oxford Packaging Limited

University of Birmingham

Trustees of the Brambles Enterprises (1996) Pension Scheme

and the Brambles United Kingdom Pension Plan

Trustees of the LPA Industries Limited Pension Scheme

Medicash Health Benefits Limited

Trinity College, Cambridge

Trustees of the Federated Pension Scheme for the Douglas

Macmillon Hospice

General Dental Council