Addleshaw Goddard’s pensions practice group is ‘excellent’ and is widely considered the region's key name for a full-service pensions offering. The team is jointly managed by a trio of experts including national head of the practice Rachel Rawnsley, Jade Murray and Rachel Uttley, who advises corporate clients and trustees on M&A activity. On the litigation side, Susan Garrett in Manchester is the key name, handling a significance amount of high-value claims, fraud matters and other disputes. The team also has a specialist bulk annuity team, which handles buy-out transactions and advises on buy-in policies. Legal director Jonathan Stewart is the contact for advisory work pertaining to trustees.
Pensions in Yorkshire And The Humber
Rachel Rawnsley, Jade Murray; Rachel Uttley; Susan Garrett
Other key lawyers:
Jonathan Stewart; Andrew Steer
‘The Addleshaw pension team is simply super professional. The partner we are working with is great, but everybody else is also super-efficient and organised; people get back to you very quickly; whoever you are dealing with instils confidence; everyone is very personable; billing is always prompt and transparent; and it is a pleasure working with them. A real top quality team!!’
‘Rachel Uttley is simply outstanding. Rachel sees the big picture very clearly but is also the complete master of all the detail, she is highly commercial but also pragmatic. Rachel is one of those lawyers who adds serious value and consistently pushes matters forwards – a real can do type of lawyer. Rachel is excellent at explaining complex issues, helping clients make sound decisions, and she always hits agreed timelines. Rachel is very good on an interpersonal level and easy to work with. A phenomenal lawyer and exactly the lawyer you want on your side!’
‘The pension team has done a fantastic job in a complex transaction. Very diligent and combine an attention to detail with an ability to bring out the key points. They are tough and happy to hold their ground when necessary.’
‘Jade Murray and Rachel Uttley have great pension experience and complement each other. They always make themselves available. They have worked constructively with partners from leading London lawyers advising the other side but also stood firm when necessary. They explain the issues clearly facilitating any necessary decision making. They are well supported by Andrew Steer, managing associate. He is quietly efficient and can be relied on to make sure everything is done and covered.’
‘Highly professional, with very strong access to topic specialists and excellent teamwork.’
‘Rachel Rawnsley identifies the wider perspective and applies this to give solid and practical advice.’
‘Excellent team. Very knowledgeable about our pension scheme.’
Trustee of the Asda Group Pension Scheme (DB scheme) and the Trustee of the Asda Pension Plan (DC scheme)
Trustee of the Kellogg (UK) Pension Fund
Trustees of the National Express Pension Plan
The Trustees of the Mercer Master Trust
Trustees of the University of Sheffield Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Ibstock Pension Scheme
British Land Group of Companies Pension Scheme
Skanska Group of Companies
Michelin Group Public Limited Company
Trustees of the Cambridge University Press Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Tioxide Pension Fund
Trustees of the University of Leeds
- Advising Britvic on its ongoing court case to establish the correct meaning of its pension scheme rules.
- Advising the Trustees of the Ibstock Pension Scheme on the £340m pensioner buy-in with Just Retirement Group.
- Advising the Trustee of the Kellogg’s Pension Fund on advisory work and contractual review on complex, time sensitive projects.
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s pensions group is highlighted for its ‘exceptional knowledge’ and is led by Anthea Whitton in Leeds. The team advises on major pension schedules for clients operating in the defence, telecoms, higher education and financial services sectors, as well as acting on pension risk transfers for insurers. Key figurehead in the team Richard Shelton is the key name for specialist pensions law advice and corporate due diligence matters. The core team also has a number of strong associates; Andy Wright and Gemma Hanley are regularly instructed on corporate restructurings, buyouts and regulatory issues.
Other key lawyers:
Andy Wright; Gemma Hanley; Richard Shelton
‘Richard Shelton is very good in a difficult situation.’
‘We have been consistently impressed with the advice we have received from Eversheds. The individuals we have dealt with have consistently provided excellent service. They have provided innovative solutions to complex scenarios, and have communicated the issue and solution clearly. They have a wide range of expertise and have always been able to find a specialist who can provide the required input into an issue. They adopt a pragmatic approach and in our experience get to the right answer more quickly than other advisers we have worked with.’
‘Anthea Whitton (Partner) and Andy Wright (Principal Associate) provide excellent advice to us.‘
‘Ultimately their strength lies in its people, but at a high level, they are incredibly commercial, user-friendly (especially on the more complex and technical areas of law.’
‘First and foremost we use Eversheds because of Andy Wright. Exceptional knowledge to the extent that on calls he is comfortable talking about all aspects of pension law with little or no preparation time. Fiercely commercial and an astute understanding of the client’s needs coupled with first rate client communication skills – very much the ‘rock star’ of the department.’
‘Super strong partner team, wide experience of every issue that moves in pensions.’
‘Genuinely heavyweight partners – have had particularly good service in 2021 from Anthea Whitton, amongst others. Good associate support from Andy Wright.’
‘Richard Shelton has been outstanding.’
Deloitte Pensions Master Trust
BT Hybrid Pension Scheme
The People’s Pension
Trustee of the Short Brothers Pension Scheme (Bombardier)
Trustees of the Bombardier Transportation UK Limited Pension Scheme
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP’s pensions practice is a 'powerhouse of the North' and has a focus on acting for large pensions schemes in the region. Managed by Jacqui Timmins, who advises on high-value buy-outs and complex funding matters, the group has a number of companies in the financial services and retail sectors as key clients. In the national defined contribution practice, Tom Barton is the industry expert and advises a number of multi-billion-pound schemes including the RBS Retirement Savings Plan; he is supported by Katie Lodge. The group's litigation service is provided by Andrew Masterson and Julian Sladdin. Other team members of note include associates Sara Eggett and Katie Hainsworth, who advise on master trust authorisation issues and scheme mergers.
Other key lawyers:
Tom Barton; Julian Sladdin; Katie Lodge; Andrew Masterson; Katie Hainsworth; Sara Eggett
‘Relatively small but strong team that work well together across Leeds and Manchester.’
‘Tom Barton is very good. He is considered and through and communicates well with trustees. On tricky matters, his wider counsel on how to approach an issue is always well thought through and adapted to the circumstances.’
‘A very good team and powerhouse of the North. Stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Magic Circle firms but is more approachable and cheaper! They are constantly developing their more junior lawyers to ensure continuity and engagement with clients is sensible and not too heavy on the marketing.’
‘Jacqui Timmins has been excellent. Her legal knowledge is second to none, offers pragmatic advice and is very approachable. Her team is beginning to develop so that complex matters can be addressed with the associates. Excellent client-care.’
‘Very personal and professional service. Always on hand and very agile to our particular requirements. The balance of communication is excellent and our ‘advisers’ have faces. Nothing is too much trouble and charges reflect the good relationship that we have with Pinsent Masons.’
‘Lead Partner is Jacqui Timmins. Since our involvement with PM Jacqui has personally ‘moved up in the world’ but JT is always on hand if the Trustee need any ‘extra’ advice. JT manages an exceptional office and shows good partner support.’
‘Associate is Katie Hainsworth. Katie has evolved over the last 5 years and is now our lead contact at PM. She has an excellent understanding of our pension scheme and demonstrates her knowledge on a regular basis. Her advice is very sound and you always get a straight answer. The Trustee really value her input on a variety of matters and is always available and never evasive.’
‘This team may be based in Leeds, with all the benefits of a lower charge out rate, but they are as effective and efficient as London law firms. In fact, more so. They have in-depth knowledge of the DC pensions industry and leverage that knowledge to the benefits of their clients.’
Trustee of the Croda Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Henry Boot SPLA Scheme
Arran Isle Group
Trustees of the Bitmac Pension Scheme
TPT Retirement Solutions
The trustee of the Firth Rixson Retirement Benefit Plan
The trustees of the Hickson Group Pension Scheme
The trustees of the Vaillant Group Pension Scheme
Royal Bank of Scotland Retirement Savings Plan
- Advised on the legal aspects of complex investment management agreements involving the £1bn scheme for Trustee of the Croda Pension Scheme.
- Advised the Trustees of the Vaillant Group Pension Scheme on liability management and complex funding arrangements involving the £700m scheme.
- Advised the Trustee of the Firth Rixson Retirement Pensions Plan on the implementation of complex multi-jurisdictional liability management and risk transfer of £450m.
At Squire Patton Boggs, the Leeds pensions practice is led by key name Catherine McKenna and advises an impressive roster of clients including public and private sector trustees. The team is active in regulated industries and provides a full-service offering across regulatory compliance, investment, dispute and data protection work. Jane Briggs advises pension schemes and their sponsors, and is supported by a group of strong associates including. Jason Blakey and Anna Tomlinson. Elizabeth Graham left the team for Walker Morris LLP.
Other key lawyers:
Jane Briggs; Jason Blakey; Anna Tomlinson
‘Good industry knowledge and able to provide good sound practical advice. Very willing to adapt to clients needs.’
‘Jane Briggs- able to deal with large volumes of work and styles of negotiation. Very supportive and calm under pressure. A great team asset.’
‘The practice has good coverage of pensions law and a helpfully straightforward and practical way of explaining it. They are proportionate in their approach and careful to tailor their advice to the specific circumstances and requirements of our scheme.’
‘We mainly deal with Catherine McKenna. She has acted for the scheme for many years and thus has in-depth knowledge of both the scheme characteristics and the Trust Deed and Rules. She also has very good relationships with the key members of the Trustee Board and indeed other advisers. Above all she is absolutely clear in acting in her clients best interest, which is enormously valuable in the context of difficult negotiations.’
Trustee of Kelda Group Pension Plan
Trustee of the Northern Powergrid Group of the ESPS
ACCESS Pool of the Local Government Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Lucite International Pension Fund
Trustee of the Fenner Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Belden Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Huntsman Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Intelek Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Lincoln Electric Pension Scheme
Trustees of the SPX Pension Scheme
Northern Gas Networks
- Advised the ACCESS Pool, which has combined assets of £46bn, on revisions to its Inter Authority Agreement, the founding document of the Pool, and provide day to day advice in relation to the governance and investment related legal requirements.
- Advised on the restructure of the Trustee of the Lucite International Pension Fund’s defined contribution arrangements, involving a strategic review and a transfer to a master trust.
- Advised on a review of and transfer of administration services, involving new contractual terms and transition arrangements for this £1.8bn scheme for the Trustee of the Kelda Group Pension Plan.
Arc Pensions Law is a specialist pensions outfit in Leeds with a strong national presence, leveraging the firm's office in London. The group is singled out for its 'deep technical knowledge' and advices an impressive list of long-term trustee clients on pension schemes, master trust transfers, and governance issues. Jointly managed by Vikki Massarano and Kate Payne, the team also has international experience advising employers, handling transactional mandates, and acting in litigation. Max Ballad is of note, as is Claire Goodby who joined from DLA Piper, expanding the team's offering across pensions law.
Vikki Massarano; Kate Payne
Other key lawyers:
Max Ballad; Claire Goodby
‘The key aspects for me were the combination of a pragmatic approach, but based on clear deep technical understanding. Further, the budgets given for work were competitive.’
‘I have worked with Kate for many years. I have continued to put her forward for opportunities as she continues to deliver at a very high level. Never any issues with delivery and always looking for a pragmatic solution. Kate is also very empathetic when dealing with clients who have difficult issues they are facing, but never afraid to be clear about what they need to do.’
‘All the staff I have engaged with are very easy to get on with, client focused and pragmatic. They work excellently individually and as a team.’
‘They have an excellent grasp on how much detail is required and in communicating advice very clearly even when it is very complicated. This coupled with a strong understanding of the situation including interested stakeholders and commercial sensitivity helps differentiate their advice from others.’
‘The responsiveness and quality of advice is what makes Arc unique as a practice.’
‘Their ability to deliver intelligible and accessible legal advice that cuts through the complexity of the ever changing legal requirements within the UK pensions environment. They also have an in depth understanding of our business and the way in can be impacted by pensions legislation.’
‘This is a boutique and it knows and understands its market brilliantly – we use them as our pensions department and they fit in with our style of working seamlessly. They have disrupted a lazy market and are the standout practice for pensions in terms of expertise and delivery. The premier team.’
‘The team is superb from top to bottom but stand out is Vikki Massarano – consistently makes a complex subject understandable and demystifies the issues. Very solutions driven and practical. Cannot be bettered.’
Trustee of the BASF Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Stanley Black & Decker Pension Plan
Trustee of the Leeds Building Society Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Marshalls Pension Scheme
Trustees of two Baxenden pension schemes
Trustees of the PDM pension schemes
Trustees of the Firth Rixson Pension Plan
Trustees of the Engineering Employers Federation Staff Pension Fund
Real Good Food plc
Trustees of the Nursing & Midwifery Council Pension Scheme
Mishcon de Reya
Utmost Life and Pensions Limited
Trustee of the SIG Retirement Benefit Plan
Trustees of the T C Harrison Group Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Wabco Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Marubeni Pension and Life Assurance Scheme
Trustees of the Moores Furniture Group Pension Scheme
Trustees of the W R Swann Limited Pension Scheme
Timothy Taylor Limited
Clipper Logistics Limited
Modular Global Investments Limited
Trustee of the Grenco Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Nikon UK Limited Pension Scheme
- Advising the trustees of a DB pension scheme in relation to a request from an employer to suspend deficit repair contributions as a result of Covid-19 related affordability issues, including documenting the agreement, reviewing revised schedule of contributions and advising on the need to notify the Pensions Regulator.
- Advising the trustees of a DB pension scheme in relation to historic benefit errors and how these should be corrected.
- Provided pensions advice on Montagu’s acquisition of ESS from Capita plc, a Class 1 transaction announced in December 2020.
The pensions team at DLA Piper is active in the manufacturing and financial services sectors, advising clients on pension schemes, transactional work and scheme merger matters. Practice head Andrew McIlhinney is engaged by clients on multi-jurisdictional M&A, GMP equalisation issues and buy-outs. He is supported by director Craig Looker, who has extensive experience advising on benefit scheme governance matters, pension funding negotiations and taxation issues. On the litigation side, David Young is the go-to partner for pensions disputes and has appeared before the Court of Appeal.
Other key lawyers:
Craig Looker; David Young
‘ Professional, knowledgeable team who deliver as requested and on time.’
‘Responses are delivered efficiently and timeously. Able to make the client aware of any changes required.’
‘Simon Evans has a straightforward and plain speaking style which is highly appreciated by the Trustee Board. He doesn’t sit on the fence and answers questions in a way that the trustees understand. His written communication and formal advice is very thorough and well considered.’
‘DLA Piper have been legal advisers to our pension scheme since 2008 and we have never sought to change, which is remarkable in itself. DLA have a strong pensions team with a commercial approach leading to great relationships with the Trustees and their other advisers. The Trustees rely on these relationships to help us achieve the levels of scheme management and administration we strive for.’
‘Andrew McIlhinney is our lead partner for Pensions Team. He has become an integral member of the Trustees advisers who are included in Trustee meetings and continue their support to the Trustee sub-committees. Andrew is very thorough with the ability to explain legal issues in understandable terms for the Trustees.’
‘David Young was the lead partner on our case. This process took 8 years to complete during which time David’s calmness and attention to detail while seeing the whole picture kept the Trustees in front of the process while it was apparent other parties to this lagged behind.’
‘The main contact has been involved with the client for many years and is able to provide focused advice.’
Trustees of the Yorkshire Building Society
Trustees of the Leeds Building Society
Trustees of the Bibby Line Group Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Univar Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Urenco UK Pension Scheme
RR Donnelley Inc
Arconic Manufacturing (GB) Limited
Dr Martens Footwear
- Advising on the high-profile sale of Foxes Biscuits and providing advice on the Pensions law issues arising.
- Acted for the Trustees of the Univar Pension Scheme in court proceedings relating to a significant error in the drafting of the Scheme’s trust deed and rules relating to the increases to benefits.
Led by Jo Ratcliffe, the pensions team at Walker Morris LLP is 'excellent' and acts for a range of national employers and trustees on contentious and non-contentious issues. The group has extensive expertise in complex pensions regulator funding interventions, GMP equalisation issues and transactional due diligence matters. Director Ruth Bamforth is the name for both employers and trustees, while litigation contact Gwendoline Davies handles domestic and international dispute resolution work. The team is active in the privatised utilities industry and public sector. The well-regarded Elizabeth Graham bolstered the practice, joining from Squire Patton Boggs, and brings nearly three decades of expertise in pensions law.
Other key lawyers:
Ruth Bamforth; Gwendoline Davies; Elizabeth Graham
‘Excellent team have a close working relationship across the whole team.’
‘The team has a pragmatic approach and looks to find solutions to problems. It combines a good technical knowledge of the law with an understanding of what parties are trying to achieve.’
‘The members of the Walker Morris team are real people that you can engage with and work with. Working with Walker Morris feels more like an extension of our team than a relationship with an external adviser.’
‘A very personal and hands on approach to providing advice and a good ongoing relationship. Specific mention to Jo Ratcliffe for this.’
Trustees of the Forth Ports Group Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Drax 2019 Defined Benefit Pension Scheme
Capita Group plc
Trustees of the Capita Pension and Life Assurance Scheme
Ardagh 2017 Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Water Associated Pension Scheme (a sectionalised scheme for non-associated employers)
Trustees of the York University Pension Fund
Trustees of the University of Manchester Superannuation Scheme
Trustees of the PACCAR UK Pension Plan
Trustee of the Alliance Learning Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Leoni UK Pension Scheme
Trustees of the NG Bailey Pension and Life Assurance Scheme
Trustees of the Banco do Brasil Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Ashland Scheme
Trustees of CMP Batteries
- Acted for Menzies Distribution on its acquisition of Bibby Distribution from the Bibby Line Group.
- Advised the Trustees of the Ashland UK Pension Fund on day-to-day defined benefit pensions issues.
- Acted for the Trustee of the CMP Batteries Pension Scheme since 2014.
Wrigleys Solicitors LLP’s pensions practice advises a number of regional and national clients across the third sector and higher education space. Now jointly led by Kate Buckham and Louise Edwards in Leeds, the group handles master trust transfers, scheme amendments, and buy-ins and buyouts. Former practice head Leigh Holmes remains active within the group and is the key name for scheme wind-ups. At the associate level, Vicki Acomb advises trustees and employers on occupational pension schemes.
Kate Buckham; Louise Edwards
Other key lawyers:
Leigh Holmes; Vicki Accomb
‘They do what they do in an unassuming but focused, timely and technically excellent way. They are friendly and welcoming and I see them as an integral part of the team. They are more than able to identify and resolve complex issues; in a recent instance this is a leading edge matter. Their charging structure is incredibly client friendly too.’
‘Louise Edwards and Vicki Acomb work together as an integrated team, not only within the firm but also with us as client and other advisers. They can sort the wheat from the chaff quickly and follow that up with common sense advice and direction.’
‘I have found Wrigleys extremely easy to do business with. We engaged them on a project due to conflict within our London based legal advisers. They have proved themselves equally capable and up to the task and at considerably lower hourly rates.’
‘Victoria Acomb has provided an excellent service both in terms of speed of reaction and delivery for time sensitive requirement and an expert and trustworthy degree of knowledge that I have always been able to rely on.’
‘A highly professional and caring team that were patient and willing to go the extra mile to get the job done, particularly under Covid-19 circumstances and lockdown. An ability to pick up from previous work quickly and to deliver on time.’
‘Consistently excellent service and communication from key individuals across the organisation.’
‘Kate Buckham is our Wrigley representative and I have no hesitation in very positively endorsing her. She communicates very well on legal subjects that the ordinary layman might struggle with and is patient in ensuring that there is understanding of the advice she is giving. She is always very well prepared and the documents she has circulated prior to a meeting are clear and concise. She offers, when applicable, options and is clear in explaining the pros and cons of each. All in all extremely professional and pleasant.’
TMD Friction UK Trustee Limited (as trustees of the TMD Friction UK Pension Scheme)
University of Salford Student Union
Bournemouth University Students Union
- Advising a number of student union clients on the pensions issues arising on incorporation including managing the employer debt risk under the Student Union Superannuation Scheme.
- Providing ongoing legal support, advice and training to the trustees of the TMD Friction UK Pension Scheme.
The employment, pensions, and immigration practice group at Bevan Brittan LLP is now under the leadership of experienced practitioner Nigel Bolton, who was formerly at Freeths LLP, bringing with him over a decade of expertise advising pensions scheme and trustees on mergers, and large outsourcings. The group handles transactional matters, risk reduction issues and complaints before the Pension Ombudsman. Philip Woolham (who was previously at Knights plc) is recommended for pensions advice related to the private sector. Lyndsay Mair is also of note.
Other key lawyers:
Lyndsay Mair; Philip Woolham
National Savings and Investments
Financial Conduct Authority
Luton Borough Council
- Advising Luton Borough Council on the transfer of pension liabilities to improve a not-for-profit provider’s financial position.
Based in Sheffield, the pensions group at CMS acts for clients across the public and private sectors on scheme mergers, corporate M&A and restructurings, and scheme documentation reviews. John Hanratty remains the key name and also leads the firm's trustee advisory practice. The team also works with the firm's offices in Manchester and Scotland on large regional mandates.
‘Very commercial agile, approachable lawyers.’
‘John Hanratty is a pensions superstar. He always approaches each issue in a clear concise and pragmatic manner.’
TPT Retirement Solutions
NG Bailey Group Limited
Teesside Pension Fund
Oasis Community Learning
Trustees of the Investec Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Benjn. R Vickers Retirement Benefits Plan (1975)
Imtech Environ Limited
Places for People Leisure Management
Donvale Holdings Limited
- Advising Teeside Pensions Fund on admission agreements for the Administering Authority in connection with Outsourcings from Scheme employers including academies, local authorities and the administering authority as an employing authority.
Freeths LLP’s pensions team is led by new national head of the group Rena Magdani, who had over two decades of expertise in complex TUPE transfers, redundancy issues and restructuring work. Former practice head Nigel Bolton left the team to head up the new pensions practice at Bevan Brittan LLP.