Pensions

Persistent funding volatility in pension plans, increased regulatory focus and constant legislative change are keeping pensions high on the corporate agenda, resulting in evolving challenges for trustees and plan sponsors.

We have extensive experience advising corporate sponsors, trustees and insurers on the full range of pension issues, from plan inception, through valuation negotiations, funding solutions, investment issues, dealing with the Pensions Regulator, benefit changes, plan restructurings and de-risking to plan closure. 

We are recognised as one of the leading UK pensions firms, acting in relation to a number of the largest pension plans in the UK, and working on complex and innovative pensions projects.

  • Our lawyers are multi-specialists, working across what would be traditional dividing lines in other law firms. This makes for pensions lawyers who can join the dots, see the wider picture, and think laterally, working in efficient, partner-led teams. 
  • Our work with clients on some of the most complex and innovative pensions projects is facilitated by our cross disciplinary approach, working in integrated teams with specialist colleagues from across the firm. For example, our cross practice Pensions Derisking Group is at the forefront of derisking developments, including buy-ins and buy-outs, longevity swaps and reinsurance and innovative derisking and funding structures.
  • We are leaders in innovative pensions thinking. For example we are currently working with Royal Mail in developing, in collaboration with its unions, its proposed collective money purchase plan (CDC) and the required new legislative framework.
  • We have deep expertise advising on industry-wide plans (Railways, Electricity, Water), and in working on benefit re-designs and plan closures, particularly where workforces are unionised.
  • Our Contentious Pensions team brings together leading pensions and litigation practitioners to provide our clients with unrivalled expertise and experience in the contentious pensions sphere.

Key experience

Walmart

Advising Walmart, the U.S. retailer, on the £3.8 billion buy-in/buy-out with Rothesay Life of the Asda Group Pension Scheme. On completion this is expected to be the second largest full buy-out in the UK to date and secures benefits for all of the Scheme’s 12,300 members. 

Trustees of the BT Pension Scheme

Advising Trustees of the BT Pension Scheme in Part 8 proceedings in the High Court and Court of Appeal. The cases, brought by BT, concerned BT’s power to change the basis for calculating pension increases from RPI to CPI (or another alternative index), and were both unsuccessful. It was estimated that a switch could have saved BT over £2 billion in the context of a Scheme shortfall of approximately £11 billion (at June 2017).

Tata Steel

Advising Tata Steel on the restructuring of the £13 billion British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) through a regulated apportionment arrangement with the Trustee. This was the largest pension restructuring ever carried out in the UK, involving the separation of the BSPS from Tata Steel UK and the creation of a new defined benefit pension plan.

Railways Pension Trustee Company

Advising Railways Pension Trustee Company, the trustee of the industry-wide Railways Pension Scheme, on the whole range of trustee matters, including liability transfers on franchise changes, exercise of trustee discretions, scheme wide and section specific rule changes and the Pensions Regulator’s one to one supervisory regime.

E.ON

Advising E.ON on a complex benefit re-design making future service changes to the E.ON group in the industry-wide Electricity Supply Pension Scheme, including design and delivery of the changes, coordinating information and consultation exercises and union and member ballots and scheme documentation.

Our experience in advising corporate sponsors, trustees and insurers on all types of pensions matters means we appreciate each party’s objectives and are sensitive to the responses of different stakeholders. This enables us to anticipate issues, manage legal and reputational risk and find workable solutions, being innovative where appropriate, resulting in practical, commercially aware advice.  We aim to see from our client’s perspective at all times.

key Contacts