Ian J Gordon
Ian helps clients to resolve the full range of issues and disputes that can arise in the context of occupational pension schemes, as speedily and cost-effectively as possible.
Issues may have been identified in the documentation governing the pension scheme, leading to the employer potentially having to fund benefits that were not intended, or the trustees being unsure about how to administer the scheme.
Such issues need to be resolved speedily and as cost-effectively as possible, and with sensitivity to the scheme's membership. Sometimes it is necessary to bring claims to rectify drafting errors in the scheme's rules, or to apply to court for declaratory relief or to seek approval of a compromise reached with the scheme's members. Sometimes compensation may be sought if the problem has arisen as a result of negligence on the part of the scheme's professional advisers.
Pensions law is complex and evolving fast. Clients (whether employers, trustees or individuals representing the wider scheme membership) need an adviser who understands the relevant law, who has experience of, and expertise in, this specialist area of legal practice, and who is able to ensure that any problems are resolved in a speedy and cost-effective way.
Ian's exclusive focus on pensions dispute resolution and litigation helps him to provide such a service, delivering excellent value for money. Clients benefit from Ian's experience of court litigation, complaints to the Pensions Ombudsman, disputes with the Pensions Regulator, as well as less formal processes such as arbitration, mediation and schemes' Internal Dispute Resolution Processes.
Ian has particular experience of professional negligence claims, from the perspective of both claimants and defendants. His experience from "both sides of the fence" enables Ian to guide clients through the procedural, strategic and tactical journey to the resolution of compensation claims.
This experience also enables clients to receive transparent and accurate costs estimates, helping them to set their budgets and ensure that costs are kept as proportionate as possible.
For the last 20 years, Ian has specialised in dispute resolution, whether that be court proceedings, arbitration or mediation. So he has a lot of experience of guiding clients through what, to them, is usually unchartered territory as they seek to resolve a problem that has arisen.
In recent years Ian has specialised exclusively in pensions disputes. As well as giving him an understanding of the relevant law, which can be complex and fast-evolving, his focus on pensions dispute resolution has enabled him to set his advice in its commercial and human context.
For an employer, the financial consequences of, for example, mistakes in pension scheme documentation can be enormous. Using the tools available, whether that be rectification or other relief from the Court, Ian has a lot of experience of resolving issues speedily and cost-effectively.
Trustees also need to know what the benefits of the scheme are, and Ian has built up a lot of experience guiding trustees on their legal responsibilities to the scheme and, most importantly, the individual members whose benefits are involved.
Ian also has particular experience in advising individuals who have agreed to represent the interests of the wider membership, explaining to them the issues that have been identified, and walking them through their role in any court application that needs to be made.
Since joining the firm, Ian (together with colleagues) has acted for a US parent company of the principal employer of a pension scheme, which was facing the prospect of the Pensions Regulator exercising its moral hazard powers against it.
This was understandably very unsettling and unfamiliar territory for the client. It raised interesting and novel issues of law, and ultimately, with the appropriate engagement of expert forensic accountants, he was able to reach the position where the Pensions Regulator decided not to seek to exercise those powers.
Over the same time period, Ian acted on behalf of an individual representing the interests of the wider membership of a pension scheme in one of the leading reported cases on when it is appropriate to rectify the rules of an occupational pension scheme by means of an application for summary judgment.
Ian worked to very tight timescales - the time from the issue of proceedings to the court hearing being only a matter of weeks - and was able to satisfy the judge that the case was one in which it was appropriate to rectify the rules of the scheme without the need for a trial.
Participating employers and trustees of occupational pension schemes, across a range of business sectors and including numerous household names, individuals representing the interests of the members of occupational pension schemes and professional service firms advising the employers and trustees of such schemes.
Ian can (sometimes) be found working out in the gym, but his biggest hobby is landscape oil painting - doing rather than viewing; his house is full of paintings he has done of places he's been to, including Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and the Iguassu Falls.
Acting for representatives of the membership of three pension schemes in legal proceedings
Ian advised and acted for individuals representing the wider membership of three occupational pension schemes in court proceedings that had been issued to clarify members' benefits and, in one case, to rectify the rules of the scheme. Ian was chosen to act for the members because of his experience and expertise in the area, his ability to explain complex pension issues to members, and for his reputation for being able to act quickly (the court had ruled that hearings in two of the cases were to be held as soon as possible) and to provide advice in a cost-effective way.
Advising a US parent company facing potential action by the Pensions Regulator
He advised a US parent company of the principal employer of a pension scheme, which was facing the prospect of the Pensions Regulator exercising its moral hazard powers against it. This required a deep understanding of this fast-evolving area of pensions law, as well as an ability to sift through voluminous evidence and engage accountancy experts to advise on the flow of money in the corporate group. Ian and his team were ultimately able to reach the position where the Pensions Regulator did not seek to exercise those powers.
Acting in legal proceedings on behalf of employers and trustees
Ian is acting for a range of participating employers and trustees of pension schemes, across a range of sectors (including household names), in proceedings seeking to resolve problems that had been identified with the documentation of the schemes, as well as professional negligence proceedings to recover damages for losses that the pension fund had suffered.
Negligence claims against pensions professionals
Ian has particular experience of, and expertise in, professional negligence claims, from the perspective of both claimants and defendants. Having spent over 10 years defending such claims (and he continues to count professional service firms amongst his clients), his practice now encompasses more claimant-side work. Recently, as well as helping professional services firms, he has acted (and is acting) on several multi-million pound High Court negligence claims by employers and trustees of pension schemes.