Pensions Disputes


With high-value stakes, pensions litigation can be complex, costly and time-consuming. Understanding that every matter is unique, our pensions disputes solicitors will help you to anticipate and resolve pensions disputes with practical, cost-effective advice tailored to your specific needs.

Sitting within one of the largest pensions practices in the UK, our Pensions Disputes team is made up of highly skilled lawyers who focus exclusively on resolving pensions disputes arising out of occupational pension schemes. This level of experience allows us to provide our clients with a dedicated service that draws on technical excellence and a deep level of knowledge.

Most of our clients are trustees or employers of occupational pension schemes, both in the private and public sector (where our clients include charities, borough and city councils, as well as overseas governments with pensions schemes in England). Many of the pensions disputes and uncertainties on which we help our clients are complicated and of significant financial value to them.

We always try to resolve issues arising out of pension schemes without resorting to litigation and will look for creative, cost-effective and innovative solutions wherever possible. For example, if a pensions dispute can be resolved by consent through what is called a summary disposal hearing, we have a lot of experience of doing so that we bring to bear.

However, if it is not possible to do this, we have considerable experience resolving pensions disputes in the High Court, whether that be through applications by employers or trustees to rectify the rules of pension schemes, or claims asking the Court to rule on the meaning and effect of provisions in pensions schemes or pensions legislation.

Our team has substantial experience of advising on professional negligence litigation, particularly in relation to claims brought by pension scheme employers and trustees arising out of ineffective rule amendments, indexation and revaluation (RPI/CPI) and inappropriate investment strategies.

We have a wealth of experience advising on disputes with The Pensions Regulator, including supporting international pension scheme employers and trustees with UK pension schemes.

We regularly act for schemes members as representative beneficiaries in proceedings brought by employers and trustees. We have been involved in many of the leading cases in this area (including Colorcon v Huckell, Industrial Acoustics Ltd v Crowhurst and Sogefi Filtration Ltd v Havard).

We take a sensible, pragmatic and proportionate approach to our role, while ensuring the advice we give to the representative beneficiary is clear and easy to understand. Cases are dealt with efficiently and at a proportionate cost by identifying key issues to focus on to limit the areas in dispute.

In addition to complex pensions disputes in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, we also handle complaints by members under schemes' Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures and to the Pensions Ombudsman for over 400 employer and trustee clients.

We also actively monitor the Pensions Ombudsman's decisions and have harnessed innovative technology to assist our clients in preparing responses to Ombudsman complaints. This means we can help pension schemes head off the risk of claims before they develop, or agree at the outset an appropriate strategy to contest the claim.

As one of the leading pensions disputes practices in the UK, we are proud to have acted on some of the most significant cases in recent years, including Axminster, Britvic, Mitchells & Butlers, CMG and Virgin Media.

How we resolve pensions disputes

We have substantial experience in:

Client work

Gowling WLG covered all angles as the case evolved pre-trial and then expertly briefed Counsel to ensure the Trustee's case was best represented in Court. The Trustee has consistently felt it was in proactive and safe hands.  Mitchells & Butlers Pensions Limited

Our team has experience in handling some of the most high profile and complex pensions cases in the industry, our litigation work has included:

Other significant cases in which we have acted include Steria Limited v Hutchison (Court of Appeal). Smithson v Hamilton, Foster Wheeler Limited v Hanley, CEMEX Marine UK Limited v MNOPF, ITS v Knell, Capita ATL Pension Trustees Ltd v Gellately, Beaton v PPF, Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester v Butterworth, Thales UK Ltd v Thales Pension Trustees Ltd and G4S plc v G4S Trustees Limited.

Awards and recognition

A very strong specialist pensions litigation team.

The Legal 500

We are proud to be recognised by the legal directories for our work in the pensions industry. The Legal 500 ranks the team in Band 2 for 'Pensions: Dispute Resolution' in London and Chambers & Partners places us in Band 2 for UK-wide Pensions Litigation.

The Legal 500 states that, "The practice is very ably led by Ian Gordon who is an intelligent and astute litigator" and "one of the stars of pensions litigation with a huge amount of experience acquired in leading cases".  

The directory names Ian as a "leading individual", and also describes both Charlotte Scholes (a Legal Director) and Aaron Dunning-Foreman as "rising stars". Chambers & Partners lists Ian in Band 1, noting that he has "huge experience in the pensions litigation space" and that clients "have a considerable advantage going to him". The directory lists Charlotte as a "Star Associate".

Both Charlotte and Aaron were named in Best Lawyers in 2022 as "Ones to Watch", making our pensions disputes practice the only team to have two commendations in this category nationally.

In recognition of the strength of our practice, we won the UK Pensions Award 2022 for "Pensions Litigation Firm of the Year".

Contact our team

Contact us today for more information on how our team can support you with pensions disputes.

Ian Gordon
Partner, head of Pensions Disputes team