Ian Gordon

Leading our Pensions Disputes practice, Ian has considerable experience and expertise helping clients to resolve issues involving occupational pension schemes.

Ian takes time to understand clients' concerns, goals and priorities. With clear explanation and analysis, he brings his experience to bear to devise and lead strategies for meeting clients' objectives. Ian makes what can be complex accessible in order to resolve issues involving pension schemes as speedily and cost-effectively as possible. Where their interests are directly affected, he deals with scheme members with appropriate sensitivity.

Ian specialises exclusively in pensions disputes and has very extensive experience of a wide range of work in this area. Clients value the insights he brings to cases so that problems are resolved in not only their technical but also their commercial context. He also has considerable experience advising clients on steps they might take to avoid issues and uncertainties arising in the first place.

Where unavoidable, Ian's work has involved bringing proceedings in the High Court, including applications to rectify the rules of pension schemes, claims asking the Court to rule on the meaning and effect of provisions in the rules of pensions schemes or pensions legislation, as well as (where necessary) advising on professional negligence claims (claimant and defendant).

Most of Ian's clients are trustees or employers of occupational pension schemes, both in the private and public sector (where Ian's clients include charities, borough and city councils, as well as overseas governments with pensions schemes in England). Ian also has considerable experience of advising members of schemes where their interests are affected.

Ian has advised on the pension schemes of a number of household names, including Virgin Media, Britvic, Axminster Carpets, CGI and Mitchells & Butlers.

Client have praised Ian for:

his "formidable and acute command of the legal arguments and how to play them";

providing "outstanding advice and service … throughout the many twists and turns in the case";

his "clear, pragmatic and robust approach";

"always [getting] straight to the heart of the matter, with insight, crisp delivery and periodic flashes of keen wit";

being "approachable, readily contactable and [dealing] with matters with calmness, impressive efficiency and speed."

Ian is ranked in Band 1 by Chambers (UK), which has described him as having "huge experience in the pensions litigation space", with clients having "a considerable advantage going to him."

Ian is ranked as a leading individual by Legal 500, which has described him as "one of the stars of pensions litigation with a huge amount of experience acquired in leading cases" who is "intelligent and astute", "gives a case 110%, really gets stuck in, totally committed" and a "details man".

In recognition of the strength of our practice, Gowling WLG was named Pensions Litigation Firm of the Year at the prestigious Professional Pensions UK Pensions Awards 2024. The award was in recognition of the high-profile cases we conducted on behalf of our clients and our success in resolving issues behind 'closed doors' at an early stage to avoid disputes.

This success followed our being named Pensions Litigation Firm of the Year in 2022.

Experience

Ian's recent experience includes:

  • Acting for Virgin Media in the ongoing case involving section 37 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993, one of the most significant cases in the pensions industry in recent years.
  • Acting for the Trustee of the Mitchells & Butlers Pension Plan and the 22,000 members it represented in High Court proceedings in which the court rectified the pension increase rules in that scheme.
  • Acting for the Trustee of the Axminster Carpets Group Retirement Benefits Plan in what is the leading case concerning limitation and interest in a pensions context.
  • Acting for the employer of the CMG UK Pension Scheme in a leading case on forfeiture and recoupment in a pensions context.
  • Acting for the Trustee of the Britvic Pension Plan in the Court of Appeal case on the interpretation of that scheme's pension increase rules.
  • Acting for employees and trustees of a number of pension schemes where issues have been identified as to the effect and validity of the scheme's governing documentation.
  • Acting for employers and trustees of pension schemes in claims against investment advisers and fund managers arising out of LDI investment strategies.
  • Acting for the employers of two schemes in relation to issues arising from their pension increase provisions.
  • Acting for a number of borough, city and county councils in various disputes with LGPS employers, including in relation to exit credits that might be payable.
  • Advising clients on accessing surpluses in pension schemes of which they are the principal employers.
  • Acting for scheme members in various cases in which employers sought rectification of the schemes' rules, all of which were resolved by summary judgment, one by expedition to enable a corporate transaction to go ahead.
  • Acting for scheme members in various cases in which employers sought relief from the court on various issues as to the correct interpretation of the scheme's rules or other relief to make the administration of the scheme more straight-forward.