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 and Mitchells & Butlers.
How we resolve pensions disputes
We have substantial experience in:
- High Court litigation seeking to rectify mistakes in pensions scheme documentation
- Applying to the High Court to resolve uncertainties with scheme documentation
- Handling professional negligence claims
- Pensions Ombudsman and PPF (Pension Protection Fund) Ombudsman complaints
- Court-approved compromises
- Pensions dispute resolution with The Pensions Regulator
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:
MITCHELLS & BUTLERS PENSIONS LIMITED
Acting for the trustee of the Mitchells & Butlers Pension Plan in its successful claim to rectify three deeds on behalf of 22,000 members after a three-week trial during the pandemic.
BRITVIC PENSIONS LIMITED
Acting for the trustee of the Britvic Pensions Plan in the Court of Appeal case on the approach to take when interpreting pension deeds and rules.
TRUSTEE OF THE AXMINSTER CARPETS RETIREMENT BENEFITS PLAN
Acting for the trustee of the Plan in a leading case on limitation and forfeiture in a pensions context.
CMG UK Pension Scheme
Acting for the employer of the CMG UK Pension Scheme in a leading case on forfeiture and recoupment in a pensions context.
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
Specific knowledge combined with the broader view of the client's activities. Chambers & Partners
We are proud to be regularly 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.
Ian Gordon is ranked in Band 2 by Chambers & Partners, with The Legal 500 commenting, "Ian Gordon always gives in-depth analysis and can explain the big picture issues to trustees". Charlotte Scholes (now a legal director) was recognised as an "Associate to Watch" by Chambers & Partners and a "Rising Star" by The Legal 500. Aaron Dunning-Foreman was also named a "Rising Star" by The Legal 500.
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.
Our pensions team was also named "Pensions Law Firm of the Year 2022" by Pensions Age and shortlisted as one of five firms for Professional Pensions "Pensions Litigation Firm of the Year" in 2022. In recognition of the strength of our practice, we also 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.
Partner, head of Pensions Disputes team