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Sunday, 25 August 2019

Pensions: a changing landscape


Image for Daniel Gerring

Head of Pensions

Daniel Gerring

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+44 (0)20 7295 3341

Daniel is Head of Pensions at Travers Smith. He advises on all aspects of pensions law, acting for trustees and employers as well as parties to corporate activity.

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Pensions in the UK has a long history, and it is a history of change. Many occupational pension funds have been running for decades, and many will run for decades more. Yet law, regulation and the market have changed almost beyond recognition and pensions remains one of the most rapidly developing sectors. This has led to countless new options and challenges for trustees, employers and pension fund members, as well as for those entering into transactions involving pension funds.

Leading edge advice across all specialisms

We understand the wide range of information and advice you need to navigate today’s environment.  We are at the leading edge of innovation in pensions law and practice. Our longstanding clients include many of the UK’s largest pension funds as well as major employers, and we have partnered and guided them through change after change.  We keep track of what’s on the horizon and engage with policy-makers and industry players. This enables our clients to predict and manage new risks and opportunities with confidence.

Pensions is a highly complex and technical field and the financial risks are significant.  Clients need to know that their advisers have the right experience and expertise and won’t compromise on quality. But we understand that you also need advice that delivers real value - practical and commercially strategic solutions, provided in a straightforward and efficient way. And you need advisers who are as committed to your goals as you are.

This is the combination that we provide. We have one of the largest pensions practices in the City, and pensions clients are priority clients across our firm. We seamlessly encompass all the technical legal specialisms you need, including investment funds, derivatives and structured products, financial services and markets, corporate finance, private equity, finance, tax, employment, outsourcing and commercial contracts, data protection and dispute resolution. Our experienced and talented multi-specialist teams ensure that you get the clear answers and options you need to help you to plan and make decisions.  You can meet our lawyers as you explore our site and find out about the different types of work we have done and can do for you. Our areas of work include advice to trustees, sponsors and related parties on:

One thing that is certain about the future of pensions is that there will be more change. This will affect different clients in different ways – depending on your own circumstances, goals and strategies. We will stay firmly at the forefront of pensions, so that we can help you to predict and plan for the future of pension provision.

"They are responsive, and the advice is always clear and easily understandable to lay trustees"

Chambers UK, 2019

"They have great client handling and client care, they make themselves very much part of the team'

Chambers UK, 2018

"The team's strengths are the desire to build a relationship, a deep understanding of us as their client and good communications between parties'

Chambers UK, 2018

"Travers Smith LLP's 'outstanding' team is 'always great to work with'.

Legal 500, 2017

Work examples

  • Advising British American Tobacco on a buy-in of the British American Tobacco UK Pension Fund insuring £3.4 billion of liabilities with Pension Insurance Corporation. The agreement secures the benefits of 10,600 members (8,300 pensioners and 2,300 non- pensioners). It is the third largest transaction in the UK to date and is the largest ever including both pensioner and deferred members.
  • Advising the Nortel Networks UK Pensions Trust Ltd on a £2.4 billion PPF-plus buy-out for the Nortel Networks UK Pension Plan with Legal & General, allowing the Plan to exit its 10 year PPF assessment period..
  • Acting for the trustee of the British Steel Pension Scheme on separation from Tata Steel through a 'regulated apportionment arrangement' and setting up a replacement scheme offering members an alternative to PPF compensation.
  • Advising the BAE Systems Pension Scheme on full segregation of the scheme into sections for BAE Systems and Airbus.
  • Advising the MGN pension schemes (within the Trinity Mirror Group, now Reach Plc) on a novel three-scheme merger.
  • Advising the Trustees of the Lehman Brothers pension scheme on all aspects of the bank's insolvency including PPF assessment, the Financial Support Direction litigation (up to the Supreme Court) and on the settlement and buy-out to secure all member benefits in full.
  • Advising the TRW Pension Scheme on its £3.5bn liability management exercise, including a £2.5bn buy out with Legal & General.
  • Acting for the Willis pension scheme in relation to the $18bn Willis Towers Watson merger.
  • Advising Nikkei on pensions issues arising in Nikkei's £884m acquisition of the Financial Times.
  • Advising the Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PiP) established by PLSA and certain leading UK pension funds to encourage more UK infrastructure investments.
  • Advising GLIL Infrastructure LLP in relation to its further fund-raising round, which has increased its total deployable capital to £1.275bn.
  • Advising the Vodafone Group Pension Scheme on its merger with the Cable & Wireless Worldwide Retirement Plan, including the transfer of nearly £2bn of investment products.
  • Advising the Scottish and Newcastle Pension Plan (sponsored by Heineken) on a £2.4bn longevity hedge transaction.
  • Advising the trustees of the AXA UK Group Pension Scheme, as conflict counsel in relation to its £2.8bn insurance-wrapped longevity hedging transaction.
  • Advising the Association of British Insurers on the creation of the "Pensions Dashboard", the new digital initiative promoted by HM Treasury.
  • Advising the Pension Protection Fund in relation to the outsourcing of its middle and back office investment management functions.
  • Representing Stena Line Limited in proceedings in the High Court and the Court of Appeal which brought about new funding arrangements for the industry-wide Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund.

Industry appointments

We actively participate in a range of industry bodies and working groups, including:

  • Chair of the Legislation Committee of the Society of Pension Professionals and a member of the Defined Contribution Committee
  • Chairing the Governance Committee and Council of the Pensions Policy Institute
  • The Legal Panel of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association and the Advisory Group on Diversity & Inclusion
  • The Main Committee, the Legislative and Parliamentary Sub-Committee, the Investment Sub-Committee, the Special Working Group on Brexit, the Covenant and Finance Sub-Committee and other Sub-Committees of the Association of Pension Lawyers
  • The Automatic Enrolment Intermediaries Forum (set up by Government and run by the Pensions Regulator)
  • The steering committee of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ Member Interest Group (MIG) for bulk annuities and longevity swaps
  • Committee member of the GMP Equalisation Industry Group (set up by Government and the Pensions Regulator and chaired by PASA)

Industry Awards

Highly Commended Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award 2019, UK Pensions Awards

Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award 2018, UK Pensions Awards

Highly Commended Pensions Law Firm 2018, Pension & Investment Provider Awards

Pension Lawyers of the Year 2016, UK Pensions Awards


We regularly write for the pensions press and academic journals, and you can find some of our recent articles here.