As part of our wider pension scheme administration and governance offering, we provide high-quality, bespoke legal support to trustees and employers in two specialist areas that are currently a high priority for many schemes:
Outsourcing, contracts and provider management
The pensions industry now contains a huge variety of third party providers offering to help with the demands of pension scheme management. Alongside the traditional scheme administrators, actuaries, auditors, accountants, investment managers and lawyers, there may now be appointments with communications and benefit consultants, covenant assessors, independent financial advisers, professional trustees, scheme secretaries and the like. Each appointment needs a written contract – and while some are straightforward, requiring only limited legal input, others are complex.
Our lawyers are experts in helping you to put these contracts in place, and to manage them. We like to work collaboratively with our clients, building up long-lasting partnerships that mean we know how you like to work and what your priorities are. Our pensions specialists work seamlessly with our experienced contracts lawyers, providing pensions clients with fully integrated support on a wide range of issues in this area, including:
- drawing up supplier selection criteria and assisting with tendering and procurement processes to reflect your objectives
assisting you to determine the scope specified in selection documentations and to review scopes proposed by suppliers
contributing our experience and pensions market insights to your assessment of candidates
- reviewing and negotiating legal terms to ensure appropriate allocations of risk and responsibility with new providers
- outsourcing scheme administration and secretarial services, including benefits manuals and member booklet reviews
- assisting you to manage issues arising during the contracting cycle (such as service transformation or service refresh projects; addressing performance issues; and exit and transition arrangements)
- resolving disputes with third party providers
- Advising the Association of British Insurers on the creation of the "Pensions Dashboard", the new digital initiative promoted by HM Treasury. This included drawing up a raft of agreements dealing with the contribution each insurer will make to the project, the involvement of other participants and the development of the prototype system by a number of software developers.
- Advising the Trustee of the AXA UK Group Pension Scheme on the re-negotiation of an outsourced pensions administration contract.
- Advising the trustee of a £multi-billion UK pension fund on the outsourcing of its administration, and the associated transfer from, and termination of, existing arrangements with the incumbent service provider.
- Advising the Pension Protection Fund in relation to the outsourcing of its middle and back office investment management functions.
Data security is already a major source of reputational and legal risk, and is only going to move higher up the agenda when the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in the UK. Inevitably, pension schemes, employers and their advisers find themselves working with large amounts of scheme personal data, some of which is highly sensitive.
We provide pensions clients with fully integrated support on a wide range of issues in this area, including:
- Advising on GDPR implementation as it applies to pension schemes.
- Advising the TRW Pension Scheme and assisting its negotiation of the data protection aspects of its £3.5billion liability management exercise, including the record breaking £2.5billion buy out with Legal & General and integrated WULS, PIE and ETV exercises.
- Advising one of the largest defined benefit schemes in the UK in relation to:
- developing and writing a suite of data protection policies
- handling and retention of personal data; and
- data protection and data security provisions in third party contracts.
- Routinely advising pension scheme trustees in relation to data protection issues, such as the appointment of third party service providers to process personal data, and dealing with subject access requests and breaches of security.
"I find them extremely responsive - if I ask them to do something, it happens and to a very high standard. They also take time to understand the client."
We participate in a wide range of pensions industry groups.