At Wilberforce Chambers, we are leading the way in the field of occupational pensions. We are market leaders with pre-eminent practitioners who specialise in all aspects of pensions law and pensions litigation. Over the past thirty years, our members have appeared in almost all the leading cases in this area. As a result, we can offer a wealth of resources and experience, with experts at all levels of seniority. This expertise has been widely acknowledged; Wilberforce Chambers is consistently singled out as the market leader by the premier independent researchers at Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500.
As well as top-quality advice and first-class innovative thinking, clients can expect Wilberforce’s down-to-earth, straightforward and fantastically user-friendly service. We pride ourselves on a practical approach to the needs of employers and trustees, who want commercially realistic and cost effective solutions. We deal with the largest pension litigation worth billions of pounds down to individual disputes and complaints before the Pensions Ombudsman. Our members combine in-depth knowledge of trusts law and technical pensions legislation with expertise in the related fields of regulatory, financial services, insolvency, tax, negligence, employment, equality, European and public law that affect pensions.
Every year, Wilberforce hosts the Edward Nugee Memorial Lectures, a series of talks by pension law practitioners on current topics of particular interest.
All of our previous papers can be found here, a year after their initial publication. In 2020 and 2021, our lectures were delivered as webinars and can be viewed on our YouTube channel here.
We advise on cutting-edge issues and litigation affecting pension schemes and their sponsoring employers, as well as emerging issues in the field of personal pensions. Recent examples include:
- Handling Pensions Regulator issues, from FSDs through to removal of trustees
- Advising on GMP equalisation and other equality issues
- Dealing with switches from RPI pension increases through advice and litigation
- Advising on, challenging or defending the validity of decisions by trustees and employers
- Handling pensions liberation, pensions fraud and breach of trust cases
- Dealing with mistakes in pension scheme documentation
- Responding to judicial review of decisions by public bodies that affect pension schemes
- Dealing with claims in relation to mismanagement of personal pension schemes
- Structuring transactions to manage the impact of s.75 debts and addressing s.75 issues
- Advising on strategies to enable companies that can’t meet their scheme liabilities to escape insolvency
- Advising on scheme closure, restructuring and liability management exercises
- Helping to structure corporate transactions and dealing with TUPE issues
- Assistance with applying the statutory funding regime
We get involved in disputes in a range of arenas, from the High Court and appellate Courts (including in Europe) through to the Pensions Regulator Determinations Panel and Upper Tribunal and the Pensions Ombudsman, and we deal with any related professional negligence issues.
Rankings and recognition
Wilberforce is ranked as a tier 1 set in the pensions categories of both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500.
Chambers & Partners 2024: Wilberforce Chambers is a distinguished set, with a market-leading group of both silks and juniors capable of handling the full spectrum of pensions work. Members are thoroughly experienced in handling large-scale, high-profile cases at the forefront of the pensions industry. Wilberforce’s barristers are equipped for advice and advocacy in relation to a host of regulatory matters and act for employers, trustees and the Pensions Regulator. The set is able to act in complex cases with elements of employment, trusts and tax law. In the past year, members of the set have been acting for the trustees of the Railways Pension Scheme in a case concerning the interaction of the scheme’s Protection Order and Section Rules. Wilberforce Chambers has also been representing Trustees of Newell Ltd in a Part 8 claim raising a number of issues arising from the conversion of DB pension rights into DC benefits.
The Legal 500 2024: Wilberforce Chambers is commended by clients for its ‘unrivalled strength in depth‘ in pensions, and in particular for the set’s expertise on ‘the most complex and challenging‘ cases. In the case of Railways Pension Scheme Trustee Ltd v Atos, a matter concerning the correct calculation of how much members should pay into “shared cost” defined benefit schemes, Brian Green KC and Edward Sawyer acted on behalf of the trustees. Paul Newman KC is representing Newell Rubbermaid in a dispute over its conversion of defined benefit rights into define contribution scheme, with issues as to if the conversion is discriminatory on the grounds of sex.
Among our members, we count esteemed authors and editors of leading pensions law textbooks:
- A Practitioner’s Guide to Correcting Mistakes in Pension Schemes (2022, Bloomsbury Professional) by Paul Newman KC, for which he won the Wallace Medal, presented by the Association of Pension Lawyers.
- Corporate Insolvency: Employment and Pension Rights (7th ed, 2022, Bloomsbury Professional) by David Pollard
- Connected and Associated: Insolvency and Pensions Law (Bloomsbury Professional, 2021) by David Pollard
- Pensions, Contracts and Trusts: Legal Issues on Decision Making (Bloomsbury Professional, 2020) by David Pollard
- Employment Law and Pensions (Bloomsbury Professional, 2016) by David Pollard
- The Law of Pension Trusts (Oxford University Press, 2013) by David Pollard