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:

Notable cases

British Broadcasting Corporation v BBC Pension Trust Ltd [2023]

The Court considered the scope of a fetter on the scheme amendment power in the BBC pension scheme and found that it prevented the power from being used to change future service benefits and/or member contributions for Active Members unless certain conditions were satisfied. However, the Court accepted the BBC’s submission that if the specified conditions were satisfied, then the use of the scheme amendment power in that way would not involve a breach of the proper purpose doctrine.

Read the full judgment here.

Virgin Media Limited v NTL Pensions Trustees II Ltd & ors [2023]

An important judgment on the operation of s.37 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (the 1993 Act) and Regulation 42 of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Contracting-out) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/1172) (the Regulations), and whether a scheme needs written actuarial confirmation that it continues to satisfy the statutory standards for contracting-out in order for a scheme amendment to a contracted-out scheme to be valid.

Read the full judgment here.

Railways Pension Trustee v Atos [2022]

The case is about a section of the Railways Pension Scheme, an occupational pension scheme established under a statutory instrument, providing benefits on a Defined Benefit “shared cost” basis.  The judgment of the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Julian Flaux, resolved questions about how the section’s deficit contribution rule operates.  The judgment covers a number of topics of interest to pensions practitioners, including the scope of an actuarial discretion to set deficit contributions, the nature of a power to reduce future benefit accrual, the proper approach to interpretation of a statutory pension scheme, and the effect on scheme funding of a section being unsegregated as between different classes of members.

Read the full judgment here.

Safeway v Newton [2020]

The Court of Appeal confirmed unanimously that the introduction of s.62 of the Pensions Act 1995 was a domestic law measure that closed the Barber window with effect from 1 January 1996.

Read the Safeway v Newton judgment here.

British Telecommunications pension scheme [2018]

Two recent cases: a Court of Appeal decision on the continued appropriateness of using RPI to increase pensions, and judicial review of the Treasury’s decision to extend full indexation to public service pension scheme members.

Read the full British Telecommunications pension scheme judgment here.


Lloyds Bank Pension Schemes [2018]

A landmark case confirming that there is an obligation to equalise benefits to take account of unequal Guaranteed Minimum Pensions. One of The Lawyer’s ‘Top 20 Cases of 2018’.

Read the Lloyds Bank Pension Schemes judgment here.

BHS Pension Schemes [2017]

The well publicised case of the Pensions Regulator’s action in relation to the collapse of the BHS business and the related £400m pensions shortfall.


Concerning whether the employer’s duty of good faith had been breached by the closure of a pension scheme and remedies for the breach.

Insights View all thought leadership

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    The Pensions Ombudsman – competent but not a court

    On 1 November, the Court of Appeal appeared to envision a County Court “rubber stamping” procedure for overpayment dispute determinations. “Cui bono?”, one might ask. Ram Lakshman has written a casenote summarising the case with commentary.  The article was first... Read more

    By Ram Lakshman
    Thursday 9 November 2023

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    Pensions, personal bankruptcy and creditor recovery: recent developments

    David Pollard and Joseph Steadman’s article, ‘Pensions, personal bankruptcy and creditor recovery: recent developments’, has been published in Issue 37.2 of Trust Law International by Bloomsbury Publishing. Trust Law International is a well established quarterly journal with a mixed readership... Read more

    By David Pollard | Joseph Steadman
    Friday 15 September 2023

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    Recent Cases

    Judgment handed down: British Broadcasting Corporation v BBC Pension Trust Ltd


    Brian Green KC | Michael Tennet KC | Edward Sawyer | Joseph Steadman
    Monday 14 August 2023

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    Jennifer Seaman appointed to the London A Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown

    We are delighted to announce that Jennifer Seaman has been promoted to the London A Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown. The appointment is for a period of five years commencing 1st September 2023 and expiring on 31st August... Read more

    Tuesday 1 August 2023

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