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At Wilberforce Chambers, we are leading the way in the field of occupational pensions. Over the past twenty-five 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 was singled out as a leader by the premier independent researchers, Chambers UK (“uniformly excellent“) and The Legal 500 (“it remains head and shoulders above other sets“).

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 advise on cutting-edge issues affecting pension schemes and their sponsoring employers. Recent examples include:

  • Advising on proposals to close final salary schemes to new entrants or future accrual in light of the employer’s duty of good faith.
  • Dealing with Pensions Regulator issues, from FSDs through to removal of trustees
  • Fighting pensions liberation cases
  • Structuring transactions to minimise or avoid the impact of s.75 debts
  • Advising on strategies to enable companies that can’t meet their scheme liabilities to escape insolvency.
  • Challenging actuaries’ certificates of s.75 debts
  • Advising on the Age Discrimination Regulations
  • Assistance with applying the statutory funding regime
  • Dealing with mistakes in pension scheme documentation.

As a result, members have been centrally involved in the leading cases of recent years, including:

  • FDR Ltd v Dutton & ors – this case concerned how an underpin should operate in relation to increases to pensions in payment for an occupational pension scheme.
  • R (on behalf of Grace Bay II Holdings Sarl and Others) v The Pensions Regulator – an application for judicial review brought by the Claimant Targets of a Warning Notice against the Defendant Pensions Regulator, with the Trustees of the Silentnight Pension Scheme intervening as an Interested Party
  • Re BCA Pension Trustees Limited – concerning the use of s.48 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 in the context of pension schemes
  • Pollock v Reed  – a case in relation to Project Gravity, a proposed restructuring of the benefits under a scheme with more than 3,000 members and a solvency deficit of £600 million
  • IBM concerning whether the employer’s duty of good faith had been breached by the closure of a pension scheme and the remedies for such breach
  • Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund concerning the regard that a trustee should have for the interests of employers in exercising its powers under a pension scheme
  • Nortel & Lehman v the Pensions Regulator  Supreme Court decision on how the Pension Regulator’s moral hazard regime applies as against insolvent companies
  • Box Clever – concerning the limits of the FSD regime and the first FSD case likely to go to trial in the Upper Tribunal
  • Storm Funding – concerning the maximum quantum payable under a s.47 contribution notice
  • Pilots’ National Pensions fund (PNPF)concerned the scope of an employer’s powers to redress a deficit under the scheme rules and a number of important issues surrounding the application of the s.75 and Scheme Specific Funding regimes

We get involved in disputes in a range of arenas, from the High Court and appellate Courts through to the Pensions Regulator Determinations Panel and Upper Tribunal and the Pensions Ombudsman, and deal with any related professional negligence issues.