The world of pensions is highly regulated and seemingly subject to perpetual scrutiny from legislators who cannot resist introducing more and more change. Nowadays, only those steeped in knowledge of the industry and with the resources to remain abreast of its constant developments are able to advise with confidence.
At Arc Pensions Law, we expend considerable time and resources in ensuring that our whole team are fully up to date with the latest legal developments and have a deep understanding of the wider context within which such legal changes occur. On these pages, we list some of the areas in which we support our clients with occupational pension schemes, whether as sponsor, trustee or professional adviser, in either the private or public sectors.
Pension schemes necessarily hold a great deal of data about members, former members and often their families and other dependants.
A significant proportion of this is sensitive, “special” data. Ensuring that data is held securely and in accordance with legal requirements is a fundamental issue for pension schemes, employers and their advisers. The new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) brings these issues into sharp focus. Understanding where and how data is kept, who has access and the legal and contractual requirements that apply, has become a major issue for pension schemes. Our lawyers have many years’ experience advising on the data issues for pension schemes and employers. We understand how schemes operate and the issues in managing data for those involved. We can help you navigate the practical issues of data management and the surrounding legislation and ensure that you have robust systems in place to deal with the changing environment.
Pension Protection Fund
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has become an important player for defined benefit pension schemes.
Our experts will work with you to ensure that ongoing returns are properly dealt with in good time for the PPF’s often inflexible deadlines. We assist in providing contingent asset and other funding solutions to improve the PPF levy position and achieve strategic objectives. If a scheme is expecting to enter the PPF, challenges can be more significant. Our experienced lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the challenges involved, and work with trustees and employers alike to ensure that appropriate strategies are put in place, with realistic goals and timescales proposed and adhered to. Once a scheme is in assessment for PPF entry, we engage with both trustees and the PPF caseworker to ensure a timely completion of the process.
Taxation is a driving force for the design of pension schemes and the choices made by employers, employees and trustees in relation to their pension arrangements.
Our lawyers understand the present complexities and the past history of the tax system relating to pensions. With our practical advice and knowledge, trustees can be clear on potential tax charges to their pension scheme, employers can structure contributions in a tax-efficient way, and members and employees can be provided with accurate and succinct information about the potential tax consequences of the options and decisions they face.
Public Sector and Outsourcing
The close regulation and frequent reform of public sector pensions present a great challenge for employers and members alike.
Arc Pensions Law draws from a wealth of experience to guide you through the complexities. The Government’s ‘Fair Deal’ guidance means that these issues arise in the private sector too. Any business involved in outsourcing from the public sector will be obliged to deal with the challenges of public sector pension schemes regime in areas such as:
- admission agreements
- banking or other security
- contribution requirements and caps
- termination contributions, and
- subcontractors obligations.
Arc Pensions Law advises on how to deal with these issues on clear and practical terms.
Scheme Governance and Compliance
The last decade has seen an upsurge in regulation and guidance relating to pension schemes and their governance.
These developments can at first seem confusing and even contradictory. At Arc Pensions Law, we know it is the basic rules that matter most – the obligations of the trustees to administer the scheme and the duties of the sponsor as trust settlor and employer. We can guide you through these concepts and explain how the guidance and regulatory materials fit together. With our practical, clear advice, you can ensure that your scheme complies with its obligations and deals effectively with any regulatory queries or investigations.
Working with the Pensions Regulator
The Pensions Regulator’s powers to issue contribution notices and financial support directions (requiring payments or other support from companies and individuals, including those not employers in a defined benefit pension scheme) can be a great concern to all involved.
At Arc Pensions Law, we can explain the limits of the powers and how they might apply to you. With our help, you will be able to:
- understand when an advance approach to the Pensions Regulator will avoid later problems
- contact other parties (such as the trustees of the scheme) with a practical and proactive approach
- deal with any challenges from the Pensions Regulator, helping to allay their concerns
- apply for clearance, where appropriate, in an effective and time-efficient manner, and
- manage the relationship with other parties, including the Pensions Regulator, to steer any clearance application through to an effective conclusion.
At Arc Pensions Law, we do not believe that every concern requires an application for clearance. It is often simpler, cheaper and more practical to engage with other parties to deal with issues that the Regulator might want to raise. Our team of experts can help to approach deals with the Regulator’s concerns as clearly and succinctly as possible, keeping time and costs under control.
We have a firm understanding of the issues that cause pension scheme trustees to seek legal advice and support.
Dedicated, specialist legal support for employers and other scheme sponsors across a range of issues.
Occupational pension scheme support for sponsors, trustees or professional adviser, in the private or public sectors.
Support for clients who are initiating, responding to or grappling with the implications of change.