Anne-Marie Winton considers the key proposals affecting pensions outlined in the government’s response and suggests there is some bark, but not necessarily much bite from the pensions industry’s point of view....
Employers can no longer rely on advice provided to trustees on managing their pension scheme issues. As costs of pensions and trustee powers have increased, advice to trustees has become more focused on their interests rather than those of the employer.
Employers need their own advisers so that they can make informed decisions on a range of pension issues such as:
We aim to develop good working relationships with trustees’ advisers, ensuring that practical solutions are found, avoiding disputes or litigation where possible. We believe that the employer is best served by realistic advice and sensible negotiations. We look to protect interests, whilst ensuring that issues are not simply buried and liable to cause problems in the future.
We pride ourselves on our knowledge of business and commercial concerns. Our clients do not wish to deal with technical lawyers who do not understand the ‘real world’ needs of business. We combine our technical expertise with an understanding of practical interests and advise accordingly.
Partners Anne-Marie Winton and Rosalind Connor advised Hoover Limited on its pensions restructuring through a rarely used legal process called a Regulated Apportionment Arrangement. Under the RAA, Hoover was released from around £500m of pensions liabilities and the continued employment of 500 employees was secured. The deal was approved by The Pensions Regulator, Pension Protection Fund and scheme trustees. It was the first of only two RAAs agreed in 2017; the other related to British Steel Pension Scheme.
The Hoover RAA negotiations involved another first, as the Pensions Regulator ordered a “skilled person’s report” on affordability of contributions in an attempt to break the funding deadlock between the trustee and the company. For more information see the Section 89 Report issued by The Pensions Regulator here. A spokesman for the Pensions Regulator stated: “We do not agree to these types of arrangements lightly but in this case we believe it is the right outcome for scheme members and the PPF.”
“ARC provided comprehensive and effective advice and support on a matter of significant importance and complexity. The team at ARC not only conveyed the requirements and operation of the law on pensions but also understood the dynamics of the business and its operations as well as the needs, interest and constraints of the other stakeholders – instilling confidence in the directors and senior managers of the Company. An important and effective partner throughout this demanding process.”
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