Pensions dispute resolution

Our team specialises in resolving pensions issues in the best way possible for our clients. We take cases from inception to completion, with particular aptitude in achieving results in alternative dispute resolution. Our focus is our clients and their need for a proportionate approach in scale with the dispute.
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The award winning pensions disputes team is recognised as a leading practice in the country and - together with the firm's complementary strengths in restructuring, pensions advisory, regulatory (including the FCA and the Pensions Regulator), high net-worth advice, and employment (amongst others) - the team is ideally placed to address and resolve any dispute arising from pension funds. 

Our clients range from pension scheme trustees to sponsoring employers; from multi-nationals and banks to charities and not-for-profits; from actuaries and scheme administrators to lawyers and documentation providers. We regularly work with pension consultants to help them with remediation projects arising from systemic issues, such as advising upon scheme unauthorised payment issues, client-money issues, referrals to regulatory bodies (including the Pensions Regulator and IoFA), professional standards, and problems arising from transfers (including enhanced due diligence obligations). Key work includes dealing with professional negligence claims and the often-associated rectification/construction applications. We are well-known for defending and pursuing multi-million pound claims against pension consultants and investment advisors/fiduciaries, including those providing actuarial, documentation, administration and/or legal services.

The team are highly experienced in all types of pensions disputes cases, including:

  • pursuing, or defending, professional negligence cases
  • construction and rectification cases
  • challenges to exercises of discretion by trustees
  • moral hazard cases and investigations by the Pensions Regulator 
  • judicial review and challenges to public bodies
  • alternative dispute resolution, ranging from mediation to arbitration
  • working with high-net worth individuals managing their pensions affairs and disputes
  • RPI/CPI disputes 
  • challenges to trustees' exercises of discretion 
  • cross-border disputes involving multi-national businesses and funding support
  • dealing with errors in the supply of services
  • acting for representative beneficiaries 

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"Stephenson Harwood are on an amazing run of form at present. Their reported cases over the last few years are remarkable, and their success is built on great judgement as to how a case will play out, together with being genuinely lovely to work with; organised, reasonable, pragmatic, fair … but always delivering great results for their clients.." 

The Legal 500 UK 2021

Professional institution, professional negligence action against historic provider of services to its sponsored pension scheme

Acting in a dispute involving a potential rectification claim and a series of disputes between our client and its historic professional advisers.

Actuarial and administrative service providers, and legal advisors, with various disputes concerning historic services

Acting for pension scheme advisors in defending professional negligence claims and related disputes

International telecoms operator, dispute with a Government entity through arbitration

Acting for a multi-national seeking to compel a Government entity to fund a semi-privatised industry pension scheme

Arriva, dispute concerning intervention by Pension Regulator and funding of Railways Pension Scheme

Advised Arriva in its expedited challenge to the UK Government’s management of risk in rail procurement and intervention by the Pensions Regulator, achieving a settlement before trial (Stagecoach, Arriva and ors v Department of Transport [2020]).

Representative beneficiary of the BT Pension Scheme, RPI/CPI dispute

Acting for the representative of the members and defeating a proposal to move to CPI from RPI, acting successfully before the Court of Appeal and in preventing the onward appeal to the Supreme Court (BT v BT Scheme Trustees & anor [2018])

Trustees of the BIC UK Pension Scheme, dispute concerning the validity of amendments

Acting for Trustees arguing that pension in payment increases referable to pre April 1997 pensionable service had been validly granted (BIC UK v Burgess and ors [2019])

Trustees of the Barnardo Staff Pension Scheme, construction of RPI

Advised the trustees on a claim for construction of the definition of "Retail Prices Index" in the scheme rules (Miles Buckinghamshire and others v Barnardo's and others [2015]).

Mercer Limited, obtaining a summary judgment

Succeeding in an application for summary judgment disposing of a professional negligence claim brought against a client, based on a complex and innovative limitation argument (Seton House & Britax v Mercer Limited [2014])

Board of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), dispute on compensation

Representing the PPF in a dispute concerning the scope of PPF compensation (Grenville Holden Hampshire v The Board of the Pension Protection Fund [2014]).

Sterling Insurance Trustees Limited, construction of amendment power

Acting for the trustee in proceedings to construe a restriction to the power of amendment affecting whether the final salary link remained (Sterling Insurance Trustees Limited v Sterling Insurance Group Limited [2015]).

Representative beneficiary of the Industry-Wide Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme (IWCSS)

Advising the representative beneficiary in a construction claim where the court refused to insert a provision in the rules correcting a drafting error. (IWCSS Co-ordinator Ltd v IWCSS Trustees Ltd [2012]).

Latest news & insights

27 Feb 2023

From Insights

Pensions snapshot - February 2023

This edition of snapshot looks at the latest legal developments in pensions.


14 Nov 2022

From Insights

Pensions snapshot - November 2022

This edition of snapshot looks at the latest legal developments in pensions.


07 Sep 2022

From Insights

Court declares change of RPI to CPIH lawful

A number of pension funds have challenged the decision of the then-Chancellor and the UKSA to align RPI with CPIH. In this alert we discuss the outcome of that challen..


03 Feb 2022

From Insights

A look at the De La Rue battle over final salary rules

A case update on De La Rue & Ors v De La Rue Pension Trustee Ltd & Anor


16 Jun 2021

From Insights

Why standstill agreements matter for pensions schemes

In a piece first published by Professional Pensions, senior associate Chris Edwards-Earl and partner Helena Berman look at the judgment in Kingsley Napley LLP v Harris..


23 Nov 2020

From Insights

GMP equalisation – clarification on requirements for past transfers out

The long-awaited conclusion to the guaranteed minimum pensions equalisation litigation, concerning the Lloyds Banking Group’s defined benefit scheme, was handed down o..


08 Oct 2020

From Insights

SPS Technologies v Moitt provides helpful clarification for future pensions rectification cases

Members of Stephenson Harwood’s pensions litigation team (part of the newly formed EPP practice) have advised the Representative Beneficiary in the latest summary judg..


23 Jan 2019

From Insights

A practical guide to GMP equalisation – the story so far

There are some key issues relating to guaranteed minimum pensions (GMP) equalisation that trustees should be aware of.


© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.