Employment and Industrial Relations Northern Ireland

Arthur Cox’s NI Pensions Group is made up of some of the most specialised pension lawyers in Northern Ireland and is regarded as an established leader in the pensions field. Our team in Belfast has considerable experience of advising employers on all aspects of pensions law from major documentation, outsourcing or restructuring projects to day-to-day advice on a wide variety of legal issues. The Pensions Group works alongside the Employment Group, which is itself recognised as a leading specialist team.

We aim to provide our client with practical and straightforward advice and help them to find commercial and cost effective solutions to pension problems. Our client base includes large public sector and multi-national private companies, trustees and administrators as well as smaller companies. We have a proven track record and a substantial depth of specialist knowledge.

Our pensions’ specialists can provide advice on all aspects of pension schemes including advising employers and pension scheme trustees on the establishment and day to day running of occupational pension schemes including drafting scheme documentation as well as in relation to corporate transactions.

Our Pensions Group believe in providing pragmatic and concise commercial advice. We are the only firm in Northern Ireland to have ‘on the ground’ pensions expertise. Our team has been developed in response to the market gap in Northern Ireland in terms of expert pension’s law advisors. This has been a huge success with new clients joining our already impressive and growing client base. Legal firms in Northern Ireland are working in an increasingly competitive marketplace and the strength of the Pension Groups’ reputation is demonstrated by its consistent and on-going growth and acquisition of new clients.

We advise trustees, administrators and companies on all aspects of occupational pension provisions including;

  • Corporate transactions including mergers, acquisitions, re –organisations and wind-ups
  • Restructuring issues including section 75 and “moral hazard” considerations
  • Reducing liabilities and risk in defined benefit schemes, including buy-ins and buy-outs
  • Alternative benefit design or changing benefits
  • Management of risk in Defined Contribution arrangements
  • Investment Management and Custody
  • Public Sector arrangements and outsourcing
  • Regulatory and accounting issues
  • Scheme Administration and Governance
  • Insolvency related matters
  • Dispute resolution and Pensions Litigation
  • Documentation Scheme Amendment Review
  • Customised Trustee training

Scheme Administration and Governance

Our Pensions’ team advise on a range of issues dealing with scheme administration and governance issues on a day to day basis. These include advising in relation to administration agreements, death benefit queries, queries relating to member’s benefits (including on benefit calculations, augmentations or payment of benefits). The team advise regularly on the correct interpretation of scheme trust deeds and in relation to proposed amendments to schemes and other documentation issues.

Scheme Reorganisations

Our Pension Specialists advise on proposals to merge schemes and the ways in which the reorganisation of schemes can be most effectively achieved. In a related area, we frequently advise on the winding up of pensions schemes, advising in relation to the correct distribution of the trust monies in accordance with the provisions of the trust deed and rules and applicable legislation. The team have also advised on proposed conversion from defined benefit to defined contribution pension provision for various clients.

Documentation/Scheme Amendment Review

Our Pensions Group prepare all aspects of scheme documentation for clients. For those clients who use a one-stop insurance house for pensions we can provide a review of standard documentation. The Group regularly audit third party standard documents for regulatory compliance and consistency with existing and previous client documentation.

Investment Management and Custody

We advise trustees and companies regarding agreements with investment managers in relation to the management of pensions fund assets and on the custody agreements for such assets.

Commercial

In addition to the above specialist services, we advise  our client on all corporate and commercial issues, banking and financial transactions and property matters that may arise. In relation to corporate mergers and acquisitions, we provide pensions due diligence services and the Pensions Group works closely with its commercial colleagues to ensure that the pensions schemes are dealt with appropriately in relation to such transactions.

Experience

Our Pensions Group acts for a wide range of pension schemes from large industry wide schemes to small individual customised arrangements.

Key projects in which the Pensions’ Group have been involved with recently include the following;

  • Advice to several multi-national organisations on closing to defined benefit future accrual and switching to a defined contribution structure for future service.
  • Advice to public sector client on significant re-write of scheme documentation.
  • Advice to public sector client on dealing with LGPS(NI) and PCSPS(NI) in relation to transfer of pension liabilities on restructuring of organisation.
  • Advice on pension aspects of corporate transactions over the last number of years.
  • Review of scheme documentation for major defined contribution scheme.
  • Advice to a public sector client in respect to pensions aspects of TUPE.