Andrew is one of the UK's leading pensions lawyers and advises corporates and trustees on the full range of pensions issues across advisory, transactional and contentious matters.
Andrew leads Doyle Clayton's pensions practice and has advised UK businesses and trustee boards on the full spectrum of pensions issues for well over a decade. He joined Doyle Clayton in 2017 having previously worked in some of the most prestigious UK law firms, including Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy.
During the course of his career, much of Andrew's time has been spent advising and assisting sponsoring organisations of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes with the range of problems and challenges associated with defined benefit pension provision.
For many organisations, the open ended promise to pay ex-employees a guaranteed pension for life creates commercial as well as practical issues compounded through ageing schemes with complex and increasingly uncommercial rules, recipients living longer, economic and political instability as well as declining investment performance.
This has seen Andrew help organisations find increasingly innovative ways of changing their pension arrangements to protect their cashflow and profitability as well as providing an acceptable return for shareholders. It has included assisting DB scheme sponsors manage legal and regulatory risks through scheme closures, benefit redesign proposals (such as limiting pensionable pay increases), the associated employment and consultation aspects of these changes and other liability management exercises.
He also regularly helps and advises clients with the growth of defined contribution (DC) arrangements, including the introduction of master trusts, pensions governance vehicles, and life assurance schemes as well as them comply with recent changes to the pensions tax regime and the introduction of pensions auto-enrolment.
What people say about Andrew
"Knows his stuff on pensions, and is able to commercially get to the heart of the matter".
The Legal 500
"Good at explaining the complex issues in an easy to understand way".
Chambers & Partners Guide
"Magic circle expertise, at a much more affordable price".
"Affable, always quick to respond and provides a great level of service".
"Great to work with and operated as an extension of our in-house team".
Webinars and podcasts include
- The Roles and Responsibilities of EOT Trustees - Andrew joins his colleague Garry to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the trustee and trustee directors in the context of an EOT.
Recent work includes
UK pension Trustees – advice on scheme funding
Andrew acted for the Trustees of this UK technology business in relation to events arising out of the acquisition and spin-off of the UK business to the far east by the US parent. The pension scheme Trustees were concerned about this as the transfer of assets and business out of the UK meant that they went from being funded by a financially solvent, cash generative UK company to sitting under a residual "shell" business in the UK. The Trustees rightly took the view that this was “scheme abandonment” on the part of the US parent and engaged with the Pensions Regulator to try and secure some mitigation for the detriment suffered by the scheme. In this case, the Trustees also had a similar power whereby they could wind up the scheme and call in the liability “if in their opinion the solvency position of the employer deteriorated”. There followed a further round of discussions with the US parent which resulted in a seven figure cash payment to the scheme and an uncapped guarantee over the full pension liability from the US parent
US tech company – pensions restructuring
Andrew advised the US parent of a UK subsidiary with a DB scheme on the steps needed to put the business through an insolvency process without the Pensions Regulator intervening. The particular risk in this case was that this matter involved an engineered insolvency event which would have the consequence of only leaving the pension scheme with an unsecured claim in insolvency against the employer, with any further liabilities being picked up by the PPF. However, in this case, there were legitimate corporate reasons for discontinuing the UK business and steps were therefore taken to put the Regulator on notice of the proposed insolvency process and to explain the corporate and business rationale for the process with the US parent advised to provide appropriate cash funding to the scheme so that it was “topped up” to a level whereby the pension scheme suffered no detriment. The outcome was that the Pensions Regulator was satisfied that it had no grounds to take action and the restructuring could go ahead
Major infrastructure provider – benefit design change
Andrew advised a large infrastructure and transport provider on its plans to close its DB scheme to future accrual. However following a high level of pushback from the heavily unionised workforce, and the threats of Christmas strike action the employer reviewed its proposals and came back with a revised DB offering and other options for future service. One of these options included large one off cash payment (equivalent to about 8/9 months’ average salary) to opt-out of the DB scheme with further cash payments available on redundancy and members given an alternative option to remain in the scheme but with a variable accrual rate linked to gilts and inflation movements for future service. The proposals were a huge success with only 5% of the pension scheme membership choosing to remain in the scheme, meaning that the company achieved its objective of reducing its future service costs significantly whilst delivering an outcome which both the unions and its members were happy with
Broadcast sector – limiting pensionable pay
Andrew advised a major broadcast client on its programme of pensions reform. The company originally wanted to close its pension scheme to future accrual, but because of the particular working of the amendment power in the scheme rules, no changes could be made which “prejudicially affected members’ interests” through the rules. What the employer therefore did instead was to limit increases to pensionable salary outside the scope of the pension scheme rules through the pay award process (essentially, making an offer to members on terms as to what part of a pay award should be pensionable). This involved an extensive consultation with members and the unions, a full review of all employment terms with detailed advice from Counsel and the matter was subsequently litigated in the courts over the course of several years, with judgement eventually being given in favour of the employer as the court ruled that the changes made were lawful. The cost savings which we helped the client achieve were in the order of £100-£120 million per annum
UK construction company – sale to overseas buyer
Acting on the sale of a UK business with a defined benefit pension scheme to a French buyer. The French buyer was prepared to take on the DB scheme and fund it over time, however, due diligence on the pension scheme rules discovered that retirement ages in the scheme and been incorrectly “equalised” in 1994 – the consequence was that male members were able to draw a large part of their pension, unreduced at age 60 rather than age 65. The cost to the scheme of funding this additional benefit ran into many millions and this matter therefore required the company to take extensive advice on managing this commercial risk, as well as dealing with the risk of intervention from the Pensions Regulator as part of the sale process and advising on the provision of future service pension benefits for employees who had transferred into the company with enhanced pension rights by operation of TUPE
As part of his practice, and as a member of Doyle Clayton’s dedicated EOT Services team Andrew also regularly advises clients on trusts related matters including the establishment of Employee Ownership Trusts, compliance with the related legal and regulatory requirements and staff engagement strategies. He has a particular interest and expertise in drafting trusts documentation for corporate clients as well as advising on complicated points of interpretation as they relate to trusts.
Outside of work
Andrew is regularly in the media discussing pensions related news and issues – most recently in the In-house Lawyer discussing future challenges on the horizon in the pensions world. He also regularly provides training for the firm's clients on pensions matters and how pensions effects their businesses.
Experience and qualifications
- Qualified in March 2007
- Specialist in Pension Law since 2007
- University of Leeds – LLB Joint Honours Law with French
- Universitė Nancy II – certificate juridique d’ėtudes
- The Law Society
- Association of Pensions Lawyers
- French (fluent)
Areas of expertise
- Advisory matters which involves us assisting employers and trustees with controlling their pension scheme liabilities and their impact on cashflow.
- Benefit design changes to pension arrangements including the consultation requirements and implementation issues.
- Scheme funding issues and managing the related legal and regulatory issues which arise with the Pensions Regulator and Pension Protection Fund.
- Assisting clients with their pensions auto-enrolment obligations – in particular, what can go wrong where clients do not comply with the legislation.
- Pension schemes on corporate transactions – how to navigate through the traps and successfully deliver an acquisition where the business is attached to a defined benefit pension scheme in deficit.
- Healthcare trusts and non-registered life assurance schemes, as well as pensions governance and the use of management committees to deliver best value to members.