A description of the PLC Pensions service.
To find out more or register for a free trial, call the PLC Helpline on +44 (0)20 7202 1220 or click here.
With every passing year, pensions law in the UK becomes more complex. Understanding new developments, and grasping their practical implications, has become increasingly demanding. Practitioners hardly have time to get to grips with one change before the next occurs.
PLC Pensions is a revolutionary professional support service that:
Keeps pensions lawyers and other specialists up to date with current awareness in the occupational pensions field.
Highlights the practical implications of new developments.
Provides access to a bank of practice notes, checklists, standard documents, clauses and drafting notes. This material is continuously maintained to reflect the latest changes in law and practice.
We are able to provide this service because we have a professional support team of highly experienced pensions experts. They are in turn supported by PLC's team of around 100 editors working across all the main legal disciplines. In addition, PLC Pensions has a consultation board (www.practicallaw.com/4-274-9952), whose members are all leading pensions lawyers in private practice, and who advise on the general direction of the service.
For the full list of recent material published, see PLC Pensions, New content (www.practicallaw.com/3-207-2003).
PLC Pensions is primarily aimed at pensions lawyers, whether they are in private practice or in-house. Given the depth of material that we will eventually cover, the service will also appeal to:
The wider community of pensions specialists, for example, pensions consultants, pensions managers, trustees, regulatory and government bodies and insurance companies.
In-house legal counsel who do not specialise in pensions.
For law firms, the service is valuable whether or not they have existing professional support. Firms with dedicated professional support lawyers will be able to use the service to direct their internal resources where the greatest returns lie. For firms without specialist legal know-how capabilities, the service will give their pension lawyers a level of support that was previously unavailable to them. For more, see Benefits of subscribing to PLC Pensions below.
The service is designed and run by Practical Law Company's team of pension specialists. The team have extensive experience of all areas of pensions law in practice (see Professional support team below). They are supported by a consultation board that comprises leading pensions practitioners from a range of different backgrounds.
PLC Pensions comprises:
Regular legal updates (see Legal updates below).
All our material is accessible through our search facility or the sub-topics listed on the PLC Pensions homepage.
PLC Pensions provide a weekly updating service, delivered by e-mail. Updates are also available via the PLC Pensions homepage. We cover:
New primary and secondary legislation in the UK, including draft and proposed measures.
Regulatory developments: the latest practical requirements of the Pensions Regulator and Pension Protection Fund.
HM Revenue & Customs information.
Significant new cases and Pensions Ombudsman determinations.
Consultation papers from the Department for Work and Pensions, other UK government departments and regulatory bodies.
The most recent update items feature on the PLC Pensions homepage. We maintain an archive of past updates, and an archive of the weekly e-mails.
Examples of recent developments in the occupational pensions field covered in our updates include:
The DWP's consultation on draft regulations and possible method for equalising for the effect of guaranteed minimum pensions (see Legal update, DWP launches consultation on GMP equalisation regulations (www.practicallaw.com/3-517-3621)).
The High Court's ruling clarifying the treatment of so-called Beckmann liabilities on an asset sale (see Legal update, Beckmann rights: High Court clarifies scope of pension liabilities transferring under TUPE (www.practicallaw.com/0-519-4776)).
Government measures to restrict tax relief available for employers using asset-backed contribution arrangements in relation to registered pension schemes (see Legal update, Finance Bill 2012: further technical amendments to asset-backed pension contribution measures (www.practicallaw.com/8-519-8884)).
The Supreme Court's decision upholding the Court of Appeal's finding that top-up benefits in a hybrid scheme originally established on a final salary basis were money purchase in nature - and the DWP's response (see Legal update, Bridge Trustees: DWP to negate impact of Supreme Court ruling on meaning of "money purchase benefits" (www.practicallaw.com/5-507-0679)).
The public-sector pensions reforms (see Legal updates, Final Hutton report recommends switch to career-average benefits for all public-sector pension schemes (www.practicallaw.com/3-505-0818) and Public-sector pensions: New LGPS proposals finalised (www.practicallaw.com/7-519-7696)).
Our editorial policy is to cover the legal developments that have the greatest significance for pensions lawyers. PLC's professional support team monitor current awareness sources and review new developments in order to do this. Our main role is to relieve practitioners of some of the burden of keeping up to date with current developments.
PLC updates explain the relevant background to each new development, and provide legal and practical commentary, bearing in mind the needs of the busy practitioner. They include links to external source materials (for example, transcripts of new cases) and other materials within PLC Pensions (for example, relevant practice notes).
Subscribers can use the updates for internal training purposes. They can act as a basis for further discussion and can be integrated with subscribers’ training and client briefing materials.
PLC Pensions includes a body of practice notes containing succinct explanations of pensions law and practice in key areas. Practice notes focus on the practical application of the law to particular situations or transactions. We commission many of our practice notes from major law firms and other pensions professionals.
The practice notes (www.practicallaw.com/2-205-9040) currently available on PLC Pensions include notes on:
Our practice notes are continuously maintained by our experienced pensions specialists (www.practicallaw.com/1-205-3958) to keep pace with new developments. We will continue to publish further practice notes over the next year.
The service also includes a library of standard documents, standard clauses and drafting notes, including our Standard document, Pension scheme trust deed and rules (www.practicallaw.com/1-501-5637). This reflects typical provisions seen in a trust deed and rules governing a UK private-sector occupational pension scheme that provides defined benefits on a final-salary or career-average revalued earnings basis. Few DB schemes are being set up these days, but subscribers have told us they would like to benchmark their own deeds against a PLC standard document. The document is maintained to reflect new developments and we are expanding the range of benefit options, including adding a money purchase section. We also publish amending deeds in light of recent developments, see Standard documents, Deed of amendment: Finance Act 2011 (www.practicallaw.com/4-507-2264) and Deed of amendment: flexible apportionment arrangements (www.practicallaw.com/0-519-1216).
Other standard documents and drafting notes (www.practicallaw.com/0-205-9041) currently available include:
Most of the standard documents and clauses have integrated drafting notes. These give detailed guidance on the relevant legal, negotiating and drafting issues. PLC's pensions specialists (www.practicallaw.com/1-205-3958) update standard documents and drafting notes when new legislation comes into force or case law changes the existing law. This significant feature sets PLC Pensions apart from traditional sources of standard documents, and gives our users a key advantage. In addition, certain documents incorporate our PLC FastDraft technology which is a free software application to automatically generate a first draft of a document quickly and easily. It also allows users to import information from Companies House or their saved "projects" (for example, if they would like to re-use details of one pension scheme in several documents). See Legal updates, Pension deeds: automated drafting (www.practicallaw.com/0-502-2285).
PLC Pensions also gives access to user-friendly checklists, flowcharts and other resources to help the busy practitioner.
The checklists (www.practicallaw.com/4-205-9039) currently available include:
Further checklists will be added over the next year.
PLC Pensions tracks the latest developments in market practice in the occupational pensions field (see Hot topics: news and analysis (www.practicallaw.com/7-207-0059)). Among other areas, we cover the impact of the Pensions Regulator on corporate transactions, developing practice in dealing with the employer debt legislation, and the latest research on executive pension provision.
In addition, we have recently launched three new resources which provide insights from pensions practitioners into topical issues:
Actuarial insights (www.practicallaw.com/9-500-3602). Since October 2009, senior actuaries in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ pensions practice have been writing a monthly column to share their views on topical actuarial and pensions industry issues.
Pensions in Practice (www.practicallaw.com/7-502-1046). Since April 2010, Allen & Overy's pension team have been writing a monthly column to share their views on current pensions law and practice.
Ask the team (www.practicallaw.com/0-501-3686). The team answers a generic question of practical or topical interest to pensions practitioners. These appear in occasional weekly e-mails and are stored in an archive.
The PLC Pensions Legislative and regulatory developments tracker (www.practicallaw.com/3-205-6220) provides a quick and user-friendly way of checking on significant new pensions legislation and regulatory guidance. Divided into four parts - covering current consultations, archived consultations, new legislation in force and forthcoming legislation - the tracker also includes consultations initiated by regulatory and government bodies such as the Pensions Regulator and Pension Protection Fund.
Additionally, PLC Pensions tracks recent court decisions that affect occupational pension schemes in the UK in our Case tracker (www.practicallaw.com/6-206-3993). We follow the progress of significant decisions from first instance to the appeal stage, including references to the European Court of Justice. We cover selected determinations of the Pensions Ombudsman in the occupational pensions field in our Pensions Ombudsman tracker (www.practicallaw.com/5-366-8015).
We also provide a reverse citator If you need to check which are the main legislative provisions or cases about a particular area, you can search by topic in our Key topics citator (www.practicallaw.com/9-375-8349) and you will be directed to the relevant provisions or cases.
A subscription to PLC Pensions gives access to relevant articles that are published in PLC Magazine and other PLC publications. Over many years, these publications have included practical articles on important areas of pensions law and in-depth coverage of new developments (in the form of the PLC magazine monthly bulletins). These materials are all available through the topic pages or the search facility. Our articles include:
Good governance in DC schemes: where are we now? (www.practicallaw.com/0-518-1991). Clifford Sims of Squire Sanders (UK) LLP looks at the current legal and regulatory landscape in relation to governance in DC schemes and considers the direction it might take in future.
What is the scope of a contribution notice following the Bonas case? (www.practicallaw.com/1-506-5806). In this article, Karen Sahota and Naveed Soomro of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP consider the guidance to be drawn on this issue from Warren J's interim judgment in the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) in Re the Bonas Group Pension Scheme  UKUT (FS).
Battling with Courage (www.practicallaw.com/7-501-8713). Ian Gordon of McGrigors LLP considers the interpretation of restrictions in scheme amendment powers in the light of the principles laid down in Re Courage Group's Pension Schemes  WLR 495, which was followed recently in IMG Pension Plan HR Trustees Ltd v German and another  EWHC 2785.
The PLC Glossary contains definitions of key legal and technical terms used in the business law context. It is not limited to pensions terms and is based on an archive of business legal know-how developed by PLC over its 16 years of existence.
PLC Pensions provides a directory of links to many external websites (for example, government departments and regulators) and documents (such as guidance notes). For a full list, see External resources (www.practicallaw.com/5-207-2059).
PLC Pensions is a developing service. We have ambitious plans to develop the full range of materials and resources that will assist pensions practitioners who are involved with occupational pension schemes.
Our provisional publishing schedule (www.practicallaw.com/7-207-2058) sets out our plans for additional materials.
If there are any areas that you would like us to cover in practice notes, standard documents and so on, please email the professional support team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also keen to commission material from experienced lawyers who would like to write for us. Please contact the team on email@example.com if you would like to write on a particular area.
PLC Pensions is a cost-effective resource for any lawyer or other pensions professional who needs to understand and stay up to date with the law relating to occupational pensions in the UK.
The service is designed to:
Bring lawyers at all levels up to speed with new developments quickly and effectively.
Give lawyers greater capacity for fee-earning work.
Improve the quality, speed and accuracy of their client service.
Enable firms with existing professional support lawyers to focus their resources on developing know-how specific to their firms or clients, instead of more routine information gathering.
Concentrate attention on using know-how for marketing purposes and making the practice more competitive.
PLC can be the invisible knowledge foundation for a law firm:
PLC Pensions will be a valuable resource for pensions practitioners outside the legal profession, whether they work in a commercial, consultancy or regulatory environment. Trustees, pensions managers, scheme administrators, company management, regulatory bodies and pensions consultants will all find that PLC Pensions will enable them to:
Gain a thorough understanding of a wide range of pensions law topics.
Remain up to date with recent developments in pensions law.
Understand the practical implications of those topics and developments
The Practical Law Company professional support team comprises around 60 editors whose experience covers a wide range of practice areas. The PLC Pensions service is designed and maintained by our pensions specialists, who work closely with leading practitioners in the field. The team have extensive experience as practitioners in leading London law firms. PLC's professional support teams are not employed as solicitors or barristers and the individuals are not practising:
Loreto Miranda joined PLC from Hogan Lovells, where she worked in the dispute resolution department since qualifying in 2001. She specialised in pensions-related disputes and is an associate member of the Association of Pension Lawyers. She also acted in a range of other commercial disputes, including cases involving alternative dispute resolution, and obtained Higher Rights of Audience. Loreto is Head of PLC Pensions. Loreto is currently a non-practising solicitor.
Nick Sargent is a former solicitor. He joined PLC in May 2006 from SNR Denton, where he was a senior solicitor in the pensions department. Nick qualified in 1996 at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain. In 1999 he moved to Denton Hall (now SNR Denton). During his time in practice, Nick also spent six months as a professional support lawyer in the pensions department at Slaughter and May. Nick is a member of the Association of Pension Lawyers and a former assistant editor of the Occupational Pensions Law Reports. He was the first Head of PLC Pensions and launched the service in December 2006.
Graeme Simpson joined PLC from Shoosmiths’ pensions department where he was a partner, recommended as "excellent" in the Legal 500 directory (2009). He qualified in 1997 and has experience of providing advice on a wide range of pensions matters, in particular, to pension scheme trustees and on public sector outsourcing issues. A member of the Association of Pensions Lawyers, he is a previous speaker on the APL "Beginners" training course. Graeme is also a past editor of Tottel's "Pensions Law Handbook" and has provided comment on pensions issues for various national news broadcasters. Graeme is not practising at PLC.
Rachel Brown joined PLC in July 2008 from the Pensions Regulator, where she was a solicitor in the corporate risk management department advising on regulatory matters. Rachel qualified in 2000 at Allen & Overy, where she advised trustees and employers on pensions issues before moving to the Pensions Regulator in 2005. Rachel is a member of the Association of Pension Lawyers. Rachel is currently a non-practising solicitor.
PLC Pensions is a corporate member of the Society of Pension Consultants and business member of the NAPF.
PLC Pensions has put in place a consultation board (www.practicallaw.com/4-274-9952), comprising leading pensions practitioners.
The remit of the consultation board is to advise on the direction of the service, and ensure that it stays at the leading edge of practice. The combined experience of PLC's own specialists and the consultation board will enable us to ensure that the materials in the service are of the highest quality, have practical use to those working in the field, and reflect state-of-the-art methods of knowledge management.
For more information on PLC Pensions, or to request a free trial, please contact the PLC Helpline (www.practicallaw.com/7-102-1343).