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Pensions & Employee Benefits, Ireland

Our Pensions & Employee Benefits group offers advice in three core areas - pensions, share schemes and ESOPs.

Pensions

First class pensions advice requires a synthesis of technical expertise and a pragmatic outlook. We have a multi-disciplinary team that combines trust law, pensions law, dispute resolution and financial services experience within the one group. Our clients range from trustees and employers of the largest occupational pension schemes to individuals and one-person schemes and include private sector, public sector and semi-State schemes, industry-wide schemes, product providers, banks, insurers, and group trust managers. Our lawyers are involved in key industry and professional bodies, contribute to leading technical texts and regularly speak at prominent conferences and seminars.

There are very few firms in Ireland with our level of experience in pensions litigation.  We have been involved in most of the key recent pensions cases, including the Limestone Construction civil and criminal proceedings and the Boliden Tara Mines case, the leading Irish case on rectification, where we successfully acted for the Representative Beneficiary.

We also benefit from the experience of our colleagues in Eversheds Sutherland, who have been involved in most of the leading UK pensions cases, including Maxwell, Barber v GRE, Imperial Tobacco, TSL v Dubery and National Grid.

Underpinning our approach to the management of court proceedings is Rapid resolution - a project management approach to dispute management.

Pension Scheme Investments

Trustees of pension schemes require legal advice and due diligence where a proposed investment for the pension scheme is complex or bespoke, or where the trustees are not familiar with the legal structure of the investment and any risk factors associated with that structure.
 
We advise trustees on the key legal issues that they should consider in determining whether to invest pension scheme assets in a particular investment structure or asset class.  This service includes legal advice in relation to whether the proposed investment is consistent with investment restrictions and trustee investment powers, as prescribed by the Pensions Act and Regulations, trust deed or other constitutional documentation of the scheme, and where applicable, the scheme's Statement of Investment Policy Principles. 
 
We also review the terms and conditions applicable to the proposed investment, including those outlined in any prospectus, information memorandum, subscription / participation agreement, partnership deed, investment management agreement or custodian agreement.  We advise trustees in relation to whether such terms and conditions are consistent with market practice.  We highlight any provisions which may be unduly onerous for the trustees. We can also negotiate the terms and conditions of the investment on behalf of the trustees.
 
As Irish trustees invest more globally, the investment structures to which they want access are increasingly governed by foreign laws.  Through our Eversheds Sutherland network, we can advise you on agreements governed by the laws of close to 30 jurisdictions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Share Schemes

Our share scheme practice is skilled in all areas of share scheme design and implementation, from restricted stock schemes for start-ups to long term incentive plans (LTIPs) for publicly listed companies. We work closely with our tax group to provide a seamless tax structuring and legal service for our clients and have been involved in lobbying at Irish and EU level in relation to major issues affecting our clients.

ESOPs

Our employee share ownership option plan (ESOP) practice is the pre-eminent practice of its type in Ireland. We act for nearly all major ESOPs established to date. This includes schemes with key stakes in major private and public companies, semi-state entities and state utilities.

Our international ‘The future of pensions’ hub

The pensions industry stands at a real crossroads, and 2019 is going to be a year of change internationally. These changes are going to create risks and opportunities for corporate sponsors, trustees and fiduciaries and for insurance companies. Our future of pensions hub has been created as a source of regularly updated content for our clients and contacts. Please see the hub here.