New pensions watchdog to set up law firm panel

The new pensions regulator, Opra, chaired by former Law Society secretary general John Hayes, has appointed a panel of 22 law firms to provide legal back-up for complex investigations.

Hayes said the Pensions Act 1995, which set up the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) in the wake of the Robert Maxwell pension scandal, “may raise a number of complex legal questions”.

He said Opra's in-house lawyers, led by Jennie Kreser, would handle the majority of cases, but when particularly complex scandals or issues develop she would probably require extra legal resources at short notice, which would be when the panel would be used.

Hayes explained that to ensure nationwide coverage firms chosen were located in the UK's major financial centres as well as in London.

The firms are: Addleshaw Booth & Co, Biddle & Co, Bishop & Roberts Chalmers, Charles Russell, Dickinson Dees, Edge & Ellison, Eversheds, Freshfields, Hammond Suddards, Herbert Smith, Linklaters & Paines, Lovell White Durrant, Maclay Murray & Spens, Nabarro Nathanson, Osborne Clarke, Pinsent Curtis, Richards Butler, Rowe & Maw, Simmons & Simmons, Stephenson Harwood, Travers Smith Braithwaite and Wragge & Co.