Pension Protection Fund turns to Norton Rose Fulbright, OC, DWF in latest panel review

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has handed roles to six firms including Norton Rose Fulbright, Osborne Clarke and DWF in the last of a series of panel reviews.

Burges Salmon, Clyde & Co, DWF, Eversheds, Norton Rose Fulbright and Osborne Clarke have all been handed roles on the fund’s newly created Assessment Period Legal panel (APLP). It marks the final stage in a three-year overhaul of PPF’s external advisory function.

In October last year the group, set up to pay compensation to members of defined-benefit pension schemes, cut its core panel from 27 to 23 firms (7 October 2013). This was part of a three-year project aimed at reducing legal spend, by replacing the core group two other panels with five distinct rosters for external advisers.

This latest overhaul, which launches today (1 April), will focus on three discrete PPF assessment tasks: admissible rules; equalisation; and the benefit specification

It was appointed through a separate procurement exercise to the firm’s core legal roster and is the last major review for the fund. It follows the launch of an auditor’s panel, launched in December 2013, trustees advisory panel, (September 2013), specialist administration services panel (August 2012) and an actuarial valuation panel (June 2011).

The fund helps members of defined-benefit pension schemes in the case of an employer’s insolvency and has been reviewing its panels to the Financial Assistance Scheme wind up. The FAS was set to up help people who lost out on pensions which did not have enough money to pay out between 1997 and 2005 and is now administered through the PPF.

It began thinking about a review in late October 2011 and mooted the idea of a shared agreement with the Regulators’ Procurement Forum, whereby it would share panel firms with 12 other regulatory bodies (10 October 2011). It finally kicked off the tendering process earlier in 2013 after first hoping to wrap up the review by the end of 2011 (2 May 2013).

Clyde & Co, Dentons and Wragge & Co were the biggest winners in that rejig, taking spots on the fund’s revamped ‘core’ panel to provide the bulk of its legal advice.

Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Nabarro were three of the 10 who made it onto the insolvency and corporate panel. Meanwhile 18 firms were appointed to a “specialist and reserve panel” to give in depth advice in specialist areas like litigation and investment work.

The shared agreement includes organisations such as the FSA, the office of the Rail Regulator, the OFT and the Civil Aviation Authority.

That agreement remains distinct to the APLP, which will run for a two-year period. Chief operating officer David Heslop, said: “This new panel is the final part in a series of panels we have successfully implemented over the past three years to reduce the time schemes spend in assessment. 

“Since the introduction of the first panel, the PPF has consistently seen a reduction in the time that schemes spend in the assessment period – from an average of more than three years to the vast majority now completing the assessment period within two years.

“We are confident that this new panel will enhance and support the way we currently work, and, in turn, will help us to improve our ability to deliver certainty to our members much sooner while providing good value for money to our levy payers.” 

Panels in full

APLP panel: Burges Salmon, Clyde & Co, DWF, Eversheds, Norton Rose Fulbright, Osborne Clarke

Insolvency and corporate: Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bond Dickinson, Clyde & Co, Dentons, Mayer Brown, Moon Beever, Nabarro, Osborne Clarke, Pitmans, Squire SandersStephenson Harwood, Wragge & Co

Specialist and reserve panel: Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst, BLP, Bevan Brittan, Bond Dickinson, Burness Paull, Clyde & Co, Dentons, Dundas & WilsonField Fisher WaterhouseHerbert Smith FreehillsHogan LovellsJones DayKingsley Napley, Mayer Brown, Nabarro, Osborne Clarke, Sacker & Partners , Squire Sanders, Stephenson Harwood, Wragge & Co