Litigators to form pensions lobby group

Pensions litigators are set to create a forum to lobby for specialist pensions judges and on issues such as the jurisdiction of the pensions ombudsman.

The growth of high-profile pensions litigation cases, such as that of National Power and National Gridon, on which the High Court was due to rule this week, sparked pensions partners Andrew Carruthers, of Rowe & Maw, and Giles Orton, of Eversheds' Derby office, to create the Pensions Litigation Forum. The pair are inviting members of the Association of Pensions Lawyers and their litigator colleagues to contact them if interested. So far, they have eight names.

Carruthers said that the body could lobby Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, on matters such as ensuring cases are listed in the Chancery Division with Masters who have some experience of pensions.

“We have had judges who didn't have a clue about pensions schemes and the whole thing has to be explained to them,” said Carruthers.

The forum may also comment on the jurisdiction of the Pensions Ombudsman, Julian Farrand. “There are some complex cases which would be better handled by the courts than by the ombudsman,” said Carruthers.

The Court of Appeal recently ruled that Farrand had had no power to take on a case in which he awarded compensation to former employees of Westminster Council. Farrand has built up a strong reputation for aggressively defending the rights of pensioners, but some lawyers who act for employers believe he goes too far.

Anyone interested in the lobby should contact Carruthers on 0171 782 8982 or Orton on 01332 371469.

Edge & Ellison recently announced that it was setting up a London pensions team with the recruitment of partner Gary Cullen. It also recruited pensions partner Richard Davis for its Leicester office from Eversheds. South-east firm Blake Lapthorn, meanwhile, recruited Graham Withers, the chairman of pensions trustee Godwins, to head its pension law department.