Elizabeth’s practice has included pensions law for some 25 years, beginning with involvement in 1985 in a case concerning a small pension scheme specifically for Nottinghamshire miners. Her first pensions drafting experience came with the Finance Act 1989 and the many successive statutory changes have all contributed to her work. She has been involved in litigation since the days when there were still surpluses to be argued about. She continues to deal with both contentious and non-contentious matters.
Pensions law is now a significant part of Elizabeth’s practice. She acts for various firms specialising in the pensions field or firms with substantial pensions departments, principally in connection with occupational pension schemes of various sizes, ranging from the main pension schemes of former nationalised industries to small self‑administered pension schemes. Her clients include trustees, employer companies and individual members. She has also acted for the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pensions Regulator.
Issues of construction, sometimes associated with rectification, estoppel and related professional negligence claims continue to arise. The practicalities of scheme specific funding, the limits of a scheme’s power of amendment and the duties of trustees also present problems, in particular as employers try to grapple with scheme liabilities. Elizabeth is also instructed on a wide variety of miscellaneous topics, including, recently, funding issues involving a partnership as employer, preparation for auto-enrolment, a disputed obligation to provide top-up cover, the forfeiture of pension benefits following a criminal conviction, the effect of a pension ear-marking order and the obligations of the employer under a critical illness insurance policy for scheme members.
In The Pensions Regulator v A Admin and others  EWHC 1378 (Ch), Elizabeth – led by Keith Rowley QC and instructed by in-house solicitors – appeared for The Pensions Regulator in proceedings relating to alleged pension liberation. Mrs Justice Rose’s decision dated 8 May 2014 determines three preliminary points of law on the validity of five schemes under challenge. Two of the points concern the scope and construction of section 91 of the Pensions Act 1995 prohibiting the assignment or surrender of pension benefits.
A copy of the judgment can be accessed at:
Elizabeth Ovey is ranked as a leading junior by Chambers UK and/or The Legal 500 in six commercial and Chancery fields: banking and financial, consumer credit, commercial chancery, traditional chancery, pensions, and professional negligence. She is commended by those directories for her pensions expertise in the following terms:
Elizabeth contributes to the pensions practice area of Lexis PSL and is a member of the editorial board.
Elizabeth has spoken at a number of events organised by the Association of Pension Lawyers, including the 2012 Annual Conference, at in-house seminars and at other events.