Overview

Giles Bywater is an Employment & Benefits partner in Mayer Brown's London office focusing on pensions issues.

Giles advises trustees and sponsoring employers of occupational pension schemes on both contentious and non-contentious matters – including scheme documentation and funding issues, liability management exercises, and scheme mergers and wind-ups. He is experienced in pensions litigation, having acted in the landmark Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund case, for which the Mayer Brown team was shortlisted for the Litigation Team of the Year Award by The Lawyer and commended in the FT Europe Innovative Lawyers report. He also has considerable experience of advising trustees on the purchase of bulk annuity policies.

Giles joined Mayer Brown in 2007, having previously focussed on corporate law – both as a lawyer in private practice with a London law firm, and as a lecturer at the City Law School in London.

Giles is an Associate of the Pensions Management Institute (PMI). He sits on the Committee of the PMI London Group as the Education Secretary. He is also a Senior Examiner for the PMI.

Giles is a full member of the Association of Pension Lawyers.

Giles is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars on various aspects of pensions law and practice.

Spoken Languages

  • English

Experience

As well as day to day pensions advice, Giles’ recent experience includes the following:

Scheme documentation

  • Acted for the trustees on a full re-write of the Trust Deed & Rules for a defined benefit scheme.
  • Acted for the trustees on a consolidation and legislative update of the Trust Deed & Rules for a defined benefit scheme and a defined contribution scheme.
  • Acted for the trustee on the implementation of the outcomes of a scheme governance review, including revision of the Trustee Company Articles of Association and the Trust Deed & Rules.

Funding

  • Acted for trustees on various long-term funding arrangements with sponsoring employers – including the use of escrow arrangements, bank guarantees, group company guarantees, and security over assets.
  • Acted for the trustee on the design and introduction of a new deficit contribution regime – including advice on the trustee’s decision-making process.
  • Acted for trustees on various employer debt issues, including:
    • Flexible apportionment arrangements.
    • Use of corporate restructuring easement.
    • Technical advice in relation to debt calculation.
    • Claims for payment of debts from sponsoring employers in liquidation.

Liability management exercises

  • Acted for trustees on various different projects to cap increases to pensionable pay and to close schemes to future accrual. Some of these projects were implemented via amendment of the Trust Deed & Rules, and others via contracts between the sponsoring employer and affected members.
  • Acted for trustees on de minimis commutation lump sum projects.

Litigation

  • Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund Trustees Ltd v Stena Line Ltd & Others [2015]. Acted for the trustee of an industry-wide occupational pension scheme in landmark High Court proceedings concerning the proposed introduction of a new deficit contribution regime, involving issues such as the extent to which pension trustees may take into account the interests of sponsoring employers and when a pension scheme is “frozen” for the purpose of the employer debt legislation.
  • Stena Line Limited v Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund Trustees Limited & Another [2010] and [2011]. Acted for the trustee of an industry-wide occupational pension scheme in High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings concerning pension scheme trustees' powers of amendment, particularly in relation to the payment of deficit contributions by sponsoring employers.

Bulk annuity policies

  • Acted for the trustee on £500 million aggregate buy-ins with Rothesay Life, which were subsequently converted to a full (all-risks) buy-out of the scheme’s liabilities. The sponsoring employer operates in the consumer products sector.
  • Acted for the trustees on £200 million aggregate buy-ins with Legal & General covering pensioner and deferred members, for two different schemes which have the same sponsoring employer. The sponsoring employer is a regulatory authority.
  • Acted for the trustees on £400 million aggregate buy-ins with Legal & General for a 100% deferred member population. The sponsoring employer operates in the banking sector.
  • Acted for the trustee on a buy-in with Aviva which was subsequently converted to a full buy-out as part of a scheme wind-up, in circumstances where the sole sponsoring employer was no longer trading.

Speaking engagements

  • Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association conference (October 2017) – “Trustee decision-making – a practical guide”.
  • Engaged Investor “Professional Trustee Summit” (November 2016) – “Raising the standards of scheme governance”.
  • PMI London Group seminar (February 2016) – “GMP reconciliation: challenges and pitfalls”.
  • Pensions and Benefits UK conference (July 2015) – “Abolition of defined benefit contracting out”.

 

Admissions

  • England and Wales