"He adds real value as a litigator. He is good at taking the heat out of situations and focusing on the essentials to advance the client's position. He is understated, responsive, listens carefully, is technically very sound and a pleasure to work with."
Chambers UK 2018

Overview

Stuart is a partner in the London office of Mayer Brown's Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice. He handles a variety of contractual and other commercial disputes in the High Court and in appellate courts.

Stuart's main focus is on litigation concerning commercial trusts. He is head of the firm's Pensions Litigation practice in London and advises on a range of contentious pension matters including some of the most significant cases of recent years. For example, he acted for the Trustee in the landmark Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund litigation, for which the team was shortlisted for the Litigation Team of the Year Award by The Lawyer and commended in the FT Europe Innovative Lawyers report.

Stuart represents clients in a range of sectors, including the telecoms, energy, utilities, logistics and construction industries, as well as advising on matters involving investment funds, private trusts and sovereign wealth funds.

He is a frequent speaker on topics including alternative dispute resolution, claims against directors, collective litigation, privilege, interpretation of documents and pension related issues.

Spoken Languages

  • English

Experience

  • Chen v Ng (British Virgin Islands) [2017] UKPC 27. Acted (with BVI lawyers) on an appeal to the Privy Council concerning whether the trial judge was entitled to reject evidence as to the reason for the transfer of certain shares and whether the party claiming to be the beneficial owner of those shares was bound or estopped by the terms of the transfer and related documents which he had signed.
  • Engineering Construction Industry Training Board v Swift (unreported, 29 July 2016). Acted for the trustees of an industry-wide occupational scheme in Part 8 proceedings to determine whether a hybrid scheme constituted a "segregated" scheme for the purpose of the Employer Debt Regulations.
  • Acted for two banks as trustee in a multi-party international arbitration concerning disputed payment calculations, including particular issues regarding the trustee's obligations and the extent of its entitlement to indemnification.
  • Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund Trustees Ltd v Stena Line Ltd & Others [2015] EWHC 448 (Ch). Acted for the Trustee of this industry-wide occupational pension scheme in landmark 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.
  • Arcadia Group Limited v Arcadia Group Pension Trust Limited & Anor [2014] EWHC 2683 (Ch). Acted for the trustees of two pension schemes in an application to the Court to determine whether the scheme rules conferred on the employer and/or the trustees the power to change the index used for pension increases and revaluation of deferred pensions from RPI to CPI.
  • Harbinger Capital Partners v. Andrew Caldwell and HM Treasury [2013] EWCA Civ 492. Acted for the Independent Valuer appointed to assess the amount of any compensation payable to former Northern Rock shareholders, in the successful defence of an appeal concerning the interpretation of the valuation assumptions in the legislation under which he was appointed.
  • Hughes v. Woolworths Group Pension Trustee Limited [2012] EWHC 905 (Ch). Represented the respondent in this important case concerning the provisions in the Pensions Act 2004 governing the operation of the PPF and the impact of the PPF assessment period on members’ benefits.
  • Prudential Staff Pensions Limited v. The Prudential Assurance Company Limited & Others [2011] EWHC 960 (Ch). Represented the trustee in this leading case on the scope of the duty of good faith owed by sponsoring employers, particularly in relation to discretionary pension increases, and trustees' duties.
  • Stena Line Limited v. Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund Trustees Limited & Another [2010] EWHC 1805 (Ch) and [2011] EWCA 543. Represented the trustee in High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings concerning pension scheme trustees' powers of amendment, particularly in relation to the payment of employer contributions.
  • In re Expro International plc [2008] EWHC 1626 (Ch). Represented two US hedge fund shareholders in an application to the High Court concerning the relationship between the Court's role in approving schemes of arrangement and the role of the Takeover Panel.
  • Tibbett & Britten Limited v. Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd 2002 (Westlaw) and Hewden Tower Cranes Limited v. Wolffkran GmbH [2007] EWHC 857 (TCC) – both cases concerning European law on jurisdiction.
  • Advised a founder shareholder in a substantial dispute arising out of the management of a Bermuda incorporated oil company.
  • Represented the investment arm of a major US corporate in proceedings to prevent the improper variation of rights attaching to its shares in a UK investee company.
  • Represented insurers in connection with multiple claims arising from the Canary Wharf crane collapse.
  • Represented insurers in connection with notifications arising from class action litigation in the US health care sector.
  • Advised UK taxpayers on their participation in group action proceedings against HM Revenue & Customs.

Education

The College of Law, London

King's College London, University of London, Law

Admissions

  • England and Wales
  • Solicitor Advocate with Higher Rights of Audience (Civil)

Court

  • Solicitor Advocate with Higher Rights of Audience (Civil)

Memberships

  • Member, Association of Pension Lawyers

Consistently ranked as a key individual by the legal directories

  • Stuart Pickford is "thoughtful and effective at coming up with solutions" and "an excellent litigator," according to sources. He acts for clients in a variety of Ombudsman and High Court claims regarding issues such as death benefits, rule interpretation and other matters. (Chambers UK 2019).
  • Is "an extremely bright, personable litigator whose calm demeanour and insightful analysis are an invaluable contribution". (Legal 500 2018).
  • Stuart Pickford has extensive experience of major contentious matters in the retirement benefits arena. One source says: "He adds real value as a litigator. He is good at taking the heat out of situations and focusing on the essentials to advance the client's position. He is understated, responsive, listens carefully, is technically very sound and a pleasure to work with."(Chambers UK 2018).
  • Stuart Pickford is "calm, focused and analytical, and cuts through to the issues that matter". He is also "Highly organised" and "a talented negotiator". (Legal 500 2017).
  • Stuart Pickford is described by commentators as "a star in the making." He has significant experience in contentious pension matters covering a wide array of issues. Clients praise his "really excellent attention to detail and excellent intellectual analysis." (Chambers UK 2017).
  • Stuart Pickford's practice is concerned with contentious pensions and corporate trusts matters. Clients say: "He is brilliant, very succinct at summarising things and very analytical."  (Chambers UK 2016).
  • Stuart Pickford is "brilliant". (Legal 500 2015).
  • Stuart Pickford co-heads the practice group and is described as being "very much at the forefront. He's brilliant." Sources point to his extensive expertise in the wider litigation arena and his assured handling of complex claims. (Chambers UK 2015).
  • has "a brilliant mind for law but also a dynamic approach to strategy" (Legal 500 2014).
  • he "is calm, methodical and completely trustworthy" (Chambers UK 2014);
  • sources are impressed by him being "extremely efficient". He has been at the "sharp end of litigation and was technically very strong," commented one source, while another stated: "He made it easy and straightforward for us to face the matter and to make decisions." (Chambers UK 2013);
  • he is "very knowledgeable" and has "fantastic client skills and the ability to crack a case" (Legal 500 2013);
  • "he is able to give a good indication of the likelihood of success, which not all lawyers do" (Chambers UK 2012);
  • he is "excellent", "trustworthy and knowledgeable" (Legal 500);
  • he has a "sharp brain" (Legal 500 2012);
  • he had "a thorough understanding of pensions law and practice" (Legal 500 2011).