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Penny has considerable experience in all pension matters, with a particular focus on advising companies, international firms and their pension trustees, on their UK pension arrangements. Penny also has extensive experience of advising charities on their pension arrangements and high net worth individuals on the 2015 pension flexibilities.
"The 'amazingly good' Penny Cogher of Irwin Mitchell has strong experience advising companies and trustees on a broad range of pensions matters." – Chambers & Partners 2016
“Penny Cogher’s advice is always well thought out and she has an excellent grasp of pension legislation” - Chambers & Partners 2014
“Penny Cogher provides practical advice based on solid knowledge of the client’s industry and the relevant areas of the law, while taking into account business needs - Legal 500 2013
“Cross-border funding, such a key issue for Indyref 1, would fall away as an issue now that the UK is bent on leaving the EU.
“Instead Brexit may result in two different regulatory pension systems – one EU-based for pension schemes based in Scotland, and one not. Pension schemes do not have their own legal entity – they are based where their trustees are based. We may find Schemes could arbitrage where they are based and so which systems of laws they must comply with. They may prefer to be in a non-EU regulation-based environment, or they might want to take advantage of Scotland's more pragmatic laws for executing documents, making documents much less expensive than in the UK.
“There is also a question as to whether Scottish-based schemes will be able to afford their own Pension Protection Fund, and whether Edinburgh as the heart of the financial services industry can expect special terms from England on independence.
“We could also see greater divergence between Scots public sector pension schemes and the English-based schemes than we have already. State pension schemes could also diverge, as the SNP has stated it wants to upgrade state pensions in Scotland if it can."
“One area of opportunity could be QROPS, the qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme whose tax advantages were curtailed for UK citizens in the recent Budget. Could Scotland become the new home of a new type of QROPS?"
“Whatever happens, there certainly will be a period of confusion and adjusting – maybe something the industry could just do without at the moment, given the recent onslaught it has faced.”
“A bit of a damp squib of a Budget for the construction sector should not have come as a surprise to many - given the lack of any real Opposition with a plan, and an economy performing better than expected (although that depends on your expectations).
Money for old roads will please those in the North, where a quarter of respondents to the Irwin Mitchell UK Powerhouse survey in 2016 said investment in roads was the number one priority for future economic prosperity. But sadly £90m doesn’t buy much tarmac these days nor does £216m when it comes to the repair and maintenance of existing school stock.”
“It seems that the courts are moving more swiftly to this position than Parliament, who have yet to embrace the idea of civil partnership for different sex couples as well (as same sex couples) who do not want to marry but want to have their relationship recognised in law.
“There is therefore still some way to go before we reach the position of a “common law husband or wife” being fully recognised legally.
“The Supreme court judgment only relates to public sector pension schemes. However the judgment may result in private sector schemes re-visiting their rules looking at their fairness and appropriateness in today’s society of who qualifies for a survivor’s pension.
“It is not unusual for the rules of private sector schemes to contain some very arbitrary rules as to who qualifies for the survivor’s pension and often being a married husband or wife is not enough, let alone being a co-habitee.
“Until private sector pension schemes review and update their rules, there will still be groups of members whose partner potentially would receive no pension benefit on the death of the member from the defined benefit (DB) scheme itself.
“Therefore, if they do want their partner’s position covered, it makes sense for them to take IFA advice on looking at transferring their defined benefit pension benefits out of their employer’s scheme to their own pension plan.”
Each such discrimination case that is brought is broadly the same. They are about more generous public sector pension benefits being provided for people who are closer to retirement when a new scheme is introduced. Claimants bring age discrimination claims and equal pay claims and then women and black/ethic minorities bring indirect sex discrimination and race discrimination claims.
What is interesting about the police and fire-fighters age discrimination cases is that there is an added argument that once a worker reaches around a certain age, it becomes physically difficult and potentially dangerous for them to do their job so, the agreement is, they should be able to retire earlier than other workers. In theory this should make it less easy for their employer to be able to objectively justify changes to their retirement ages and pleading financial necessity may not be enough as a defence. Both aspects of these claims will be heavily scrutinised.
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