Joanna Smith



Joanna is an experienced pensions lawyer, advising employer and trustee clients in a variety of sectors on all aspects of pensions law. She supports a number of Sackers’ trustee clients on the full range of “business as usual” issues, such as complex questions on pensions tax, member benefit questions, compliance with new legislation and drafting scheme documentation.

Her recent project work has included advice on managing employer debts, liability management exercises and benefit design changes. Alongside other Sackers’ partners, she has undertaken a key role on significant projects, such as advising in relation to the restructuring of the Halcrow Pension Scheme and supporting another large pension scheme in its negotiations to resolve a dispute with the scheme’s employer.

Joanna has a particular interest in pension scheme governance and sits on the firm’s Governance Group. She is also a member of the firm’s GMP equalisation working group. Joanna also sits on the Society of Pension Professionals’ Legislation Committee.

Recent work highlights in relation to DB benefits include advising on:

  • liability management exercises such as pension increase exchanges and transfer options
  • the legal aspects of valuations and funding agreements.
  • DB scheme mergers
  • the trigger of s.75 debts and proposals to manage those debts.
  • buy-outs of pension liabilities and reviewing the individual member policies
  • changes to benefit structures including salary capping, changing to CARE accrual and closing schemes to future accrual including complex Rules drafting to implement the changes
  • pension administration outsourcing projects including TUPE transfer issues.

Recent work highlights in relation to DC benefits include advising on:

  • setting up a new industry-wide master trust including drafting the Rules
  • a transfer-out of DC benefits to contract-based plans and DC master trusts
  • bulk transfers of members between occupational DC arrangements
  • DC communications and current disclosure requirements.

Memberships and Qualifications

Membership of professional bodies:
Association of Pension Lawyers (Full Member)

Career history

Qualified: 2006, England and Wales

Pensions experience: 2006

Joined Sackers: 2011

Joined partnership/LLP: 2019

Employers: Hogan Lovells International LLP (2004-2011)

Academic history


University of Sheffield (1997-2001)
University of Trier, Germany (1999-2000)
University of Muenster, Germany (2001-2002)
Nottingham Law School (2002-2003)

Degree: BA Law with German
LL.M German Law
Legal Practice Course

Further Information

Extracurricular interests and activities:

Theatre, travel and live music.