Stuart O’Brien



Stuart has experience of a broad range of pension related matters, advising employers and trustees alike with a particular emphasis on finance and investment issues.  This includes buy-ins and buy-outs, de-risking and advising on the legal aspects of scheme funding issues, including the use of contingent assets.

Stuart’s advice includes making changes to pension benefits (including the closure of schemes to future accrual), liability management exercises including pension increase exchange and pre-retirement transfer exercises, as well as scheme mergers, demergers, and solvent and insolvent wind-ups. He also has significant expertise advising on the pensions aspects of corporate mergers, acquisitions and restructuring, dealing with Pensions Regulator clearance, section 75 debts, and apportionment and withdrawal arrangements.

Stuart is also a leading industry figure for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment issues and is an authority and regular speaker and commentator on the integration of climate change into trustee investment decision making as well as TCFD reporting, stewardship and engagement issues.

He chairs the Pensions Climate Risk Industry Group and sits on a number of high profile committees including recent PLSA working groups providing trustee guidance on ESG and implementation statements. Stuart is a member of the Investment and Defined Contribution Sub-Committee of the Association of Pension Lawyers and a member of the legal panel to the Impact Investment Institute.

Recent experience

  • Assisting clients with the settlement of deferred and pensioner liabilities via buy-in and buy-out bulk annuity transactions. Having assisted the trustees of the Friends Provident Pension Scheme on their ground breaking collateralised buy-in of pensioner liabilities with Aviva in 2008, Stuart has advised on numerous other transactions with all major insurers over the last decade including residual risk policies and umbrella agreements.
  • Advising Trustees on ESG matters in investment strategy and decision making, including consideration of fiduciary duties.
  • Helping trustees create comprehensive responsible investment policies and reporting, including frameworks for engagement, exclusions and climate-risk reporting in line with the recommendations of the TCFD.
  • Advising Trustees on DC investment issues, including the use of platform structures, asset security, changes to member funds and transition to DC master trusts.
  • Advising on the merger and sectionalisation of pension schemes including complex structures involving flexible apportionment arrangements.

Memberships and Qualifications

Membership of professional bodies:
Association of Pension Lawyers
(Full Member and Investment Committee Member)
Pensions Management Institute (Ordinary Member)

Career history

Qualified: 2003, England & Wales

Pensions experience since: 2003

Joined Sackers: 2003, Associate: 2008

Joined partnership/LLP: 2011

Employers: Hammonds (2001-2003)

Academic history


Nottingham Law School (2000-2001)
University of Texas Law School, Austin, USA (1998-1999)
University of Nottingham (1996-2000)

Degree: LLB (with merit in American Law), Nottingham University
Legal Practice Course

Further Information


  • “I have always been impressed by Stuart’s ability to explain complex matters in plain English, and for his pragmatic approach. As a car manufacturer, costs will always be an issue, and Stuart carries out work for us mindful of the need to contain costs, whilst providing an excellent service”.
    Roland Craven, Senior Controller, Pensions Section, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd
  • He is “pragmatic and does not waffle”. Legal 500 2014 recommended lawyer


Contingent assets

DB Investment

DC Investment

Banking and finance

Buy-ins and buy-outs

ESG and climate change

Latest News & Media

Podcast: Stuart O’Brien discusses climate change and responsible investments for Pensions Expert

Stuart O’Brien comments on climate risk governance and TCFD reporting changes

Stuart O’Brien comments on kickstarting a green recovery in Pensions Age

Stuart O’Brien joins Pensions Expert’s DC Debate

Stuart O’Brien comments on the proposed responsible investment bill in Pensions Expert

Stuart O’Brien considers the new era of ESG disclosures in Pensions Age

Sackers named Boutique Law Firm of the Year at Legal Business Awards 2020

Stuart O’Brien speaks at PensionsAge Annual Conference on climate risk reporting in 2021 SIPs

Sackers advises on Siemens £530m buy-in

Stuart O’Brien contributes to PLSA guide on new trustee investment disclosure duties

Latest Knowledge

Finance & investment briefing – March 2021

Consultation on climate change regulations and guidance

Finance & investment briefing – December 2020

Taking action on climate risk: improving governance and reporting by occupational pension schemes – Sackers’ response to consultation

Consultation: taking action on climate risk

Finance & investment briefing – September 2020

Reminder! Changes to Investment disclosure and governance

Finance & investment briefing – June 2020

ESG and climate change for pension funds

Buy-ins, buy-outs and longevity solutions