Stuart O’Brien

Partner

About

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

University/College:

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

Testimonials:

  • “Stuart led our pioneering analysis of the compatibility of pension trustee fiduciary duties and impact investing with characteristic thoroughness and creativity, while maintaining a focus on the end product.”
    Bella Landymore, Policy director, Impact Investing Institute
  • He is “pragmatic and does not waffle”. Legal 500 2014 recommended lawyer

Expertise

Contingent assets

DB Investment

DC Investment

Banking and finance

Risk transfer

ESG and climate change

Our ESG guides

PCRIG guidance

Risk transfer – case studies


Latest News & Media

Excluding assets is a key tool for improving ESG credentials

Stuart O’Brien writes in Professional Pensions about the bigger net zero picture for pension scheme trustees

Sackers launches net zero guide for trustees

Sackers at PLSA Investment Conference 2022

Stuart O’Brien comments in Corporate Adviser on the TCFD and a new era of climate related governance

Stuart O’Brien comments in Pensions Age on how the strength of its employer covenant may influence a pension scheme’s sustainable investing appetite

Sackers advises Air Canada (UK) Pension Trust Fund on £380m buy-in with PIC

Claire van Rees and Stuart O’Brien comment in The Sunday Times on superfunds and TCFD reporting

Stuart O’Brien comments in Raconteur on the new climate-risk disclosure rules

Trustee investment responses to Russia / Ukraine events


Latest Knowledge

Finance & investment briefing – September 2022

Response to consultation on changes to climate and investment reporting

Hot topic: Climate reporting

Getting to net zero

Finance & investment briefing – June 2022

Finance & investment briefing – March 2022

Finance & investment briefing – December 2021

Consultation on changes to climate and investment reporting

Finance & investment briefing – September 2021

Government response to consultation on climate change regulations and guidance