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:

  • “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

Expertise

Contingent assets

DB Investment

DC Investment

Banking and finance

Risk transfer

ESG and climate change

Our ESG guides

PCRIG guidance


Latest News & Media

Stuart O’Brien discusses the implications of the climate reporting rules at the Sustainable Investment Festival

Stuart O’Brien discusses integrating climate change reporting into your pension scheme

Stuart O’Brien discusses the upcoming TCFD disclosure requirements in Pensions Age

Stuart O’Brien comments on sustainably-invested pensions in Employee Benefits

Stuart O’Brien comments on trustees getting ahead of the game on TCFD requirements

Sackers launches fifth ESG guide focusing on new ESG and climate related disclosure requirement

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


Latest Knowledge

Government response to consultation on climate change regulations and guidance

Finance & investment briefing – June 2021

Call for evidence on consideration of social risks and opportunities by occupational pension schemes

ESG and climate change for pension funds – A guide to trustee disclosures from 2021

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