Paul Williams

Paul Williams

Associate
Baker & McKenzie
Solicitor admitted in England & Wales

Biography

Paul is a senior associate in the Pensions Department with extensive experience of pensions law in both the UK and South Africa as well as experience in other sub-Saharan African jurisdictions. His client base comprises principally pension plan trustees and employers. Paul also advises companies on the pensions aspect of corporate transactions. Paul speaks regularly at conferences and seminars in both the UK and South Africa, is a former President of the Pension Lawyers Association of South Africa and sits on the Legal & Technical Committee of the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa.

Practice Focus

Paul is a specialist in UK and South African pensions law. There are three main aspects to his practice: advising pension plan trustees; advising employers in relation to their pension arrangements; and advising on the pensions aspects of corporate transactions. Whilst Paul's practice covers all aspects of pensions law, he has a particular interest in pension fund investment, the consolidation of pension plans, the powers of the Pensions Regulator and the pensions aspects of multijurisdictional transactions.

Representative Legal Matters

Recent UK experience

  • Advising pension fund trustees who wished to invest in an infrastructure fund on the risks arising from the limited partnership investment structure and from the fund documentation.
  • Advising an employer on participation in a Master Trust and negotiating the documentation on its behalf with the provider.
  • Analysing and critiquing, on behalf of an employer client, counsel's opinion obtained by trustees relating to purported historic failure to remove two trustees and working with the employer in devising a way forward.
  • Advising a company with a weakening covenant on its options going forward and on the implications from a pensions perspective, including the potential availability of the PPF and the likely approach of the pension scheme trustees and the Pensions Regulator, of those options.
  • Advising a corporate group as to how best to reconfigure its pension arrangements in light of a restructuring of the group, drafting the resulting flexible apportionment arrangement and assisting the employer in engaging with the trustees.
  • Assisting an employer in the closure of a pension scheme to future benefit accrual.
  • Advising an employer with a cross-border pension scheme on the potential impact of Brexit on the ability of the scheme to operate in other EU countries.

Recent South African experience

  • Advising an employer client on the implications of the requirement to admit temporary employment services employees to membership and drafting the admission provisions in the special rules of the umbrella fund in which the employer participates.
  • Advising an employer on the conversion from defined benefit to defined contribution pension benefits and on the transfer of assets and liabilities from a stand-alone pension fund to an umbrella pension fund.
  • Advising a pension fund on the transfer of pensioner liabilities to a long-term insurer, including the negotiation of the policy documentation.
  • Advising an employer on the extent of its legal obligations to fund pension increases in a defined benefit fund.
  • Advising a pension fund on the allocation of surplus in light of the ongoing surplus legislation and their respective duties to beneficiaries and to the employer.

Transactional experience

  • Assisting a UK-based pharmaceuticals client on the post signing pensions implementation of a multijurisdictional joint venture, including advising on a strategy to split group-wide pension plans in certain jurisdictions and assisting with renegotiation of the joint venture agreement and drafting the necessary amendments.
  • Advising a Japanese-based industrials client on the pensions aspects of a multijurisdictional joint venture, including drafting and negotiating the pensions provisions in the joint venture agreement.
  • Assisting a Dutch-based consumer goods client with bid for part of a business in another multinational consumer goods business, including advising on the separation of liabilities in seller group-wide pension plans and drafting the relevant provisions in the bid documentation.
  • Advising a US clothing business on the UK pensions aspects of the sale of one of its businesses (via a pre-sale transfer to a newly formed company), including proposing a solution to mitigate "Beckmann" early retirement risk; advice as to future service pension benefit obligations; and on the risk of the Pensions Regulator being able to exercise its anti-avoidance powers and how best to mitigate such risk.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Pension Lawyers Association of South Africa
  • Institute of Retirement Funds Africa
  • Association of Pension Lawyers (UK)

Admissions

  • England & Wales - United Kingdom (1999)

Education

  • University of Warwick (LLB) (1995)
  • University of Bordeaux (Certificat en Droit Français) (1994)