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Matheson’s pensions team ‘highly commended’ by the Financial Times for its work on Element Six case

AUTHOR(S): Brian Buggy, Deirdre Cummins, Bryan Dunne, Michael Byrne
PRACTICE AREA GROUP: Employment, Pensions and Benefits, Regulatory and Investigations
DATE: 21.10.2014

Matheson has been “highly commended” by the Financial Times 2014 Innovative Lawyers Awards as one of Europe’s most innovative law firms in dispute resolution. Matheson was the only Irish law firm to be commended in this category.

Matheson was highly commended for setting “a market precedent for duties and liabilities of trustees in Ireland” in the Commercial Court case, Greene & Ors v Coady & Ors - “the Element Six case.” Matheson was also separately commended for co-ordinating a complex “multi-jurisdictional, multi-party dispute, gaining a favourable settlement for a banking client.”

Brian Buggy, head of Matheson’s Pensions and Benefits Law group led the Matheson team advising on the Element Six case, which included partners Deirdre Cummins and Michael Byrne. Brian Buggy said: “We are delighted to have been highly commended for our work on this important case. This commendation reflects the innovative and client-focused approach we take in order to achieve the best possible results for our clients.”

In the Element Six case Matheson represented the trustees of the Element Six Contributory Pension Plan in successfully defending a claim taken against them by 128 members of the Plan for alleged breach of duty.

This landmark High Court decision provides clarity on the duties of pension scheme trustees and the role of the court in examining trustees’ decision-making processes. It also offers useful commentary on a range of ancillary issues, including contribution demands, conflicts of interest issues and the nature of funding proposals.

Mr Justice Charleton found in favour of the trustees in a detailed written judgment, fully accepting their evidence and the case put forward in their defence. He held that the trustees had at all times acted honestly and in good faith and that their decision to accept the company’s proposal was made solely in the best interests of the beneficiaries, taking all relevant factors into consideration. The comprehensive judgment of the Court offers a valuable insight into how the decision-making process of trustees will be evaluated and reviewed.

Brian Buggy said, “This decision gives some welcome legal clarity to employers, trustees and their respective advisers when faced with the difficulties that can arise in considering the termination of an underfunded pension scheme. While the judgment does not answer all the legal questions, it is a very significant step forward in this difficult area of pensions law.”

Matheson has now been ranked amongst the Financial Times’ 50 Most Innovative Law Firms in Europe for the third consecutive year. To date, Matheson is the only Irish law firm to have been commended by the Financial Times for innovation in corporate law, finance law, dispute resolution and corporate strategy.

Matheson was also shortlisted for the award of Europe’s most innovative law firm this year. The 2014 awards drew more than 500 submissions from over 160 of Europe’s leading law firms. The Financial Times noted that “competition was particularly fierce this year, so to have been shortlisted for an award is a huge achievement.”

You can access a more detailed article explaining the Element Six judgment here.

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