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Nicholas Laird

Counsel, London


Professional experience

Education and qualifications


Nick is a senior counsel in the pensions group at Linklaters and has been a pensions lawyer for more than 22 years.

Nick specialises in all aspects of pensions law, advising employers and trustees on a broad range of issues.  These include: all aspects of scheme funding (including putting in place and amending Asset-Backed Contribution arrangements; using contingent assets, charged escrow accounts and reservoir trusts; putting in place bespoke funding agreements); liability management (e.g. PIEs, ETVs and “at retirement transfers”); and implementing de-risking strategies (including longevity swaps and buy-ins/buy-outs from insurer and trustee perspective).

Nick also advises on scheme mergers and all pensions aspects of share and business sales/purchases and business restructurings.

Nick’s key clients include: 

  • AXA UK plc, as principal employer of the AXA UK Group Pension Scheme;
  • BP Pension Trustees Limited, as trustee of the BP Pension Fund;
  • Diageo Pension Trust Limited, as trustee of the Diageo Pension Scheme;
  • Cadent Gas Limited, as principal employer of the Cadent Gas Pension Scheme;
  • Trustees of the College of Law Pensions and Assurance Scheme; and
  • Marks and Spencer Pension Trust Limited, as trustee of the Marks and Spencer Pension Scheme.

Nick is committed to ensuring that the principles of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” remain one of our top priorities. This isn’t just about ensuring fairness and equality, and doing “the right thing”, but also about putting in place the best teams for the best outcomes, recognising that people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints help deliver the best solutions for our clients. Nick helps to achieve this through his role as Group Trainee Supervising Counsel, liaising closely with our Trainee Development Team to ensure that, as a practice group, we continue to attract interest from across the trainee cohort, that we continue to deliver excellent training and involve our trainees on various client teams and matters, and ultimately that we help retain that talent. He is also committed to helping further social mobility in the workplace, being actively involved in the work experience and vacation placement programme and helping to ensure that individuals who may be the first in their families to step into the legal world take away with them an enduring and positive view of Linklaters as an all-inclusive and diverse working environment; an environment which is accessible to the many, not the few.

Work highlights

Nick's experience includes advising:

  • Diageo Pension Trust Limited on putting in place one of the first Asset-Backed Contribution structures in 2010 which consisted of a dual-partnership structure and was backed by maturing whisky assets.
  • A large insurer on putting in place an Asset-Backed Contribution structure whose underlying asset was an intra-group receivable used to generate an income stream for the benefit of the pension scheme.
  • A large insurer on putting in place a bespoke funding arrangement backed by an amortising dual-guarantee structure.
  • Jingye Steel (UK) Limited on the pension aspects of Jingye’s first acquisition outside of China which included the pensions aspects of acquiring the assets of British Steel from the Official Receiver includes the steelworks at Scunthorpe, UK mills at Teesside, Skinningrove and its subsidiary businesses in France and The Netherlands.
  • A large insurer on a £1.1bn bulk annuity contract securing all liabilities of a large pension scheme, which was one of the first all risks cover buyouts.
  • Rentokil Initial Pension Scheme on the period between entering into a £1.5bn bulk purchase annuity agreement and buying-out benefits through bespoke individual annuities issued by the insurer, including winding up formalities and decisions relating to surplus.
  • Trustee of a large defined benefit pension fund on the preparatory stages of implementing a de-risking transaction which will involve a transfer of more than £10bn of liabilities to an insurance company.
  • Trustee of a large defined benefit pension fund on restructuring its Asset Backed Contribution arrangement through the addition of different asset types.
  • Advising employer of a substantial defined benefit scheme on the proposed use of powers in the scheme by the employer to use surplus to fund its contributions to money purchase benefits.

Aside from advising clients, Nick is a committee member of the PLSA South East Group, a member of the Association of Pension Lawyers’ Legislative and Parliamentary Sub-Committee, and a member of the Society of Pensions Professionals DB Funding Committee.

Professional experience

2012 to date Counsel, Linklaters LLP
2007 - 2012 Managing Associate, Linklaters LLP
2002 - 2007 Associate, Sacker & Partners LLP, London

Education and qualifications

1998 - 1999 The College of Law, London
1995 - 1998 University of Southampton, Politics and Law