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Mark Blyth

Litigation Partner, London

“I have over 27 years’ experience of pensions disputes and have been involved in many of the major cases during that time. I have extensive knowledge of pensions law and practice and offer clients pragmatic and practical guidance to get the best outcome in the most challenging situations.”

Overview

Professional experience

Education and qualifications

Overview

Mark is widely acknowledged as one of the leading pensions disputes lawyers in the UK, advising employers, trustees, insurers and professional services firms on the most complex, high-value and novel pensions disputes. He founded and leads the firm’s Pensions Disputes Resolution Group.

Mark advises on all aspects of pensions disputes, including with the Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Pensions Protection Fund, over scheme funding and re-structuring, benefit redesign and construction of scheme rules, rectification and professional negligence.

Mark also acts for clients before the Determinations Panel of the Pensions Regulator (and subsequent references to the Upper Tribunal), the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Work highlights

Mark has acted in many of the leading contentious pensions matters over the past 25 years. A few highlights include:

  • British Airways PLC: advising in its ground-breaking claim against the Trustees of the Airways Pension Scheme over their decision to implement discretionary pension increases above the increases provided by statute, in a scheme with a substantial deficit. We won the case before the Court of Appeal and it has since been settled.
  • BHS pension schemes: advising Taveta companies in the well-publicized regulatory proceedings brought by the Pensions Regulator against Sir Philip Green and certain group companies by way of financial support directions and a contribution notice in relation to the BHS Pension Schemes. The case was settled.
  • Southern Water: advising in novel regulatory proceedings brought by the Pensions Regulator to exercise its scheme funding powers. The case was settled and is the subject of a s89 report by the Regulator.
  • Lehman pension scheme: advising the administrators of Lehman companies in regulatory proceedings brought by the Pensions Regulator for a financial support direction which proceeded to the Upper Tribunal. We successfully defended the case before the Supreme Court over whether the claim was an expense in the administrations and the claim was thereafter settled.
  • Nortel pension schemes: advising Nortel Networks Inc in its dispute with the trustee of the Nortel UK scheme and the PPF over a financial support direction and claims made in the Ch 11 Bankruptcy. The case was settled shortly before it was due to go to trial before the US and Canadian Bankruptcy Court.
  • MNRPF: advising the trustees of the scheme in a complex case which concerns the scope of amendment powers in the scheme and ill-heath early retirement benefits, which will have implications for other schemes and is due to come to trial in 2020.
  • Granada: advising the Trustee of the Granada Supplementary Pension Scheme in successfully defending before the Court of Appeal, a claim by Granada that security arrangements set up under the “top up” scheme contravened Companies Act 1985 restrictions as there was no shareholder approval for them and as a result the security held by the trustees must be released. 

Professional experience

Mark is a long-standing member of the Association of Pension Lawyers (APL) and advisory panel member of the Occupational, Pensions Defence Union. He is also a member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS).

He also sits on the Pensions Litigation Court Users Committee and is a former Chairman of the APL’s Pensions Litigation Committee. Mark is also a Band 1 rated leading practitioner in relation to pensions litigation in the Chambers and Legal 500 guides. Chambers 2020 directory notes that he

“enjoys a market-leading reputation for his expansive pensions litigation practice … especially knowledgeable and technically accurate. He is adept at hitting the point that matters and presents with an aura of confidence and certainty."

Mark is regularly quoted in the press, writes frequently for industry periodicals, and often speaks at seminars and conferences.

Education and qualifications

Mark studied law at the University of Warwick