Nicolas Stallworthy QC

Year of Call:
1993
Year of Silk:
2011
Direct Access:
No

Nicolas Stallworthy QC’s practice involves the interaction of commercial trusts, contract law, insolvency and professional negligence at very high levels of complexity and value.

He undertakes cases concerning the interpretation of trusts, contracts, financial instruments & legislation; and the application of trust principles in the broader commercial context. His professional negligence practice focuses on solicitors, insurance companies, benefits consultants, professional trustees, actuaries & investment advisers.

He also has extensive experience of regulatory cases under the pensions regulatory regime. His work is conducted in the Business & Property Courts, the Tax & Chancery Chamber of the Upper Tribunal and appellate courts.

Nick’s expertise is acknowledged by the legal directories. He is top-ranked by both Chambers & Partners UK (2020) and Legal 500 (2020) for Pensions. Chambers & Partners UK (2020) also ranks him for Commercial Chancery, and the Legal 500 (2020) ranks him for Professional Negligence.

Nick is called to the Bar of Northern Ireland (2010) and registered at the DIFC (2013). He is also a Head of Chambers (Deputy Head of the Business Team).

Expertise

Nick is one of the most highly regarded practitioners at the pensions bar, with specialist knowledge of almost all issues affecting pensions schemes. His cases have concerned the interpretation of trust deeds & rules and legislation (including e.g. indexation issues), the scope and exercise of powers (in particular, amendment powers and the formal validity of amending instruments), the application of equitable doctrines in the pensions context, rectification, the employer debt and scheme funding legislation, the powers of the Pensions Regulator (in particular its financial support direction and contribution notice powers), pensions and insolvency, European law’s impact on pension schemes (in particular in connection with ‘equalisation’) and pensions-related professional negligence claims (concerning solicitors, insurance companies, benefits consultants, professional trustees, actuaries & investment advisers).

Nick has been top-ranked as a pensions expert by Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 for a number of years. Legal 500 describe him as a “an intellectual giant and tireless worker and inspirational litigation lead counsel in the shoes of an affable gentleman.”

Nick’s wider trusts practice covers other commercial trusts and financial instruments; in particular their interpretation (including applications under section 48 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985); rectification; applications to set aside transactions (on grounds of equitable mistake, the principle in Re: Hastings-Bass, collateral and improper purposes and/or conflicts of interest/duties); and proceedings to challenge or confirm the formal validity of the exercise of powers.

Notable Pensions cases


Atos IT Services Ltd v Atos Pension Schemes Ltd, Re: the Atos UK 2011 Pension Scheme [2020] EWHC 145 (Ch), [2020] Pens. L.R. 17

An important authority on the interpretation of pension scheme indexation provisions.

Carr v Thales Pension Trustees Ltd & Thales UK Ltd [2020] EWHC 949 (Ch); [2020] Pens. L.R. 19

An appeal from the Pensions Ombudsman about the interpretation of a pension scheme rule which contained a latent inconsistency.

Arup UK Ltd v Trustees of the Arup UK Pension Scheme [2020] EWHC 1064 (Ch), [2020] Pens. L.R. 21

Concerned the interpretation of the scheme’s indexation rule which would require or (as a matter of discretion) permit a switch away from the Retail Prices Index for future increases to pensions in payment.

SPS Technologies Ltd v Moitt [2020] EWHC 2421 (Ch)

The employer sought rectification of the error across these successive instruments; so-called ‘serial rectification’.

Re: the Barnardo’s Pension Scheme

In the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court

The Pensions Regulator v ITV & Granada

Re: Box Clever Pension Scheme – the first ever substantive trial before the Upper Tribunal of a reference from the Determinations Panel; and the upholding of that decision by the Court of Appeal.

Shannan v Viavi, Re: the Wandel & Goltermann Pension Scheme

In the Court of Appeal

M v St. Anne’s Trustees Ltd

Advising on first appellate Hastings-Bass decision since Pitt v Holt (Guernsey Court of Appeal)

IBM v Dalgleish

The ‘Project Waltz‘ proceedings

Re: the Docklands Light Railway

The operation of employer contribution rules

The Lehman Litigation

Re: Nortel & Re: Lehman Brothers Pension Scheme; The Pensions Regulator v Lehman Brothers; and Re Storm Funding Ltd

IBM v Metcalfe

The rectification proceedings

Industry-Wide Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme Co-ordinator v Industry-Wide Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme Trustees

Bridge Trustees v Yates

PNPF v Taylor

HR Trustees v German

Re IMG Pension Plan

Kennedy v Kennedy

Smithson v Hamilton

Nick has substantial expertise in professional negligence cases concerning solicitors, insurance companies, benefits consultants, professional trustees, actuaries, investment advisers and insurance companies, particularly in connection with pension schemes or trusts. However, most of the time Nick manages to keep his clients, particularly his defendant clients, out of court: e.g. operating successfully behind the scenes in claims related to cases.

Nick has sued or defended around 20% of the firms listed by Chambers & Partners for pensions expertise.

Nick’s expertise is acknowledged as by all the main legal directories, including Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, with Legal 500 (2017) ranking Nick for Professional Negligence, and Chambers & Partners UK (2018) ranking Nick for Commercial Chancery.

Notable Professional Negligence cases


Misys v Misys Retirement Benefits Trustees

Losses removed by rectifying the drafting error

Kennedy v Kennedy

Losses removed by rescinding transaction on grounds of mistake so as to remove tax liability, and

Archer v Travis Perkins plc

Capital Cranfield Trustees Ltd v Pinsent Curtis

Harland & Wolff Pension Trustees Ltd v Aon Consulting Financial Services Ltd

Nick’s Commercial & Chancery dispute resolution practice includes: the interpretation of debentures (e.g. the Box Clever litigation), contested valuation issues (e.g. the Box Clever litigation), sale and purchase agreements (e.g. warranties and expert determination clauses), commercial trust instruments and legislation (e.g. the Lehman litigation); challenges to the exercise of contractual discretions (e.g. IBM) and expert determinations; rectification; the application of trust principles in commercial contexts (e.g. M v St Anne’s Trustees Ltd); restitution; insolvency, such as the principle against ‘double dipping’ (e.g. Re: Storm Funding); regulatory investigations (e.g. Duke Street Capital, Re: Focus & Do-It-All) and professional negligence claims.

Chambers & Partners UK (2018) and ranks Nick for Commercial Chancery; and the Legal 500  ranks him for Professional Negligence.

Notable Commercial & Chancery cases


The Pensions Regulator v ITV & Granada

Re: Box Clever Pension Scheme

M v St. Anne’s Trustees

IBM v Dalgleish

The ‘Project Waltz’ proceedings

Re: the Docklands Light Railway

The Lehman litigation

Re: Nortel & Re: Lehman Brothers Pension Scheme; The Pensions Regulator v Lehman Brothers; and Re Storm Funding Ltd

IBM v Metcalfe

The rectification proceeding

Industry-Wide Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme Co-ordinator v Industry-Wide Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme Trustees

Ever since completing his postgraduate degree (the Bachelor of Civil Law) – a quarter of which was devoted to corporate insolvency – Nick has a undertaken a substantial amount of work involving insolvency and restructuring.

Notable Insolvency cases


Granada Rental & Retail Ltd & Others v The Pensions Regulator [2019] EWCA Civ 1032 | [2019] B.P.I.R. 1121 | [2019] Pens. L.R. 20

A leading authority on ‘connection and association’ under the insolvency legislation and on the interpretation of voting control provisions under debentures.

Re Storm Funding (In administration) [2013] EWHC 4019 (Ch) | [2014] Bus. L.R. 454 | [2014] Pens. L.R. 73

A leading authority on ‘double dipping’, i.e. the general principle that a creditor cannot recover more than 100% of what is in substance the same debt from two estates. This was an administrators’ application for directions in relation to the Lehman Brothers group. The application resolved the interpretation of the Pensions Regulators’ financial support direction legislation to clarify whether multiple ‘contribution notices’ each claiming Lehman Brothers Ltd’s full statutory debt under section 75 of the Pensions Act 1995 could be claimed against multiple Lehman group companies in administration.

Garvin Trustees Ltd v The Pensions Regulator [2015] Pens. L.R. 1

Concerning the extent to which a company’s legal professional privilege survives its dissolution.

Bloom & Others v Pensions Regulator & Others [2013] UKSC 52 | [2014] A.C. 209 | [2013] 3 W.L.R. 504 | [2013] 4 All E.R. 887 | [2013] Bus. L.R. 1056 | [2013] B.C.C. 624 | [2013] 2 B.C.L.C. 135 | [2013] B.P.I.R. 866 | [2013] Pens. L.R. 299

Pinsent Curtis v Capital Cranfield Trustees Ltd [2005] EWCA Civ 860 | [2005] 4 All E.R. 449 | [2005] I.C.R. 1767 | [2005] O.P.L.R. 385 | Independent, July 20, 2005 |

While the appeal decision remains a landmark case on the interpretation of pension scheme contribution rules, the conjoined proceedings at first instance had included Companies Court proceedings challenging the liquidators’ rejection of a proof of debt and ability to go behind prescribed calculation methodologies for relevant debts (with associated disclosure arguments).

Bradstock Group Pension Scheme Trustees Ltd v Bradstock Group Plc [2002] EWHC 651 (Ch) | [2002] I.C.R. 1427 | [2002] O.P.L.R. 281 | [2002] Pens. L.R. 327 | [2002] W.T.L.R. 1281 | (2002) 99(36) L.S.G. 40 | Times, July 10, 2002

The landmark case concerning the extent to which statutory debts under section 75 of the Pensions Act 1995 can be compromised by trustees in the face of impending corporate insolvency, without impermissibly seeking to ‘contract out’ of that legislation. The application was expedited and considered (amongst other matters) whether the trustees’ compromise and payment was at any risk of constituting an unlawful preference.

Related updates

Nicolas Stallworthy QC is regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and holds a current practising certificate. If you are not satisfied with the service provided, please click here.

"Nicolas is an intellectual giant and tireless worker and inspirational litigation lead counsel in the shoes of an affable gentleman."

Pensions, Legal 500 2022

"‘An exceptionally bright, charming silk. He has an open approach to thorny technical issues and always manages to present new and rich arguments to aid the case. A strong courtroom advocate. "

Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2022

Stands out for his impressively broad pensions practice, covering regulatory, professional negligence and tax implications.

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2021

"He is exceptionally bright and a really original thinker."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2021

"He is very thorough and knowledgeable."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2021

"A phenomenal worker who is incredibly intelligent - a real pensions guru. He is all over every tiny detail."

Chancery Commercial, Chambers & Partners 2021

"He is a truly excellent practitioner and a brilliant team player."

Chancery Commercial, Chambers & Partners 2021

"A huge brain and exceptionally talented. He is very passionate, creative and hardworking. A great lawyer who is very good with clients."

Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2021

"Without doubt, one of the leading QCs in this field. Good in conference and in Court. To the point and commercial in his advice."

Pensions, Legal 500 2021

"Stands out for his impressively broad pensions practice, covering regulatory, professional negligence and tax implications. He is widely recommended for complex pensions issues and often acts in sensitive cases, such as those concerning insolvency, equalisation and scheme merger issues."

Pensions, Chambers and Partners 2020

"He is very good at giving practical, robust advice and will find ways through complex law." "He's a phenomenal advocate and able to analyse detail and apply that practically in fiendishly difficult situations."

Pensions, Chambers and Partners 2020

A well-liked silk who handles an array of high-profile and high-value matters. He is a recognised pensions expert whose practice also includes insolvency, commercial trusts and breach of duty cases."

Chancery, Chambers and Partners 2020

"He’s a superb lawyer who really gets under the skin of cases and is so interested in every angle. He's a good advocate."

Chancery, Chambers and Partners 2020

"Extremely bright and very thorough."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2019

"A force to be reckoned with. He takes a very practical approach."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2019

"Has an enormous brain and is very solution-oriented."

Chancery: Commercial, Chambers & Partners 2019

"He is wonderful and very clever."

Chancery: Commercial, Chambers & Partners 2019

"He has an extremely sparky intellect and can always find the silver-bullet argument."

Pensions, Legal 500 2019

"Excellent with clients."

Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2019

"He is highly analytical, very commercially aware and presents very well to clients in conference."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2018

"He is a force to be reckoned with and has a very practical approach."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2018

Very good on the detail and a fine strategist. He is a confident advocate, who is always very well prepared.

Chancery, Chambers & Partners 2018

An accomplished advocate who makes his points very well and convincingly.

Chancery, Chambers & Partners 2018

"His encyclopaedic knowledge and innovative approach set him apart from competition."

Pensions, Legal 500 2017

"Very able."

Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2017

"He is a very creative lawyer who is quite dogged and an intimidating opponent. He will think of every angle to a case."

Chancery, Chambers & Partners 2017

"If anyone can win you a slightly unwinnable argument, he is your man."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2017

"He has a first-class mind and he masters the evidence to a very impressive degree."

Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2017

"A formidable operator."

Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2016

"A leading silk, who knows every case inside out and is not afraid to nail his colours to the mast."

Pensions, Legal 500 2016

"Commands considerable respect for his commercial chancery practice and is renowned for his pension scheme expertise."

Commercial, Chambers & Partners Global 2016

"A highly sought-after pensions silk recognised for his abilities in complex cases that require sophisticated analysis and a high level of commerciality."

Commercial, Chambers & Partners 2016

"A leading silk, who knows every case inside out and is not afraid to nail his colours to the mast."

Pensions, Legal 500 2016

To find out more, contact Matt Sale +44 (0)20 7427 4910 or Peter Foad +44 (0)20 7427 0807 for a confidential discussion.

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