Andrew Spink QC
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Andrew Spink QC is a highly respected advocate with 33 years’ experience at the Bar, of which 16 years have been as a successful QC. He is the current Chair of the Commercial Bar Association, one of the Heads of Outer Temple Chambers and a part-time judge sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench and Chancery Divisions of the English High Court and as a Justice of the Astana International Financial Centre in Kazakhstan (where he is also a member of the panel of arbitrators).
Andrew has a broad-based business law practice, specialising particularly in disputes relating to the interpretation or breach of most types of commercial contract and trust deed, claims for breach of fiduciary duty, freezing injunctions and asset recovery, cross-jurisdictional issues, CPR Part 8 claims as well as hostile CPR Part 7 claims for damages and other relief in the context of pensions and other commercial trusts, banking and financial services, professional negligence claims and company law issues.
As well as appearing as an advocate, he is highly sought after for the provision of expert technical and strategic advice to clients, both in relation to complex commercial civil disputes and in non-contentious situations (corporate mergers or takeovers; in relation to the many issues arising in the administration of large occupational pension schemes, including dealing with the UK Pensions Regulator; advising on pensions issues in the area of corporate insolvency; advising on issues of contractual interpretation in day-to-day commercial business life and on company law issues).
Andrew is also experienced in cases involving mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution, together with regulatory cases in front of the Determinations Panel of the Pensions Regulator and the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber). This is a relatively new and fast-developing pensions jurisdiction where Andrew has been involved in several of the most significant recent cases.
Andrew’s clients include individuals, partnerships, companies (including financial institutions), pension scheme trustees / employers / members, Government departments, International Financial Centres, and participants in multiparty group actions.
Andrew is ranked in Band 1 for Pensions in Chambers UK, which notes that “He is an extremely well-respected silk, winning glowing praise from market sources for his exceptional advocacy skills and client-focused approach” and in the top tier for Pensions in Legal 500 which notes that he is “A powerful advocate, who has the ear of the court and can be relied on in an emergency”. Andrew is also listed as a leading silk for Professional Negligence in Legal 500.
Over the years, Andrew has been variously described in the legal directories as “terrifyingly good in court”, “highly valued”, “seriously good”, “reliable, commercial and pragmatic” and “very personable and down to earth.” “[He is] Terrifyingly good and incisive” and “He has a very good client manner; he puts clients at ease and always seems in control.” The Legal 500 adds that he is “definitely someone you want on your side…he has extensive expertise and is a real pleasure to work with.”
Pensions & Trusts
Andrew has been listed as a leading silk in pensions in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 ever since being appointed QC in 2003. Over that time, he has appeared in many of the leading pieces of litigation in the Chancery Division and in the newer and fast-developing field of work involving the Pensions Regulator.
Pensions – Litigation Cases
British Telecommunications plc v (1) BT Pension Scheme Trustees Limited and (2) Linda Bruce-Watt (“BT”) (Chancery Division and Court of Appeal 2018-19)
Andrew represented BT in highly significant proceedings brought urgently by BT (with a court order for expedition) to determine whether, under the rules of the BT Pension Scheme applicable to “C Section” members, it might be permissible to make a change from the RPI, as the inflation index used. The Scheme with c. 300,000 members has a current deficit of c. £14bn. The value at stake in this case alone was estimated to be c. £2bn.
The case raised issues of construction in relation to two different indexation rules as well as a complex assessment of whether RPI has now “become inappropriate” for the indexation of C Section pensions. A first instance judgment determining some of the issues against BT and some in favour was handed down in January 2018 and BT’s appeal and the members’ cross-appeal to the Court of Appeal were determined in a judgment handed down in December 2018. That judgment is now subject to an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Honda Motor Europe Ltd & Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd v Tony Powell & Honda Group UK Pension Scheme Trustee Ltd (Chancery Division 2018)
Andrew acted for the Honda companies in their claim for rectification of a Deed of Adherence entered into in 1986, which the Court of Appeal held at  PLR 255 did not, on a true construction provide the intended level of benefits for Honda manufacturing employees joining the scheme. Hotly contested Part 7 action with up to £70m of liabilities at stake, raising novel facts and rectification legal issues listed for 2-week trial in November 2018 including rare live evidence and cross-examination of five witnesses. Trial adjourned for consideration of proposed settlement.
Baldwin & others v Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Services Europe Limited (McGraw-Hill Pension Scheme) (Companies Court 2018)
The context for these proceedings, of a type never brought before by UK pension scheme trustees, was a Brexit-inspired proposed cross-border merger whereby one of the S&P group of UK companies, which was a sponsoring employer of the group’s UK pension scheme, would merge into an Irish group company and thereafter cease to exist in accordance with the fast track procedure provided for under the Companies (Cross-Border) Mergers Regulations 2007, leaving the pension scheme with a significantly altered UK employer covenant. This raised significant issues of concern for the trustees, for whom Andrew acted, as to the security of the benefits payable under the Scheme, as well as issues of English companies and pensions law and Irish law. Proposed compromise approved by Nugee J at a hearing in May 2018.
Wedgwood Pension Plan Trustee Ltd v Keith Salt (Chancery Division 2014 – 2018)
Andrew represented the Trustee of the Wedgwood Pension Plan in complex Part 8 proceedings after the collapse of the iconic Wedgwood group. This led to the Plan entering into a Pension Protection Fund assessment period.
The case highlighted multiple issues of interest and importance to pension schemes generally. These included whether a fetter on the power of amendment prevented the employer from reducing both past and future service benefits, the current status of part of the well-known decision in Bestrustees since Pitt v Holt on the true scope of the rule in Hastings Bass and what the meaning and effect is of a number of provisions in the parts of the Pensions Act 2014 relating to the PPF.
Judgment in favour of the Trustee was handed down in January 2018.
IBM UK Ltd & IBM Holdings Ltd v Dalgleish & Others (“the Project Waltz Proceedings”) (Chancery Division and Court of Appeal 2013 – 2017)
Following Warren J’s massive “duty of good faith breach” judgment in April 2014, a further wide-ranging “remedies” hearing took place in July 2014, where Andrew (for the Trustee, leading a team of seven barristers including two other silks) took the lead role in successfully arguing a large number of complex legal issues ranging across trust, contract and employment law on behalf of the members.
Following many consequential remedies hearings and two further judgments, the case was appealed by IBM and cross-appealed by the Representative Beneficiaries. The Court of Appeal’s judgment was handed down in July 2017, finally bringing this huge piece of litigation to an end.
Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Trustees v P&O (& Others) (Chancery Division 2013 – 2015)
A major piece of commercial litigation with significant financial and legal implications arising out of a dispute between the Trustee of and the many shipping companies contributing to the Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund. With hundreds of millions of pounds at stake as between the competing contributors and 7 QCs appearing this was understandably one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases for 2014.
Andrew represented the P&O Group, which took the leading role representing a large group of scheme employers in opposition to the Trustee’s deficit reduction plans. His role involved cross-examining the Chairman of the Trustee over two days, as well as having to deal with wide-ranging legal issues.
The case produced the leading judgment on whether and, if so, in what circumstances and to what extent trustees can take into account the interests of scheme employers when considering how to act. This case followed on from the earlier first instance and Court of Appeal decisions in Stena v MNRPF Trustees  EWCA Civ 543, which concerned whether the Trustee had the power to introduce a new contribution rule by amendment, a case in which Andrew also acted for P&O.
Philips Pension Trustees Limited & Philips Electronics UK Limited v AON Hewitt & AllianceBernstein (Chancery Division 2011 – 2016)
Fiercely fought Part 7 claims for damages for professional negligence by the employer and trustees of a large UK pension scheme against the scheme’s former investment strategy consultants and one of its fund managers, arising out of the scheme’s investment in 2007 of £2 billion of trust assets in credit default swaps and £500 million in US sub-prime mortgage backed assets, which caused the scheme massive losses during the Credit Crunch.
The issues include the scope of the duty owed by the Defendants to the trustee/employer, the risks inherent in the financial products, and an important issue as to whether or not the investment consultant was an authorised person carrying on regulated activities for the purposes of FSMA 2000. The court was engaged for several days in 2016 on a strike out application. The matter was thereafter listed for trial and settled for a substantial sum later in 2016.
Pollock v Reed & Halcrow Group Limited (“Project Gravity”) (Chancery Division 2015)
Andrew acted for the trustees of the Halcrow Pension Scheme in one of the most important pensions cases of 2015 in which the trustees of a pension scheme (with an employer which expected to go into liquidation but for a restructuring of the benefits provided to members under the scheme) sought approval, on an expedited basis and subject to a privacy order, of their decision to agree to a novel form of restructuring in which members would be transferred without their consent to a new scheme with lower “headline” benefits but with much better prospects of survival. Numerous significant pensions law issues were raised. In addition, important guidance was given as to the circumstances in which privacy orders would be made in cases such as this.
Atos UK IT Ltd & Ors v Atos Pension Schemes Ltd HC-2015-003397 (Chancery Division 2014 – ongoing)
Ongoing Part 8 Proceedings issued in August 2015 on the appropriate index for increases in pensions of three schemes. Issues include: i) whether RPI should now be regarded as having been functionally replaced by some other index for the purposes of the indexation provisions in the scheme rules where RPI has lost its national statistic status, and ii) whether there is the power to select an alternative index. Proceeding to trial in 2019 or 2020.
Archer & Ors v Travis Perkins & Ors (Chancery Division 2011 – 2014)
Andrew acted for the Employers of the BSS Group Pension Scheme in Part 8 proceedings brought by the Scheme Trustees raising issues about whether actions taken in 1990-1993 and 1996 respectively were effective so as to equalise the Scheme in light of Barber v Guardian Royal Exchange Insurance Group and also whether a particular cohort of members who joined the Scheme were bound by an enforceable contractual agreement or estoppel with the result that they should be treated as having normal retirement ages of 65 even if the purported equalisations in 1993 and 1996 had been ineffective as regards other members of the Scheme. The case settled very shortly before the start of a 10-day trial.
Dalriada litigation (3 separate claims 2011 – 2013)
Andrew successfully represented an independent trustee against the Pensions Regulator in the Chancery Division in an important test case for the pensions industry to determine whether some of the many “pensions liberation” schemes currently operating in the market (membership of which can result in beneficiaries receiving loans from the scheme or other sources) fall within the statutory definition of “occupational pensions schemes” (Dalriada v Nidd Vale).
The decision has had a significant impact on the way in which such schemes are regulated and the level of statutory protection available to members. He also acted for the independent trustee appointed by the Pensions Regulator in both of the previous leading cases resolving important tax and trust issues arising in the pensions liberation context (Dalriada v Faulds; Dalriada v Woodward).
AB Action Group v Department for Work & Pensions (2013)
Advising on potential age discrimination issues arising in the context of the Government’s “A Day” pensions legislation in the Finance Act 2004.
Other cases of note – Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal cases in the field of Pensions in which Andrew has acted include BT (see above), the appeals against certain aspects of Warren J’s decision in the massive Pilots National Pension Fund litigation (one of The Lawyer’s Top 10 Cases of 2010), Stena v MNRPF Trustees in 2011 (see above) and in the leading equalisation case concerning the Foster Wheeler Pension Plan.
Other cases of note – first instance
Andrew has also represented the trustee in the leading decision on the approach to be taken to Courage-style fetters on powers of amendment, Re IMG Pension Plan, and the representative beneficiary in Danks v QinetiQ Holdings Ltd, in which Vos J considered the power of trustees to change the index used to make increases in pensions in payment and to revalue deferred benefits from RPI to CPI. He also appeared in two well-known rectification claims: Pioneer GB Ltd v Webb & ors and in AMP v Barker.
Pensions – Regulatory Cases
Andrew has been involved in a number of the leading cases involving regulatory intervention by the UK Pensions Regulator, including its attempts to exercise its financial support direction (“FSD”) jurisdiction extra-territorially. As at February 2019, he is working on a ground-breaking case involving foreign entitles alleged to have acted to the material detriment of a UK pension scheme with Section the meaning of 38A of the Pensions Act 2004, in which a Warning Notice has been issued.
Guinness Peat Group Plc (“GPG”) and the Coats UK Pension Plan (2014 – 2016)
Andrew was instructed over a two-year period as leading counsel by the Trustees of the Coats UK Pension Plan. This case was probably the largest and most complex on-going regulatory action brought by the Pension Regulator over one of the UK’s largest schemes (c. 27,000 members). The Pensions Regulator was seeking Financial Support Directions against various GPG entities. The case raises very important questions over the “insufficiently resourced” jurisdiction.
Proceedings were hotly contested by GPG and the case proceeded as a major piece of multi-party commercial litigation before settling in December 2016 – described by the Regulator as “the most important settlement the Pensions Regulator has ever reached”.
Carrington Wire (2012 – 2015)
Andrew acted for the Trustee of the Carrington Wire DB Pension Scheme in a case in which the Pensions Regulator sought Contribution Notices against Severstal (one of the largest mining companies in the world) and the director of the corporate purchaser of Severstal’s former UK business. Andrew acted for the Trustees who sought to recover the multi-million pound scheme deficit from these Targets.
The case was ground-breaking given that it was the first time the Regulator had sought to invoke the “material detriment” test set out in Section 38A of the Pensions Act 2004. Important issues of construction of that section arose, as well as heavily disputed issues of fact. The case settled against Severstal, but proceeded successfully against the director in March 2015 with important rulings on the issues of law being made.
Lehman (2010 – 2014)
The Lehman litigation has been the largest and most wide-ranging series of UK proceedings arising out of the ‘moral hazard’ legislation. Andrew acted on behalf of four Lehman companies from the outset of the case in 2010 when two of those companies successfully secured a determination that no FSD should be issued against them. Upon the Trustees initiating a reference from that determination to the Upper Tribunal, his clients’ application to strike out the reference became the first ever pensions case to reach the Court of Appeal from the Upper Tribunal and is the leading case on the Regulator’s FSD jurisdiction. The underlying references went back to the UT and were proceeding to a three-week hearing in February 2015 before settlement.
Andrew acted on behalf of all six members of the worldwide Chemtura Group of companies against which the Regulator was seeking the issuing of a Financial Support Direction, the matter settling shortly before a Determinations Panel hearing.
Andrew provided expert evidence on UK pensions legal issues to the Court in Ontario in proceedings arising there out of the Regulator’s attempt to obtain a Financial Support Direction against members of the Nortel Group of companies.
Pensions – Advisory Work
Project Taurus (2015)
Andrew was instructed jointly by Philips Electronics UK Ltd (sponsoring employer) and the Trustee of the Philips Pension Fund to advise on key aspects of the de-risking of the Fund by way of a c. £2.4 billion transaction with Pension Insurance Corporation PLC (PIC). The transaction, which was announced in November 2015, involved the entering into a bulk annuity policy with PIC that will transfer to PIC responsibility for payment of retirement benefits owed to approximately 26,000 current and former UK employees and their beneficiaries. The transaction results in the transfer of £2.4 billion of the Fund’s defined benefit obligations to PIC and is expected to give rise to the largest full pension buy-out in the UK.
New workplace savings pension vehicle (2015 – 2016)
Andrew advised on technical issues arising under the pensions legislation (in particular the scope of the definition of “occupational pension scheme”) in the context of the development of a proposed new workplace savings pension vehicle.
AB Action Group v Department for Work & Pensions (2013)
Advising on potential age discrimination issues arising in the context of the Government’s “A Day” pensions legislation in the Finance Act 2004.
Other advice in the context of large final salary pension schemes
Andrew has given advice on numerous occasions in recent years to the employers and trustees of several major schemes on the pensions implications of corporate acquisitions, restructuring and insolvency, continuing problems over equalisation, construction of powers of amendment, closure to accrual, breaking final salary linkage and other benefit restructuring proposals including bulk transfers without consent, non-pensionable agreements and other South West Trains agreements, section 75 debt issues and (post-IBM) on whether historic benefit restructurings might be vulnerable to arguments that the employer acted in breach of the Imperial duty and/or its contractual duty of trust and confidence owed to its employees.
UK Government and Local Government pension issues
Andrew has advised the Ministry of Defence on a number of pensions-related issues, as well a large local government pension scheme on its powers of investment.
Employment – related pensions advice
Andrew has given advice both to employers and employees on particular issues that have arisen concerning individual pension rights under employment contracts.
Appointments & Memberships
As of July 2017, Andrew is the new Chair of the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR), having previously served as COMBAR’s Vice Chair as well as Chair of its International Committee, which is responsible for coordinating the Association’s activities in all non-UK jurisdictions. Before that, Andrew was Chair of COMBAR’s North American Committee and organised the annual North American Meetings for 2012 and 2013.
Internationally, Andrew is a registered advocate at the Dubai International Financial Centre and is a legal consultant at the New York State Bar.
In the UK, he sits as a Deputy High Court Judge in both the Chancery and Queen’s Bench Divisions and has been a Civil Recorder since 2005. He was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge in the QBD in 2008 and the Chancery Division in 2011.
With effect from 1 January 2018, Andrew was appointed on a part-time basis as one of the initial panel of Justices at the Astana International Financial Centre Court in Kazakhstan together with Lord Woolf (Chief Justice), Sir Robin Jacob, Sir Rupert Jackson, Sir Jack Beatson, Sir Stephen Richards and Lord Faulks QC. See: http://aifc-court.kz/about-the-aifc-court.
Andrew was elected as a Bencher of the Middle Temple in 2010.
He is joint head of Outer Temple Chambers and Head of the Business Department.
Andrew has been a Civil Recorder since 2005 and was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge in the QBD in 2008 and in the Chancery Division in 2011.
Andrew Spink 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.
Areas of Law
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Commercial & Chancery
- Disciplinary & Regulatory
- Financial Services
- Pensions & Trusts
- Professional Negligence
“An exceptional pensions silk who is approachable, practical with his advice and well prepared.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2019
“Client-friendly and a superb cross-examiner.” “A very accomplished advocate.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2019
“He is very bright and user friendly with excellent technical knowledge.” Pensions, Legal 500 2019
“He is an extremely practical and commercial QC who puts clients at ease.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2018
“He is technically excellent and driven by the client’s goals.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2018
“Masters very technical briefs quickly.” Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2017
“A powerful advocate, who has the ear of the court and can be relied on in an emergency.” Pensions, Legal 500 2017
“Any opinion of his carries weight with the other side.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2017
“He takes everything into account, thinks outside the box and thinks commercially.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2017
“A leader in the field.” Pensions, Legal 500 2016
“He has a very measured type of approach and he is very thorough.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2016
“A superb thinker who processes all of the arguments and delivers first-rate analysis.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2016
“An excellent barrister who comes up with well-considered, persuasive answers. A good man to use in practice and not just academically. He has the ability to convey incredibly difficult matters clearly, and is terrifyingly good. He is tactically brilliant and is an exceptionally good all-rounder.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2015
“Great with clients and as an advocate.” Pensions, Legal 500 2015
“Terrifyingly good and incisive.” “He has a very good client manner; he puts clients at ease and always seems in control.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2014
“He has brilliant commercial instincts and extraordinary attention to detail.” Pensions, Legal 500 2014
“Extremely easy to work with, responsive, hard-working and a lawyer who understands the issues clients face.” Noted for having “one of the best attitudes to client service at the Bar”, he received glowing praise from instructing solicitors across the country, who were taken with his “commercial and robust” advice. Pensions, Chambers & Partners, 2013
Andrew Spink QC is “terrifyingly good in court.” Pensions, Legal 500 2013
Andrew Spink QC has demonstrated that “he can mix it with the best, and do so with an easy, commercial manner.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2012
Andrew Spink QC demonstrates “great leadership and tactical nous.” Pensions, Legal 500 2012
“Highly regarded as someone who is “not only strong technically, but is also very hands-on and practical.” Especially good when in court, “he has an impressive portfolio of cases.” Pensions, Chambers & Partners 2011
“Definitely someone you want on your side”, “he has extensive expertise and is a real pleasure to work with.” Pensions, Legal 500 2011