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Philip Stear

Philip Stear

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Year of Call:

2018 (Solicitor since 1997)

Philip Stear’s practice involves the interaction of commercial trusts, insolvency and contract law, with a particular focus on disputes arising in relation to occupational pension schemes.

Philip joined Outer Temple Chambers on Call in November 2018, having been a solicitor in Travers Smith LLP’s highly ranked pensions practice for more than twenty years, thirteen of them as a partner. In his early career he was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol (specialising in the law of contract and the law of trusts) from 1992 to 1995, and then part-time (with a special focus on pensions law) from 2000 until 2004.

Philip is an acknowledged expert in relation to technical pensions law and regulatory practice, and combines this with long practical experience of occupational pension schemes and the practical challenges they face in relation to governance and trusteeship, benefit design and modification, funding and security and member communications and disputes.   Reflecting his earlier academic career, he also maintains a wide and deep knowledge of the broader legal landscape, particularly in relation to property law (whether concerning trusts, land law, unincorporated associations or charities) and contract law. Clients prize him as a solution-oriented lateral thinker able to find ways to unlock the knottiest problems.

He is regularly instructed to advise in relation to questions of pensions-related taxation, including in relation to SSASs and SIPPs

As a result of his long experience at the coalface of occupational pension schemes (including acting for the trustees of some of the UK’s largest pension schemes), Philip brings to his pensions practice:

  • acute sensitivity to the practical challenges faced by pension scheme trustees and employers as a result of their different perspectives, and to the need to manage conflicts of interest arising from trustee roles pragmatically and to evaluate sensitively the pros and cons of court proceedings in relation to a matter;
  • the ability to think “out of the box” and to originate and evaluate innovative approaches; and

the willingness to work collaboratively and inclusively as part of a wider team, including not only trustee committees and employer representatives but also other legal advisers, actuaries and covenant advisers.

Commercial & Chancery

Advising an incorporated trade association previously structured as an unincorporated association in relation to aspects of its incorporation.

Advising an employer in relation to its employee benefit trust and specifically in relation to an application to court to overcome difficulties with the rule against perpetuities.

Advising in relation to certain industry-wide trusts supporting savings vehicles, specifically in relation to an application to court under section 57 of the Trustee Act 1925 to facilitate merger and rationalisation.

Advising in relation to the availability of the assets of a charitable sports club, incorporated in succession to an unincorporated charity, to satisfy the vicarious liability of the former management of the unincorporated charity in relation to historic torts committed by a former coach at the club.

Advising the beneficiaries of will trusts of a family home in relation to a breach of trust claim concerning the trustee’s sale of the trust property to a relative at an undervalue.

Advising the executor of an estate in the Caribbean in relation to the effect of transactions and claims between beneficiaries residing in England & Wales.

Appointments & Memberships

  • ChBA
  • APL


  • Britvic: scheme employer could direct increases lower than RPI on the true construction of the scheme’s pension increase rules (Court of Appeal) (published on Practical Law on 10 June 2021 ref w-031-3502)
  • Touching the Void: The Amendment of COSR Pension Schemes Between 1997 and 2016: Section 37 of the Pensions Schemes Act 1993 (published on LinkedIn 27 May 2020)
  • The Amendment of COSR Pension Schemes Between 1997 and 2016: Section 37 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 [TLI 2020 Vol 33 Number 4 Pg 163-173]
  • A new solution for distressed DB schemes? Restructuring pension liabilities for zombie employers (published on LinkedIn 15 Nov 2019)
  • The concept of Accrual in English Pensions Law: Some Thoughts [TLI 2016 Vol 30 Number 2 Pg 126-141]


In 2018, Philip was awarded the APL’s Wallace Medal, an award recognising excellence in legal writing by members of the APL.

Philip Stear 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


“has an enormous mind for legal work, great ability and is charming to deal with” Pensions, Chambers and Partners 2018

“very thorough very focussed” Pensions, Chambers and Partners 2017

“genuinely exceptional” Pensions, Legal 500 2016

“a very able technical lawyer and a good communicator” Pensions, Chambers and Partners 2015

“able to simplify incredibly complex legislation” Pensions, Chambers and Partners 2014

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