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Pension Advisory Group: Update

Date:5 NOV 2018
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Honorary Research Associate

Empirical and anecdotal evidence has demonstrated the need for a guide to pensions on divorce for the benefit of practitioners and the divorcing public, it being a complex field and there being scant guidance from case law. 

The Pension Advisory Group (PAG) was convened inmid-2017 with the purpose of producing a good practice guide for lawyers and financial experts about the issues relating to pensions on divorce. It is a multi-disciplinary group of judges, academics, actuaries, pension advisors, amediator, family lawyers, including solicitors and barristers, and pensions lawyers, all of whom have experience in the field of pensions on divorce. 

It includes representatives of the Association of District Judges, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, Resolution, the Law Society, the Family Law Bar Association and the Family Justice Council. A full list of members is given below. The project has the support of the Family Justice Council and the President of the Family Division, and is partially funded by the Nuffield Foundation. 

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Since its inception, PAG has deliberated and invited feedback from practitioners on the issues to be addressed. It has produced two draft reports for consultation at http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/pensions-divorce-interdisciplinary-working-group, held focus groups with family lawyers and pension experts, conducted an online survey and given presentations at numerous events around England and Wales. PAG is very grateful to all those who have participated in these exercises. They have provided invaluable insights into day to day practice. 

The group has now reached the stage of analysing all the feedback and discussing revisions to the final, combined, professional guide. A key message from lawyers was the need for clearer, simpler reports and guidance on when they are required; a key message from pension experts was that lawyers seek earlier financial advice and limit their questions of the expert to the minimum necessary. For both lawyers and experts, offsetting was identified as the most potentially problematic area, particularly in the smaller and mid-value cases.

Our target date for publication of the final guide is now 31st March 2019. The Family Justice Council and Advice Now (Law for Life) have also offered assistance in producing a much-simplified guide for non-specialists and the divorcing public. The target date for on-line publication of this guide is the end of June 2019.

Who we are

The membership of PAG (listed alphabetically in each category) currently comprises:

  • Co-Chairs: Mr Justice Francis, His Honour Judge Edward Hess

  • “CEO”: Hilary Woodward, former family solicitor and mediator, lead author of the first major study of the treatment of pensions in matrimonial cases: Pensions on Divorce: an empirical study (2014, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, administered by Cardiff University), currently Honorary Research Associate at Cardiff School of Law and Politics.

  • Academic members: Professor Rosemary Hunter, Professor of Law and Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Kent, academic member of the Family Justice Council; Joanna Miles, Reader in Family Law and Policy, University of Cambridge and member of the Family Justice Council “financial needs” working party; and Professor Debora Price, former family law barrister, now Professor of Social Gerontology at the University of Manchester.Legal members: James Copson, Robin Ellison and Simon Tyler (pensions lawyers), Pauline Fowler (chair of Resolution's Pensions, Tax and Financial Remedies Committee), Val Le Grice QC (on behalf of FLBA), Fiona Hay, Sarah Hoskinson, Mena Ruparel (on behalf of the Law Society), David Salter, Christopher Sharp QC (family and personal injury specialist), Rhys Taylor, Philip Way and DJ Barbara Wright (on behalf of ADJ). Mediator: Dominic Raeside, Head of Mediation, Family Law in Partnership and mediation member of the Family Justice Council.Expert members: Paul Cobley, Philip Ingram, David Lockett, George Mathieson, Richard Nobbs, Kate Routledge, Ian Sharpe (on behalf of IFoA, replacing Philip Doggart who was the temporary rep) and Clive Weir. Nick Forrest of Price Waterhouse Coopers has given welcome assistance on valuation issues. Peter Moore and Geoffrey Wilson have made substantial contributions as members of the group but have now retired.