Suzanne has over twenty years of experience advising both trustees and sponsors on all aspects of occupational pension schemes, including acting on a number of high profile pension litigation cases concerning the employer's duty of good faith, South West Trains agreements and rectification applications. Recent non-contentious work includes advising on liability management exercises (cessation and modifying accrual, enhanced transfer exercises, buy in/out annuity policies), merger projects, advising on corporate restructuring for distressed employers and clearance applications including modifying employer debts.
Prior to joining Bond Dickinson, Suzanne worked as legal manager at the Pensions Regulator. She was seconded to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to advise ministers on creating the Pensions Regulator. Suzanne advised the policy team responsible for progressing the Pensions Act 2004 through both Houses of Parliament.
Suzanne returned to the Regulator, to implement the Clearance Team (dealing with anti-avoidance powers) and was responsible for the various codes of practice whilst retaining a policy link with the DWP. Suzanne has maintained good relationships with the Regulator, the Pensions Protection Fund and the DWP and her regulatory expertise has been of significant value to many of the firm’s clients.
As a member of the Association of Pension Lawyers and Pensions Management Institute, Suzanne is a regular speaker at many training events with a particular interest in the Regulator’s powers, multi-employer schemes and employer debt.
- Suzanne is client care partner for IBM and leads the pensions team which advises IBM in relation to day to day advice on its occupational pension plans as well as employer led projects including:
- ceasing defined benefit accrual, implementing non-pensionability agreements, and changing early retirement policy and the subsequent litigation in the High Court / Court of Appeal and Employment Tribunal on the leading case regarding the employer's duty of good faith in relation to pension schemes (IBM United Kingdom Holdings Limited and another v Dalgleish and others  EWCA Civ 1212 and IBM UK Holdings Ltd and Another V Dalgleish And Others  EWHC 389 (Ch));
- rectification of scheme rules regard to the ability to early retire (IBM United Kingdom Pensions Trust Ltd v Metcalfe and others  EWHC 125 (Ch);
- workforce restructuring programmes (compulsory / voluntary redundancy, extended leave of absence) with particular emphasis on employees waiving right to claim certain pension rights; and
- "business as usual advice" required to comply with the ever changing legislative requirements such as the abolition of contracting out and changes to tax allowances.
- Advising a professional independent trustee in obtaining a swift summary judgment on a question of whether a scheme had correctly equalised retirement ages. Significant costs savings were made as we were able to instruct counsel to argue both for and against the merits of the case as the need to have certainty was of greater value to the client that having a particular answer.
- Advising an insolvency practitioner in restructuring a group business which involved negotiating settlements with the trustees of two very different defined benefit schemes (one a large industry wide non-sectionalised scheme and the other a small scheme relating to employers within the group structure) that had competing and conflicting interests.
- Advising the PPF on whether there is a requirement to equalise GMPs. Suzanne was instructed by the PPF on account of our national reputation for dealing with Equal Pay claims and our strong pensions team.
- Suzanne was asked by a large insurance company to represent the members of one its pension schemes in a dispute concerning the legality of the proposed cessation of defined benefit accrual in that scheme. Suzanne was instructed as a result of her advising IBM in the most prominent current pensions litigation case regarding the employer’s duty of good faith.
“Suzanne Duff focuses her practice on regulatory concerns, as well as winding-up schemes, liability management and High Court matters. She advises trustees and employers, and is considered a "guru" in the field."
“Suzanne Duff is ‘diligent and always clear'.”
Legal 500 2016