James is a Partner in the Employment team.

He specialises in pensions, employee incentives, and benefits including healthcare trusts, death in service and other discretionary reward schemes.

James assists employers with trust law in regard to pensions (defined benefit and defined contribution) covering issues such as legal powers, the appropriate level of funding, key documents, regulatory approach and the implication of legal changes.  He also acts for trustees, redrafting scheme rules, advising on fund valuations and departure of trustees.

In the sphere of share option plans, James supports companies on HMRC approved or unapproved schemes, as well as phantom share schemes. He advises on types of options and scheme setup, grants of options, and transfer of share plans within corporate transactions, working with tax colleagues to mitigate any associated tax liability.

Similarly, he supports large corporates who set up or join a master healthcare trust for the benefit of employees.

James works with public sector authorities, outsourcing providers, SMEs and AIM-listed companies, large employers, and he has acted for private equity houses on deals up to £6 billion in value.

Recent examples of how James has supported clients include:

  • mitigating pension risks for a private equity house in a multi-billion-pound deal across numerous jurisdictions, and ensuring a smooth transition allowing the business to operate without a hitch despite a change in ownership;
  • negotiating an agreed settlement with The Pensions Regulator over a potentially missed regulatory deadline, allowing the benefits consultancy to complete the wind up of a pensions scheme;
  • adapting an existing US-style rewards scheme to UK legal requirements, for a large US manufacturer with staff in the UK, to support a world-wide incentivisation strategy;
  • updating share option awards as part of a buy-out of an international education business, whilst retaining tax advantages associated with existing awards under HMRC requirements; and
  • transferring pension obligations from an outsourced FM contract back into the civil service schemes on behalf of a UK government department under a modified form of New Fair Deal.