Pensions and Benefits
Strategic advice in a complex and changing environment
Pension plans are currently facing major challenges involving issues such as solvency, funding and risk sharing, to name but a few. Given the aging of the population and the fragile state of the economy and of businesses in general, it is clear that pension-plan issues will continue to be a source of concern across a wide range of industries for some time to come. This area of the law is quickly evolving in a complex environment, and the applicable legislation has recently undergone some major transformations as well.
The benefits offered by employers are also evolving significantly, as employers adapt to the changing needs of the labour force, which is now much more mobile. Moreover, the products on offer in the pension and benefits industry are increasingly varied. In addition, the high costs associated with providing such benefits, and those associated with pension plans themselves, are putting considerable pressure on businesses, which want to remain both competitive and attractive to prospective employees.
Our Pensions and Benefits team is made up of lawyers with various types of expertise, allowing us to effectively respond to legal concerns in the area of pensions and benefits. Regardless of the nature of the action required, our team will provide you with solid support, unrivalled availability, intellectual rigor, and advice and counsel tailored to your individual needs. We know how important it is to establish a relation of trust and confidence with our clients, which is why we constantly involve them in the steps we take on their behalf and encourage them to play a determinative role throughout the process.
The members of our Pensions and Benefits team can act in any matter involving this area of the law, including:
- advice and representation before courts and administrative tribunals when the implementation, application or amendment of a pension and benefits plan encounters legal opposition, and in matters involving compliance with statutory or fiduciary obligations;
- collective bargaining, grievance arbitration and the arbitration of disputes related to pension and benefits plans;
- advice to employers, directors and officers, as well as pension committees and their members regarding their statutory and fiduciary obligations in the administration of pension plans, including investment and strategic decisions;
- advice and representation before the courts in insolvency and restructuring matters, for example when acting for pension committees and provisional administrators in connection with various proceedings under the CCAA;
- advice and representation before the courts in connection with class actions directly involving pension and benefit plans;
- ensuring plan compliance with applicable legislation and the directives of regulatory authorities;
- developing, implementing and amending pension and benefit plans, including those governed by special statutes;
- advice on the application of pension and benefit plans;
- advice on senior executive compensation.
Our varied clientele includes private enterprises, insurers, pension committees, pension-plan administrators and occasionally individuals, particularly senior executives. Our close ties with pension lawyers across the country allow us to collaborate with them in representing pan-Canadian employers with multi-jurisdictional pension plans.
For many years we represented the national organization overseeing the actuarial profession, in matters involving professional discipline and standards of practice, and we have acted as well for a pension regulator in connection with class actions.
We are very much at home in this increasingly complex area, thanks in large part to our varied clientele and our close relationship with key actors in this field, including actuaries, regulatory authorities and pension-law specialists across the country.
Availability and strategy
We will work in concert with you at all stages of a file and provide you with the advice that is in your best interests. We prefer prevention to confrontation: a skilfully negotiated compromise can save time and money. However, if the circumstances justify a more aggressive approach, you will be impressed by the robustness of our response.