Osler’s Pension & Benefits Group is consistently recognized as one of the leading pension law practices in Canada. We are the “go-to firm” for strategic advice relating to governance, the management of legal risk, and legal and regulatory compliance in connection with registered and non-registered pension plans. Our Group is recognized by leading publications — including a Band 1 ranking in Chambers Canada — for its market-leading expertise and is complemented by the specialized knowledge and skill contributed by the “cross-appointed” lawyers from our Tax and Litigation Departments. Through our integrated team, we can provide the right combination of experience along with a solutions-driven approach to meet all of our clients’ needs on both sides of the border — for all sizes of organizations.
Our pensions and benefits lawyers have experience in the following:
- Plan Governance and Administration – Osler has advised many of Canada’s largest plan sponsors, administrators and public sector pension funds, providing expertise on every aspect of plan administration and governance, including plan funding, multijurisdictional issues (including Québec civil law), governance audits, compliance reviews, plan member communications, and agreements with third-party service providers. Our lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in dealings with the federal and provincial pension regulators and the tax authority.
- Pension Plan Restructuring – We have advised plan sponsors on the complexities of plan asset transfers, mergers, conversions and wind-ups, including undertaking reviews of historical plan documents and preparing submissions to the regulators. Osler lawyers have also been involved with some of the most complex restructuring cases of the day, bringing exceptional expertise to the table.
- Pension De-risking – The de-risking of defined benefit (DB) pension funds is a global trend, which is beginning to emerge in Canada and the United States, where many DB plans have solvency deficiencies. Our lawyers are at the forefront of this trend, developing strategies for addressing the legal issues that arise with the various de-risking options that are available to pension plan sponsors.
- Shared Risk and Target Benefit Plans – With Canada’s recognized expert on shared risk plans leading the way, we advise organizations with respect to legal issues associated with the establishment of shared risk and target benefit plans.
- Transactional Experience – We work closely with other members of the firm on the pensions and benefits aspects of mergers, acquisitions, insolvencies and other corporate transactions and restructurings.
- Plan Funding Issues – We have advised clients on complex plan funding issues, including in relation to contribution holidays and plan expenses, letter of credit funding arrangements, temporary solvency funding relief measures and the establishment of solvency reserve accounts (for pension plans registered in Alberta). We have drafted funding policies and advised on their application. We have also represented plan sponsors in some of Canada’s largest surplus withdrawals, including the largest withdrawal of plan surplus in Canadian history (almost $450 million).
- Pension Investments – Osler is one of the very few law firms in Canada with a dedicated Pension Fund Investment Group. Members of the Pension Fund Investment Group are recognized leaders in the areas of Pension & Benefits, Taxation and Investment Funds & Asset Management, and regularly work together on similar matters. These experts can review investment documentation and identify what the risks are and how clients can reduce those risks. They advise on the structuring, formation, taxation and regulation of all types of investment funds investing across varying asset classes, both traditional and alternative investments, and investment strategies.