Gillian Johnson

Associate | London

Gillian is head of pensions in the private client and tax team.

For over 10 years she has advised trustees, sponsors and individuals on the tax treatment, obligations and options relating to all types of final salary and defined contribution occupational and personal pension schemes, with fund sizes ranging from several hundred million pounds to under a million pounds.

Having recently completed the STEP Diploma on Trusts and Estates (England and Wales), Gillian now has a broad practice which also includes advising UK and non-UK domiciled individuals and their families on wealth and estate planning, with a particular focus on UK and overseas pensions.

She has considerable experience advising individuals on their retirement and death benefit options under their existing pension arrangements, pensions tax allowances and liabilities, transfer options and, in the context of the new pension flexibilities introduced in April 2015, the succession planning opportunities now available in relation to individuals’ pension savings.

Gillian also advises on pensions matters arising in the context of corporate activity, advising various charities and corporates on their liabilities in relation to legacy final salary arrangements, managing the reduction in lifetime and annual allowances in the context of providing good employee pension benefits, employers’ auto-enrolment duties and, in the family law context, pension sharing on divorce.

Secretary Karin Ringler

Track record




Advising a major US law firm in London in relation to changes in the pensions tax allowances for individuals from April 2016. This included advising on how employee pension benefits, including life cover arrangements, could be varied to allow for the reduced allowances.

Advising several large, well-known, UK charities in relation to their pension obligations, including in the context on a transfer of former public sector employees under a business sale, and in another case, how a regional branch office might manage its risks and liabilities in relation to a final salary pension scheme in which it participated for non-associated employers in the voluntary sector.

Advising a UK resident individual on the UK tax treatment of the pension benefits he accrued whilst working overseas, the death benefit options available under those overseas arrangements and how these benefits could be taken into account as part of his wider estate planning.

England and Wales, 2005

Association of Pension Lawyers

Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)

Speaker, Association of Pension Lawyers Course – Pensions and Employment - September 2015

Speaker, IBC Seminar on Pensions in the Private Client contact – Pensions Liberation - January 2015

Me in a minute

Pensions law is a highly technical area and I began to see that it was individuals that needed specialist advice

Having come from a family of entrepreneurs and business people, I remember deciding in my early teens that, rather than running a business, I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could engage with and help lots of different businesses. In many ways, that is what attracted me to pensions law. Advising trustees and sponsors of large occupational pension schemes brought me to the heart of many significant UK businesses. Pension scheme trustee boards bring together an incredible range of people, from the CFO and HR director of the sponsor to the member nominated pensioners and employees, all with equal responsibility for the scheme and focused on one aim; paying scheme benefits in full and on time.

Since 2006, when pensions law gave greater freedoms to individuals to manage their pension arrangements, the challenges have evolved. Pensions law is a highly technical area and I began to see that it was individuals (and corporates looking to provide good pension benefits in employment) that needed specialist advice.

I now enjoy a fantastic range of work, continuing to advise traditional pension scheme trustee boards and employers in relation to issues relating to legacy final salary and defined contribution schemes, but also individuals and employers on managing their current and future pension provision and options, estate planning opportunities and pension sharing on divorce.



  • English





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