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Deirdre Phillips

Partner | Johannesburg

Deirdre-Phillips

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Contact

T: +27 11 669 9196

Overview

Deirdre is a leading employee benefits expert with significant knowledge and experience in all aspects relating to pension law, medical schemes law and employee benefits.

Deirdre is particularly passionate about pension law, and regularly advises all role players within the retirement fund industry, including private and public sector retirement funds, service providers to retirement funds, such as administrators and investment advisors, as well as employers.

Deirdre has over the years cultivated a strong network and is at the forefront of industry trends and developments based on her thought leadership and active engagement with prominent industry organisations.  She is very keen on sharing her knowledge and experience – and emphasising the importance of employee benefits and the crucial role retirement, health and related benefits play in society.

Deirdre is known for and adept at providing practical solutions and advice on complex legal issues to clients.  She is also a highly skilled and seasoned litigator and has acted for clients in various litigious matters that have had a significant impact on the employee benefit industry. She has acted for clients before the High Courts, Supreme Court of Appeal, the Constitutional Court, the Financial Services Tribunal, the Office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator as well as before the Council for Medical Schemes and the Appeal Board.

Deirdre is also skilled at and regularly provides transaction advice and support on commercial transactions with a specific focus on the impact on employee benefits.

Professional Memberships:

  • Member of the Pension Lawyers Association (South Africa)
  • Steering Committee of the Pension Lawyers Association (South Africa)

Experience

Jurisdictions worked in: South Africa
Fluent in: English and Afrikaans

  • Transnet Soc Ltd in opposing a class action by Transnet pensioners brought against the Transport Pension Fund, the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund and Transnet SOC Ltd seeking declaratory relief and related damages. This is the first-class action certified in South Africa and the largest civil action claim in South Africa.
  • Liberty Group Limited on an industry-wide inspection by the FSCA into deregistered pension funds and unclaimed / unpaid benefits and in securing the country’s first reinstatement of 25 such funds through the high court.
  • Amplats Group Provident Fund on beneficiary payments and procuring the curatorship of Bophelo Beneficiary Fund and Bophelo Benefits Services on behalf of the Amplats Group Provident Fund.
  • Government Employees Pension Fund in opposing an application for the attachment of pension benefits claimed by a law firm against its client who was a member of the GEPF. This case is important as it emphasises that pension benefits cannot simply be attached to pay a member’s debt.
  • Post Office Retirement Fund on the clean-break principle dispute that was before the Constitutional Court, and assisting with necessary legislative amendments to make provision for the clean-break principle.

More recently Deirdre has –

  • Advised on the of the proposed ‘two-pot’ retirement system
  • Advised on the proposed amendments to the Pension Funds Act
  • Advised on the treatment of unclaimed benefits

AREA OF EXPERTISE

Qualifications

  • LLB, NWU.
  • Certificate in Pension Law, WITS.

INSIGHTS

South Africa: Two-pot Readiness Pack – Preparing for the implementation of the two-pot retirement system South Africa: Reaching boiling point – updated FSCA Communication signals that the two-pot retirement system is almost ready  South Africa: Another step closer to the implementation of the two-pot retirement system: FSCA Communication South Africa: A step closer to the implementation of the two-pot retirement system: Pension Funds Amendment Bill published South Africa:  A stir in the pot: Two-pot retirement system faces an uncertain implementation date South Africa: ‘Pension interest’ could be impacted by the Constitutional Court’s recent landmark decision on the Divorce Act South Africa: The Constitutional Court confirms that retrospective rule amendments may not apply before registration by FSCA South Africa: Unclaimed Benefits – A Problem Across the Globe South Africa: Proposed amendments to tax and pension fund legislation to implement the first phase of the ‘two-pot’ retirement system South Africa: Withholding pension benefits: Legal requirements an employer must satisfy to interdict a retirement fund from paying out pension benefits South Africa: Employers take note – a new Conduct Standard on the requirements related to the payment of retirement fund contributions and submission of prescribed information South Africa: FSCA discussion paper on a framework for unclaimed assets South Africa: Is the proposed two-pot retirement system ‘stirring the pot’ in the retirement fund industry? South Africa: Draft Conduct Standard – Prescribed conditions for retirement fund benefit administrators South African Supreme Court of Appeal declares Regulation 35(4) invalid South African provident funds annuitisation: Feel it – it is here (and no, it is not the world cup)! FSCA publishes the final Conduct Standard for minimum skills and training requirements for board members of retirement funds Financial Services Tribunal decision on its jurisdiction over decisions by the Registrar of Medical Schemes FSCA publishes several draft Conduct Standards relating to retirement funds for public comment Exemption of insurers that offer investment policies to medical schemes, South Africa COVID-19: Tax treatment of TERS benefits, South Africa COVID-19: Financial reprieve for members of medical schemes and SMMEs COVID-19: Employer considerations on risk benefit insurance premiums and cover when reducing salaries COVID-19: Amended Regulations – essential services expanded to include broader financial services and financial markets activity, South Africa COVID-19: FCSA’s expectations of regulated entities – South Africa COVID-19: Impact on medical scheme contributions by financially distressed employers and employees COVID-19: FSCA gives financially distressed employers breathing space over fund contributions COVID-19: Impact on compliance with various regulatory deadline requirements in South Africa How to check that your retirement savings are invested in good causes rather than bad SCA ruling on death benefits for dependants Retirement funds take wait-and-see view of Crowdfunding Investments Second draft Regulation 37, 38 and 39 to the Pension Funds Act published for public comment Retirement Funds risk being used for money laundering Pension interest assigned in terms of a decree of divorce: a problem deferred?

Overview

Deirdre is a leading employee benefits expert with significant knowledge and experience in all aspects relating to pension law, medical schemes law and employee benefits.

Deirdre is particularly passionate about pension law, and regularly advises all role players within the retirement fund industry, including private and public sector retirement funds, service providers to retirement funds, such as administrators and investment advisors, as well as employers.

Deirdre has over the years cultivated a strong network and is at the forefront of industry trends and developments based on her thought leadership and active engagement with prominent industry organisations.  She is very keen on sharing her knowledge and experience – and emphasising the importance of employee benefits and the crucial role retirement, health and related benefits play in society.

Deirdre is known for and adept at providing practical solutions and advice on complex legal issues to clients.  She is also a highly skilled and seasoned litigator and has acted for clients in various litigious matters that have had a significant impact on the employee benefit industry. She has acted for clients before the High Courts, Supreme Court of Appeal, the Constitutional Court, the Financial Services Tribunal, the Office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator as well as before the Council for Medical Schemes and the Appeal Board.

Deirdre is also skilled at and regularly provides transaction advice and support on commercial transactions with a specific focus on the impact on employee benefits.

Professional Memberships:

  • Member of the Pension Lawyers Association (South Africa)
  • Steering Committee of the Pension Lawyers Association (South Africa)

Experience

Jurisdictions worked in: South Africa
Fluent in: English and Afrikaans

  • Transnet Soc Ltd in opposing a class action by Transnet pensioners brought against the Transport Pension Fund, the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund and Transnet SOC Ltd seeking declaratory relief and related damages. This is the first-class action certified in South Africa and the largest civil action claim in South Africa.
  • Liberty Group Limited on an industry-wide inspection by the FSCA into deregistered pension funds and unclaimed / unpaid benefits and in securing the country’s first reinstatement of 25 such funds through the high court.
  • Amplats Group Provident Fund on beneficiary payments and procuring the curatorship of Bophelo Beneficiary Fund and Bophelo Benefits Services on behalf of the Amplats Group Provident Fund.
  • Government Employees Pension Fund in opposing an application for the attachment of pension benefits claimed by a law firm against its client who was a member of the GEPF. This case is important as it emphasises that pension benefits cannot simply be attached to pay a member’s debt.
  • Post Office Retirement Fund on the clean-break principle dispute that was before the Constitutional Court, and assisting with necessary legislative amendments to make provision for the clean-break principle.

More recently Deirdre has –

  • Advised on the of the proposed ‘two-pot’ retirement system
  • Advised on the proposed amendments to the Pension Funds Act
  • Advised on the treatment of unclaimed benefits

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