Deirdre Phillips

Deirdre Phillips

Johannesburg, South Africa
T: +27 11 669 9196
  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Publications & Insights


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.


  • LLB, NWU
  • Certificate in Pension Law, WITS

Professional Memberships:

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

Specialist Services

Relevant 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

Publications & Insights