Hugh’s practice focuses in the area of pensions and benefits, providing advice to pension plan sponsors, administrators, and service providers on the full range of pension and benefit matters, including related investment matters and the resolution of disputes. He focusses on finding efficient and effective solutions for clients enabling them to navigate the complex regulatory and legal framework in which they operate and realize their strategic and business objectives. Hugh is a leader in Canada’s retirement income system, having been Chair of Canada’s national pension industry organization, the Association of Canadian Pension Management (ACPM) and advocating for regulatory reform with governments across Canada on behalf of ACPM and private clients.
Hugh is a trusted advisor to participants in the pensions & benefits field providing strategic counsel in a number of areas:
Plan Governance, Funding, and Administration: advising on governance best practices, including provision of governance training, funding requirements, and the resolution of administrative issues, including interpretation of pension plan texts, and resolution of member claims.
Labour law: advising employers on and conducting collective agreement negotiations, grievance arbitrations, and related human rights proceedings in pension and benefit related matter.
Mergers & Acquisitions and Investments: acting for domestic and international corporations and pension fund investors on the pension and benefits aspects of commercial transactions and investment.
Cybersecurity: advice on identifying and allocating cyber risk for plan administrators, and service providers.
Plan transfers: achieving the transfer of smaller pension plans to a larger pension plan, including enabling legislation, member communications, transfer agreement between plans, negotiations with bargaining units and amendments to collective agreements.
Insolvency and Restructuring: acting for plan sponsors, administrators, trustees, and monitors on the full range of pension and benefits issues in an insolvency, including member communications, surplus and investment issues, and plan wind ups.
Hugh was the CEO and Managing Partner of a large regional law firm from 2016 – 2019.
Professional achievements & leadership
- Who’s Who Legal, selected as “one of the world’s leading practitioners” in Labour, Employment & Benefits, 2022
- Certificate of Completion: Computer Science for Lawyers, Harvard Law School Executive Education, January 2022
- Chambers and Partners, Pension & Benefits, Canada – described as “highly acclaimed Halifax-based pensions lawyer”
- Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, Pensions & Employee Benefits
- Best Lawyers in Canada, Lawyer of the Year in Employee Benefits Law for Halifax, 2017 and 2020
- Best Lawyers in Canada, Employee Benefits Law since 2006
- Speaker, “Legal/Legislative Update – Atlantic Canada” and “Legal/Legislative Developments Across Canada”, 55th Annual Canadian Employee Benefits Conference, November 2022
- Speaker, “Greenwashing Risks, Transparency, and Accountability for Pension Funds”, The Osgoode Certificate in ESG, Climate Risk and the Law, October 2022
- Speaker, “So your Plan was Hacked….Now What?”, Canadian Legal and Legislative Update for International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, May 11, 2022
- Instructor Master of Trust Management Standards (MTMS), International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), November 2021
- Instructor, Advanced Trust Management Standards (ATMS), International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), May 2021
- Speaker, Best Practices for Plan Member Communications, Association of Canadian Pension Management, October 21, 2020
- Speaker, “Pension Myths & Legends – What should know: Spousal Waivers”, STEP Atlantic, March 5, 2020
- Speaker, “Legal Decisions Challenging Benefit Plans: Case Law & Legislation Review” Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute – Atlantic Region, April 9, 2019
- Member, Board of Governors, University of King’s College, Halifax
- Former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Canadian Pension Management
- Former Board member of the Canadian Bar Insurance Association, 2012 – 2016
- Past Chair of the National Pension and Benefits Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association
- Nova Scotia Barristers Society
- Canadian Bar Association
- Association of Canadian Pension Management (ACPM)
- International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP)
Bar admissions & education
- Nova Scotia Bar, 1993
- Ontario Bar, 2022
- BA (Hons), Queen’s University, 1987
- LL.B., Dalhousie University, 1992