The Bowman Gilfillan Pension practice group is the largest, most experienced team of specialist pension lawyers in South Africa, which means we’re able to offer an extensive range of services to a wide range of clients.

We pride ourselves on our independence. We have no exclusive relationship with any particular industry participants and regularly act for different stakeholders, including employers, trustees, administrators, consultants, regulators and service providers. This means we enjoy established relationships throughout the retirement environment and have access to top specialist counsel.

A Diverse Team, Leading Specialists

Bowman Gilfillan is proud to offer specialist expertise in pensions, medical schemes, insurance, financial services, investment,  tax, administrative, public and employee benefits law.   Through our Bowman Gilfillan Africa Network and our membership of Lex Mundi, a global association of more than 160 law firms, and the Employment Law Alliance, we’re able to assist clients in numerous other jurisdictions.  Our team has received the Principal Officers Association “Imbasa Yegolide” award for the best pension law practice every year since 2009.


Given that we have a BEE “A” rating, our clients can claim 100% of their Bowman Gilfillan fees as ‘empowerment spend’.

Bowman Gilfillan adopted its own Transformation Charter in March 2004, and after thorough consultations within the firm and with other stake-  holders including our clients, we voluntarily adopted a transformation charter. Since then we have used it to guide our ownership, human resources, enterprise development, procurement and corporate social responsibility policies and practices.

We also take seriously the need to use our knowledge to empower others, which is why all of our pension lawyers are members of the Pension Lawyers Association and many are or have been members of its committees and those of the Institute of Retirement Funds.

Several of the team members have taught pension law to university students and groups of advocates and attorneys, while some continue to teach and supervise post-graduate students in their research.  Our partners have collaborated to produce, between them, The Pension Funds Act: A Commentary, the leading South African textbook on pension law, that has proved invaluable to legal advisors and consultants both in South Africa and in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and the pensions chapter in Lexis Nexis Law of South Africa, a standard reference work for South African lawyers.

A constantly changing environment. Consistent expert guidance.

Areas Of Practice

Retirement Funds

Retirement funds (pension funds, provident funds, retirement annuity funds, umbrella funds, preservation funds, beneficiary funds and unclaimed benefits funds) and their boards have found that our practice group has expertise in, amongst other things:

Legal advice in relation to the numerous complex issues that face retirement funds such as those relating to:

  • regulatory compliance
  • the formulation of investment policy statements and the legal duties of a board in relation to fund investments (including “socially responsible investments”)
  • appropriate tools for improving retirement fund governance
  • the establishment and funding of reserve accounts, including ontingency reserve accounts
  • demands by members for access to confidential fund information
  • the management of claims by the former spouses of members to shares of their retirement savings and by dependents for the payment of members’ maintenance claims out of those savings
  • the allocation of surplus assets to stakeholders and the use of those assets
  • the rights and obligations of funds in relation to housing loans and guarantees
  • the rights and responsibilities of the board and the fund members in relation to ‘member investment choice’ and disputes that arise when investment returns are lower than members expect
  • the distribution of benefits payable on the deaths of members
  • the whistle-blowing rights and obligations of principal officers, valuators and auditors
  • the total or partial liquidation of funds
  • the tax treatment of contributions to, and benefits paid by funds
  • Drafting rules, policies and other governance documents
  • Negotiating and drafting the terms of agreements with service and product providers to provide appropriate protection for the funds. These agreements include agreements for the provision of administration, actuarial, consulting, asset management, scrip-lending, portfolio monitoring, re-balancing and unitisation, custody and related services, housing loan and housing guarantee agreements and loans between funds in the context of section 14 transfers
  • Preparing and submitting applications and representations to the registrar of pension funds, the registrar of financial services, Parliament, NEDLAC, SARS and tribunals appointed to apportion pension fund surpluses
  • Conducting forensic investigations
  • Litigating before the pension funds adjudicator, the long-term insurance ombud, the FSB appeal board, the equality court, the high court, the labour court and labour appeal court, the supreme court of appeal and the constitutional court
  • Serving as Mediators, Arbitrators, Experts and Tribunal or Board members

Fund Clients

  • AECI Pension Fund
  • Afrox Pension Fund
  • Alexander Forbes Umbrella Fund
  • Anglo American Group
  • Argus Pension Fund
  • Billiton Pension Fund
  • Bosele National Provident Fund
  • Columbus Retirement Fund
  • De Beers Pension Fund
  • Denel Pension Fund
  • Edcon Pension Fund
  • Element 6 Pension Fund
  • Engineering Industries Pension Fund
  • Fairfund Beneficiary Fund
  • Free State Municipal Pension Funds
  • Government Employees Pension Fund
  • Hollard Group Provident Fund
  • Hortors Pension Fund
  • Iscor Pension Fund
  • Iscor Umbrella Employees Pension Fund
  • Metal Industries Provident Fund
  • Mines 1970 Pension Fund
  • Mondi Pension Fund
  • National Road Freight Industry Bargaining Council Provident Fund
  • National Tertiary Retirement Fund
  • New Hewlett-Packard Retirement Fund
  • NWK Pension Fund
  • Perskor Pension Fund
  • Private Security Sector Provident Fund
  • Road Freight and Logistics including Provident Fund
  • Robert Bosch Pension Fund
  • SAB Staff Provident Fund
  • SABC Pension Fund
  • SA Breweries Pension Fund
  • Samancor Pension Fund
  • SAMWU National Provident Fund
  • Sasol Pension Fund
  • Seventh Day Adventist Retirement Funds
  • Standard Bank Group Retirement Fund
  • Total Oil Products Pension Fund
  • Transnet Pension Fund
  • Transnet Retirement Fund
  • Vista Pension Fund

Employers And Public Sector Employers

Employers, including public sector employers, who participate in retirement funds often come to us for advice and other assistance in relation to, for example:

  • their rights and obligations in relation to retirement funds to which their employees belong
  • how to manage changes to their occupational retirement funding arrangements without breaching their employment contracts
  • how to manage risks to the employers in relation to their involvement in retirement funds
  • the employee benefits risks associated with the purchase or sale of shares in companies or of businesses and the terms to include in sale agreements to minimize those risks
  • due diligence and forensic analysis of retirement funding arrangements in target businesses

Employer Clients

Our employer clients have included:

  • African Oxygen
  • Anglo Platinum
  • Avusa Media
  • Barloworld
  • City of Johannesburg
  • Columbus Steel
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Life Healthcare
  • National Housing Finance Corporation
  • Nestlé
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Pick n Pay
  • SA Local Government Association
  • Transnet

Service Providers

Service providers, actuaries, administrators, auditors, consultants, investment managers and providers of products and services to retirement funds often seek our advice and other assistance on:

  • their rights and obligations
  • product design
  • various regulatory matters

Service Provider Clients

Our service providers clients have included:

  • ABSA
  • Alexander Forbes
  • Aon
  • Arthur Els & Associates
  • BNY Convergex
  • Cedar Employee Benefits
  • Evolution Employee Benefits
  • Fairheads Benefits Services
  • Government Pension Administration Agency
  • Hollard
  • Investment Solutions
  • Liberty Life
  • Maxim Employee Benefits
  • Momentum Employee Benefits
  • Old Mutual
  • PPS
  • Prudential
  • Sanlam
  • Sasfin Financial Services
  • SA Venture Capital Association
  • Seshego Employee Benefits

Government and regulators throughout Southern Africa have also had the benefit of our legal and policy advice and our skill in drafting complex legislation.

Addressing the details of planning and strategy.

Special Services


Having received expert advice on appropriate methods for training adults on the application of various laws, our practice group offers a popular range of generic training programmes include courses on:

  • the rights and responsibilities of the members of boards of management
  • the rights and responsibilities of principal officers
  • the laws with which fund administrative staff are required to be familiar
  • making boards of retirement funds effective
  • risk management for retirement fund boards
  • the governance of retirement funds with specific reference to PF 130 and King III
  • “who does what” in relation to the investment of retirement fund assets
  • distributing death benefits
  • managing claims for shares of pension interest on divorce

We also conduct courses tailor-made to meet specific client requirements.

Breakfast Seminars

We hold regular Breakfast with Benefits seminars that serve as an interactive platform from which we share our thoughts and experiences on pertinent issues and topical developments in the pensions and medical environments. The presentations are concise and time is made available for questions and debate.

To find out more, contact our marketing department on +27 11 669 9443 or Hansueya Naidoo on +27 11 669 9565.


We regularly publish pension law articles on our website, read them at

Industry Updates

If you’d like to receive regular industry updates,  contact our marketing department on +27 11 669 9443 or Hansueya Naidoo on +27 11 669 9565.



In association with Bowman Gilfillan Africa GroupMember of Lex MundiMember of Employment Law Alliance