Elizabeth’s first involvement with pensions law goes back to the days of the miners’ strike in 1985, when she acted in a case involving the construction of a small pension scheme for Nottinghamshire miners. Since then she has developed a practice which covers both contentious and non-contentious aspects of pensions work. Prominent among recent cases have been matters relating to alleged failure to equalise benefits, the construction of contributions rules and trustees’ duties. Elizabeth has acted (as junior to Keith Rowley QC) in some of the most significant pensions cases in recent years as follows:
• Elizabeth joined the British Vita team on the employers’ appeal, and was involved in drafting the skeleton argument and advising on the appeal. She also became very heavily involved in the complex negotiations and drafting which led ultimately to a settlement approved by Judge Mackie in December 200, just before the appeal was due to be heard ( reported below at British Vita Unlimited v. British Vita Pension Fund Trustees Ltd  PLR 157)
• Elizabeth was instructed (both in the Court of Appeal and below) on behalf of the employer - ultimately the successful appellant - in proceedings relating to the conversion of the IMG pension scheme from a final salary scheme to a money purchase scheme. The widely welcomed judgment, which was received in December 2010, means that it is once again possible for employers and members to compromise bona fide pensions disputes rather than, as Wilson L.J., put it, their being required to prosecute litigation “to the bitter end”. Elizabeth is also instructed in negligence proceedings which have been issued against the former advisers. (HR Trustees Ltd v. German  PLR 23)
• Elizabeth was also instructed, this time for the representative beneficiaries, in the trustee’s application for directions in relation to the Prudential Staff Pension Scheme, which involved, among other matters, a detailed examination of the Imperial duty of good faith following a change by Prudential in its long-established policy of granting discretionary increases on pensions in payment. The case was heard in January and February 2011 and further written submissions were made in March 2011 following the Court of Appeal’s decision in Pitt v. Holt and Futter v. Futter, making significant changes in the Hastings-Bass principle as that principle was previously understood .It is now the leading case on the employer’s duty of good faith in relation to the exercise of an employer’s non-fiduciary powers under a pension scheme. (Prudential Staff Pensions Ltd v. The Prudential Assurance Company Ltd and others  All ER (D) 142 (Apr))
Elizabeth was also instructed as junior to Keith Rowley QC on behalf of the trustees in relation to the Alitalia UK pension scheme (Alitalia v. Rotunno  PLR 175). This involved a reported point of construction of the scheme rules but continuing advice was then required in relation to disputed contributions demands by the trustees and the course to be taken by the trustees against the background of the employer’s well-publicised serious financial difficulties.
Pensions section, Chambers Guide 2012: "Elizabeth Ovey has a 'wonderful can-do attitude and is thorough and practical in her approach.' She is a hugely experienced senior junior, having developed her pensions practice over the past 25 years, and acts for a diverse client base of trustees, employer companies and individual pensioners."
Pensions section, Chambers Guide 2011: "Elizabeth Ovey... works well in a team, and she has carved a sound reputation for herself acting in cases such as IMG. Her ‘calm demeanour belies the fact that she has a tough side and is not one to stand for any nonsense from the opposition
Pensions section, The Legal 500 2011: "Elizabeth Ovey is ‘very thorough and prepares well’”.
Pensions section, Chambers Guide 2010: "Elizabeth Ovey comes highly recommended by clients. She is described as a 'very accomplished practitioner who doesn't miss a trick.' Her thorough approach to each and every case makes her a 'genuine alternative to using a silk if you have a complex pensions case.'”
Pensions section, The Legal 500 2010: " Ovey is ‘calm but tough’ and ‘doesn’t stand any nonsense.’"
Elizabeth is also consistently recommended for both commercial and traditional chancery work, professional negligence and banking and consumer credit law. The directories have noted further that she has “a brilliant mind and is always a pleasure to deal with'", “continues to impress for no-nonsense service delivery and commercial rigour”, is “very knowledgeable and thorough”, “very tough and highly able”, and that she is “highly thought of in terms of her level of client care. Nothing is too much trouble for a lawyer who proves highly conscientious in all her dealings.”
- Joint editor of Wurtzburg and Mills on Building Society Law (looseleaf edition)
- Co-author of Fisher and Bewsey, The Law of Investor Protection, 2nd ed.