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United Kingdom > London > Corporate and commercial > Commercial contracts > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Commercial contracts
  2. Leading individuals

Baker McKenzie LLP has ‘an impressive ability to advise on wide-ranging as well as country-specific legal issues’. Duncan Reid-Thomas’s expertise spans various types of commercial agreements, including public and private procurements, manufacturing agreements and services agreements. Reid-Thomas and Michelle Bawn are advising CSL on matters arising from its $275m acquisition of Novartis’ global influenza vaccine business. Other key names include Steve Holmes, an expert in the telecommunications and media sectors, and technology and outsourcing lawyer Harry Small.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLPrecognises its role not just as lawyers, but also as business advisers’. The firm’s extensive practice handles commercial and IT outsourcing, as well as all other contract types for a roster of blue-chip UK and international clients including Dell, Nike and Travelex. Richard Shaw and Mark Lewis head the group, which include Marcus Pearl, whose experience ‘enables him to troubleshoot issues encountered in negotiations’, and IT and outsourcing expert Usman Wahid.

Bird & Bird LLP has ‘a depth of industry knowledge’ that covers large-scale commercial and IT/technology outsourcing transactions, as well as commercial agreements involving supply and manufacturing, sales, distributorship and joint ventures. Clients include TomTom, EE and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Simon Shooter and Ronald Hendrikx lead the team, which includes data protection and cyber law expert James Mullock, who recently joined from Osborne Clarke.

DLA Piper’s sizeable global footprint makes the firm well placed to advise on UK and multi-jurisdictional commercial contracts, distribution transactions and outsourcing. Kit Burden worked with the Stockholm office to advise HCL Technologies on its acquisition of Volvo’s IT services arm. Iain Bowler leads the team, which includes new recruits Mark Dewar and senior associate Michiko Jo, who joined from Simmons & Simmons.

Fieldfisher’s workload includes joint ventures, brand and technology licensing agreements, and franchising contracts. Simon Briskman advised eBay on its joint venture with Argos for click and collect services. The firm also acts for customers and suppliers in global technology outsourcing projects. Robert Shooter and David Bond head the group, which was joined by Rob Sheldon and Sam Jardine from DWF and Watson Burton LLP, respectively.

Hogan Lovells International LLP is ‘up there with the best’ in the commercial contracts arena, and attracts particular praise for its ‘partner-level engagement’. Peter Watts and Helen McGowan acted for Twentieth Century Fox on its sponsorship agreement with Manchester United. Paul Joukador, Richard Welfare and Andrew Skipper are also recommended. Other clients include ITV, SABMiller and Uber. Mark Taylor joined Osborne Clarke in 2015.

Travers Smith LLP’s team ‘advises on commercial realities rather than just pure legal positions’. In addition to handling day-to-day commercial issues, the team deals with outsourcing arrangements, joint ventures, supply agreements and distribution, among other matters. Recent highlights include assisting Cuba Mountain Coffee Company with its European distribution arrangements. Tom Purton’s team includes ‘creative thinker’ Ben Chivers, Dan Reavill and Richard Brown.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP’s clients include Sainsbury’s, Aviva, HSBC and Diageo, as well as start-ups and public sector bodies. Jonathan Davey is advising a subsidiary of the Danish government on various aspects (including procurement) of an undersea road and rail tunnel between Denmark and Germany. Fiona Ghosh and managing associate Robert Garwood are ‘exceptional’ and Paul Bentham is also recommended. Toni Vitale joined from Willis Towers Watson.

In an illustration of Allen & Overy LLP’s ability to leverage cross-disciplinary expertise to handle high-end projects, Jim Ford acted for The Yokohama Rubber Company on the negotiation of a five-year, $300m sponsorship agreement with Chelsea Football Club. Other clients of Jane Finlayson-Brown’s highly rated team include Novartis, Amazon and Virgin Group. Nigel Parker made partner in 2015.

CMS regularly undertakes international commercial and outsourcing work across a wide range of sectors, and has particular strengths in regulated industries such as life sciences, financial services, energy and utilities, and e-health/telemedicine, which is a notable growth area. Sarah Hanson, John Armstrong, Ian Stevens, Alan Nelson and ‘phenomenally talented’ senior associate Paul Silver are recommended. Juan Crosby joined PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP, while senior associate Loretta Pugh recently joined from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

In addition to advising on day-to-day matters, Dentons has notable strength handling sizeable UK and cross-border deals. The group’s client base is drawn from a wide range of industries, and has a particularly notable following among retail sector clients, including ASOS, Argos and John Lewis. Martin Fanningbrings a wealth of experience to any deal’.

Led by David Lowe, Gowling WLG’s team assists with R&D contracts, shareholders’ agreements and joint ventures, as well as large-scale outsourcing arrangements and other big-ticket matters requiring strategic commercial solutions. Highlights included acting for Transport for London on the re-letting of its cycle hire scheme. Aston Martin, CBRE and Rugby Football Union are other notable clients.

Jeremy Schrire’s team at King & Wood Mallesons provides ‘practical and robust solutions’ on outsourcing, procurement and all other types of commercial arrangements. Schrire and Gretchen Scott (who relocated to the London office from Dubai) are advising Ladbrokes on a joint venture to introduce online betting to the Chinese market. James Walsh joined from Eversheds LLP.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP has a first-rate reputation for complex multi-jurisdictional outsourcing projects. In 2015, Sean Keaton, Joel Harrison and others acted for WPP in a number of global outsourcing services agreements, covering WPP’s agencies in more than 100 countries worldwide. Global practice head Laurence Jacobs is particularly well known for his outsourcing expertise.

Norton Rose Fulbright advises customers and suppliers on high-value, complex commercial contracts, including franchising arrangements, procurement and outsourcing agreements. The firm’s broad geographical coverage sees it act for multinational clients including Pfizer, Saab and GlaxoSmithKline. Mike Knapper handles commercial matters involving intellectual property, technology transfer and licensing, among other issues. James Russell and Peter Hall are also recommended.

Olswang LLP’s highly regarded practice handles IT outsourcing, BPO and procurement transactions, among other matters, and its clients include BP, Marks & Spencer and Vodafone. Dominic Dryden led advice to Unilever on outsourcing its service desk, desk-side support and device management operations to Unisys. Dryden jointly heads the practice with Matthew Bennett.

Pinsent Masons LLP recently advised Equiniti on its bid to provide primary care support services procurement to NHS England. The firm also advises on major BPOs for public sector clients such as the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions. Other strengths include distressed outsourcing projects, and advice to financial services clients on payments, platform and renegotiation projects. Simon Colvin has ‘comprehensive sectoral knowledge’. David Isaac, who was recently appointed as Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, remains a key member of the team.

RPC’s commercial contracts expertise is complemented by strengths in areas such as data protection, advertising/marketing, digital, and intellectual property. The firm is also a go-to for big-ticket strategic matters. Oliver Bray and Robert Johnson assisted Coca-Cola Enterprises with various matters, including negotiating a major online sales agreement with Amazon. Other clients include Google, Betfair and Virgin Media. Anna Cook joined Bristows LLP.

Slaughter and May handles the full spectrum of outsourcing matters. In a recent highlight, Rob Sumroy acted as lead adviser to Royal Mail on a £1bn transformational IT multi-sourcing project. In another highlight, Sumroy, David Ives and others assisted RSA with re-tendering its strategic, long-term and multi-jurisdictional IT infrastructure outsourcing arrangements.

Ashurst’s outsourcing work spans technology and BPO transactions, as well as defence, technology and government services mandates. Philip Vernon and others advised DEFRA on government outsourcing of the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Elsewhere, the firm’s commercial contracts work included assisting Merlin Entertainments with procurement of a new passport ticketing system. Hiroyuki Iwamura made partner in 2015.

Bond Dickinson LLP undertakes large-scale outsourcing mandates and advises on commercial contracts for clients across a number of sectors, including retail, chemicals and transport. Paula Bartlett is leading a multi-disciplinary team on the delivery of the Post Office Network Transformation programme. Other clients include Citibank, Network Rail and Kingfisher. Kim Walker has expertise in projects with intellectual property aspects.

Tim Sewart’s team at DAC Beachcroft LLP advises private and public sector clients on a wide range of matters, including outsourcing agreements, technology licensing, PFI and PPP. Reg Dhanjal is another key name in the group, whose clients include AXA, EE and the Department of Health.

Eversheds LLP negotiates outsourcing agreements and other business-critical transactions (often involving an international component) for clients such as Anglo American and Selfridges; Simon Gamlin advised the latter on a logistics outsourcing contract with DHL. Richard Prowse and Alison Brearey are also recommended. Agnes Koko made partner, while Craig Rogers joined the firm from IBM.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s multi-disciplinary team ‘operates to a high standard’ in large-scale, cross-border and business-critical matters. Global TMT head Nick Elverston and senior associate Hayley Brady are advising Google on legal and commercial issues concerning its expansion into new products. Nick Pantlin heads the commercial, outsourcing and IT practice for the UK and Europe.

Latham & Watkins’ team acts on high-value and complex global business process, IT and network outsourcing transactions for clients including Aviva, Endurance and Markit. It has a particularly strong track record handling transformational, business-critical projects for financial services clients. Andrew Moyle is recommended along with Ulrich Wuermeling, who recently relocated to the London office from Frankfurt.

Linklaters LLP advises customers and suppliers on the full spectrum of public and private sector IT and BPO transactions. Richard Cumbley led the team’s advice to Sainsbury’s on outsourcing IT support and infrastructure to Tata Consultancy Services. Marly Didizian is ‘unshakeable in negotiations’ and James Harbach is noted for his ‘superb intellect’.

John Buyers’ team at Osborne Clarke acts for clients ranging from start-up businesses to multinationals in the financial services, retail, energy, transport and automotive, and digital business sectors. The group’s varied workload covers smart meter procurements, logistics contracts and retail sector franchise and concession agreements. Insignia, Fitbit and Vodafone are notable clients.

Noted for its strengths in complex multi-jurisdictional transactions, Simmons & Simmons handles cutting-edge outsourcing and technology deals for UK-based and international clients across the finance, consumer products and life sciences sectors, among others. O2 Telefónica and Virgin Media are among its key clients. Alexander Brown, Hinal Patel and James Cotter are recommended. Mark Dewar joined DLA Piper.

Helen Scott-Lawler’s team at Burges Salmon LLP has a strong track record for novel and complex national and cross-border commercial matters. John Houlden, Keith Beattie and Matthew Ramus are acting as lead advisers to Ascent Flight Training, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Babcock, on its 25-year contract with the Ministry of Defence for the provision of a groundbreaking training system for the UK’s armed forces.

Although Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s expertise spans a wide range of sectors, the firm has a particularly strong reputation in sport, retail and TMT. Practice head Jason Saiban was lead adviser to Nike on the expiry of its sponsorship deal with Manchester United. Other clients include Westfield, which the team assists with strategic matters and day-to-day issues. David Berry, Natalie Elsborg and Jaclyn Wilkins are also recommended.

Highly regarded for complex UK and international mandates, Covington & Burling LLP has a strong focus on the life sciences, technology, chemicals and sports sectors. Highlights included advising Astra Zeneca on an agreement with ProStrakan Group for the rights to Moventig in Europe. Other clients include Microsoft, Sanofi and Indivior. Louise Nash (who is a ‘strong negotiator’) and Daniel Pavin are recommended.

Holman Fenwick Willan combines wide sector coverage and a track record in high-value cross-border mandates. Anthony Woolich worked with the Hong Kong office to advise Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company on issues concerning the high-profile restructuring of two joint venture companies. Energy and resources head Alistair Mackie and head of logistics Craig Neame are other key names. In 2015, Jayson Marks joined from Pinsent Masons LLP.

Kemp Little LLP’s team advises on BPO and IT outsourcing for customers and suppliers, in addition to handling advertising and sponsorship, procurement and product supply chain issues. In 2015, ‘exceptional business partner’ Tania Williams and Susan Biddle joined from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Pinsent Masons LLP, respectively. Calum Murray and Paul O’Hare are other key individuals.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is highly regarded for complex, multi-jurisdictional mandates and large-scale matters that are business-critical and strategically significant. Mike Pierides and Terence Lau are assisting Fujitsu with renegotiating its HMRC Aspire IT services agreement with the HMRC. Tim Wright is ‘a pleasure to work with’.

Radiant Law undertakes contract reviews, advises on day-to-day issues, and assists clients with navigating business-critical transactions. Justin Cornish led the advice to SABMiller on global cloud computing outsourcing transactions with Microsoft, Dimension Data and IBM. Jason McQuillen and Andrew Sutherland are also recommended.

Reed Smith LLP’s multi-disciplinary team assists clients with a broad cross-section of matters, including outsourcing and procurement, licensing, franchising and distribution. Sakil Suleman is advising Debenhams on its launch of local international websites in various jurisdictions, and is assisting Channel 4 with a licensing and software integration project associated with its VoD offering.

David Jackson leads Shoosmiths LLP’s national team, which acts for clients such as Coca-Cola Enterprises, DB Schenker and Honda. In addition to handling business-critical outsourcing projects, the group advises on a variety of other matters, including marketing and advertising, and supply chain management. Paul De Vince acted as lead adviser to British American Tobacco in a supply chain and logistics project with DHL.

Christopher Jeffery and Graham Hann are the key contacts at Taylor Wessing LLP, which has particular expertise in financial services, data centre and recruitment sector outsourcings. Clients include Visa, esure and DC Thomson.

At Bircham Dyson Bell, pathology sector expert Peter McLoughlin is particularly experienced in pathology outsourcings. Elsewhere, the firm advises clients from a wide range of sectors on joint ventures, distribution agreements, and IT and software contracts. Hollie Gallagher, Paul Voller and senior associate Penny Bygrave are also recommended.

Carol Osborne and Paula Levitan jointly lead the team at Bryan Cave, which has particular sector specialisms in retail and luxury brands, as well as hospitality and leisure. Cross-border work is a key facet of the practice, which acts for clients including Sephora USA, Byredo and Estée Lauder. Sarah Atkinson recently joined from Hogan Lovells International LLP.

Clifford Chance is highly regarded for global technology and business outsourcing transactions. André Duminy advised EVRY on its billion-dollar IT outsourcing agreement with IBM. In another highlight, Jonny Myers acted for Inmarsat on its strategic alliance with Deutsche Telekom for a combined LTE-based ground and satellite network.

Farrer & Co undertakes high-end mandates in the media, arts and heritage, education, technology and outsourcing arenas. Paul Jones acted for The Art Fund on its acquisition of the Minton collection from WWRD, and subsequent gift to Stoke-on-Trent City Archives. Peter Wienand and David Copping are recommended. Anthony Misquitta joined Keystone Law.

Fladgate LLP’s Eddie Powell led the advice to MLCG on the negotiation of a multi-year exclusive supply agreement with NISA as part of its acquisition of 140 convenience stores from Morrisons. In another highlight, Alan Wetterhahn assisted BGO with an online and TV advertising campaign. Other clients include Digital Cinema Media and Krannich Solar.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is a strong choice for big-ticket, cross-border and business-critical matters. It covers the full spectrum of advice to clients, including outsourcing and procurement, licensing, distribution and franchising. Andrew Craig handles IP aspects of M&A, technology-related transactions and standalone outsourcing work.

Robert Lands’ team at Howard Kennedy LLP acts for clients from a wide variety of industries, including sport, publishing and retail. Intellectual property expert Jonathan Sellors acts for clients in the media and technology sectors. Another key name in the group, Brian Eagles, advised Liberty Bell Television on commercial agreements connected with its TV show Money Pit.

Jonathon Little leads Jones Day’s practice, which assists clients with IT, BPO and other outsourcing arrangements. It also advises on a broad range of commercial contracts, including agency and distribution agreements, and e-commerce arrangements. Clients include Goldman Sachs, Esselte and Spanx.

Led by Neil Baylis, K&L Gates LLP’s team advises on a range of commercial issues, including data protection, intellectual property, media rights and IT. Baylis advises The Works Products Limited on various types of agreements, including those concerning manufacturing, marketing and design consulting. Jeremy Davis, Andrew Danson and Jennifer Marsh are other notable individuals.

Lewis Silkin LLP has a number of core sector strengths, including creative industries such as technology, media and publishing, as well as gaming and financial services. James Gill’s team was joined by Nathalie Moreno from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, and David Deakin from Wiggin LLP. Consultants Nigel Gibb and Alan Davis are other key additions.

Rupert Casey and Jeremy Courtenay-Stamp are the key figures at Macfarlanes LLP, which advises on a wide range of matters, including advertising, outsourcing, franchising and distribution, for a client base drawn from a range of sectors, including food and drink, financial services and sport.

Peter Dickinson and Mark Prinsley jointly lead Mayer Brown International LLP’s London outsourcing practice, which has a first-rate reputation in domestic and multi-jurisdictional transactions in the financial services, TMT and consumer goods sectors. In 2015, Dickinson led the advice to Zurich Insurance on a global networking and telecommunications agreement with BT.

Mills & Reeve LLP recruited Jayne Hussey and principal associate Ruth Andrew from Pinsent Masons LLP in 2015, bolstering the firm’s capabilities in outsourcing arrangements and supply chain management work in the manufacturing sector. The firm also has a strong public sector capability, where it acts for clients including the Department of Health, Ministry of Defence and Financial Conduct Authority. Greg Gibson heads the team.

Alistair Maughan leads Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP’s commercial and technology practice, which acts for public and private sector clients in strategic, business-critical projects. Maughan is advising three UK government departments on issues arising from their contracts with Airwave Services for the provision of emergency mobile radio coverage.

Squire Patton Boggs handles a mix of UK and international commercial contracts work covering a diverse range of sectors including advertising/media, IT and pharmaceuticals. Robert Wegenek is acting for Ogilvy & Mather and J Walter Thompson in their prospective re-appointment to provide global advertising and marketing services to Unilever. Andrew Wilkinson leads the group.

In 2015, Stephenson Harwood’s Dan Holland acted for Chef Express on its tender to provide catering services on East Midlands trains. Jonathan Kirsop is experienced in negotiating franchising and distribution agreements for corporates and financial institutions.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s multi-disciplinary team includes Riccardo Abbate, who has particular knowledge of the interplay between IT and intellectual property and handles issues such as database licensing; and James Hawkins, who is recommended for commercial contracts in the public sector, including outsourcing, environmental services and social care projects. Helen Randall and Adrian Jones are also recommended.

Bates Wells Braithwaite undertakes a significant amount of work for charities, not-for-profit organisations and public bodies; clients include the Royal College of Nursing and British Council. Richard Marke, heads the practice, which also acts for well-known brands, such as Nikon UK, Olympus and Thomson Directories. Areas of expertise include franchises, distribution and supply arrangements, and joint ventures.

At Blake Morgan LLP, Simon Stokes and his team assist with negotiating technology and outsourcing contracts, in addition to various other commercial contracts, for clients in the retail, manufacturing and financial services sectors.

Bristows LLP’s varied commercial workload includes BPO and IT outsourcing, advertising and sponsorship, and licensing agreements. Practice head Matthew Warren is particularly experienced in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Laura Anderson, Fiona Nicolson and Marek Petecki are other key individuals.

Clarkslegal LLP assists UK-based and international clients with complex joint ventures and procurements, as well as all other types of multi-party commercial transactions. Senior consultant Kirstin Parker and Ashan Arif jointly lead the team, which acts for clients including Carillion and Royal Berkshire Fire Authority.

Fox Williams LLP mainly acts for clients in the fashion and technology industries, and the majority of its instructions have a cross-border component. It has a particular specialism in agency, distributorship and supply agreements. Stephen Sidkin leads the practice, which acts for Duck and Cover Clothing, Hudson Shoe Agencies and SuperGroup.

Irwin Mitchell handles a wide variety of commercial agreements for clients such as Nuffield Health, Purdicom and Greenwich Leisure. Stuart Padgham and Daniel Hedley, who ‘combine technical expertise with commercial sense’, are recommended alongside Kim Walker.

Keystone Law made several hires in 2015, including Anthony Misquitta, formerly of Farrer & Co. Sports law specialist Morris Bentata, who joined from Sheridans, is another name to note. Clients include Artis Education, Inbay and Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Tim Ryan’s team at Memery Crystal LLP won new work in 2015 from clients such as Bigballs Media and Ubiquitous. It handles a broad spectrum of agreements, including franchise and distribution, and those concerning the supply and purchase of goods and services.

Mishcon de Reya LLP handles a range of commercial agreements in matters that are particularly complex, high-profile or otherwise strategically significant. The firm’s clients span a variety of sectors, including sport, life sciences, IT/digital and financial services. Lewis Cohen is a key contact.

Penningtons Manches LLP has particular core strengths in retail and fashion, technology, life sciences and publishing. Clients include Tata Group, Kimal and Catexel. Anna Frankum and Chris Shelley are key contacts.

Juan Crosby, who joined from CMS, heads PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP’s practice, which has expertise in intra-group agreements, distribution agreements and joint ventures, among other matters. The ABS law firm also has access to a sizeable international legal network.

Simon Goldberg leads Simons Muirhead & Burton’s practice, which has particular sector expertise in retail, IT, publishing, and media and entertainment. Sports and broadcasting sector expert Marc Sobol joined in 2015 from an in-house role at Wasserman Media Group. Clients include Premiership Rugby, Alexa Chung and C3UK.

Stevens & Bolton LLP’s clients range from SMEs to large companies including Kia Motors and SABMiller. Beverley Whittaker leads the team, which includes franchising expert Nicola Broadhurst and Beverley Flynn. Gary Parnell joined from Clyde & Co LLP.

At Wedlake Bell LLP, practice head Adrian Heath-Saunders is advising Axpo on commercial arrangements for the cross-border transportation of nuclear waste. Other clients include Lufthansa, Hugo Boss and Jumeirah Carlton Tower.

Weightmans LLP advises on a wide range of contracts and assists with major transactions for clients such as universities, local authorities and large corporates. Paul Raftery’s team acted for Queen Mary University of London on its establishment of a medical school in Malta. Capita, Sonoco and Whitbread Group are also clients.

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