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DLA Piper UK LLP has an extensive track record in disputes with an international dimension, leveraging expertise from its international network of offices. The technology, energy, engineering, retail, transport and infrastructure sectors are all key areas of strength for the team, which regularly handles M&A-related litigation, private equity disputes and corporate re-organisations. Key clients include Lonrho, Serco, Capita and United Utilities. Team head Mark Goodwin has a ‘fantastic reputation’ in the region, and handles a raft of heavyweight litigation, including disputes relating to IT and outsourcing matters, commercial contracts, and M&A transactions. He also handles high-value professional negligence disputes. Also recommended are legal directors Catherine Radcliffe and Christina Sharma.

DWF fields a ‘simply superb’ team of ‘quality litigators’ that handles a range of contractual and company disputes, including breach of warranty, indemnity claims, shareholder and partnership disputes. It also regularly handles professional negligence issues, judicial reviews, competition cases, and contentious probate matters. The food and drink, retail, technology, telecommunications, healthcare and education sectors are all areas of focus for the department, which is representing Telefónica UK in its high-profile dispute against Packet Media. It is also acting for Telefónica UK as an interested party in EE’s judicial review of OFCOM’s decision to revise annual licence fees. Burton’s Foods, Derwent Holdings, Crown Paints, Iceland Foods, and Horizon Care & Education Group are also on the team’s client roster. Andrew Whalley is ‘an excellent practitioner, with great tactical nous’; he leads a team that includes Graham Dagnall, who has particular expertise in disputes in the food and retail and professional services sectors; and Matthew Stoll, who heads the insurance litigation practice group. Also recommended are director Chris King, senior associate Lyndsay Crowder-Barton, who is ‘bright and very switched-on’, and associate Helen Otty.

The ‘impressive’ team at Hill Dickinson LLP is ‘very well prepared’ and ‘very determined in pursuing its clients’ interests’. It regularly handles high-value, complex commercial litigation and arbitration, often with a cross-border element, and has particular experience in judicial review, professional negligence, commercial fraud, procurement, IP, IT, defamation, and environmental cases. ‘Outstanding’ team head Fiona Parry is representing Bourne Leisure in a claim for compensation concerning the client’s land interests at Hopton Holiday Village, Hopton-on-Sea, and is representing Aquarius Holdings in claims against the former captain of a superyacht for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Phil Sheard is acting for The European Commission in a €1.8m recovery case relating to a limited company which had recently been placed into liquidation. Stewart Burrows, who was recently promoted to legal director, is defending Coffee Republic Retail in a cross-border franchising dispute. HS Ocean Group, Stobart Group, United Utilities Water, Finance Wales and National Express are also clients. Other key figures include Paul Walsh, who is experienced in IT-related litigation; legal director Nina Ferris; and senior associates Daniel Keating, who is ‘hardworking, knowledgeable, and excellent with clients’, and James Stephenson.

Clients of Brabners LLP praise the team’s ‘commercial and practical approach’ and ‘knowledgeable, approachable and straightforward service’. In addition to having acknowledged strength in director, partner and shareholder disputes, as well as professional negligence claims, insolvency cases, commercial fraud, media, and defamation cases, the team is also noted for its sports-sector expertise, and acts for International Sports Management (ISM) on a range of commercial litigation and reputation management matters. Recent work includes acting for Integra Compliance in a £4m dispute against SWS Compliance, and representing T J Morris in a £16m claim for compensation under competition law for excess Visa and MasterCard fee charges. Salford Red Devils, Hadfield Wood Recyclers and Chester Racecourse are also clients. Team head Paul Lunt has a ‘wise head, and a calm, reassuring manner’; his ‘advice is straightforward and commercial, and is able to deal with matters with little fuss and good success’. Other key figures include recently promoted partner Philip Steele, who heads the defamation and privacy team, and is ‘hardworking and clever beyond his years’; Jacqui Lloyd, who handles construction, engineering and property disputes; and senior associate Jack Froggatt.

Weightmans LLP regularly handles complex and high-value contractual disputes, and is handling a growing number of outsourcing, franchising and IP disputes, as well as a number of judicial review claims relating to tax. The firm acts for a wide-ranging client base, with an emphasis on the education and manufacturing sectors; Middlesex University, NWF Fuels, and Graylaw International Freight Group are all clients. Clients single out Craig Blakemore, who has ‘a clear understanding of the needs of the client’ and is ‘very attentive’; Andrew Roberts, who heads the firm’s national manufacturing sector group; and recently promoted partner Sarah Conroy, who is ‘a very able practitioner, with great client-management skills’.

The ‘very responsive’ team at Bermansundertakes work in value and complexity at a level beyond that which you would expect for a firm of its size’. It acts for individuals, professionals, privately owned companies, SMEs, family businesses, entrepreneurs and management teams on a range of commercial disputes. Highlights included acting for Bibby in a dispute relating to a factoring agreement with Morleys, under which Bibby purchased debts owed to Morleys by HFD and MCD Group. It also represented Porter Capital in a $1.7m debt claim against a London-based guarantor and indemnifier. Team head Nick Harvey is ‘calm and attentive’ and has ‘the ability to break down a situation down to its salient points, and explain them in a way that a layman can understand, while always focusing on the main issues’. Jonathan Berkson and senior associate Michael Smeaton are also recommended.

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Legal Developments in North West for Commercial litigation: Liverpool

  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

    - Macfarlanes

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