The Legal 500

North West

United Kingdom > North West > Private client


Agriculture and estates

Led by Richard Forrester, Aaron & Partners LLP continues to advise owners and tenant farmers on land acquisitions and disposals as well as agricultural tenancies. Recent instructions include acting on behalf of the tenant of an agricultural holding in a £500,000 damages claim against the landlord. Simon Ellis is recommended.

Brabners LLP handles contentious and non-contentious agricultural issues including advising on the sale and purchase of agricultural land, succession issues, rights of way and boundary disputes. Rupert Jackson and Helen Ryan are recommended along with John Withinshaw, whose ‘knowledge of manorial matters is unrivalled’.

David Young heads the team at Hibberts LLP, which acted in a number of high-value dairy and mixed-use farm sales and purchases, and also dealt with various auctions, easements and succession cases on behalf of landlords and tenants. Tom Price handles contentious matters.

Hill Dickinson LLP receives various instructions from agricultural lenders, including the NFU, Mutual Finance Limited and HSBC. Practice head Robin Jones is assisting Chester Zoo in relation to its Natural Vision Project expansion plans. Ian Sydenham is advising on the administration of a large family farming business estate.

Walker Smith Way Legal advises on rural land purchases, leases and disposal, and also acts for agricultural landowners on estate management and renewable energy developments. Richard Williams is ‘clear, concise, robust and intelligent’.

Cullimore Dutton advises on tenancies and rural diversification. David Mason and Rory Lea are recommended.

JWK Solicitors is the product of a merger between Jobling & Knape and Whiteside and Knowles. Department head Anthony Collinson has recently advised on the registration of sporting rights and the sale of hunt kennels.

Myerson Solicitors LLP is receiving a growing number of instructions from rural surveyors on behalf of local agricultural clients. Richard Lloyd is recommended.

Andrew Holden heads the team at Napthens LLP, which is well known for its expertise in succession planning.

Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand provides specialist advice, and has a long history in the area. Martin Gillibrand is an agricultural expert.

Charities and not-for-profit

Brabners LLP handles contentious and non-contentious work for charities, social enterprises and ecclesiastical charities. Department head Stephen Claus previously worked at the Charity Commission for 14 years, and was in the first round of judges appointed to the Charity Tribunal.

DWF LLP’s charity department gives ‘accurate and pragmatic advice’ to charities and other not-for-profit organisations. Recent highlights include advising the Irish Diaspora Foundation on the amendment of its charitable objectives. Kate Meadowcroft heads the team. Alan Sturrock recently joined from Addleshaw Goddard LLP.

Pannone LLP continues to act for Manchester Sport and Leisure Trust, which was set up by Manchester City Council. Team head Steven Grant is recommended along with the ‘very knowledgeable and understandingUdo Pope. Jane Lee recently joined from Addleshaw Goddard LLP.

Simon Ellis is recommended at Aaron & Partners LLP, and recently acted for Sir Bradley Wiggins in the establishment of his charity foundation. The team has particular expertise in matters with a commercial property element.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP primarily acts for high-net-worth individuals’ charitable trusts as well as for commercial clients wishing to establish their own charities. Yorke Eaton is recommended.

Led by Mark Fitzgibbon, Hill Dickinson LLP’s charities department is currently advising the Big Life Group on accommodation requirements for The Big Issue vending business in Liverpool and Manchester.

Graham Wood at Kuit Steinart Levy LLP has a wide-ranging practice, and acts for a number of leading sports personalities.

Contentious trusts and probate

Pannone LLP’s team is jointly led by ‘clear thinkerSimon Pedley and Nicola Marchant, who is ‘tenacious in seeking the correct outcome’. The firm regularly acts for claimants, executors and beneficiaries in a variety of Inheritance Act claims.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP’s contentious trusts and estate group has experience in hostile multimillion-pound trust proceedings, and recently advised the claimant in a proprietary estoppel claim relating to a large estate and farm. Yorke Eaton is recommended.

Brabners LLP is notable for its expertise in contentious probate, particularly in relation to the validity of wills and claims for provision for dependants. David Tournafond heads the team.

DWF LLP’s Paul Davies was recently appointed as an independent administrator of a complex will dispute.

Clive Pointon at Aaron & Partners LLP is well known for his Court of Protection work, and recently acted for the wife in a claim to set aside her late husband’s final will on grounds of lack of mental capacity.

Gorvins is currently acting as an independent administrator of a disputed estate in which the latest will has been challenged. Valerie Bown is recommended.

Sean Williams at Hill Dickinson LLP recently acted for two executors in a complex cross-border claim brought under the Inheritance Act 1975.

Linder Myers LLP’s private client team has successfully brought a number of contentious statutory will cases through the Court of Protection. Andrew Cusworth is recommended.

Mills & Reeve LLP has a highly regarded contentious trust and probate team.


DWF LLP’s family team specialises in advising high-net-worth individuals on complex financial settlements in divorce and relationship breakdowns, and is ‘more than just a regional presence’. Pauline McNamara and Lesley Smythe are respective heads of the Liverpool and Manchester teams, with David Pickering the overall practice head.

Mills & Reeve LLP has expertise in complex cases, often for high-net-worth clients. The collaboratively trained Nigel Shepherd gives ‘robust and practical advice’, and Alison Bull is praised for her ‘excellent grasp of the law and very precise drafting skills’. The firm’s recent merger with George Davies Solicitors LLP brought into the practice Robin Charrot, who is ‘knowledgeable, trustworthy and reliable’.

Despite a number of departures and the closure of the firm’s Hale and Alderley Edge offices, Pannone LLP’s family team remains one of the best respected in the region. The ‘truly empatheticLiz Cowell is recommended for divorce work. Andrew Newbury heads the department.

Weightmans LLP’s family team is led by the ‘intelligent, sensible and effectiveCarole Atkinson. Emma Collins provides ‘clear and direct advice’ on relationship breakdowns as well as prenuptial agreements and children matters. Tina Dunn is also recommended.

Brabners LLP’s department head Helen Marriott has experience representing high-net-worth clients in complex cases involving trusts, business issues and international aspects. Paula Milburn is also recommended.

Gateley has handled a number of significant divorce settlements, and is seeing an increasing number of Children Act instructions. Department head Elizabeth Hassall is ‘determinedly clear thinking and client focused without being combative’.

The ‘experienced, savvy and sensibleTricia Cottrell at Hill Dickinson LLP recently represented the girlfriend of a sports personality in Schedule 1 Children Act proceedings.

Irwin Mitchell acts for high-net-worth individuals, and handles cross-border divorce cases with complex children issues. Ros Bever is ‘knowledgeable, imaginative and good humoured’. The ‘efficient, perceptive and able’ Louise Halford joined from Pannone LLP, and specialises in child abduction cases.

Catherine Jones and Beth Wilkins co-head JMW Solicitors LLP’s family team, having recently joined from Pannone LLP. The department advises on high-net-worth ancillary relief, pre-nuptial agreements and Children Act proceedings.

Laytons’ family and matrimonial team has recently handled a number of relocation cases with an international element. Department head Christine Barker is ‘able to negotiate in a tough but realistic manner, with splendid client skills’. Emma Gill is a ‘marvellous all-rounder’.

Linder Myers LLP’s family team includes collaborative lawyers and accredited mediators. The ‘extremely knowledgeable and approachable’ Janet Fleming co-heads the team with Sarah McCarthy, who is ‘a true professional - straight-talking and to the point’.

Sarah Thompson at Slater & Gordon Lawyers deals with complex ancillary relief cases, and is ‘a bright lawyer with a calm approach’. Amanda McAlister leads the team.

Stephensons Solicitors LLP’s practice head Michael Devlin is an expert in children matters and has represented local authorities, parents and children. The firm was recently instructed in an international child abduction case.

Headed by Richard Barge, Aaron & Partners LLP’s family team has advised a number of sports personalities in relation to divorce proceedings and financial remedies.

Forbes’ three-partner family team has acted in various cross-border divorce proceedings and children matters. Helen Shirbon is recommended.

James Maguire & Co has experience in cross-jurisdictional marital disputes and contact issues, and is well known for its work in child abduction cases. James Maguire is ‘skilled, articulate and dedicated’.

SAS Daniels LLP focuses on high-net-worth cases involving complex issues. Department head Shelley Hesford, who heads the department, and Shelley Chesworth both ‘take a pragmatic view’, and ‘inspire trust’.

Slater Heelis LLP’s family law team was boosted recently by the lateral hire of Kate Rayner from Stowe Family Law LLP. Mike Hamlin provides ‘the highest level of service at competitive rates’.

Stowe Family Law LLP’s niche practice has ‘a growing reputation in the Manchester area, with good reason’. Marilyn Stowe is recommended.

Personal tax, trusts and probate

Brabners LLP has a large private client team acting for high-net-worth individuals, including a number of sports professionals. Richard Bate is ‘extremely good’, and Duncan Bailey is ‘technically very sound, with relationship skills’. Succession planning expert Mark Feeny heads the group.

Graham Ball leads the team at DWF LLP, which provides complex cross-border tax and succession advice to high-net-worth individuals. Paul Davies is an expert in tax planning. Alan Sturrock recently joined from Addleshaw Goddard LLP.

Led by the ‘calm and consideredPaul Baker, Hill Dickinson LLP regularly provides trusts and tax advice to high-net-worth individuals, including business owners, professionals, landowners and farmers. Mike Quinn is ‘personable, knowledgeable and highly competent’, and Sean Williams has ‘technical aptitude matched by exceptional client relationship skills’.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s practice was strengthened by the firm’s merger with George Davies Solicitors LLP, which added Zahra Siddiqui, Stephen McCann and the ‘well-informed and reliableTony Hall to the team. Deborah Clark is ‘widely experienced, highly intelligent and a delight to work with’.

Pannone LLP is well known for its dedicated Court of Protection team, which is led by Lucy Nicol. Liz Braude heads the wills, trust and estate planning team, which advises wealthy individuals. Gillian Hitchen is ‘approachable, caring and extremely competent’.

Aaron & Partners LLP’s Clive Pointon has a reputation for Court of Protection work in Chester, and is also experienced in tax planning matters for wealthy individuals.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP’s private client team continues to attract work from high-net-worth individuals, banks, trust companies and large corporate and institutional clients. Clients include The Co-operative Group and HSBC Trust Company. The ‘up-and-coming’ Yorke Eaton is ‘great to work with’, and has taken over as practice head following Alan Sturrock’s move to DWF LLP.

The ‘approachable, knowledgeable and professional’ Elaine Roche at JMW Solicitors LLP is a specialist in advising entrepreneurial clients on inheritance and capital gains tax relief.

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP has expertise in areas such as the UK Swiss Tax Co-operation Treaty, the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF) and other offshore asset disclosures. Graham Wood is recommended.

Weightmans LLP handles probate matters as well as inheritance and capital gains tax planning exercises. Team head Paul Horton ‘explains complicated areas in a very concise and accurate manner’.

Forbes’ team, led by Victoria Motley, advises on tax and estate planning, wills and trusts, and wealth protection.

Gorvins’ core service spans wills, trusts, lasting powers of attorney and estate planning advice. Recent highlights include acting for the executors of a Ghanaian will. Moira Percival is a Court of Protection deputy.

Linder Myers LLP has experience in Court of Protection work. Andrew Cusworth is a panel deputy, and has acted as a professional deputy in numerous cases.

Myerson Solicitors LLP specialises in acting for business owners, high-net-worth individuals and professionals. In 2012, Amanda Freeman was promoted to partner and head of department.

SAS Daniels LLP’s large team has seen a significant increase in instructions relating to NHS Continuing Health Care funding claims. Practice head Justine Clowes has ‘great communication and technical skills’.

Stephensons Solicitors LLP’s recent work includes estates matters referred from a national probate brokerage firm. Rob Gore advised on the administration of a number of estates with cross-border issues.

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Legal Developments in the UK

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    An online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) which need to recruit skilled overseas workers has been extended until 28 February 2014. The pilot was launched by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and provides a step by step guide to sponsoring an overseas worker. This service is available via the GLA website.
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