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United Kingdom > South East > Crime, fraud and licensing > Crime: general > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Crime: general
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Who Represents Who

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Blackfords LLP fields a ‘very experienced and polished’ team with substantial expertise in Crown Court trials, regularly handling cases arising from murder, historic sexual assault, grievous bodily harm (GBH) and international drug trafficking. It represented a defendant accused of attempted murder, successfully reducing the sentence to GBH, and acted for another client charged with terrorism offences. In another key highlight, the team represented a client accused of murdering a fellow prison inmate with another defendant, with the team successfully striking out the client’s alleged confession to prison staff. The firm is also experienced in advising clients accused of rape; it secured a unanimous acquittal for a client accused of assaulting a family friend. The practice is headed by Trevor Francis, a cybercrime specialist, and Gary Bloxsome, who focuses on terrorism-related cases. Also recommended are solicitor advocate Sarah Hall, litigation executive Anne-Marie Geraghty, bribery and corruption expert Daniel Cundy, and Diana Payne, who has experience handling child abuse cases.

An excellent firm with a great criminal defence practice’, IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)’s Uxbridge-based team ‘has a number of outstanding principal solicitors who take client care very seriously’. The practice handles the full spectrum of criminal cases including murder, manslaughter, Class A drug importation and rape. In a recent matter, the team represented a client charged with the murder of his wife and for defrauding his mentally incapacitated father-in-law of £300,000. Other key matters included acting for a client accused of theft and GBH, with the client eventually acquitted of all charges. The firm is also notable for its ability to leverage expertise from its family, fraud and commercial practices. Caroline Dunne attracts praise for her ‘strong grasp of the relevant law and procedure’; she is well-versed in undertaking international financial criminal litigation. John Milner, who is noted for his strength in matters at the intersection between general crime and fraud, ‘is a very experienced, wise and tactically shrewd expert’; ‘he is particularly calm under fire’. Eddie Tang’s track record includes representing clients in criminal charges arising from road traffic accident cases, acting defendants accused of terrorism offences, and money laundering matters.

FIRMS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates

GT Stewart is a specialist crime firm that deals with crime at all levels, offering clients a very high standard of client care. The firm undertakes mainly publicly funded work, although it is developing an increasing private client base.

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For some, Taylor Haldane Barlex Solicitors LLPis the most forward-thinking firm in the area’. Key work includes representing a client accused of eleven counts of sexual assault and rape of underage victims, and defending a client was charged with murder following a vigilante-style attempt to lure and entrap a suspected paedophile, which involved testing the new rules concerning joint enterprise murder; the defendant was acquitted of murder. In an illustration of the practice’s Legal Aid workload, Michael Warren represented a defendant in civil and criminal litigation arising from the client’s former role as a suspect in the murder of a prostitute. The 11-partner team includes regulatory expert Matthew Taylor (‘a smooth lawyer with a phenomenal intellect’), police law specialists Russell Haldane (‘a litigation genius’) and Ita Farrelly (‘respected for her no-nonsense approach’), and military law expert Peter Barlex (‘his common-sense approach always has the ear of the court’).

The team at ABV Solicitorsis very experienced and competent’. The firm, which has grown its privately funded work in 2016 alongside its substantial Legal Aid practice, handles the full spectrum of general crime matters including complex murder cases, serious violence matters involving vulnerable or mentally incapacitated persons, as well as historic sexual abuse cases. The firm’s recent caseload includes a modern slavery case, multiple rape matters and an aggravated burglary case. Department head Akhtar Ahmad ‘is a man who can cope with the most stressful situations and difficult cases’; he is known for his work in terrorism and extradition matters. Hanisha Godhania, who is adept at handling sexual abuse and murder cases, ‘is a feisty, diligent solicitor who anyone would want on their side’ while drug smuggling offences specialist Sunita Mehta ‘leaves no stone unturned and goes beyond the call of duty for each client’. Deepak Vij is another key name.

Edward Hayes Lawyers has a track record of representing clients in serious violence cases, manslaughter matters, GBH issues and large-scale drugs supplying cases. The experienced team is also adept at handling cases arising from road traffic accidents and represents clients accused of rape and child abuse matters. Charles Long is adept at handling white-collar crime cases, sexual abuse matters and rape charges for clients, while Yogesh Patel is an expert in representing clients charged with terrorism offences, historic sexual abuse and financial crime. He also has previous experience in the criminal aspects of extradition cases and people trafficking matters. The two are ably supported by white-collar crime and business crime expert Christopher Hayes. Former partners Maria Monan and Neal Gozzett left to form Monan Gozzett Solicitors.

Gullands Solicitors represents clients accused of manslaughter, murder and historic sexual abuse. The team also has expertise in criminal litigation for environmental offences as well as matters concerning mentally incapacitated defendants. John Roberts, who was appointed managing partner of the firm in December 2016, heads the department and is experienced in handling murder and manslaughter cases. Other key figures include associate and health and safety expert Andrew Clarke, and Patrick Bligh (also an associate) who recently acted for clients accused of rape.

According to clients, Lawtons Solicitorshas no limits in terms of the gravity of cases it can manage’; ‘it approaches criminal law with private law standards of care and expertise’. The firm, which has multiple offices across the South East, regularly handles high-profile murder cases, sexual abuse matters and GBH, with additional experience in regulatory and professional negligence. The team represented a client accused of gross negligence manslaughter stemming from the treatment of patients with an unlicensed drug; the client was eventually acquitted of the charge. It also acted for another client accused of supplying Class A drugs in prison and represented a client charged with conspiracy to supply firearms and Class A drugs. Stephen Halloran, managing partner of the Hertfordshire office, is highly praised as ‘experienced, knowledgeable and highly industrious’; he is adept at handling manslaughter litigation. Nick Titchener, who is the managing partner of the Luton office as well as overseeing the Crown Court team and senior solicitor Nick Seeley, who specialises in serious sexual abuse offences, are other key names.

Reeds Solicitors handles a range of criminal matters including murder cases, representing clients accused of rape and drug trafficking matters. In 2016 it represented a client charged with murder and possession of an imitation firearm in a joint enterprise murder trial. The team also acted for a client charged with possession of a knife, where the client was initially convicted before an appeal secured their acquittal, and represented a client accused of assault and forced labour of a mentally incapacitated victim. Abigail Ashford, Mark Abbott and Neil Jarvis all joined from Blaser Mills, bringing expertise in blackmail cases and armed robbery matters among others. They join the ‘extremely helpful’ Tom Brymer, Clare Galo (who ‘achieves remarkable results’) and ‘thoroughly professional’ director Julian Richards.

Blaser Mills attracts praise for ‘providing a high standard of service’. Recent work includes representing a client that was charged with murder, resulting in a reduction of the minimum term of the sentencing, and acting in multiple assault cases, manslaughter caused by dangerous driving and criminal licensing offences. Abigail Ashford, Mark Abbott and Neil Jarvis all moved to Reeds Solicitors, with senior associate Daniel Martin taking over the role as department head in July 2016. Martin is supported by ‘very professional, attentive and honest’ associate Benjamin Langley, who has experience in serious firearms cases as well as GBH matters and frequently undertakes duty litigation.

Clarke Kiernan LLP Solicitors has broad expertise ranging from serious crimes including manslaughter cases, Class A drugs trafficking matters and high-profile bribery and corruption cases to road traffic accidents and assault matters. Previous work has included a high-value money laundering matter, multiple sexual abuse cases and trials for murder and rape involving a mentally incapacitated or vulnerable defendant. The general crime practice is closely interlinked with the firm’s fraud team, enabling the firm to represent clients on the full spectrum of criminal matters. Department head Catherine McCarthy specialises in prison law cases and is recommended alongside Daniel Bonich, who is an expert in drug trafficking and money laundering matters, and Dennis Clarke, whose criminal practice intersects with public law.

According to clients, the ‘wholly professionalJerman Samuels & Pearson LLPhas real talent at every level’. It regularly acts for clients charged with online sex offences, murder and theft and has notable experienced in murder and attempted murder trials. The practice acted for a co-defendant charged with attempted murder after the victim was shot while his home was burgled, with the client acquitted of the charge. Other highlights include representing six defendants accused of violent disorder at a football match and acting for a client accused of burglary and torture. Mark Jerman heads the team, which includes Simon Samuels (the ‘bedrock of the firm’, according to some), Ian Clift, who ‘is a very effective advocate in court’ and the well-respected Matthew Bone, whose ‘legal knowledge is outstanding’. Mark Pearson and Jane Werry are also recommended.

SVS Solicitors handles minor motoring offences through to high-profile murder cases, manslaughter trials and cases involving robbery and conspiracy to rob. The firm also undertakes a substantial amount of fraud. Recent work includes acting for a client charged with attempted murder after shooting a police officer following a raid in East London. The team also represented two defendants accused of murder following the repeated assault of a vulnerable man, with the murder charge being lowered to a wounding with intent charge. Senior solicitor Robert Johnson took over as practice head from Colin McEwan, who formed MACS Legal Services Ltd; other key names in the team are managing director and gang member trials expert Sasha Sidhu and consultant solicitor Sajid Mahmood who specialises in immigration and asylum cases.

Woodfines LLP has an established reputation in the region for criminal defence cases, having acted for clients accused of murder, rape and GBH. The firm’s fraud, regulatory and white-collar crime work also augments the general crime practice. The team represented a client, a nurse and care home manager, charged with not following health and safety regulations following the death of a resident in a care home, and is acting for a client accused of importing prohibited firearms and ammunition along with seven other defendants. Mike Hayward is the practice head and specialises in murder and motoring defence matters; he is ably supported by solicitor Chris Birchall and solicitor Michelle O’Garro, who has experience in representing clients in criminal environmental cases.

GT Stewart Limitedis an excellent firm with a deservedly good reputation in crime’. The firm frequently acts for clients in attempted murder cases, rape and sexual assault matters, as well as cases involving possession of firearms. The team, based in Surrey and Kent, represented a client charged with GBH after smashing a bottle in the complainant’s face, and acted for another client accused of assault and witness intimidation, with the defence securing the dismissal of the charges. Managing partner Greg Stewart heads the department with Julie Ann Boyle, who is ‘dedicated and on-the-ball’. Also recommended are Sean Longley, who ‘is dogged in the defence of his clients and fearless in court’, and the ‘tenacious and hardworking’ Peter Boyle.

Gerard Maye Legal handles the full range of general criminal defence work including sexual assault matters, imprisonment offences and drug trafficking trials. Its serious fraud and regulatory work are other key aspects that complement the general crime work undertaken. The firm also represents clients using Legal Aid assistance as well as privately funded cases. According to one client, Gerard Maye is ‘the pre-eminent defence lawyer for miles around’; he is adept at handling serious sexual offences, high-profile murder trials and cases involving mentally incapacitated or vulnerable persons. Other key names in the department are John Searby, who handles criminal cases relating to health and safety issues, and James Warren, a murder case and terrorism offences expert.

Noble Solicitors is known for its work in rape cases, white-collar crime matters and money laundering issues. Recent matters include acting for a client in a high-profile murder case where the client murdered their sibling, as well as representing another client accused of murder after meeting his victim on a dating website. The practice also has strong inter-departmental links with the firm’s family and business crime teams, providing regulatory, health and safety, and environmental crime support. Its client base includes privately funded and Legal Aid individuals in the South East and London regions as well as nationally. Managing director Paul Millan heads the complex crime unit, with experience in VHCC matters. Other key names in the practice are Parm Sidhu, David Noble and Jas Kalirai.

Sternberg Reed represents clients accused of theft, possession of firearms and murder. The team successfully had a client acquitted of murder and GBH charges, and secured the acquittal of a defendant in a conspiracy to illegally import £8m of cigarettes and an ongoing investigation into £70m-worth of cocaine being imported into the UK. Ben Thomas is the practice head, with experience in serious crime matters including drug trafficking and murder. Also recommended are white-collar crime and cross-border prosecutions solicitor David Barbone and associate partner Frances Anderson. Richard Cooper ‘is a first-class solicitor’; ‘cases from him are always meticulously prepared’.

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