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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South East > Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. Commercial litigation: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx
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B P Collins LLP is ‘a highly professional firm with a strong commitment to quality, service and value’. The group is well regarded for its expertise in the environmental, technology and pharmaceutical sectors, and core work includes contract disputes, shareholder litigation, defamation claims and professional negligence. Practice head Matthew Brandis is ‘highly knowledgeable, objective and results-oriented’; he is ably assisted by Craig Williams, who acts for corporate clients in shareholder and director disputes, and Nick Hallchurch, who is praised for his ‘great attention to detail’ and ‘excellent strategies’. In a recent highlight, the group advised a former co-owner of a property investment business in a £3.2m shareholder dispute, successfully securing a favourable judgement at trial, and defended two individuals in repayment claims arising from a joint venture agreement. Other key clients include Summerleaze Group, Biffa Waste Services and Toshiba Medical Systems.

Dentons’ ‘outstanding legal team’ provides ‘sensible and commercial advice’ and ‘truly knows the industries in which its clients operate’. The group’s combined Milton Keynes and Watford team has a strong track record in energy, banking, construction and retail disputes, and is noted for its cross-border capabilities and strong international network. The ‘tremendously experiencedJames Fairbairnis calm under pressure and pursues the client’s needs rigorously’; he is advising Haringey Council in a £7m professional negligence claim against NPS Property Consultants for negligent design in relation to a primary school. In another highlight, Helen Simpson is representing a major Chinese manufacturing company in a significant debt claim, a high-value case involving personal guarantee issues. The firm’s recent combination with Matthew Arnold & Baldwin saw a number of new arrivals to the team, including banking and finance litigators Steven Mills and Clare Stothard; mediation expert Tim Constable; and Roger McCourt, who has extensive experience in the financial services sector.

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) has experienced a rise in insolvency-related cases, most notably in the manufacturing and distribution sectors, and continues to advise on a range of matters including product liability, debt recovery and commercial contract disputes. Recent work includes representing the National House Building Council (NHBC) in an insurance indemnity claim totalling £1m, which related to defective construction work undertaken as part of a major project. It also acted for Phillip Jeffries in mediation with a former commercial agent. The team also acted for longstanding client Renault in an intellectual property infringement matter regarding a domain name. Paul Kite advises on the full range of contentious matters and has notable automotive, manufacturing and distribution sector expertise. He is recommended alongside senior associate Sarah Jackson, who handles company and partnership disputes, commercial fraud and debt recovery matters.

SA Law LLPattracts superb clients, punches above its weight and is very commercially astute’. The firm is handling an increasing volume of cross-border litigation and arbitration, representing foreign parties in high-value multi-jurisdictional disputes, and has notable experience representing clients in arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce. The practice recently handled a number of real estate and banking litigation matters, and also handles sports-sector mandates. Leading figures include Tracy Lacey-Smith, who is rated for his ability to ‘focus on the crux of the problem whilst avoiding extraneous issues’ and who combines ‘strong benefit analysis with practical advice and sound commercial judgement’; Robert Ryall, who has significant expertise in the construction, sports, energy and power sectors; and senior associate Nat Young, who is ‘highly knowledgeable and immediately puts the client at ease’. ‘Outstanding commercial litigator’ Simon Walsh is also a key practitioner, and is praised by clients as being ‘quick, clever and unfailingly professional’.

The ‘highly experienced’ lawyers at Freeths LLPknow their chosen fields incredibly well’, and ‘truly understand the client’s business, tailoring their advice accordingly’. The group is known for its expertise in the drinks and hospitality sector, and frequently handles complex multi-party disputes in the areas of professional negligence, restrictive covenants, contracts and intellectual property. The firm is currently advising various transport and logistics companies in claims for damages against truck manufacturers arising from the European Commission’s investigation into price fixing and cartel behaviour. ‘Experienced litigatorSimon Hobbs is ‘easy to work with’ and is praised for his ‘excellent commercial advice’, and associate Adam Boyd is ‘meticulous, works well with clients and demonstrates a good understanding of specific business needs’.

Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP’s areas of specialism include professional negligence matters, property litigation, and insolvency, construction and IT-related disputes. The firm is acting for the liquidators of Jeremy D Stone Consultants in an £11m insolvency case related to a Ponzi scheme. Other recent highlights included successfully obtaining a judgment on behalf of an individual whom the firm is now assisting in bankruptcy proceedings. Kenneth Stangoe heads the department and has significant experience in the retail, property development and leisure sectors. Other key practitioners include Trevor Coward, who deals with computer and intellectual property-related disputes, Guy Brooks, who leads the debt recovery practice, and Mairead McErlean, who is noted for her expertise in dealing with local authority matters.

Sherrards Solicitors LLP is ‘an excellent firm for commercial litigation; it has the strength and depth of a City law firm without the price tag’. The ‘highly competent’ team ‘works very hard for its clients, analysing all problems with speed and clarity and putting forward reasonable options’. Practice head Paul Marmorinspires confidence’, taking ‘a calm and balanced approach to drive forward a resolution agreeable for both parties’; he has significant experience handling complex multi-jurisdictional litigation. Also recommended are Karen Dobson, who is ‘an unflappable and determined litigator who always goes the extra mile’; Marta Grieve, who heads the Russia & CIS desk and is ‘especially good in international arbitration and fraud litigation matters’; and recent addition Simon Morgan, who has notable expertise in criminal matters. Clients include Winkworth Franchising, Villa Plus and Habibsons Bank.

The ‘highly recommended’ team at Shoosmiths LLP has been notably active in the retail, automotive, reputation management and pensions sectors, representing a broad range of new and longstanding clients including IKEA, The Open University and Thomas Cook. In a recent highlight, the group acted for Viavi Solutions in Part 8 proceedings regarding amendments to the rules of a pension scheme, in a case valued at over £5m. Paul Kirkpatrick heads the practice and regularly acts for major corporates on commercial claims, with particular expertise in the automotive sector. Senior associate Harriet Campbell focuses on multi-jurisdictional disputes and has recently handled a number of insolvency-related disputes.

Debenhams Ottaway is ‘a growing force in litigation outside of central London’, and provides ‘an extremely efficient service and extensive industry knowledge’. The firm acts for a mix of entrepreneurs, owner-managed businesses and medium to large corporations, and has recently been strengthening its intellectual property practice, bringing in a stream of patent and trade mark-related work. Key partner Luke Harrisonhas a high success rate in obtaining settlements’ and is ‘a savvy and experienced litigator that you want on your side in a fight’. Harrison has particular expertise in contentious insolvency matters, financial services and boardroom disputes and recruitment law. Associate solicitor Louise Worton is also recommended. Notable clients include Grant Thornton, McNicholas Construction Services and Berry Recruitment.

EMW Law LLP handles the full range of contentious matters including shareholder, joint venture, private equity and supplier disputes. The firm is noted for its expertise in the recruitment and food and drink sectors, and receives regular instructions from clients such as Whitworths, Roots Reggae Reggae and Bidvest. Key individuals include dispute resolution head Damon Watt, whose specialisms include contentious insolvency, negligence, sports law and ADR; Charles Clay, who handles real estate litigation; Karen Young, who focuses on property, landlord and tenant and warranty claims; and banking and asset specialist Mark Rondel. Sean Fitzgerald joined from Nockolds Solicitors and represents a mix of PLCs, SMEs and private individuals in property disputes.

Machins Solicitors LLP provides ‘fast response times, strong business acumen and clear and correct advice’; the team ‘caters to all clients’ needs’. Shareholder disputes and property and insolvency litigation are regular fixtures of the practice, which handles other contentious contractual and commercial matters. Highlights included successfully acting for Czech Bank in a significant debt recovery case, obtaining a block transfer for an insolvency practitioner, and advising manufacturing clients in an international oil dispute concerning failed equipment. Practice head Neil O’Callaghan has ‘excellent communication skills’ and ‘a great wealth of experience to draw upon’. He is recommended alongside Janice Young, who is ‘always on top of all aspects of the case’.

Taylor Walton LLP has particular expertise in mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, and also handles litigation in relation to tax, insolvency and contractual matters. Recent work includes representing Brook Street in a landlord and tenant dispute arising from a break notice, and acting for Wyse Power in a claim for unpaid invoices resulting from the development of a London property. James Carpenter heads the department and has extensive commercial litigation experience, particularly within the professional negligence, construction, employment and insolvency spaces. Clients also single out Claire Baynham, whose wide-ranging expertise includes commercial contract disputes, property litigation and breaches of restrictive covenants.

The ‘knowledgeable, timely and efficient’ team at Tees Lawprovides excellent advice and charts practical courses of action’, and is ‘mindful of the costs and the value of the service’. The group is particularly strong in contentious trust and probate matters and education law, and also handles disputes in the insolvency, property, charities and pensions sectors. Commercial dispute specialist Justin Robinson heads the practice, and recently handled major litigation regarding potential breach of indemnity. He is assisted by Darren Perks, who has a property focus and ‘has sound knowledge of his area of expertise, providing constructive and innovative strategies’; and Caroline Metcalf, who handles trust and probate disputes. Key clients include Stanstead Airport, Fuller Smith & Turner, NHS Property Services and Fairview New Homes.

Blaser Millsdemonstrates and excellent grip of the law in complex cases’, and the team ‘is always on top of all legalities and able to put constant pressure on the other side’. The firm has specialist industry knowledge across a range of consumables including disability aids, animal foods and alcoholic beverages, and other key sectors include construction, vehicles and professional services. Practice head Alka Kharbanda recently defended two claims brought against a property development company regarding breach of contract, where damages amounted to £1.5m, and also represented a number of private individuals in cases involving persons who had lost capacity. Other notable individuals include Sangita Manek, who is ‘meticulous and dedicated’ and ‘a great legal mind’, and Jackie Ray, who is ‘readily available and extremely knowledgeable’.

Longmores Solicitors LLP attracts praise for its ‘excellent level of support’, with clients noting that the group’s ‘industry knowledge in the recruitment sector is particularly strong’. Clients include a mix of small and large businesses, landlords and high-net-worth individuals. John Wiblin provides ‘thorough, well-considered advice’ and recently represented CCNG in a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service regarding the mis-selling of an interest rate hedging Product. Solicitor John Wagstaffe is ‘an excellent lawyer – intellectually capable, with a great depth of knowledge in property work’.

The ‘excellent’ team at Woodfines LLP is praised for its ‘great value for money, good response times and commercial outlook’. The firm has a strong track record in contractual disputes, property litigation, IP matters and debt recovery, and continues to attract clients across a broad range of sectors. Andrew Carter is ‘very intelligent, and has a good eye for technicalities without losing sight of the bigger picture’. Keith Jones and Maria Koureas-Jones are the other key figures.

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