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While the majority of Birkett Long LLP’s commercial litigation clients are small and medium-sized enterprises, the ‘reliable and responsive’ department also advises larger companies as well as private individuals in regard to contractual disagreements, negligence claims and company disputes. Head of team Peter Allen, noted for his ‘keen interest in getting a favourable result’, is based in Chelmsford and specialises in the construction industry, while the ‘calm and collected’ Keith Songhurst mainly handles matters concerning property. Kevin Sullivan in Colchester supports clients during commercial disputes with an insolvency aspect. Allen advised long-term client Valeo on recovering two prototypes that went missing while in transit with shipping company TNT and also represented a property management company in a claim against a consultant concerning its public procurement application worth £5.9m. Songhurst’s highlights included the defence of the buyer in a contract dispute regarding breach of warranty claims arising out of an asset purchase agreement. Solicitor Natalie Whybrow joined Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.

The commercial litigation department at Birketts LLP in Chelmsford is ‘excellent in terms of commitment and results’ and is strong in shareholder disputes, contractual litigation (often regarding sale and purchase agreements) and injunctive remedies. The ‘unflappable, efficient and knowledgeableDaden Hunt is known for handling such matters on a cross-border level, particularly involving France, the Netherlands, Indonesia and China. Together with ‘helpful and high-quality’ associate Marie Batchelor, he represents Elektron Technology as a defendant in a derivative claim by a shareholder worth £2m; the matter has been taken to the Court of Appeal. Legal Director Matthew Weston has special expertise in freezing orders.

The commercial litigation practice at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP consists of four key solicitors who handle contractual, professional negligence, regulatory and shareholder disputes. The team serves a number of industries and areas of law, with leading lawyer James Burkett specialising in the banking and construction sectors, consultant solicitor Christopher Yemm acting as a mediator, and both Kevin Boorof and Lawrence Adams focusing on employment and property disputes. Other areas include commercial landlord and tenant disputes, plus litigation in the offshore, marine, health and safety, and care home arenas. Employment specialist Beth Baird joined Birketts LLP in Chelmsford.

The commercial litigation team at Wortley Byers LLP handles contract disputes, negligence claims, company management and partnership litigation. Head of team Nick Hatchett, who provides ‘invaluable advice in dealing with disputes’, continued to advise a major European bank in a recovery matter. Apart from banking, Hatchett, Wendy Beach and Sarah Stanyer work with clients in the energy, hospitality, pharmaceutical, property and transport industries. Telecoms giant AT&T, German plant engineering company Andritz MeWa and Review Hotels are among the firm’s active client base.

The ‘well-established and respected’ commercial litigation department at Ellisons Solicitors delivers ‘excellent service and technically brilliant advice’, particularly in the banking and debt recovery space. An uptick in multi-jurisdictional mandates included Graeme Wallington (who ‘combines considerable experience and understanding of litigation with great attention to detail’) representing Procurus in a High Court claim against a German shipping company. Other highlights for Wallington and solicitor Ceri Rogers included the handling of debt recovery for The Book Service and legal support given to Gray Dawes Travel during contractual litigation with an IT supplier. Head of department Lee Pearce regularly advises the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation during possession claims regarding property licensed to army personnel. The team welcomed ‘outstanding solicitor’ Scott Porter from Kennedys.

Jefferies Essex LLP in Southend-on-Sea has an ‘exceptional breadth of practice for a local firm’ and provides ‘a very good value service for smaller and medium-size clients in particular’. Its specialisms within commercial litigation include professional negligence, M&A disputes and contentious matters regarding motor manufacturer dealership agreements. An example of the latter is head of team Sarah Mitchell’s and recently promoted senior associate Duncan Bennington’s long-term representation of a local car dealer concerning the financial loss resulting from the termination of its dealership sales and services agreements with an international car manufacturer. The ‘tactically extremely switched-on’ and ‘adaptable’ Mark Rothman, who was promoted to partner in May 2017, currently represents over 400 high-net-worth individuals in a £10m High Court claim against the HMRC regarding the accusation of using tax avoidance schemes. Rothman also acts for Cash4U & Loans R Us in a dispute regarding an outstanding investment payment and further defends one owner of Cars 4 All Garage in a personal loan dispute between the other company owners worth £450,000. Mitchell, who is ‘driven to achieve the best for her clients’, also represents a car dealer in a matter regarding the conditions of its franchise agreement with a Japanese manufacturer, and Bennington has a ‘sensible approach to litigation’ and currently works on a case regarding the financial and business strategies of a company for a majority shareholder. The ‘exceptional commercial common sense’ of consultant Dennis Travell is also recommended.

Mullis & Peake LLP’s commercial litigation team is mainly based in Romford, but also opened an office in Shenfield in December 2015. The four litigators, who ‘are very good at focussing on the real issues and offering a cost-effective service to their clients’, specialise in the betting and gaming, construction, leisure and hospitality and healthcare services sectors. The ‘very able and full-of-energy’ associate solicitor Manzurul Islam is the main contact for this area, with ‘hardworkingMartyn Trenerry acting as the overall head of litigation. Together with the ‘well-prepared, efficient, practical and approachable’ solicitor Hollie Wright, Islam represents an investment company in a dilapidation claim worth £1.2m against a former commercial tenant. Alongside associate Holly Minney, he also handles several breach of contract matters related to loss of profits, such as representing a gynaecologist against an NHS Trust and defending a food supplier against a claim by a currency trader. Wright provides niche expertise in commercial and intellectual property disputes, while Minney focuses on commercial fraud and construction litigation.

The commercial litigation department at Palmers in Basildon ‘punches above its weight’ through ‘exemplary response times and entirely accurate advice’, as well as ‘risk awareness which is well communicated to the client’. The team derives most of its work from shareholder and partnership, business transfer and intellectual property disputes, but also handles contract litigation, professional negligence, breach of trust and public procurement cases. Key lawyer Luke Morgan, who is especially endorsed for his ‘experience in freezing injunctions’, was promoted to partner and ‘handles difficulties with aplomb’. Morgan represented the vice presidents of a hobbyist society in a dispute regarding wrongful conduct against the membership board and also led a breach claim regarding the share purchase agreement for the former shareholders and directors of an international fashion company against the purchaser. Consultant solicitor and mediator Clive Tant, who advised on 20 separate business transfer disputes as well as partnership litigation relating to an £8m property asset portfolio, is also recommended. Solicitor Carla Jones currently represents an investor in a breach of warranty matter in front of the Intellectual Property Enterprises Court.

Pinney Talfourd LLP’s commercial litigation department provides ‘pragmatic and effective representation at all stages’, as ‘cases are well prepared and realistic advice is given to clients’; the department is also known for ‘working tirelessly to fulfil clients’ needs whilst keeping an eye on the bigger picture’. The team, led by Stephen Eccles in Upminster, mainly deals with contractual disputes (especially in the construction industry and concerning Joint Contracts Tribunal documentation) and insolvency litigation. The ‘astute’ senior associate Bushra Elzubeir, who has ‘a strong tactical approach’ and ‘provides a truly personal service to his clients’, has a special focus on regulatory aspects in commercial litigation, as well as consumer compliance legislation matters in the energy sector. During the past year, he added Sports Supplements as a client. the ‘bright and thorough’ Damian Pitts is also recommended. Active clients include Bowmite, Robert Parish Estate Agents, The Kiani Group of Companies and Chadwell Formwork. Amy Leite joined Aquabridge Law.

The commercial litigation practice at Tees Law is led by David Perry, who advised Spicerhaart Estate Agents on its right to renew a lease. Together with Holly McColgan, Perry acted for a landing gear company during a dispute with a Saudi Arabian airline concerning the payment for services and the recovery of loan roll around rolling gear held in Germany. Other highlights were the representation of a large national banana importer in a quality dispute with a Dominican importer and the related payment and rejection of the products as well as advising a majority owner of a care home group in a dispute with the minority shareholder involving various claims, including professional negligence. Solicitor Katie Latham joined from Ellisons Solicitors in January 2016 and represented Promo International in a VAT appeal concerning the company’s liability. She also supported Acorn Warehouse Solutions in its claim against the non-payment of invoices by a construction company. CVR Global is also an active client.

The commercial litigation department at ‘small, but important local firmAttwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors is led by ‘experienced and intuitive’ associate Leanne Philp, who ‘readily gains her clients’ trust’ and specialises in contentious probate, professional negligence against professional service firms, landlord and tenant disputes, as well as contractual breaches. Solicitor and head of employment Charlotte Woolven-Brown joined from Palmers’s South Woodham Ferrers office in January 2017 and ‘has the experience and acumen of a City commercial litigator and is proactive and tactically astute in her approach’.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP’s commercial litigation department is located in Westcliff-on-Sea and handles property matters as well as advising companies who have disputes with suppliers, customers, banks and insurers. The main contact is accredited mediator Fiona Colwell, who specialises in shareholder, partnership, construction, intellectual property and professional negligence cases. She is supported by Lorraine Lancaster, who mostly represents clients in property and tenancy disputes. Recent highlights include the settling of a long-term insurance dispute concerning remedial works at the client’s residential property, as well as the representation of an international medical supplier acting as the claimant in several public procurement, defective goods and supply failure matters. Colwell is also working on dispute for a cleaning company involving a ‘sleeping’ shareholder and his claim against a business restructuring. The team is also acting for a playground equipment supplier in a dispute with a material supplier.

Thompson Smith and Puxon’s commercial litigation department is based in Colchester and advises on matters such as contentious probate, tenancy disputes, breaches of contract, negligence, injunctions and consumer disputes. Chartered Legal Executive and head of practice Sharon Auton is also an accredited mediator. She is supported by ‘thorough and pleasant to work with’ solicitor Judith Winward, who specialises in lease extension and enfranchisements as well commercial property litigation and boundary disputes. Most of the highlights in the past year involved property litigation, commercial leases, probate and intellectual property.

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Legal Developments in South East for Commercial litigation: Essex

  • US rules regarding offshore accounts

    The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act 2010, enacted on 18 March 2010, imposes a new US withholding tax and reporting regime, known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The FATCA regime applies generally to payments made after 31 December 2012, except on obligations (to be defined in future guidance) outstanding on 18 March 2012. Substantial effort is required by foreign entities to bring their worldwide operations and policies into compliance with the FATCA rules as of the effective date.

    - Jones Day

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