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United Kingdom > South East > Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Commercial litigation: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

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Blake Morgan LLP’s workload includes shareholder, professional negligence, fraud and asset tracing claims. Practice head Chris Potts is defending Transworld Payment Solutions UK and its liquidator in proceedings that have been filed in Curaçao by its former parent company First Curaçao International Bank (FCIB), which seeks to obtain a declaration that Transworld cannot bring a claim in the UK against FCIB relating to the Bank’s involvement in VAT carousel fraud as the matter has allegedly already settled. Construction partner James Bessey acted for GMI Construction Group in a case arising out of the construction of AESSEAL New York Stadium, bringing an action against the company’s employer and then filing a recovery action against a subcontractor for its part in a technical defect that occurred during the project. Senior associate Nicola Diggle is representing the shareholder of a national coffee bar chain in a dispute with another shareholder, who has brought unfair prejudice and breach of directors’ duties claims. Clients include Investec Asset Finance, Miele and Grant Thornton LLP. Also recommended are Stephanie Walls and senior associate Stephen Schneider.

Boyes Turner is ‘head and shoulders above the competition’, ‘punching far above its weight’ in complex litigation. Pensions litigation expert Jonathan Grigg joined as practice head from Shoosmiths LLP and is acting for Viavi Solutions in a dispute with trustees, which is proceeding to the Court of Appeal and questions the validity and enforceability of pension scheme documentation. Senior associate Stephen Baker (‘an all-round strong performer with excellent legal knowledge’) is defending Zimmer Group and Zimmer Biomet against a number of product liability claims relating to metal-on-metal hip devices. Also at senior associate level, Russell May is ‘a solid property litigation lawyer’, Rowan Turrall heads the construction team and is ‘a class act’ with strength in IT disputes, and debt recovery practice head Ally Tow is renowned for contentious probate matters and commission disputes concerning recruitment and estate agencies. Mike Robinson stepped down as practice head and remains active in shareholder and professional negligence claims. The firm has also been handling employment and libel cases, and various disputes for technology companies. Cepia LLC, Francis Construction and Kelly Services are also clients.

Clarkslegal LLP has ‘one of the best litigation departments outside London’, with practice head Antony Morris and Stephen James hailed as ‘top-class litigators for any multi-layered or complex case’. Morris is representing Smart Reamer Drilling Systems in an IP dispute with Baker Hughes and its subsidiaries, which allegedly infringed three of Smart’s UK patents for oil drilling technology. Ongoing mandates for Chris Tayton include acting for InstaGroup in a contractual dispute with large electricity companies, and representing individuals and pension funds in a multiparty professional negligence action brought against a City-based law firm, regarding an unregulated investment that was made in a Gibraltar-registered company. The ‘very responsive, strong and pragmatic’ team also acts for University of Reading, BMW and Autoglass.

The team at Pitmans LLPcoordinates and delivers advice under significant timescale pressures’. Through the efforts of the ‘stellar’ and ‘technically spot-onPhil Smith, UTelcom UK’s breach of contract case against Gamma Business Communications was dismissed. Department head and IT sector expert Tim Clarkfights his client’s corner’ and, together with Smith, represented Xma in a dispute with InTechnology, which claimed that it had a sub-contract with the Xma, despite Xma’s termination of the main agreement. William Richmond-Coggan has higher rights of audience and acted for One Step (Support) in bringing a non-competition and non-solicitation clauses claim against two individuals, which will be appealed in the Supreme Court in late 2017. Other clients include Sky, Westcoast and HUMAX Electronics. Deputy managing partner and insolvency expert Suzanne Brooker is also noted, as is respected mediator Sue O'Brien, who became a consultant and stepped down as head of the team.

At Shoosmiths LLP, practice head Stuart Little excels in the automotive, corporate and IT sectors, while senior associate Fleur Turrington leads the compliance retail sector group and is also adept in leisure industry matters. Paul Eccles heads the commercial insurance practice and successfully defended Chubb against a multiparty product liability claim that was filed in the High Court by a worker who was injured after falling down a lift shaft; Manchester-based senior associate Richard Marshall also worked on the matter. Recent work also included representing toy, financial services and technology companies in contract, public procurement and IT disputes. Bang and Olufsen, IKEA and Volkswagen Group UK are other notable clients.

Singled out for their ‘well-rounded experience of various industries’, the lawyers at Field Seymour Parkes LLP handle a range of matters and have been especially active in cross-border disputes. The ‘approachable, very bright and pragmaticBill Dixon represented the Newin Foundation in UK proceedings against a beneficiary, who alleged that the assets of the foundation were held in a constructive trust. The firm’s recent caseload also included breach of fiduciary duty, property development and shareholder disputes. Honda, Reading FC and Prudential are also among clients of the practice, which is led Tom Maple, who is highly regarded for automotive and fast-moving consumer goods sector work as well as his niche expertise in the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. Joe Lott leads the property litigation team and acts for landowners and leaseholders in a plethora of matters, including dilapidations, development and overage agreement issues. Senior associate Robert Woodhouse is another key figure and Tim Child now serves as a deputy district judge.

Freeths LLP’s experience encompasses multi-party shareholder, IT supplier and professional negligence cases, among other matters such as employment issues, contractual disputes and passing off claims. Duncan Crine provides ‘clear advice’ and leads the practice, which acts for clients such as BMW and GEFCO. Also noted are managing partner Sarah Foster, senior associate Andrew Dashwood-Begg and recently promoted senior associate Mona Schroedel.

Gardner Leader LLP’s ‘caseload is exceptional and would be the envy of any City firm’. ‘Cornerstone of the team’ and practice head Chris Felton defended a private client in a cross-border probate dispute regarding the validity of a will concerning assets worth millions. Property litigation head Michelle Di Gioia, who ‘inspires a real team ethos’ by ‘going above and beyond for clients’, defended Swynson and its owner in a Supreme Court appeal against liquidated accountants Lowick Rose LLP, which questioned whether the repayment of loans by a borrower released or reduced the liability a negligent adviser has to a lender based on the principal of res inter alios acta. Clients also include Managed Legal Solutions and Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership. Andrew Shipp was promoted to associate, and at senior associate level, Hilary Messer leads the litigation team in Maidenhead and Violetta Falla joined the firm from RPC. Caroline Watson became a partner at Thrings LLP.

Osborne Clarke’s core industry focuses include the digital, financial services, automotive, defence and life sciences sectors, with Hyundai, Content Guru and Arbuthnot Latham being key clients. Practice head Peter Sheppard acted for MatsSoft, MatsSoft (Holdings), its lead director and shareholder in mediation with a former associate who made breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit allegations. Other recent work included representing Rush Hair in a restrictive covenants claim that it filed against a former franchisor and defending Hyundai Motor UK against misrepresentation and fraudulent conduct claims that were struck out. Dawn Troman is an associate director to watch.

Penningtons Manches LLP’s Rachael Barber combines ‘fantastic commercial acumen with being a ruthless litigator’ in design, trade mark and copyright litigation. Bosch, Jimmy Choo and IKEA instructed Barber in numerous matters, including domain name recoveries, cross-border disputes and colour mark enforcement. ‘Client-focused’ senior associate Emma Davies and London-based Alex Fox have been handling tax claims related to film investment schemes for high-net-worth individuals, celebrities, sportsmen and other high-profile clients. Julie Bond recently handled complex fraud and regulatory matters in the healthcare, real estate and research sectors. Alexander McQueen, Vivobarefoot and Somerville College are also clients of the department, which is headed nationally by London’s Rustam Dubash.

The ‘diligent and results-oriented’ practice at White & Black Limited leads in technology disputes, with an emphasis on IP matters, including passing off, patent and copyright work. ‘Seasoned and hands-on lawyer’ Victoria Wright was promoted to partner and became practice head following the sad passing of Henry Mendus. Wright has been active in multi-jurisdictional disputes and is representing a technology company in bringing a patent infringement claim against a US business. In another recent highlight, recently promoted partner Nicholas Mitchell and corporate partner John Allen represented the managing director of Mantis Deposition in a dispute with the company’s majority shareholder in relation to the consideration payable for the transfer of their 45% shareholding following their resignation; the case is subject to an appeal in 2017. Mitchell leads the contentious IT practice and is the primary contact for software development and outsourcing agreement disputes. Pharmaceutical, retail and insurance companies also instruct the firm.

Blandy & Blandy LLP excels in contractual, contested probate, property, insolvency, debt recovery and professional negligence cases under the leadership of department head and joint managing partner Philip D’Arcy. Commercial litigation and insolvency practice head David Murray challenged the procurement decision of a university hospital trust for a biochemistry sector supplier of diagnostic solutions, and is representing a drug analysis system supplier in a product liability dispute that relates to the functionality of a system supplied to police forces. Clients of the ‘responsive and strong team’ also include Clinical Professionals, 1823 Group and Certikin International. Debbie Brett and associate Jessica Irwin are other names to note.

The lawyers at BrookStreet des Roches are ‘unequivocal in their advice’ and ‘focus on the end game’ in breach of contract, professional negligence and partnership disputes. Known for his ‘excellent grasp’ of complex cases, practice head Philip Shaw defended an individual in the Court of Appeal against Aldermore Bank in attempting to recover re-mortgaged funds that had been misappropriated by the respondent’s solicitors. Another significant instruction saw Shaw represent liquidated company JS Fraser (Oxford) in bringing a claim against the Department of Health following allegations that were made by a whistleblower relating to a public-sector procurement tender that had not been conducted properly. MEPC, Rackspace and Smeg UK are other clients. Associate Gemma Tolmie is also highly regarded.

Steven Maier is the ‘go-to person for all contentious matters’ at Maier Blackburn LLP, where he focuses on the publishing and media sectors. Longstanding client The Tolkien Estate retained the firm in several matters, including bringing a high-profile copyright infringement claim against Australian jeweller Alexander Thomas Saltalamacchia, who inscribed rings with a famous verse of Elvish script from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Maier also defended new client Lloyd Shoe Co in a dispute with a well-known fashion shoe designer, which alleged that the respondent infringed registered and unregistered design rights for a ladies court shoe. Other recent client gains include Hudson Shoe Agencies, The Hyman Archive and Oxford Study Courses.

Aston Bond’s team ‘approaches cases with a keen eye for detail and respect for its clients’ particular nuances’. Led by Stephen Puri, the dispute resolution department shines in property cases and also handles disputes involving aspects such as breach of contract, debt recovery, bankruptcy and IP. Recently promoted director Jagdeep Sandher leads the litigation team and is ‘an intelligent, client-oriented litigator’, who ‘attracts high-quality cases’; he recently acted for a German law firm in recovering sums from a client that relocated to the UK and represented Best Images in an ongoing dispute with NatWest, which centres on the mis-selling of interest rate swaps and hedging products. Azerbaijan Airlines, Sue Ryder and Eden Farm are also clients.

Brethertons LLP houses ‘experienced lawyers’ with ‘a very hands-on approach’ to property, IP, shareholder and various other disputes. The firm has a specialist debt recovery team and represented Rendall & Rittner as receiver manager in an action to recover service charges from the defendant, who then brought a counterclaim against the client alleging breach of duty and failure to repair a property. Fiona Hewitt joined from independent practice as department head and defended ZEON Healthcare in a trade mark infringement, passing off and breach of contract case. Associate chartered legal executive Sioban Calcott and Hewitt are ‘have good judgement, and are commercially astute, good with clients and efficient’. Former head Debbie Phillips remains active in property matters and experienced solicitor David Richards arrived from Tollers LLP. CEO and director of legal services Shaun Jardine is also recommended.

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors’ ‘ethos of client care and developing individual relationships with clients makes it a firm for life’. Under the stewardship of Jonathan Davis, the practice is ‘excellent in every respect’ for a range of property disputes, particularly landlord and tenant cases. Carlton Rae, whose ‘knowledge, commitment, drive and communication are exemplary’, represented an estate agent as landlord in a dispute against a local authority, which attempted to levy business rates against the company regarding the letting of units. Leisure, printing and construction companies are other clients of the practice. The recent workload also includes environmental, debt recovery and contentious probate matters.

Commercial contracts and economic torts are the forte of litigation boutique Emmerson Law, which also ‘punches above its weight’ in regulatory work. ‘Top-notch’ managing director Simon Emmerson has ‘a real feel for the dynamics of litigation’ and routinely acts for defendants and claimants from a broad range of sectors, including energy, hospitality and software development. The firm receives a high number of inbound instructions from the US.

Knights Professional Services Limited’s Emma Banister Dean is well versed in acting for academic institutions, businesses and individuals in defamation and data protection matters. Nick Wright’s expertise includes equine, professional negligence, and commercial landlord and tenant disputes, and Hilary Napolitan has notable strength in accountancy cases and Sale of Goods Act claims, as well as property disputes related to park and mobile home sites.

Spratt Endicott handles a plethora of disputes, including agricultural, contentious probate and shareholder matters. ‘Innovative and astute’ practice head David Whiting represented a shareholder in a dispute concerning the division of assets following a manufacturing company’s closure. Clients of the team also include telecoms, technology and automotive companies. Shamsher Pangu is another name to note, as are associates Kyle Wyness and Petra van Dijk, who lead the property litigation and insolvency teams, respectively.

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