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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 West > Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: The West Country > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: The West Country
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Henry Maples - Murrell Associates

Rising stars

  1. 1
    • Francesca Hubbard - Michelmores LLP
    • Tim Lane - Stephens Scown LLP
    • Emma Thomas - OTB Eveling

In addition to having a strong presence in the South West, Ashfords LLP handles corporate and commercial work for nationwide clients. The firm also leverages its membership of international networks to handle cross-border deals. Corporate work includes management buyouts, joint ventures, IPOs, restructurings and corporate governance advice, as well as M&A. Louise Workman heads up the team in Exeter.

Practice head(s):Louise Workman


'One of the strongest law firms in the south west market'

'We have no hesitation recommending them to clients, their service is always of excellent quality'

Key Clients

Frog Capital


Notion Capital

Marie Hewitt Interiors Ltd

Armada Civil Engineering (SW) Limited

Hello Fresh

Samworth Brothers Limited

Draper Esprit


Creditcall Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised TLH Bidco Limited on the purchase of the entire issued share capital of Torquay Leisure Hotels Limited.
  • Represented the shareholders of Frugi on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to Recoleta Bidco Limited
  • Assisted Swallowfield Plc with the £2.7m acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Fish London Limited.
  • Advised the managers of Creditcall Group Limited on the sale of the company to Network Merchants LLC for an undisclosed sum.

Foot Anstey provides corporate and commercial services through its four core sector lines of financial services, media and technology, property and infrastructure, and retail and leisure. The firm's varied workload includes M&A, private equity, commercial contracts and restructurings. Ken Lewins has an excellent reputation acting for larger businesses with an international or national focus, as well as ambitious management teams in the South West.

Practice head(s):Ken Lewins

Other key lawyers:Chris Worrell; Matthew Stoate; Duncan Sykes;

Key Clients

Business Growth Fund Investments LP

Ardian / Envision Pharma Group / Six Degrees


Greenridge Investment Management

UKRD Group

Gregory Distribution (Holdings) Limited

Aerosense Limited

Smithfield / Pure Safety Group Holdings Limited

UKRD Group

Gregory Distribution (Holdings) Limited

Aerosense Limited

Smithfield / Pure Safety Group Holdings Limited

Connecterra Holdings Limited

South Staffordshire Plc

Ministry of Sound

Crondall Energy Consultants

Work highlights

  • Advised UBM (UK) Limited on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Smarter Shows (Power) Europe Holdings Limited.
  • Acted for Plymouth Argyle Football Club Limited on the further investment by director and shareholder Simon Hallett into the club, including share purchases.
  • Advised Connecterra Holdings Limited on a Series A fundraising from existing investors and incoming venture capital funds for further growth.
  • Advised Aspen Pumps Limited on the £6m acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Advanced Limited.
  • Advised Business Growth Fund Investments LP on its £16m investment into Seasalt Holdings Limited for funding further expansion.

Michelmores LLP excels in assisting high net worth entrepreneurs, private equity clients and listed companies with complex M&A and private equity transactions, demergers and restructurings, among other matters. In the commercial sphere, the team is experienced in drafting and negotiating a wide variety of contracts, such as manufacturing agreements, licensing agreements and distribution agreements. A significant portion of the firm's work has a cross-border component; the team has experience of completing M&A and private equity deals in emerging markets, such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Practice head(s):Richard Cobb

Other key lawyers:Henry Taylor; Francesca Hubbard

Key Clients

Sutton Harbour Holdings PLC

Maistro PLC

Succession Group

Downing LLP

Exeter Rugby Club (Exeter Chiefs)

Credit Reporting Agency (Trading as Clearscore)

Revo Developments Limited

Seasalt Limited

Business Growth Fund

TESM Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Business Growth Fund on its £3.2m investment into Lightfoot.
  • Acted for TESM Limited and shareholders on the sale of TESM to US-based DXC Technology.
  • Advised Succession Group Limited on sixteen different acquisitions over the past twelve months, including Booth Wealth Management.
  • Advised Downing LLP on the sale of Vulcan Renewables Limited, Egmere Energy Limited, Grange Farm Energy Limited and Merlin Renewables to JLEN, the listed environmental infrastructure fund, totalling £70m.
  • Acted for Seasalt Limited, including the shareholders, on the £16m investment by Business Growth Fund.

Truro-based Murrell Associates retains a traditional client base in the South West, and also has a growing number of national and European clients. The firm has a strong track record advising entities in the renewable energy sector, food and beverages, sports and manufacturing; the scope of the work includes advice on company acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures, shareholders' agreements and commercial contracts. Henry Maples leads the team, having succeeded former practice head Chris Wills, who went to Willans LLP.

Practice head(s):Henry Maples

Other key lawyers:Hugh Murrell; Rebecca Anforth; Melanie Rowe; Rachel Tremaine


'The team has a ready understanding of business needs, and expertly and calmly explained the processes in question'

'They never left any stone unturned and yet nothing was over-complicated for us as the client'

'We have always found the team helpful and accommodating, and they are, in our opinion, the best commercial lawyers in the south west'

Key Clients

ib vogt GmbH

Cornish Pirates Limited

ISO Spaces South West Limited

Hub Box Limited

Isles of Scilly Steamship Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised sole shareholder on the sale of the entire issued share capital of County Confectionery Limited to Orkla ASA.
  • Acted for Archmartin Holdings Limited on the sale of the business to Bradfords Building Supplies Limited.
  • Acted for White Cloud Laundry & Linen Services Limited on the purchase of competitor business Padstor Laundry Limited.
  • Advised Germany solar energy client ib vogt GmbH on its acquisition of 50% of Aura Power Developments Limited, and subsequent joint venture agreement.
  • Advised the board of Cornish Pirates Limited on plans to develop a new sports stadium in Cornwall, including funding negotiations and commercial licensing.

Led by founding partners James Eveling and David Gebbie, Exeter-based firm OTB Eveling acts for regional SMEs, owner-managed businesses, high net worth individuals and multinational companies. Its wide-ranging expertise includes equity investments, restructurings and acquisitions, as well as commercial contracts. Senior associate Emma Thomas has a strong track record in M&A and corporate governance matters, among others.

Practice head(s):James Eveling

Other key lawyers:David Gebbie; Emma Thomas; Rebecca Roberts


'James is the best corporate lawyer I have worked with'

'I have been very impressed with David's attention to detail and explanation of the process; I have no hesitation to recommend David and the firm'

'Easily contactable and helpful at all times'

Key Clients

Trinity Ten Limited

Van Ameyde International

Springboard Advisory Services Limited

Synergix Health Limited

Sterling Safety Systems Limited

ES-KO International Inc

Tolchards Limited

Exeter Medical Limited

Enigma Security Solutions Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for the combined shareholders of Sterling Safety Systems Limited and Argus Security S.r.l in the £21m sale to Halma International Limited.
  • Acted for Enigma Industrial Services Holdings Limited on its £3.6m acquisition of Interserve Industrial Services Limited.
  • Acted for the shareholders of Orbtalk Limited on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to London-based Telappliant Limited.
  • Acted for Laurence Murrell and other selling shareholders in the multi-million pound sale of Torquay Leisure Hotels to the management team.
  • Advised Tinc Limited on receiving a new round of equity investment and equity financing.

Stephens Scown LLP has a strong focus on acting for SMEs and owner-managed businesses in the South West, but it also acts for a number of national clients as well. Its core areas of activity are in the energy, food and beverages, healthcare, and mining and minerals sectors. Notable areas of growth include corporate advice on community interest companies and on businesses transitioning to employee ownership. Christian Wilson in Truro and Exeter-based Giles Dunning jointly lead the corporate and commercial team.

Practice head(s):Giles Dunning; Christian Wilson

Other key lawyers:Helen Wallwork; James Keliher; Tim Lane


'The team has a great range of skills and specialisms'

'They are approachable, trustworthy, reliable and communicate well'

'The firm offered a very professional and personal service'

Key Clients

Wookey Hole Limited

Tricis Limited

Phoenix Learning and Care Holdings Limited

Mr and Mrs Trethowan

WTW Scott Cinemas Limited

Kernow Health CIC

The Delivery Group

Cornwall Care

Cornwall Air Ambulance


Newlyn Pier and Harbour Commissioners

Pendennis Shipyard Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for the shareholders in the sale to the Aurora Group.
  • Acted for three directors on a management buyout to acquire a majority stake from Next Wave Partners for £11.9m
  • Represented the client in the £18m sale of a hotel to Unilever pension fund an subsequent leaseback.
  • Acted on a company buyout by employees from the founders as part of an exit strategy.
  • Advised the vendors on the sale of the entire issued share capital to German pharmaceuticals company Pharmalex

Coodes Solicitors' team is particularly experienced in working with regional SMEs, and clients make use of its network of offices in Devon and Cornwall. The group has notable expertise in the renewables, construction, tourism and rural businesses sectors. Key matters handled by the firm recently included M&A, joint ventures, share buybacks and restructurings. Its commercial work includes advice on supply agreements, manufacturing agreements and licensing agreements. Sonya Bassett leads the team from the Penzance office.

Practice head(s):Sonya Bassett

Other key lawyers:Kirsty McAuley

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client on the sale of the entire issued share capital.
  • Advised the vendors on the sale of the entire issued share capital of two companies in addition to a freehold property for an undisclosed, multi-million pound sum.
  • Assisted a client with a new partnership agreement and business transfer agreement.

GA Solicitors' corporate team is particularly active in handling sales, M&A and restructuring matters for owner-managed and SME businesses. In addition, it regularly acts for local banks and has seen a notable uptick in work in the regional healthcare sector; team head James Peterson  is driving the firm's work in the latter area. On the commercial side, recent work included assisting clients with contract negotiations, franchise agreements and joint ventures.

Practice head(s):James Peterson

Other key lawyers:Tony Cusack

Key Clients

Grakka Limited

Taxi Services (Plymouth) Limited

CS UK Central Limited

Natwest Bank Plc

Harrier LLC


The Gerrick Rose Animal Trust

Frontline Image Limited

Newton Abbot Races Limited

Peninsula Finance Plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Courtwave Limited on corporate restructuring, including new holding companies, asset transfers, reorganisation of shares and capital reduction demergers.
  • Advised Winmill Developments Limited on the sale of the entire issued share capital, totalling £4m.
  • Advised Taxi Services (Plymouth) Limited on all aspects of £1m purchase of Crownhill Taxis.
  • Advised Friary House Surgery on its merger with Park View Surgery.
  • Acted for PTG Precision Engineering Limited on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company.

The name to note at Plymouth-based Nash & Co is company and commercial law expert Austin Blackburn, who has strong connections with a number of banks and accountancy firms in Devon and Cornwall. Blackburn's areas of expertise include contractual matters, business sales, acquisitions, reorganisations and intellectual property. Tim Jackman and Duncan White departed for White Jackman.

Practice head(s):Austin Blackburn


'They take the time to get to know the client and what's important to them to ensure focus on the right issues'

'Entirely professional in their dealings with us and explain things clearly'

Key Clients

Motortronics Group

TJ International Limited

Baroque SW Limited

Rainbird IFA Limited

Services Design Solutions Limited

Porter Dodson LLP has eight offices across the West Country, with practice head Evelyn Adfield being based in the Taunton office. The team advises on corporate transactions, statutory demergers, joint ventures, share arrangements and corporate governance, among other matters. A notable area of expertise is the charities sector, where the team handle structuring, Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIO) conversions, constitutions and corporate governance arrangements. Associate David Culshaw, who is a new arrival from Stephens Scown LLP, has particular experience of working with food and beverage sector businesses.

Practice head(s):Evelyn Adfield

Other key lawyers:David Culshaw; Sarah Young


'Professional and friendly, they showed diligence to check all aspects of the work and made us feel like they were an extension of our business'

'Very responsive'

'Evelyn Adfield was outstanding, she has the gravitas of a major London law firm combined with the communication skills of a friendly in-house law team'

'Evelyn Adfield has a good knowledge of the area I was interested in, and a good sense of what would work and be acceptable to the other parties'

Key Clients

Martock and South Petherton Surgeries

Toolstream Limited

Douglas Seaton Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Martock and South Petherton Surgeries on integration with Symphony Healthcare Services, a subsidiary of Yeovil District Hospital.
  • Advised Toolstream Limited on its acquisition of Birchwood Price Tools from Travis Perkins Plc.
  • Acted for Douglas Seaton Limited on the sale of its business and assets, including a petrol station, to BP.
  • Acted for the selling shareholders on the sale of the entire issued share capital of their business to a national veterinary company.

Tozers Solicitors LLP advises clients on investment transactions, M&A, expansions and associated fundraising, reorganisations and commercial contracts. The sectors in which it is principally active are the home and holiday parks, charities and aggregates industries. It is also increasingly active in the hotels and leisure space. James Orpin is the department head.

Practice head(s):James Orpin

Other key lawyers:Amy Laver


'Strong team of individuals who work very well together'

'Amy Laver is a true professional, conscientious and has a keen eye for detail'

'Amy is able to grasp the key facts and plot a course to a successful outcome without delay'

Key Clients

Duo Group Holdings Limited

Duo Operations Limited

Haulfryn Group Limited

Peninsula Property Investments Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Duo Group Holdings Limited on the acquisition of ten companies.
  • Advised Episode Leamington Spa Limited on sale of the business and assets of a hotel to Oberoi Hotels Limited.
  • Acted for Duo Operations Limited on its acquisition of Excav8 Limited.

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