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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 > Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Bristol > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Commercial litigation: Bristol
  2. Leading individuals
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With a growing team and increasingly international focus, Burges Salmon LLP is ‘among the best, if not the best, in the South West when it comes to high-value commercial litigation’. Department head David Hall successfully defended The National Crime Agency in the face of £220m worth of compensation applications made on behalf of an Israeli businessman, who had been convicted in Israel of economic crimes. Specialising in fraud, professional negligence and banking claims, Andrew Burnette advised a state-owned Irish company operating in the energy sector on a multimillion-pound claim for misrepresentation and breach of warranty following the client’s acquisition of a UK waste treatment business. The team is also involved in high-profile domestic instructions. Indeed, Ann Metherall is instructed by a subsidiary of a listed transport company in relation to a highly publicised fatal incident. Kari McCormick, who is ‘adept at handling heavy multi-party litigation’, is advising Financial Services Compensation Scheme on its ongoing PPI recovery project. Additional contacts include Chris Jackson and Laura Claydon, the latter of whom has experience in antitrust litigation. Ian Tucker and Michael Ward were promoted to partner and senior associate Lucy Redman joined from Linklaters LLP.

Clarke Willmott LLP has ‘one of the strongest teams in the South West for financial services disputes and general commercial litigation’.  Practice head Alex Jakubowski is highly rated for contract and insurance litigation and also has niche expertise in commercial agents regulations; clients see him as ‘the sort of lawyer you really want on your side’. Jakubowski is instructed by a Hong Kong law firm to assist Grand Mark Printing with a £1m dispute with a UK customer concerning years of unpaid invoices. Richard Moore has unique expertise in patent litigation and is one of ‘the group’s most respected litigators’. Moore is representing Resman, a Norwegian technology company operating in the oil and gas space, in a claim concerning the infringement of its European patent by Tracerco. Additionally, Moore successfully represented Icescape in a highly publicised patent dispute, which is now being appealed. Philippa Hann and Stephen Searle have experience with group actions and pensions and trustee disputes. The team also handles procurement challenges, professional negligence, agriculture-related claims and insolvency litigation.

DAC Beachcroft LLP handles a range of commercial disputes, but has particular expertise in financial services litigation, especially insurance and pension funds-related cases.  The team is jointly headed by Ben Daniels and Dan Preddy. Daniels has experience handling claims in the telecoms sector and is defending WDFC UK (Wonga) in claims brought by its customers regarding a data breach in connection with a cyber attack on Wonga’s business. Conversely, Preddy specialises in financial services disputes and assisted a large wealth management group with multiple claims by high-profile individuals regarding failed SIPP investments. Rebecca Smith has expertise in trustee and pensions claims and is rated by clients for her ability to provide ‘lucid explanations of complex issues’. Smith represented the former directors of Telos and the company’s former resident agent in a £10m claim for misfeasance and wrongful and fraudulent trading brought by the company’s liquidators. Simon Thomas is another key contact and senior associate Christopher Dyke was hired from Corker Binning to develop a white-collar crime practice.

Known for its ‘first-class client service’, the team at Osborne Clarke specialises in multi-jurisdictional commercial disputes and is highly regarded for procurement litigation. Headed by Leona Briggs, the department has handled a range of complex fraud claims, procurement challenges, cross-border contract litigation, director and shareholder disputes, and arbitration proceedings. The ‘highly recommendedCharlie Wedin advised Dynasafe Minetech on a number of claims and counter-claims in relation to a terminated contract with a South African company. Additionally, following Mademoiselle Desserts’ acquisition of Ministry of Cake, Clare Robinson is representing two former directors and shareholders of Ministry of Cake in various fraud and conspiracy claims brought by the company’s purchasers. Peter Clough often handles disputes in the technology and financial services sectors and has extensive experience in matters involving CIS or Russian participants. Catherine Wolfenden is a ‘go-to procurement litigator’, who has handled procurement challenges for a number of well-known corporates and listed companies. Tom Ellis, Claudia Glover, and senior associate Tom Frapwell are also recommended.

With specialisms in ADR and banking and financial services litigation, TLT has ‘earned its spot at the top of the tree in the South West’. The department is jointly led by Chris Owen and Jonathan Hoey, who specialises in financial services disputes and investigations. Owen continues to act for The Union and President of India in a long-running dispute with The High Commissioner for Pakistan regarding ownership of the Hyderabad funds. Ed Fiddick is representing Czech-based Optaglio in a multimillion-pound claim against former directors alleging breach of directors’ duties. In the financial services space, Richard Hayllar is defending a high-street bank in a dispute revolving around a high-value loan portfolio granted to a prominent property developer; the team is currently defending claims including malicious prosecution, breach of contract and professional negligence. Victoria Mabbett is instructed by household name corporates such as WHSmith. Sian Ashton has expertise in leisure-sector disputes and consultant Philip May is an experienced mediator. Additional clients include Conviviality and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.

The team at Bevan Brittan LLP is widely recognised for its expertise in public sector litigation and also has strength in advising private and third sector clients in public services disputes. Adam Kendall heads the department and has advised local authorities and public sector organisations in various multimillion-pound contract disputes. Kendall is also leading a team including senior associate Wesley O’Brien that is representing a clothing accessory manufacturer in a trademark and contract dispute with its German distributor. Emily Heard, who leads the team’s contentious public procurement practice, is representing Sysmex (UK) in a multimillion-pound procurement challenge brought against Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Another key contact in the procurement litigation group is Laura Brealey, who was promoted to partner in 2017. The team’s key clients include London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Defra, Central & Northwest London NHS Foundation Trust, and Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Thrings LLP’s dispute resolution department has specialist sub-groups focusing on financial services and pension litigation, IP disputes, shareholder and partnership disputes, agriculture-related claims, real estate and planning disputes, and insolvency litigation. Department head Alastair Govier represented the administrators of a gastro-pub business in a £1.75m claim against a UK bank regarding the mis-selling of an interest rate hedging product, which pushed the business into insolvency. Russell Reeves is involved in an £11m dispute concerning the dissolution of a farm partnership - a case that has the potential to reach the Supreme Court. Similarly, Mark Cullingford, who has particular experience in partnership and shareholder issues, is acting for a professional services firm in relation to various disputes with former partners. Megan Jefferies leads the contentious IP practice, while Warren Reid and Alex Madden focus on real estate and planning disputes, respectively.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP ’s ‘superbly professional’ disputes group is rated by clients for its work in the energy, financial services and insurance, manufacturing, retail and transport sectors. Having moved to Bristol from the firm’s West Country offices, Stephen Dilley heads the practice group and is noted for his ‘commercialism and even-headedness’. Dilley was instructed by ES Pipelines to handle a test case, which would determine liability for the costs of stranded assets following the energy market’s transition from traditional in-home dumb-meters to the use of smart-meters. Additionally, Victoria Brooks is on a team that is acting for the liquidator of a real estate sub contractor in relation to multiple tax evasion schemes entered into by a former director at the insolvent company. The department has also handled cases involving fraud and questions of information rights, procurement challenges and major regulatory litigation.

Foot Anstey’s Bristol-based litigation group is headed by Mark Rhys-Jones, who has particular experience in IT and contract disputes and public sector litigation. The group head is acting alongside highly recommended senior associate Catherine Haugh to assist a Middle Eastern law firm with arbitration strategy and procedure in relation to an ICC arbitration case alleging breach of contract. Additionally, Rhys-Jones has advised major UK and Scottish banks on multiple multimillion-pound disputed debt claims. Further, the Bristol team regularly works alongside colleagues in the firm’s London, Exeter and Plymouth offices. Indeed, Rhys-Jones has handled a number of professional negligence cases in conjunction with the firm’s Plymouth-based disputes team.

Humphreys & Co. is ‘a highly regarded niche litigation firm’, which handles a wide range of commercial disputes, but it perhaps best known for its contentious IP practice. The team is headed by Robert Humphreys, who is noted for his ‘incisive litigation instinct, excellent advocacy skill, and personal charm’. Humphreys is defending a UK politician in relation to a defamation claim following an incident on social media. The practice head often acts alongside Paul Wong , who has particular experience in construction disputes and has been identified by clients as ‘one to watch in the future’. Stephen Burbidge has expertise in employment claims and professional negligence and Tristan Morse is another contact in the contentious IP group. The team has been particularly active in shareholder disputes in 2017.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is a ‘strong, approachable mid-sized firm, with a range of specialisms’ that are attractive to corporates, charities and education sector clients. Ed Husband heads the team and acted for Tudor Rose International in a £2.3m contract dispute regarding the variation of an exclusive distribution agreement. Additionally, Husband and the ‘top-notch’ senior associate Nick Martindale are advising the purchasers of mining company Miller Argent on multiple high-value litigation and arbitration claims following the clients’ acquisition of Miller Argent. The team also has handled a number of commercial disputes in the energy and utilities space and has experience in procurement litigation. Indeed, Ben Holt was involved in a number of procurement challenges in the healthcare sector and, separately, advised a private school in relation to roughly 30 years of unregistered utility services.

The litigation team in Ashfords LLP’s Bristol office has experience in the areas of financial services, tech, retail and professional services. The department is headed by Rory Mac Neice, who is acting for the Environment Agency in relation to claims brought by 25 separate parties regarding a significant flood event. Mac Neice has also handled various regulatory and professional services disputes, which included advising a former partner at a leading law firm on an investigation and subsequent charges made against the client by the SRA. The team is also representing Comoros-based Inter Iles Air in a dispute concerning the lease of a regional airliner airframe. Additional contacts include senior associate Chris Freeman and associate Fiona Ladič.

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