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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: The West Country > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Commercial litigation: The West Country
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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The dispute resolution group at Ashfords LLP is made up of ‘skilled, hardworking practitioners, who will go the extra mile for their clients’. The team is often involved in complex, cross-disciplinary disputes and has particular experience in shareholder and director disputes, financial services claims, commercial contract and franchising disputes, and professional negligence. Andrew Perkins is representing a regional property developer and principal shareholder in a multi-party claim brought by a former shareholder concerning a capital reduction demerger transaction; the case also involves claims against the tax and legal advisers, who advised on the transaction. Jason Squire acted for a group providing pension products to high-net-worth individuals in relation to a dispute with a member of one of the pension schemes regarding the trustees’ duty to preserve assets. Other key figures include Antony Lee , legal director Stephen Walker  and Charles Hattersley, the last of whom successfully represented Ward Associates in a matter concerning the client’s liability in relation to a £1.6m judgment.

Michelmores LLP has ‘an established commercial litigation group that is branching out into more international work’, leading many clients to suggest that the team ‘may now be leaders of the pack, regionally’. In one cross-border matter, Jonathan Kitchin acted for a prominent Middle Eastern law firm to enforce a multimillion-pound Middle Eastern judgment in the UK High Court. In another key mandate, Sara Chisholm-Batten and Simon Barnett represented Intelsat Global Sales & Marketing in various claims against parties in African, Asian, European and American jurisdictions. Andrew Oldland is the team’s in-house barrister and is ‘very impressive indeed’; he is acting for a listed company in arbitral proceedings concerning a contractual dispute with a government agency. Also recommended are Tim Richards, who heads the Exeter-based team, and senior associate Jayne Clemens.

Stephens Scown LLP’s litigation department has expertise in areas such as financial services, professional negligence, construction disputes and professional negligence, and is increasingly involved in cases involving foreign jurisdictions. The department is spread across three West Country offices: the ‘calm and collected’ Catherine Mathews leads the Exeter-based group; Davina Haydon leads the disputes practice in the St Austell office; and Brian Dolan, who is ‘a seasoned and highly experienced litigator’, heads the Truro-based team. Dolan is acting for a hotel and spa developer, as claimant, in relation to the termination of a JCT construction agreement. Also on the claimant side, the team is advising a client on a complex, multimillion-pound professional negligence claim against multiple solicitors’ firms and a barrister. Conversely, Toby Claridge is defending a client company and its director in claims alleging fraud being perpetrated by an employee of the company. Richard Slater and Ian Thomas are senior associates in the department.

Clarke Willmott LLP has gained ‘a deservedly strong reputation and is proficient in often complex and high-value disputes’. The firm’s West Country litigation team has particular expertise in agriculture-related disputes, and, as such, is instructed by clients such as National Farmers Union. Indeed, Esther Woolford acted for the National Farmers Union in relation to compensation claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 regarding a significant flood event. ‘A sensible and commercially minded tactician’, Greg Saunders is advising a group of clients on allegedly mis-sold financial products. Further, Tim Hayden heads the agriculture sector group and splits his time between Taunton and Bristol. Daniel Gill is an active senior associate in the department, while associate Laura Mackain-Bremner and solicitor Polly Ridgway are also recommended. In 2017-2018, the department took on contentious probate specialist Bonita Walters from QualitySolicitors Burroughs Day, and also hired a number of junior-level practitioners.

Foot Anstey’s West Country-based litigation team ‘provides outstanding service in commercial disputes, and is particularly strong in financial services and banking litigation’. Indeed, Steven Richards defended a UK resident in a claim brought against him in Australia regarding a purported loan in a failed investment scheme. ‘A seasoned and temperate negotiator’, Robin Brown assisted various UK banks with secured debt recovery claims, and also advised a banking client on a portfolio of claims questioning the accuracy of certain property valuation and conveyancing advice. The team also has experience in media and technology-related litigation, property and construction disputes, and claims involving clients in the retail sector. Peter Singfield counselled a national retailer on an attempt by one of its suppliers to incorrectly terminate a supply agreement. Singfield is also acting for H. Westons & Sons in relation to a double trade mark opposition in the UK and EU intellectual property offices. Senior associate Dickon Court is also recommended.

Acting primarily for SMEs and individual partners and shareholders, GA Solicitors provides ‘sound and well-communicated advice’ across a range of commercial disputes, including IP, commercial contract, and director and shareholder disputes. Indeed, Stephen Allen (‘a tenacious and well-versed litigator’) successfully represented The SMAE Institute, as claimant, in various claims including breach of contract and breach of copyright. Allen was also instructed in a highly acrimonious dispute between two familial shareholders/directors of a portfolio of companies, involving mutual allegations of misfeasance. Moreover, Allen has ‘exceptional knowledge of construction disputes’ and Philip Oke is noted for his ‘methodical approach’ to property litigation mandates.

The team at Kitsons LLP is ‘friendly and approachable’ and has proved ‘particularly efficient and effective in negotiations’. The department is split between the firm’s Exeter office, which focuses on financial services litigation, and the Torbay and Plymouth offices, which are often sought after in property and licensing-related disputes. In Exeter, David Turner is ‘excellent in every respect’ and recently advised a claimant on a matter alleging negligent investment of £6m. Turner also represented the operators of a regional hotel business in mediation with a UK bank in a claim regarding global restructuring group issues. The ‘knowledgeable and communicative’ James Cross is defending Churston Golf Club in a matter brought by a farmer and councillor regarding a complex breach of covenant. Corsham Primary School and South West Contracting are among the department’s new clients.

With expertise in aviation, energy, construction, and agricultural business, Porter Dodson LLP has ‘an excellent reputation for commercial litigation in Dorset and Somerset’. Taunton-based department head Stephen Wray is defending a company director and shareholder in a £1m claim by a fellow director and shareholder alleging unfair prejudice. Senior associate Anusheh Burcher is ‘a superb litigator’, who has experience in the aviation and energy sectors and is involved in a substantial procurement challenge. Moreover, the team represented a company in arbitration proceedings concerning the mechanism through which a shareholding in the company should be valued. Scott Bowley is an ‘efficient and capable litigator’ in the Bridport office. Additionally, the firm took on two more junior-level attorneys in 2017-2018.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP runs ‘an established, West Country litigation practice’, which is particularly sought after for insurance claims in the aviation industry. Of particular note, Kathryn Insall was promoted to partner in 2017. Insall is acting for the claimant in a complex, multi-jurisdictional claim regarding the pay-out of an aviation reinsurance policy. Additionally, Insall is representing a European company client in a multimillion-euro dispute concerning an alleged breach of a partnership supply agreement. Department head Paul Keeling is ‘highly experienced’ in contentious trusts and estates, and professional negligence.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s West Country disputes resolution group is instructed by public and private sector clients in high-value disputes. Gareth Kagan is the primary contact in the Plymouth office. Kagan represented a client in mediation proceedings regarding a multi-claim case revolving around alleged breaches of a supply contract; the team continues to advise on ongoing related disputes between the two parties. Associate Luke Holmes is acting for an energy company in a matter concerning the interpretation of a power purchase agreement. Associate Rebecca Hunter's clients include local authorities and a supermarket bank.

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