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Banking litigation

Eversheds LLP’s ‘well-informed and knowledgeable’ team is on all the major banking litigation client panels and has been involved in disputes ranging from swaps and fixed-rate loan mis-selling to film finance mis-selling. The team continues to handle a group of over 30 contested commercial lending cases for HSBC relating to undue influence, unfair relationships and issues of fact surrounding the terms of the lending and security. Chris Busby has ‘superb sector knowledge and a calm presence’, and principal associate Neville Gray is a ‘strong technical lawyer’.

Greg Standing heads the consumer finance team at Gowling WLG and is ‘particularly strong in relation to consumer credit legislation’. Recent successes include acting for HSBC on the enforcement of a loan and mortgage security and representing American Express in a claim arising from a large debt incurred by a high-net-worth cardholder.

Shoosmiths LLP’s practice has a particular emphasis on asset and motor finance. Key players include senior associate Martin Ward and Northampton-based Melanie Chell, who specialises in fraud and injunctive relief in relation to high-value assets and has a ‘knowledge and appreciation of the commercial requirements’. The team was boosted by the hire of Roger Potgieter, who joined from DWF. Clients include Bibby Financial Services and RBS Invoice Finance.

Squire Patton Boggs handles a range of disputes, including financial mis-selling, outstanding lending and regulatory issues for clients such as Arkle Finance and Trustee of the Jaguar Land Rover Pension Scheme. Simon Garbett’s team includes newly made-up partner Garon Anthony, who is an ‘expert on investment class actions’.

Gateley Plc acts for clients such as Macquarie Equipment Finance and Grenke Leasing in the asset finance and leasing sector on work ranging from borrower defaults to title investigations and fraud cases. James Baird is the main contact.

At Hill Hofstetter, the ‘outstanding’ Jim Sharkey has been busy on behalf of borrowers in a variety of mis-selling claims against both banks and intermediaries. Sharkey is also experienced in offshore financial services litigation.

Irwin Mitchell’s practice has grown with the hire of Simon Ellis from DLA Piper UK LLP. Ellis and associate Jane Anderson have been working on a number of professional negligence claims for clients such as HSBC and NatWest.

Commercial litigation: Birmingham

Index of tables

  1. Commercial litigation: Birmingham
  2. Leading individuals

Clients worldwide instructDLA Piper UK LLPfor its city service at non-city prices’. The team is currently advising Trelleborg on the defence of multi-party court proceedings regarding allegedly defective fenders. In another significant piece of work, practice head Neil Bowker is acting for Automotive and Insurance Solutions Group and Accident Exchange in the prosecution of a £120m civil fraud claim. Bowker is a ‘very effective communicator, whether in front of senior management or a tribunal’, Nicholas Bamford has a ‘no-nonsense and creative approach’ and director Phillip Kelly wins praise for his ‘formidable intellect’.

At DWF, head of department Andrew Leach is ‘thorough and strategic in his approach’ and has particular expertise in cross-border litigation, particularly relating to the Russian, CIS and Eastern European market. Leach successfully settled a breach of contract claim for the Trading Extension against a Los Angeles-based defendant. Also of note is director Darren Kenny, whose recent international caseload includes successfully acting for Jamtoff Trading against Expopet Green and Century Bancorp in a fraud claim. The team has seen an increase in work in the aerospace sector. Keith Mills is due to retire.

Gowling WLG’s substantial practice is led by Andrew Smith, hailed by one client as ‘the best commercial litigator in the city’, and draws on the expertise of ‘board disputes level practitionerAndrew Manning Cox. The team handles work in a range of sectors, including food and drink, automotive, manufacturing and healthcare, and is often engaged for cross-border litigation and arbitration. Newly promoted partner Andrew Nugent Smith is acting for the vendors of the Trac Group in relation to a £25m breach of warranty claim by Chromalloy following the sale of the company. Clark Sargent’s ‘tactics are always very sound’.

Hill Hofstetter provides ‘great commitment, an eye for detail and fine judgement’ to its predominantly international client base. As well as acting in high-value competition litigation, the team represented clients in arbitrations in a variety of regimes, including under ICC and LCIA rules. Head of practice Jonathan Hofstetter is ‘an astute tactician’, Jim Sharkey is ‘very pragmatic’ and Richard Waugh gives ‘sound and commercially driven advice’.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s three-partner practice is led by ‘good operatorGreg Lowson and includes commercial fraud specialist Jim Richards and Jonathan Fortnam, who has been active on various insurance-related claims. The team handles major disputes for clients such as IMI, Balfour Beatty and Alstom and benefits from its use of in-house forensic accountants. Consultant Angela Taylor provides ‘value-for-money advice and prompt turnaround times’.

Eversheds LLP provides a ‘personable and commercial approach’ under the leadership of Richard Lloyd. In addition to assisting clients such as Severn Trent and Anglian Water with sizeable claims, Lloyd and recommended associate Victoria Callicott handled various multimillion-pound cross-border disputes for FTSE-listed companies. Mark Surguy moved to Weightmans LLP.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s impressive client list includes Jaguar Land Rover and Shell, as well as Birmingham City FC, which the team represented in relation to allegations of breaches of fiduciary duties by the club’s acting chairman. The ‘strategically astuteSteve Allen leads the team, and other names to note are principal associates Jonathan Nixon and Anthony Minnis, who show ‘great diligence and attention to detail’.

Shoosmiths LLP’s ‘terrific’ practice was enhanced by the arrival of Mark Elder from Irwin Mitchell. National head Alex Bishop and Helen Pickfordare on top of every detail of a case’ and handle disputes in a range of sectors, with particular strength in IT, retail, automotive, manufacturing and the airline industry. Pickford successfully acted for Calor Gas in a case against Cornwall Gas relating to the breach of a sale agreement.

Squire Patton Boggs’ ‘genuine and reliable’ team is particularly strong in advising international companies on pensions and financial services disputes. Other sector strengths are automotive and manufacturing and the team counts Covpress International Holdings, Veyance Technologies and Sandon Global Engraving among its clients. Key players include head of department Simon Garbett and newly promoted partner Garon Anthony.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP handles a range of procurement challenges and contractual disputes within the public and social housing sectors. Hilary Harrison’s team includes Andrew Lancaster, who has a particular strength in construction-related disputes.

In consultants Heather Bell and Peter Lax, litigation boutique Bell Lax Limitedis blessed with two very wise heads who are more than a match for much bigger firms’. The team has handled a range of construction, insolvency and professional negligence disputes for both claimants and defendants. Director Richard Kerry heads the team and solicitor advocate Liam Owen ‘inspires confidence’.

The team at Gateley Plc, which is hailed as the ‘preeminent firm in Birmingham for meeting the needs of commercial non-insurance-backed clients’, is led by Stephen Goodrham. Senior associate Neil Warner ‘strikes the right balance between aggressive litigation and sensible resolution’ and Karen Levesley is ‘impeccably organised’. Key clients include Hitec Power Protection and Alumasc Exterior Building Products.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s team is led by Mark Beesley, who ‘always proffers sage and commercial advice’. Other key individuals are Tim Speed, who is advising West Bromwich Commercial in a claim for negligence against Donaldsons LLP arising out of a valuation of a care home property, and associate James Woolstenhulme, who has the ‘ability to digest complex matters and disseminate important facts’. The team is particularly well known for energy disputes and acts for clients such as National Grid and npower.

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘strong and getting stronger and one of the best mid-sized firms in Birmingham in this area’, according to one client. Dean Parnell heads the team and is noted for his ‘client focus and sensible advice’. The team’s recent caseload includes a million-dollar cross-border dispute and various professional negligence and shareholder disputes. Former associate Richard Cooper left in May 2016 to become director of commercial litigation services at Emms Gilmore Liberson Solicitors.

Adam Kendall’s team at Bevan Brittan LLP is particularly known for handling disputes in the public sector for clients such as G4S and Peabody Housing Association. As well as being involved in procurement challenges, the team also advised in relation to various multimillion-pound copyright infringement and breach of contract claims.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s practice was boosted by the arrival of Peter Brewer from Weightmans LLP. Brewer specialises in private equity litigation. The team saw an increasing number of mediations and regularly acts for clients such as West Bromwich Building Society and the Federation of Master Builders. Practice head Stuart Farrthinks outside the box and delivers what he promises’.

At Freeths, Richard Coates arrived from Emms Gilmore Liberson Solicitors to take charge of the team. Coates has particular expertise in substantial shareholder and partnership disputes.

Irwin Mitchell’s team has undergone some change with the arrival of Simon Ellis from DLA Piper UK LLP and the departure of Mark Elder to Shoosmiths LLP. As well as handling a number of professional negligence claims for banks, the team is defending Energy Save UK Brokerage against a claim brought by British Gas relating to alleged misuse of confidential information. The ‘extremely personable’ Jane Anderson is ‘good at finding solutions’.

Commercial litigation: Elsewhere in the West Midlands

Index of tables

  1. Commercial litigation: Elsewhere in the West Midlands
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Under the leadership of Stephen Taylor, Beswicks Legalstands out for its client-care ethos’. The team secured new clients such as Sandvik and Ubbink, and continued to see a range of work, from corporate transactions disputes, warranty claims and shareholder and directors’ duties disputes to high-value sports litigation. The ‘unflappable’ Graham Neyt has ‘wide experience of heavy litigation’.

Hailed as ‘the leading firm in Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Shropshire for commercial litigation’, FBC Manby Bowdler LLP is noted in particular for its ‘strong company work’. Practice head Guy Birkett is ‘calm and sensible with sound judgement’ and acted successfully on a £2.5m shareholder dispute. The team is also well regarded for disputes involving aspects of insolvency and real estate.

George Green LLP’s ‘trustworthy team looks after clients really well’. Neil Williams heads the practice and successfully settled a dispute relating to the termination of a distribution and agency agreement. James Coles specialises in professional negligence claims for clients such as West Bromwich Building Society and solicitor advocate Morgan Rees is a ‘real powerhouse who has a history of conducting truly substantial litigation in Birmingham and London’.

In practice head Richard Morgan and the ‘technically very strong’ Elizabeth Beatty, Harrison Clark Rickerbys draws on the expertise of two deputy district judges. As well as handling significant disputes in sectors such as manufacturing, distribution and construction, the team is also known for its work in more niche areas, such as equine litigation and litigation in the defence, security and military sector.

Higgs & Sons’ ‘highly professional team’ was further enhanced by the hire of barrister Carl Garvie from St Philips Chambers. Other important players are head of practice Julia Lowe, who successfully acted for Saint-Gobain Building Distribution in a counterclaim against Hillmead Joinery relating to defective laminate sheets, and Matt Dudley, who wins praise for his ‘commercial and tactical understanding in relation to interim applications and negotiations’.

Knights Professional Services Limited’s three-partner practice includes David Convey, Andrew Davidson and newly promoted partner Kate Clarke. As well as handling general commercial litigation, the team’s expertise extends to intellectual property work, mines, minerals and quarry disputes and commercial agency regulations disputes.

In addition to heavyweight commercial contract and negligence claims, Wright Hassall LLP’s substantial team covers disputes in sectors such as technology, finance and professional services. Daniel Jennings advised UK Wealth in relation to an injunction and settlement for unpaid commission following the disposal of two supermarkets; Jennings is also handling an increasing number of defamation claims. Gemma Carson leads the commercial litigation team, while the ‘incisive and forcefulSarah Perry heads the dispute resolution practice.

At Freeths, Stephen Hadley and consultant Tim Calloway advise clients ranging from SMEs in the ceramics industry to major corporates such as Tarmac and Baker Tilly. In one highlight, the team successfully settled a £6.4m warranty claim arising from a share purchase agreement.

Harminder Sandhu’s team at Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Limited handles a good mix of work, including shareholder disputes, contractual claims, and negligence and partnership issues. Sector specialisms include aerospace, hospitality and pharmaceuticals.

A source says of the lawyers at Lanyon Bowdler that their ‘strength is their understanding of farming issues’. The team is particularly known for its agriculture litigation on behalf of clients such as the National Farmers’ Union. Other key clients – such as Dodd Group and Golden Bear Products – are drawn from the manufacturing and engineering sectors. The ‘proactiveBrian Evans and ‘knowledgeableAndrew Pegg are based in Shrewsbury and Telford, respectively, and together they head the team.

At mfg Solicitors LLP, practice head Tom Esler focuses on acting for shareholders and directors of owner-managed businesses and is active on disputes relating to shareholders’ agreements, licensing agreements and negligent mismanagement. Associate Samuel Pedley is ‘highly professional and conscientious’.

The lawyers at ORJ Solicitors LLPare resourceful, imaginative and give their clients a “Rolls-Royce” service’. Michael Smyth has particular expertise in construction disputes and is advising RM Contractors on a multimillion-pound claim relating to a terminated building contract. Head of practice Patrick Tedstone is, according to one source, ‘Magic Circle quality – only with a better stomach for a fight!’.

Thursfields Solicitors’ practice is led by Mark Pittaway, who is particularly known for his work in ‘professional negligence claims against solicitors and financial professionals’. Pittaway achieved a number of favourable results, including assisting a claimant seeking the return of monies given in relation to a substantial property development. The team was boosted by the hire of Tim Lawrence from Shakespeare Martineau LLP.

Ansons Solicitors Ltd practice is led by Martin de Ridder, who specialises in intellectual property, IT and shareholder disputes. Ridder successfully acted for John Mander Pension Trustees against HMRC in the Supreme Court, in a case relating to retrospective tax assessments.

Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors’ ‘well-balanced team’ includes practice head Andrew Oranjuik, who is ‘a very cool head with a real depth of technical and commercial insight’, and senior partner Graham Davies, who ‘wins over top-flight clients’. The team’s caseload ranges from shareholder and partnership disputes to breach of fiduciary duty and misrepresentation.

Debt recovery

Coltman Warner Cranston LLP specialises in commercial recovery for a wide range of major UK companies. The firm has been particularly active in relation to overpayment of salary claims, and remained busy in its stronghold of retention of title claims. Managing partner Larry Coltman’s team includes Stuart Cranston, who handled several high-value credit insurance cases.

Under the leadership of motor finance specialist Greg Standing, Gowling WLG’s team specialises in asset finance recoveries for clients such as HSBC and American Express. For some, the team is the ‘preferred legal choice for complex issues’, with Standing winning praise for his ‘knowledge in relation to consumer credit legislation’. Ian Weatherall is the other name to note.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s practice is led from Stratford by Alan Hamblett, who has ‘exceptional knowledge of the invoice finance industry’, and Jayne Gardner, who provides ‘rounded answers’. The team provides ‘specialists for different areas of expertise’ and has seen an increase in the number of foreign claims. Clients include Enterprise Inns, Marston Group and Monster Energy.

At Shoosmiths LLP, new arrival Roger Potgieter, who joined from DWF, advises motor finance lenders, leasing companies and banks on the recovery of financed assets. While the team is particularly known for recovery on behalf of lenders, it also acts for major public companies, utilities and public sector bodies. Northampton-based Waine Mannix heads the practice.

Providing ‘good value for money’, Wright Hassall LLP’s team is led by ‘ambassadorPhil Wilding and draws on the expertise of Sarah Perry and Emma Easton, both ‘impressive lawyers’. The team continued to build on its debt offering across a range of sectors, including construction, insurance, engineering, and logistics.

At Beswicks Legal, Richard Anderson’s team handles work relating to both secured and unsecured debt and has reported an increase in work this year. Clients range from individuals to large retailers and schools.

Gateley Plc’s practice focuses on recovery in the asset finance and leasing sector, but also covers unsecured lending and real estate secured lending. Areas of specialism include title investigations and fraud cases, often with a cross-border element. James Baird heads the team.

Knights Professional Services Limited’s team is led by Kerry Davies, who deals with a range of clients, from hospitals, private schools and universities to telecoms companies and breweries. The team handles claims that are up to and over £100,000.

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