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DLA Piper UK LLP’s practice focuses on business areas where opportunities for significant claims arise and has deep expertise in handling substantial PFI, outsourcing, financial services, corporate, manufacturing and insurance disputes. The team is also regularly instructed on fraud cases and, in one example, practice head Neil Bowker, who β€˜leads the team with flair and charisma’, is acting for Automotive and Insurance Solutions Group and Accident Exchange in the prosecution of a Β£127m fraud claim against two directors of Autofocus and various firms of solicitors. Another area of strength is multi-jurisdictional disputes, and the team was once again active on a number of substantial cross-border mandates: Nick Bamford, who is β€˜particularly strong at disputes involving technical issues’, is defending Synergy Health in a Commercial Court action brought by T J Smith & Nephew relating to the irradiation of pharmaceutical products for marketing in Japan and the alleged failure to maintain a foreign manufacturer's accreditation licence pursuant to Japanese legislation; and Bowker is advising Trelleborg in connection with the defence of multi-party court proceedings concerning allegedly defective fenders installed at Troon Harbour. Other names to note are the β€˜formidably bright’ Phillip Kelly, who is assisting Bowker on a significant PFI-related arbitration, and director George Mortimer, who leads on insurance disputes. The practice suffered the loss of Roy Tozer and Charles Arrand, who both joined Shoosmiths LLP.

DWF’s β€˜well-organised, thorough and London-standard team’ is led by Andrew Leach, who is a β€˜superb, highly ethical lawyer, with considerable strategic nous and always prepared to go the extra mile’. The practice’s β€˜arbitration practice and its Russian client base is particularly impressive for a regional firm’. The team continued to be active on a number of significant cases emanating from the CIS and CEE; in one example, Leach successfully acted for Optaglio in a breach of contract claim against Abbfab Engineering relating to the manufacture of a holographic embossing machine. In another piece of international work, Leach and newly promoted partner Darren Kenny, who is β€˜very dedicated and astute’, defended Punj Lloyd and Punj Lloyd Upstream in proceedings in the Commercial Court relating to the repayment of $25m allegedly due under loan agreements and guarantees. The team also handles UK-centric work, and Kenny successfully represented the Human Support Group in a claim brought by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Council following the group’s withdrawal from a contract for the provision of rehabilitation support services. Helen Briant, Mark Kenkre and Keith Mills all departed for Trowers & Hamlins LLP.

Fieldfisher LLP’s expertise in handling international disputes was once again on display, with head of department Jonathan Hofstetter active on a number of multimillion-pound ICC arbitrations, as well as advising new client Swedish Match in an application for judicial review. Another key player in the team is Jim Sharkey, who has considerable injunctive experience, and specialises in complex banking and offshore financial services litigation. Sharkey’s recent caseload includes advising on a substantial claim for breach of directors’ duties, employees’ duties and negligence in relation to a disputed engineering contract. In the IT space, Ann Benzimra continued to handle claims arising from the termination of contracts, while senior associate Stephen May, who is a β€˜committed, sensible lawyer, with good practical commercial experience’, was busy on a major product liability claim. Other key players are Larry Coltman, who leads on credit insurance work, Adam Sturt, who has expertise in director, shareholder and partnership disputes, and Richard Waugh, who has particular strength in the engineering and construction as well as IT and technology sectors. Bosch, Trend Micro and Holland & Barrett are all clients of the practice.

Gowling WLG’s β€˜excellent team’ is distinguished by its β€˜detailed technical knowledge and understanding of the client’s requirements’. As well as delivering general commercial litigation, the practice also has in-depth specialisms in IT disputes, health and safety regulatory issues, procurement disputes, bribery and corruption issues, and international arbitration. The automotive sector is a particular area of strength and the team acts for a range of manufacturers, suppliers and dealers, including TRW Automotive and Aston Martin. Other target sectors include aviation and defence, where James Gordon is the key contact, food and drink, healthcare, manufacturing, and professional and business support services. Prominent lawyers in the sizeable practice include Andrew Smith, who is, for one client, β€˜the best litigator outside of London’, the β€˜experienced and analytical’ Andrew Manning Cox, the β€˜outstanding’ Clark Sargent, and Andrew Nugent Smith, who is a β€˜good judge of when to pick a fight’ and successfully acted for LucasVerity Electric Steering in the Court of Appeal in a Β£30m claim against a Portuguese subsidiary supplier for breach of an exclusive supply agreement. Regulatory specialist Andrew Litchfield co-heads the team alongside London-based James Sidwell.

β€˜Proactivity, vision, and attention to detail’ are all areas of strength at Pinsent Masons LLP, where the team continued to feature heavily in high-profile cases. Director Jason Kirwin was particularly active: as well as defending IMI in the Court of Appeal in a cartel damages claim, he also represented E.ON UK in a $300m international trade contractual dispute. The β€˜strategic’ Jonathan Fortnam was also busy and, in one highlight, acted for the current management and shareholders of Instant Offices in a breach of accounting warranty claim arising from the acquisition of Instant Offices from its previous owners. The practice has considerable depth below partner level, with notable practitioners including senior associate Fay Moore, who is β€˜very clever, hardworking and thorough’, associate Suzannah Boyd, who β€˜pins down the issues’, and associate Nicola Seymour, who has β€˜excellent case management skills’. At the senior end, key players include head of practice Jim Richards, who acted for Abena UK in a major fraud investigation committed by a senior former employee in a conspiracy with a number of other individuals; office managing partner Greg Lowson, who is β€˜seasoned and client-focused’; and consultant Angela Taylor, who is β€˜always in control of the case’.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is β€˜very responsive, commercial, constructive and, where appropriate, bold’, and the team has been active on a variety of multimillion-pound claims, ranging from breach of warranty in a share agreement to a dispute over trade effluent disposal. The practice was further enhanced by the hires of Adam Fisher and senior associate Helen Amison, both from Gowling WLG; Fisher has significant experience in technology and outsourcing matters as well as aviation, aerospace and defence, and also the nuclear sector. Head of practice Richard Lloyd is β€˜hardworking and great with clients’ and has particular expertise in the utilities and diversified industries sectors, while associate Victoria Callicott specialises in fraud and investigations work. The team draws clients from both the public and private sectors; examples include Birmingham City Council and Mitchells & Butlers.

Gateley Plc’s practice is β€˜very professional and thorough in their approach to the work and able to add a realistic commercial edge to advice and guidance for the duration of the case’. The team had a number of good results in 2016 and, in one example, senior associate Karen Levesley successfully defended the former owners of Covpress International Holdings in a claim brought by Shandong Yongtai Group relating to the alleged breach of warranties in a share purchase agreement. Levesley also secured summary judgment against Shandong in a claim for deferred consideration payable under the terms of a share purchase agreement. Practice head Stephen Goodrham handles a wide caseload, including representing employers in breach of confidentiality allegations with former employees, and acting on restrictive covenant disputes and professional negligence claims. Other names to note are senior associate Neil Warner, who regularly advises corporate and sports clients on contentious issues and is β€˜very tenacious but also has a firm eye on the commercial realities of a case’; and solicitor Kate Canning, who shows β€˜attention to detail and the ability to wade through a large amount of information’.

At Mills & Reeve LLP, β€˜tactically very astute’ managing partner Steve Allen focuses on high-value dispute resolution, often with an international element, and in the last 12 months has been active on a range of LCIA, UNCITRAL and ad hoc international arbitration cases. The automotive and advanced manufacturing and technology sector is a particular specialism, with Allen continuing to serve key client Jaguar Land Rover on a number of significant matters. Below partner level, the team draws on the expertise of two principal associates, Jonathan Nixon and Anthony Minnis; Nixon heads up the firm’s national fraud practice and works across several sectors, including education, food and beverage, automotive and sports; and Minnis has specialist knowledge in public and private sector health issues and regular advises clients on NHS dispute resolution, contract management and termination. Other notable clients of the practice are Shell, BUPA and Cadent.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP is a β€˜powerhouse of resources and skill’ and is well known for its expertise in handling energy disputes for the likes of the National Grid and

Npower. In 2016, the practice noted an uptick in instructions arising from the theft of confidential or commercially sensitive data; examples included Andrew Adams acting for an independent retail energy supplier in a High Court multi-party claim seeking to prevent the misuse of confidential data and customer information, and the β€˜tactically astute’ Mark Beesley representing Intercity Telecom and Modern Operations in proceedings initiated against a former senior employee for breaching restrictive covenants by contacting and diverting customers. In other highlights, the β€˜commercially agile’ Barry Jervis acted for First Personnel Services in a dispute with Halfords over liability to pay transfer fees, and Tim Speed acted for West Bromwich Commercial in a case over the interpretation of a guarantee in one of the client’s standard form documents. Newly promoted partner James Woolstenhulme is β€˜particularly strong in the injunctive field’. Beesley and Jervis are the main contacts.

National head of practice Alex Bishop has β€˜assembled an excellent team of litigators’ at Shoosmiths LLP, where the practice continued to be busy in its key sectors of retail, automotive and IT. Bishop, who provides β€˜top-quality strategic advice and truly outstanding client care’, is acting for Architectural Wallsz (International) in relation to its claim against multiple defendants arising from the establishment of a competitor venture; and she is also advising a business purchaser on a potential breach of tax covenant and warranty claim. In other highlights, Birmingham head of practice Mark Elder is acting for TCCT Retail in a claim for tracing following mistaken payment to an incorrect bank account, and Helen Pickford, who is β€˜on top of every document in the case’, is representing WiseTech in its defence of a claim for fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation arising from the sale of its software. Elder has extensive experience in seeking urgent injunctive relief and also has a specialism in public procurement litigation.

Squire Patton Boggs is β€˜one to watch in the commercial litigation space’, with one defining quality being its β€˜pragmatic ability to focus on the risks and issues’. The practice is particularly adept at handling automotive and supply chain disputes, especially in relation to product liability issues and insurance issues. Other areas of focus are financial services, where Garon Anthony β€˜has great intellectual capability and real expertise’, and pensions. In relation to the latter, the team advises trustees, employers and representative beneficiaries in a broad range of issues, including equalisation and rectification, professional negligence and judicial review. The β€˜personable’ Simon Garbett heads the team and wins praise for his β€˜commercial-minded approach’. Clients of the practice include Impalloy, HomeServe and Rotala.

Litigation boutique Bell Lax Limited is a β€˜strong local practice that can hold its own with the city centre firms in its specialist areas’. The team acts for claimants and defendants in a wide variety of commercial litigation and arbitration, and is noted both for its β€˜broader knowledge of the law than many comparable firms’, and also for its ability to provide innovative funding solutions for commercial cases. Specialist areas include director and shareholder disputes, professional negligence claims, and contract disputes. The practice is led by Richard Kerry and includes consultant Peter Lax, whose β€˜advice is always considered and correct’, and solicitor advocate Liam Owen, who β€˜displays great tenacity and understands how judges think’. Heather Bell retired from practice.

Sydney Mitchell LLP is β€˜one of the strongest of the smaller city centre firms in commercial litigation’, and thrives under the leadership of Dean Parnell, who is β€˜very experienced and sensible, with sound judgement and a particular skill at negotiating very good deals for his clients’. Parnell is an experienced mediator and is also qualified to act as a supervising solicitor for search orders. The practice represented clients in a number of multimillion-pound claims and noted an increase in injunctive relief, SWAP claims, shareholder disputes and civil fraud. Kamal Majevadia, who co-heads the team with Parnell, has β€˜good technical knowledge and is particularly good at insolvency, restructuring and financial professional negligence cases’. Richard Cooper departed for Emms Gilmore Liberson.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s β€˜very good team displays solid commercial sense and is very experienced, especially in the most complex of litigious matters’. The newly formed practice is the result of the arrival of a team of five from DWF, including new practice head Mark Kenkre, Helen Briant and consultant Keith Mills. The β€˜very experienced and calm’ Mills β€˜grasps complex issues quickly’ and is acting for Protec International in a cross-border dispute relating to the recovery of trade marks that were allegedly unlawfully transferred to a third party. In another significant matter, he is representing the representative beneficiary in connection with a Beddoe application under Part 64 of the Civil Procedure Rules. The team was also busy in the international fraud space, with Kenkre a specialist in this regard. Briant’s areas of expertise include shareholder disputes and international arbitration.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP is probably best known for representing public sector clients such as Birmingham City Council in major procurement disputes. In one example of work, the team defended Camphill Village Trust in the High Court in a claim arising from changes to the employment status of volunteers engaged by the Trust. Hilary Harrison and construction specialist Andrew Lancaster are key contacts.

BLM’s β€˜commercially minded and tenacious’ team continued to be highly active in insurance driven litigation and was also busy on a range of mandates in the food sector, including cases involving breaches of competition law and fraud; in relation to the latter the team draws on the experience of Caroline Kane, who specialises in claims of deceit, conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty. Another name to note is the β€˜professional and committed’ Jagdeep Singh Hayre, who focuses on public sector work and has been busy on several cases of fraud related to public funds. The practice is led by Julian Smart, who is an β€˜experienced and efficient litigator’.

Bevan Brittan LLP acts for clients across the public, private and third sectors and handles a range of instructions, including finance disputes, public law challenges and breaches of contract and negligence. National head of litigation Adam Kendall was busy on behalf of public sector bodies in a number of big-ticket claims, including those arising from outsourcing contracts for collection and management of waste and recycling. Clients of the practice include BUPA, Johnson & Johnson and G4S.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s practice saw continuing growth in the area of shareholder disputes and breaches of fiduciary duties by directors and shareholders, accompanying the practice’s established expertise in breach of contract and negligence claims. Practice head

Stuart Farr has niche expertise in the gun sector, where he acts for clients such as BSA Guns (UK), and Peter Brewer focuses on corporate disputes, including enforcement of post-termination restrictions, the abuse of confidential information, and breaches of implied and express duties. The team draws on the experience of consultant Paul Griffiths, who handles professional negligence work, and Peter McHugh, who is an experienced arbitrator and mediator.

According to one client of the firm, Emms Gilmore Liberson is β€˜commercially driven and focused on servicing the needs of SMEs in the Midlands, and seems to be gaining market share through delivering on those aims’. The team was substantially developed by the hire of Richard Cooper from Sydney Mitchell LLP, who now heads the practice, and regulatory specialist Peter Adkins, who joined from QualitySolicitors Talbots. Cooper, who is noted for his β€˜very good way with clients, combining pragmatism with innovation in the application of the law’, has a speciality in shareholder disputes and unfair prejudice petitions.

β€˜All problems and dangers are fully worked through’ at Freeths LLP, with the practice delivering a β€˜supportive, but not flowery, response and summary’. Head of practice Richard Coates, who demonstrates an β€˜ability to empathise with clients and extensive knowledge of law’, was active on various high-value cross-border mandates, and also handled a major breach of fiduciary duty claim. The team was significantly boosted by the hire of

Louise Wilson, who joined from Gowling WLG. Wilson was busy in the professional negligence space, acting for the likes of JRB Automotive, and also advised on various disputes arising from energy contracts and commercial agents regulations.

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