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  1. Commercial litigation: Birmingham
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β€˜Clients worldwide instruct’ DLA Piper UK LLP β€˜for 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 Β£120m civil fraud claim. Bowker is a β€˜very effective communicator, whether in front of senior management or a tribunal’, Nicholas Bamford has a β€˜no-nonsense and creative approach’ and director Phillip Kelly wins praise for his β€˜formidable intellect’.

At DWF, head of department Andrew Leach is β€˜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 β€˜the best commercial litigator in the city’, and draws on the expertise of β€˜board disputes level practitioner’ Andrew 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 Β£25m breach of warranty claim by Chromalloy following the sale of the company. Clark Sargent’s β€˜tactics are always very sound’.

Hill Hofstetter provides β€˜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 β€˜an astute tactician’, Jim Sharkey is β€˜very pragmatic’ and Richard Waugh gives β€˜sound and commercially driven advice’.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s three-partner practice is led by β€˜good operator’ Greg 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 β€˜value-for-money advice and prompt turnaround times’.

Eversheds LLP provides a β€˜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 β€˜strategically astute’ Steve Allen leads the team, and other names to note are principal associates Jonathan Nixon and Anthony Minnis, who show β€˜great diligence and attention to detail’.

Shoosmiths LLP’s β€˜terrific’ practice was enhanced by the arrival of Mark Elder from Irwin Mitchell. National head Alex Bishop and Helen Pickford β€˜are 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’ β€˜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 Limited β€˜is 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 β€˜inspires confidence’.

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

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s team is led by Mark Beesley, who β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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 Farr β€˜thinks 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 β€˜extremely personable’ Jane Anderson is β€˜good at finding solutions’.

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