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Beswicks Legal continued to be busy on a high volume of corporate transaction disputes, share purchase warranty claims, and high-value shareholder and directors’ duties disputes, and the team is also adept at handling cross-border matters for the likes of Sandvik AB and Orbital Gas Systems. Another significant work stream derives from the practice’s capability in the sports sector, which was further developed by the promotion to the partnership of Gareth Wilkinson and the hire of senior associate Sean O’Toole from Gowling WLG, who has a strong reputation in boxing and motor sport. Other key contacts are ‘very competent’ practice head Stephen Taylor, and Karen Elder, who focuses on construction-related disputes. Former managing partner Graham Neyt has left the firm.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP is, for one client, ‘the leading firm in Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Shropshire in the area of commercial litigation’ and, in 2016, the team was involved in a number of significant cases in the higher courts. Practice head Guy Birkett, who is ‘very experienced, technically strong and commercial in approach’, successfully defended a competition law claim brought against a group of regional veterinary practices relating to collusion and anti-competitive practices surrounding the delivery of government testing work. In another favourable result, Birkett, who is ‘particularly good on company law disputes’, acted for Maximus Group in the Court of Appeal in a shareholder dispute in which the independence of an expert’s determination was challenged. The ‘very diligent and sensibleCharlotte Clode, who made partner in 2016, assisted Birkett with a £9m claim in the High Court defending the director of an Isle of Man investment fund, who was being sued by investors in the scheme. Other names to note are the ‘experienced and astuteGareth Ruddock, who focuses on insolvency law, and Shrewsbury-based

Brian Aikman, whose advice is ‘well thought out and whose ticket as a deputy district judge means he can see the case from both sides of the fence’. All named partners are based in Wolverhampton, except where stated otherwise.

George Green LLP’s team is ‘very fast, accurate and professional at all times’, and is led by Neil Williams, who has experience both as a mediator and as a supervisor of search orders. In one example of work, Williams acted as the supervising solicitor regarding the execution of a search order at domestic premises following an alleged breach of confidentiality by the two defendants who resided there. Solicitor advocate Morgan Rees was also busy and, as well as representing a claimant in a High Court case against a specialist healthcare provider for breach of contract and negligent misstatement relating to a heart report, he also defended Olive Communications Solutions in a £4.5m claim arising from an agreement by the company to buy its own shares from two minority shareholders. The team is predominantly based in Cradley Heath, but also has a presence in Wolverhampton, where James Coles has expertise in handling substantial professional negligence claims, especially against valuers and surveyors.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys’s ‘reliable, honest, customer-focused and commercially aware’ team is led by Elizabeth Beatty and Richard Morgan, who both draw on their expertise as deputy district judges. Beatty is ‘not afraid of a fight’ and advised on a number of high-value claims, including acting for Allteko regarding termination of a contract to supply (and delivery up of) tubes for use in Kazakhstan gas fields. The practice has a strong financial services aspect, with key players including Adam Finch and

Fiona Hayles. Finch regularly handles fraud and injunctive applications and successfully acted for Executive Network Sales in obtaining an order for an injunction and disclosure of LinkedIn accounts against three former employees of the agency and their new employer; and Hayles has an ‘unusually strong specialist knowledge of banking law, including consumer credit’, and is advising Paragon Personal Finance on a high-profile PPI mis-selling claim. The practice also has a specialism in the defence, security and military sector, as well as the equine sector, where it acts for clients such as the British Horse Society.

Higgs & Sons’ ‘very proactive and on-the-ball’ team has ‘very good knowledge on the procedural aspects of litigation’. The practice focuses on the manufacturing, telecoms and recruitment sectors, but also handles disputes in a range of other areas; for example, the ‘tireless and thorough’ Matt Dudley acted for Otis Vehicle Rentals in a dispute arising from a hire contract, and ‘very engaging’ practice head Julia Lowe, who ‘gets to the detail’, represented the Angle Ring Company in a claim against ASD Westok relating to the validity and entitlement of certain patents registered by ASD Westok. A distinguishing feature of the practice is its use of an in-house barrister, Carl Garvie, who handled the advocacy in a number of mandates, including acting for a defendant in a breach of restrictive covenant case involving allegations of an unlawful means conspiracy relating to the poaching of clients from a nationally known recruitment agency in the health and welfare sector. Associate Jamie De Souza is able to ‘think of creative solutions to complex issues’.

Wright Hassall LLP’s team ‘provides a compelling mix of legal analysis, ability to handle clients and competent administration skills’ and has a ‘City standard to its work’. Recent highlights include financial sector specialist Susan Hopcraft and consultant Andrew Spooner acting for five defendants in the successful defence of a £10m High Court claim relating to non-dealing and non-solicitation covenants, and Daniel Jennings defending Equity & General Insurance Services and Chas Insurance in a £5m claim by a local authority for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation. Newly promoted partner Iain Colville focuses on the advanced manufacturing and wider technology sector, while solicitor advocate Matthew Goodwin deals with partnership disputes, public procurement and contractual disputes. The practice is headed by professional negligence specialist Gemma Carson, who is ‘unflappable and a tough negotiator’, and draws on the experience of ‘standout litigator’ Sarah Perry, who is managing partner.

At Freeths LLP, head of practice Stephen Hadley handles corporate and partnership litigation and has niche expertise in the mining and general minerals sector, where he acts for mineral operators and owners on a range of contentious issues, including subsidence and mining code claims. Hadley also regularly assists insolvency officeholders with litigation, and is acting for Baker Tilly, as trustee in bankruptcy, in a case seeking to determine the ownership of a portfolio of 13 properties following the insolvency of a member of the property-owning partnership. Consultant Tim Calloway handles professional negligence claims. Tarmac, Norcros and the Crown Estate are all clients of the practice.

Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Limited has ‘created a strong reputation in a relatively short period of time’ and the team demonstrates ‘excellent service and comprehensive industry knowledge’ in a range of sectors, including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, social care, farming and IT. Harminder Sandhu heads the practice and is an ‘experienced litigator who adopts a commercial approach to resolving disputes’; in 2016, her caseload included various professional negligence cases against solicitors, and also a substantial cross-border mandate.

Knights Professional Services Limited covers a full range of disputes, including contractual claims, injunctive relief, professional and other negligence claims, and partnership and shareholder disputes. Key contacts include David Convey, who has particular experience in dealing with strategically complex multi-party actions, and Kate Clarke, who specialises in alternative dispute resolution, including adjudications, arbitrations and mediations.

Lanyon Bowdler’s practice is now led from Telford by Andrew Pegg, following Shrewsbury-based Brian Evans’ appointment as managing partner. Pegg has particular sector expertise in manufacturing and engineering and acts for clients such as Golden Bear Products and Plastic Omnium Automotive. Evans, who is a qualified mediator, remained busy in the litigation space and successfully acted for a supplier of CAD software in a claim for non-payment against a currency conversion company. Hereford-based associate Jon Clifford focuses on disputes in the agricultural sector and is ‘calm and sensible’. The practice is noted for its specialism in obtaining freezing orders in civil fraud cases.

According to one client, mfg Solicitors LLP is a ‘reliable pair of hands that will safely navigate any client through to a successful conclusion of its dispute’. Head of practice Tom Esler continued to provide representation in a wide range of high-value matters, including shareholders agreements, license agreements and negligent mismanagement, and also handled a steady flow of manufacturing and warranty disputes; Esler acted for a corporate client in a substantial claim against Homebase and Argos for non-payment of a debt and repudiatory breach of a commercial supply agreement. Associate Samuel Pedley is ‘considerate, careful and correct in his analysis of a case’ and specialises in contentious IP and insolvency; in one matter he advised on a copyright and passing-off dispute concerning male and female footwear, website imagery and shopping regulations.

Thursfields Solicitors’ ‘highly competent and skilled legal team’ has seen some reorganisation at the top, with employment specialist Michelle Chamberlain taking over as head of practice following Mark Pittaway’s move into contentious probate work. The main commercial litigator is now Tim Lawrence, who specialises in financial and banking disputes as well as franchising and is ‘extremely knowledgeable on dispute resolution risks’. As well as acting for United Trust Bank on a number of matters, including recovering £500,000 from a borrower who had defaulted on an asset finance agreement, Lawrence also represented Gemco Equipment in a negligence action against its auditors.

In 2016, Ansons’s team saw involvement in a number of cross-border disputes, including solicitor Adam Pike defending Powerlite Generators (Aust) Pty in a £500,000 claim relating to defective site machinery. The practice is led from Cannock by Martin de Ridder, who specialises in intellectual property, IT and shareholder disputes.

Martin Kaye continued to serve its strong manufacturing client base in a wide range of contentious matters, including contract disputes, shareholder and partnership disputes, and claims for the enforceability of guarantees. The team is also active in sectors such as telecoms, recruitment as well as property development and, in a recent example, practice head Andrew Oranjuik advised on a substantial breach of shareholder warranty claim following the acquisition of a telecoms company by a client. The team is able to draw on the experience of senior partner Graham Davies, who services a range of SMEs and professional organisations.

ORJ Solicitors LLP is regularly instructed by multinationals such as Michelin, Sandvik and Finning, and in 2016, the team assisted US clients with various inbound claims, including acting for Generac in a dispute over title of goods regarding a multimillion-pound delivery made to a company that had entered into insolvency. Managing partner Patrick Tedstone and construction litigator Michael Smyth are the main contacts.

Chief executive Simon King is in charge at Pickerings Solicitors LLP, where the team’s ‘practical approach results in the successful closure of matters’. In 2016, the practice reported an increase in director and shareholder disputes, and in one example, King advised a client on pending High Court proceedings seeking declarations of ownership and damages as a result of the defendant’s failure to transfer over 50% of the business. Other key players are Peter Humpherson and Katie Maxwell-Stewart, who were both active on multi-jurisdictional claims. Humpherson, who has a ‘no-nonsense approach’, is representing a metal management company in a multimillion-dollar claim relating to losses arising from a breach of a non-disclosure agreement by a number of Taiwanese companies within the metal trade; and Maxwell-Stewart acted for a company in recovering monies due from a competitor in relation to products manufactured and transported to Kazakhstan.

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