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  1. Commercial litigation: Elsewhere in the West Midlands
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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.

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