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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Yorkshire and the Humber > Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Commercial litigation: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

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Addleshaw Goddard has one of ‘the most highly regarded’ teams in Leeds, shown ‘impressive growth’ over the past couple of years. Litigation and financial services head Sally Emerton ‘calmly runs a very professional but friendly department’; commercial litigation head Bill Gilliam is ‘immensely liked and respected across Yorkshire businesses, his common sense and straight-talking analysis of any situation is first class’; and international arbitration head Simon Kamstra is praised for his ‘astute approach to heavy litigation’. Kamstra represented an Indian iron ore mining company in a claim arising from the termination of a long-term contract for the supply of iron ore to a UAE-based company, and in a separate matter representing a petroleum company in an application to the Commercial Court to set aside an arbitration award on jurisdictional grounds. Gilliam is defending Diageo against a claim by SAP for an alleged breach of contract and potential copyright infringement concerning software licensing fees amounting to circa £55m. Managing associate Louise Dobson, who is ‘very hard working’, has specialist knowledge of the health and pharmaceutical sectors.

According to one client, ‘there are less than a handful of commercial litigators nationwide who even approach a comparable standard of excellence’ to those in DLA Piper UK LLP’s team. Department head David Young, who is ‘a fantastically bright lawyer’, and ‘hard-working’ senior associate Kathryn Ford, who ‘produces excellent work and really organises a case’, represented members of IBM’s final salary pension plan in a dispute against IBM, which alleged a breach of good faith pertaining to pension cuts, where the court ruled in favour of the client; the case is currently on appeal. The team has considerable competition expertise and testament to this is its work representing Westpoint Group Trading in a £2m claim against XL Farmcare that alleges collusion between the entities which manage the government’s compulsory TB testing scheme in cattle. Other work includes defending Nisa Retail against a £12m claim brought by Bibby Distribution for alleged misappropriation of confidential information regarding a warehouse operated by the claimant, and defending a judicial review claim regarding planning permission for a quarry in Cornwall, where the firm acted for Shire Oak Quarry as an interested party.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s ‘truly excellent litigation team’ is led by the ‘impressiveRichard Matthews and Gary Pellow, who ‘is a pleasure to work with’. The group also includes energy litigation specialist Mark Howarth, head of TMT disputes James Hyde and Ed Williams, who specialises in complex contractual disputes and procurement challenges and provides ‘considered and practical advice against challenging timescales’. Pellow led a team defending DHL in a claim brought by Bibby Distribution against the client and its customer, Nisa Retail, regarding a seven-year, £500m contract awarded to DHL by Nisa in place of the incumbent supplier, Bibby, which was ultimately granted a stay. Hyde represented Canal & River Trust against Thames Water Utilities in litigation regarding the price of water; both parties are appealing the judgment. ‘Extremely hardworking and bright’ senior associate Deborah Polden was part of a team that represented Europcar in proceedings against Mastercard and Visa that alleged damages for breach of EU and UK competition law relating to multilateral interchange fees.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s practice is led by the highly regarded Andrew Masterson, the ‘reliable, calm and very competentJulian Sladdin and James McBurney, who provides ‘pragmatic, sensible advice and gets to grips with highly technical issues quickly’. McBurney led a team defending a multinational telecoms company against a $1.3m claim brought by a communications provider that alleged that equipment had been wrongfully retained on its site, as well as for owed payments. The team is representing Hamad Aldrees & Partners, a mineral extraction company, in pursuing a claim against Rotex Europe regarding the supply of allegedly deficient mineral separating units, a counterclaim for unpaid fees has been brought. Masterson is leading a team acting for an IT and outsourcing solutions company regarding the failure of its customer to meet a £3m year-one revenue target under a multi-year £10m service agreement. The team is also noted for its strength in the education sector and acts for various UK universities. Legal director Louise Nahon is another key contact.

Squire Patton Boggs’ ‘first-rate’ practice is ‘top of the field outside of London’ and has ‘real strength in depth’. ‘Practical and commercial’ practice head Simon Milleralways has an eye on the cost benefit ratio for the client’; he led a team representing a Mauritian subsidiary of Essar Oilfields Services in challenging a decision requiring the client to pay the opponent’s costs of funding an arbitration. Lucci Dammone is leading a team representing Contact Holdings in a claim against its insurer, Travelers, seeking an indemnity payment following the alleged failure of a printing press at its site. Dammone also focuses on shareholder and warranty disputes and claims against directors, professional negligence claims, and pension disputes. Victoria Leigh, Anthony Taylor and Rob Elvin are the other key partners and senior associate Simon Lucas is also recommended. The Mansion Group, Tesco, Kemira Chemicals, Acorn Mobility Services and Trinity Mirror are also clients. Patrick Walker left to become a fulltime mediator.

Stewarts Law LLP’s ‘efficient and focused’ team ‘is up there with the best’. Practice head Mo Bhaskaranis excellent for hard-hitting commercial and fraud litigation’, competition litigation head Jonathan Sinclair leads on ‘highly complex’ cases and injunction relief specialist Kate Pollock is ‘a highly efficient leader on high-value commercial and competition litigation’. Sinclair is involved in twelve cartel actions for FTSE 100 and 250 companies, including Arcadia, Asda, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Homebase, Comet, Next, B&Q, HMV and New Look, in proceedings against Mastercard, as well as a separate action against Visa relating to the fixing of interchange fees, with each claim having estimated collective damages totalling over £500m. Senior associate Nick Haworth is ‘truly first class, and is going places fast’.

Walker Morris LLP’s team provides ‘an excellent level of service, take a robust stance and understand the wider issues at play’. Department head Gwendoline Davies acts for multinational and domestic companies in high-value litigation across a wide range of sectors. Malcolm Simpson has notable expertise acting for US-headquartered corporations and and David Williams is a key name for representing clients in disputes arising outside the UK. The team represented IPM Energy Trading (part of ENGIE) in a claim against Carillion Energy Services concerning an alleged breach of contract by the defendant. It is also acting for Persimmon in a Chancery claim against the selling shareholders of Hillreed Developments and Hillreed Homes for alleged breach of warranty, misrepresentation and mistake. Other recent work includes assisting Jet2 with its approach to disruptive passengers on flights. Nick Lees has expertise in property development and insolvency-related disputes. Capita, Caterpillar Group, Kier Group, and Moorgarth are also clients.

Clarion’s ‘excellent’ team is ‘always available, knows its stuff and inspires confidence’. ‘Go-to litigatorSimon Young, who heads the practice, ‘sees the wider commercial picture and is tactically spot on’. He led a team representing Silverstone in a £4m claim brought by Silverstone Hospitality for alleged breach of contract relating to the provision of catering services at the racing circuit; the claim was ultimately abandoned and a counterclaim for costs issued. IT and outsourcing disputes specialist Dominic Higham is ‘a good all-round thinker, he approaches problems from a pragmatic and commercial perspective’. Other key partners include Roger Hutton, who specialises in high-value, complex pre-insolvency situations, IP disputes expert Esther Kirwan, and insolvency specialists Ryan Millmore and Alice Pratt. Other clients include Kingspan Insulation, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Maersk and InterSystems.

Gordons LLP’s team, which is based across the firm’s Leeds and Bradford offices, is, according to one client, ‘among the strongest in the area’. James Laycock and Stephen McVey, who head the team, ‘have excellent technical skills combined with an ability to see the commercial solution over and above the legal technicalities of a case’. Recent highlights include defending the former treasury and risk director of Cattles in a shareholder action claim brought against by institutional investors in a £200m rights issue, which settled before trial. Mark Jones acted for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in a successful judicial review claim against Natural England regarding its refusal to grant licences to control predatory birds; he is subsequently acting for the NGO and the gamekeeper in proceedings seeking damages for human rights, statutory duty and misfeasance in public office breaches. Finance litigation specialist Andrew Breckenridge joined from DWF. Ian McCombie moved to Ward Hadaway.

3volution Limited’s practice is led by Tim Stone, who is closely supported by IP litigation specialist Sara Ludlam and property litigation specialist Matthew Pugh. Areas of expertise include acting for trustees, employees and members on pensions-related issues; handling high-value professional negligence claims against solicitors, accountants, surveyors, insurance brokers and professional pensions advisers; and handling financial mis-selling claims. The team is representing Omega Atlantic in its claim for breach of contract, misrepresentation and negligent misstatement against The Co-Operative Bank. In another highlight, the team is representing Univer Manufacturing in pursuing a professional negligence claim against the client’s former solicitors regarding an exclusive distribution agreement and indefinite IP licence drafted by the defendants.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s practice is led by Nick Mason, who has notable expertise handling complex disputes in the financial services sector. Other work includes representing the UK branch of a Germany-headquartered manufacturing business in a claim for defective goods, and acting for a local council in pursuing a claim against a developer that failed to provide affordable housing as part of a s106 agreement. Solicitor Tom Graham has experience in multimillion-pound High Court disputes.

DWF’s practice is led by James Blakey and is known for handling a wide range of disputes relating to pension, contract and shareholder litigation, as well as assisting with warranty claims and breach of restrictive covenants. The team is handling numerous disputes for an educational institution, including matters regarding commercial contracts, student complaints, disciplinary hearings and fitness to practise issues. The team is also defending a claim for a client in the automotive industry regarding allegations of breach of contract, negligence and deceit and is pursuing a counter-claim in respect of unpaid invoices totalling in excess of £1m. Andrew Breckenridge joined Gordons LLP.

Gerard Khoshnaw leads Gateley Plc’s team, which includes Andrew Johnson and Simon Ingham, and is known for handling shareholder and partnership, general commercial contract, and civil fraud disputes. Khoshnaw is representing ALHCO Group in a £3m contract dispute with Taunton Deane Borough Council concerning the servicing and maintenance of central heating systems in the borough’s social housing properties. Johnson is representing Bellway in pursuing a £3m claim for breach of contract against Stanmore Contractors, and is acting for a theatre in various disputes arising from a high-profile touring production. Other clients include Utilitywise, Gleeson Developments, Midgard, Saltire Facilities Management, Dawnus and Repsol Sinopec Energy. Black Caviar and Standard Wool are new client wins.

Irwin Mitchell is ‘a strong player nationally’. Alex Newman, who heads the practice, is a key name for IP and IT disputes, and senior associate Richard Payne has strong expertise handling contractual and construction-related disputes and is experienced in acting for clients in alternative dispute resolution forums. Recent highlights include handling a claim against a former managing director and sales director of the UK subsidiary of a chemical plant, which alleged breaches of fiduciary duty and restrictive covenants among other claims; handling a claim against a private bank for breach of contract; and representing a company in a claim against one of its franchisees for breach of its obligations within its franchise agreement.

LCF Law is ‘an excellent mid-sized firm with loyal clients and a growing market share’. Practice head Charles Abraham is ‘an excellent strategist’, who is noted for his expertise in financial services and commercial agent regulations; he acts for local clients and international corporates. Recent highlights include representing a US-based global corporation in a claim brought against the subsidiary of a UK energy supplier regarding unpaid electricity charges arising from incorrect meter readings over a five-year period. Ragan Montgomery, Jo Barnes, and associate Roger Raper, who ‘thinks outside the box and fights his client’s corner’ are also noted. New clients include Adidas, the Department for Transport, Airea and Clinigen.

The team at York-based Langleys Solicitors LLP is ‘very experienced’ and has ‘excellent commercial understanding’. Practice head James Henson has a broad commercial disputes practice, with particular expertise in disputes involving foreign jurisdiction and freezing injunctions; he acts for European institutions, corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals. The group is representing the European Commission, on behalf of the EU, in a dispute with two liquidators and two creditors concerning the ownership of unspent EU grants held in escrow and the European bank accounts of two insolvent companies. Other work includes representing Hunters Property Group in disputes arising from franchising arrangements. Lisa Stephenson and Adrian Lyon are the also noted. Darren Morgan joined Blacks Solicitors LLP.

Lupton Fawcett LLP’s team ‘doesn’t put a foot wrong and provides excellent value for money’. Practice head Nigel Broadbent has considerable experience handling contractual disputes, corporate governance issues, professional negligence claims, and post-M&A disputes, including warranty claims. Jonathan Warner-Reed is handling a professional negligence claim regarding a land border dispute, and is also acting for a food manufacturer in a claim brought against a subcontractor for negligent performance and breach of confidentiality. York-based Johanne Spittle, who is ‘highly skilled and instinctively knows the best way forward’, is handling a claim against a bank regarding an extendable base rate swap. Paul Sykes and head of the York office Jonathan Cripwell are the other names to note.

McCormicks is ‘a terrific regional firm providing exceptional client service’. The team ‘knows how to conduct litigation before a disciplinary body’ and also stands out for its debt recovery and insolvency litigation expertise. ‘Bright and conscientiousPhilip Edmondson, who ‘knows how to get the best out of counsel’, and ‘savvy and engaging’ Peter McCormick jointly head the department with support from ‘terrific’ senior associate Kayleigh Fantoni. Clients include professional indemnity insurers, private investors and high-net worth individuals, international corporates, family companies and sporting organisations including the Premier League and various football clubs. Edmondson and Fantoni are handling a portfolio recovery matter for longstanding client, the Solicitors Indemnity Fund.

At Schofield Sweeney, Bradford-based James Staton and Leeds-based Richard Stockdale and Alistair Kennedy are the key partners. The group is best known for handling high-value commercial disputes. Staton is representing Halifax Machine Company in a dispute with Chinese manufacturers regarding the condition of supplied machinery, and Kennedy is leading a team advising Menston Action Group on commercial and administrative law regarding a proposed development by Barratt Homes. Closegate Hotel Group, DFDS Seaways and Webster Machinery are all clients. Solicitor Paul Cantwell joined from Gordons LLP. Chris Charlesworth moved to gunnercooke LLP.

An insightful and innovative firm’, Blacks Solicitors LLP’s team is led by ‘exceptional litigator’ Luke Patel and is a key name for owner-managed businesses and SMEs and has niche expertise acting for the owners of mobile home parks. Other key names in the group include Oliver Gross, who has expertise in derivative claims, James Teagle, who is praised for ‘his measured approach and technical know-how’ and Darren Morgan, who joined from Langleys Solicitors LLP, and handles breach of contract claims, partnership and shareholder disputes, and negligence claims. Highlights included acting for a food industry client in a dispute concerning a breach of contract; handling a partnership dispute regarding a joint venture agreement; and defending a claim for unpaid fees relating to the provision of commercial utilities.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s Leeds offering is led by Duncan Greenwood, acts for London market insurers and large corporates on professional indemnity risk matters. He is supported by partners in Manchester and Newcastle, including head of the firm-wide practice Jan Levinson and Manchester-based Sydney Fulda and Harald Loeffler. The team is defending an NHS Foundation Trust against a damages claim brought by an individual; is handling a dispute with a solicitors’ firm regarding an alleged breach of an advertising agreement for another Trust; and is defending a costs claim brought against a software design and IT management company. Other clients include Lynne Young Associates and Fullers Foods International. Ascribe (now part of Emis Group) is a new client.

Harrowells Solicitors acts for mid-size corporations, private companies and high-net-worth individuals, as well as multinational corporates and UK businesses focused on international trade. Practice head Simon Black handles high-value contract disputes, and contentious company, shareholder and partnership matters. Head of agriculture Paul Burkinshaw is a specialist in land and property disputes, and Richard Hugill and solicitor Alex Walsh ‘provide an excellent service’ and have ‘a great deal of knowledge’. Hugill defended SNF (Oil and Gas) UK in claims brought by a well-known financial services company; he also handles liquidations for Begbies Traynor and acts for the same client in pursuing misfeasance claims against directors of insolvent companies. Black is representing a housing developer in a dispute with a subcontractor regarding the right to retain payments.

The team at Metis Law LLP has ‘in-depth knowledge and works passionately and commercially to deliver the best possible outcome’. Rajat Sharma is ‘a very professional, hard-working litigator, who discovers new angles and presents each action in a commercial manner’. Recent highlights include representing a client in arbitration arising from a dispute pertaining to a €100m joint venture agreement between a UK real estate company and a German property developer; acting for SPV Gaia Ventures in bringing a claim against a joint venture formed between Abbeygate Developments and Helical Bars for breach of covenants in a property transfer deed; and pursuing an injunction application backed by misrepresentation and anti-competition proceedings against a national delivery courier company, arising from a collaboration agreement relating to the provision of an internet retail service to customers.

Ramsdens’ practice head Stephen Singh handles a range of civil and commercial disputes. He is supported by construction dispute specialist Paul Booth, property dispute expert Nick Armitage, Hilary Garnett, who covers largescale real estate disputes and professional negligence claims, and Jeremy Cook, who has strengths in regulatory and compliance issues, in particular financial services regulation, and anti-money laundering, as well as expertise in pension, insurance and commercial contract disputes. Recent highlights include successfully representing an individual in a claim for wrongful termination; handling a dispute concerning a breach of contract regarding the supply of heavy machinery to overseas customers; and acting for a company in bringing an unfair prejudice claim after it was put into administration by its directors.

At Raworths, ‘work is always within budget’ and clients’ expectations are effectively ‘managed’. Team head Jonathan Mortimer is ‘calm but authoritative, inspiring complete confidence’ in clients. The gropu typically acts for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs and SMEs. Recent highlights include representing 20/20 in a dispute pertaining to a new hospitality suite at Liverpool FC, and acting for Environmental Technologies in a dispute over the termination of an oil product supply agreement and an alleged breach on non-compete provisions. Other work included handling an IP licensing dispute for Avrox Technologies.

Shulmans LLP’ practice is led by Richard Wadkin, who specialises in shareholder disputes. Robert Whitehead, who handles insurance-related disputes, Mark Wilkinson, who deals with insolvency and creditor service issues, and Paul Lewis, who focuses on contentious wills and probate matters are the other key names. The team handled several matters for Liberty Managing Agency, including acting for the client in a dispute pertaining to a restrictive covenant over land. Other work includes representing BDW Trading in a dispute concerning a mines and minerals claim regarding one of its development sites.

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