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DLA Piper UK LLP’s team is ‘as strong as they come’ and has ‘good technical and market knowledge’. ‘Pro-active and experiencedRichard Obank jointly heads the team with Duncan Mosley; the duo have expertise in handling financially distressed situations for stakeholders, and assisting with administrations and liquidations, investigations, contingency planning, litigation, trading issues concerning insolvency and the strategic planning associated with restructurings. Barney Smedley handles debt restructuring matters, Colin Ashford focuses on contentious restructuring and insolvency issues and UK-wide restructuring head Mark Jacksonis exceptional at dealing with challenging matters and intransigent people on the other side’. Obank recently advised PwC as administrators of Polestar; Ashford advised Duff & Phelps on the administration of BHS; and Jackson assisted the non-executive directors of Petroceltic with negotiations with its lenders and major shareholders regarding the sale of debt. Other highlights include handling two pre-packaged disposals for Ernst & Young as administrators of Green North East Trading; advising Hewden Stuart on contingency planning relating to a distressed M&A process; and acting for the joint administrators of Whittlebury Hall and the subsequent multi-million pound sale of the hotel and spa.

Walker Morris LLP’s ‘highly rated’ team stands, according to one client, ‘above its peers’. It advises lenders, insolvency practitioners, directors and other stakeholders on all aspects of restructuring and insolvency matters. Practice head Simon Clark focuses on non-contentious corporate recovery and turnaround matters, and acts for banks, insolvency practitioners, companies and directors. The ‘urbane and polishedDuncan Lolereally cuts through and drives a case or deal home’; ‘seasoned professionalJohn Roche’s ‘quality of work and understanding of a matter is without exception’; recently promoted partner Gawain Mooreis very experienced, calm and a good tactical thinker’; senior associate Olivia Robinson ‘is persuasive, hard-working and has a brilliant intuition’; and senior associate Sarah MacAuley ‘works extremely hard and has a very sound understanding of the field’. Recent highlights include issuing possession and sale proceedings on behalf of Mazars on the property of a bankrupt, which was defended by the bankrupt’s spouse as a litigant in person and is currently on appeal. Philip Mudd retired in May 2016.

Addleshaw Goddard’s team is known for its strengths in acting on the corporate side of distressed situations, representing turnaround investors on transactions and non-contentious restructuring and insolvency matters. Recent highlights include advising Andrew Page, as the distressed party, and PwC, as the administrator, on the £16m sale of the majority of the business to Euro Car Parts. Andy Bates advised BDO on the £1.5m sale of the business and assets of GB Energy Supply, and also assisted Endless with its acquisition of Dutch manufacturer Brabant Alucast group. Graham Briggs and managing associates Jonathan Jackson and Emma Collins are also noted; Jackson has a broad based practice with a bank and insolvency practitioner focus and Collins handles large corporate transactions, particularly accelerated M&A and prepack insolvency sales. Richard Smith joined Shoosmiths LLP and Andrew Smith moved in-house.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s team has ‘a strong mix of legal and commercial viewpoints; the advice is always well considered, and is solution rather than problem focused – they repeatedly provide the best value for money’. Practice head Paul Duttonquickly gets to the core of the problem and moves the discussion forward with pragmatic and practical points’, Lemi McAuleyprovides strong support’ and fellow senior associate Victoria Procteris technically proficient and has a commercial edge when required’. Dutton recently advised Joseph Rhodes on a restructuring process; acted for Grant Thornton, as administrators of St John’s on the Hill School, in a pre-packaged administration sale; and also assisted Baker Tilly Creditor Services, the joint trustees in bankruptcy, with a large forensic investigation concerning a tax avoidance scheme conducted by the bankrupt.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s team provides ‘quick response times’. ‘Nothing is too much trouble’ for practice head Richard Tripp and ‘his knowledge is endless’; he focuses on corporate recovery and restructuring work for banks, financial institutions and various corporate personnel. Legal director Dawn Allen focuses on non-contentious restructuring matters. Recent highlights include acting for KPMG as administrators of Halco Rock Tools which involved handling the pre-pack sale of the business; advising AlixPartners, as administrators of St Andrews Care Group, on the pre-pack administration sale of 11 care homes; and assisting Quantuma, as administrators, with the pre-pack sale of the business and assets of Linder Myers which saved 65 solicitors’ jobs. Other clients include Deloitte, Begbies Traynor, BDO, Grant Thornton and EY.

Squire Patton Boggs’ practice is led by John Alderton, who focuses on complex restructuring and disposal work, as well as handling insolvency litigation. The team is known for its strengths in transport-related insolvencies, mining-related liquidations and restructurings in the chemical and retail sectors. Laura Crawford specialises in turnarounds in the retail, manufacturing and property development fields. Recent examples of its contentious work include defending a £96m claim for the judicial factor of a £35m estate, which involved handling complex insolvency issues, and representing a property entrepreneur faced with creditor claims of almost £200m, which included dismissing a bankruptcy petition. Other highlights include advising a plant hire company on acquiring several divisions of another plant hire company from its administrators.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s team ‘is very quick to spot opportunities and is very active in the market, and never lets clients down’. ‘One of the best restructuring lawyers in town’, practice head Andy Stirkis well connected, commercial and technically excellent’. Managing associate Sam Dixon is ‘one to watch for the future, he has all the right qualities and skills’. The group advised KPMG, as administrators to Raithwaite Hall hotel, on the provisional administration of its connected companies. Other work includes assisting the administrators of construction industry supplier Realstone and its holdings board with the co-dependent disposals of the business and assets of Realstone and the sale of the board’s shares in national quarry chain Blockstone.

Clarion’s team ‘can always be relied on to provide great advice’. Practice head Ryan Millmore, who ‘always provides the support needed’, focuses on corporate insolvencies including administrations, receiverships, liquidations and turnarounds. He assisted Kingsbridge Corporate Solutions with the onward sale of the business and assets of RBK Mechanical to Bellrock Property and Facilities Management, and acted for Armstrong Watson on the implementation of a company voluntary arrangement for Omnia-Chem. Roger Hutton, who primarily handles pre-insolvency matters, advised Begbies Traynor as administrators of Alatas Engineering, which involved handling a company reorganisation and the onward sale of the business and assets. Alice Pratt handles corporate insolvencies, and Ben Slack acts for clearing banks, asset-based lenders, stakeholders, creditors and accountants on the full spectrum of solvent and insolvent restructuring work.

Gordons LLP is particularly recommended for its strength in contentious insolvency and arbitration matters. Wayne Parker, who heads the team, ‘is a skilled negotiator and has in-depth knowledge of contentious and investigative insolvency work’; he focuses on the construction, manufacturing, retail, motor and travel industries. The team acted for Grant Thornton as administrators of Dent Company; advised Begbies Traynor as administrators of McFadden Construction, which involved representing the client in an adjudication that resulted in a substantial payment for the creditors; and assisted Deloitte as LPA receiver with the sale of the group property assets. Other clients include Bank of Ireland, BDO, Molson Coors Brewing, PwC and KPMG.

Irwin Mitchell’s practice is led by national head Andrew Walker, who handles contentious and non-contentious matters. Doug Robertson, who handles property-related insolvencies, and Tom Paton, who focuses on personal insolvencies, are the other key names. The team assisted Begbies Traynor with the administration of William Anelay, which involved selling the company’s book debts, retentions and property and dealing with the assignment of existing supplier contracts. The group also acted for KPMG as the administrators of Williams Brothers and Williams Fasteners, which included the sale of both businesses and assets which had a combined turnover of £7m, and also advised ABN Amro on providing the financing for the acquisition of the business and assets of Kiveton Park Steel in administration.

James Richardson leads Lupton Fawcett LLP’s practice, which is known for acting for distressed and insolvent legal practices and handling the sale of the property portfolios of insolvent property groups. It also handles insolvency matters involving companies from a range of other industry sectors, including construction, leisure, healthcare, manufacturing, licensed trade and retail. Nigel Whitfield has expertise in personal insolvency matters; David Smyllie is a key name for debtor-led advice and defending director disqualifications; and Tom Whiteside handles distressed refinancing for banks and other lenders. Recent highlights include acting for BWC Business Solutions as administrators of Whitkirk Motors, which involved assisting with issues of secured creditors rights, directors duties, opposed access to company premises and environmental and DVLA licensing issues. Other work included advising KPMG on the administration of Steel Founder Noel Village.

Wilkin Chapman LLP’s practice has strengths in handling investigations, misfeasance and wrongful trading claims, pursuing antecedent transactions, assisting directors with disqualification proceedings, advising on restructuring and providing pre-insolvency advice. Chris Grocock and Chris Garwood jointly head the team. Recent highlights include acting as liquidators of a company involved in a business rates avoidance scheme, which involved £1.6m in creditors (local authorities and HMRC) claims. Other work includes advising a trustee in bankruptcy on his ability to apply for relief from forfeiture, and acting as liquidator in respect of six group companies seeking recovery of misappropriated proceeds of sale, following the disposal of a football club. Clients include KPMG, Grant Thornton and Baker Tilly Creditor Services.

Matthew Brown leads DWF’s team, which has strengths in restructuring, turnaround and insolvency work including property-based insolvencies. Associate Ashley Jaques handles non-contentious matters. The team advised GVA Bilfinger and UK Asset Resolution on the receivership sale of the Merseyway Shopping Centre, and assisted Close Invoice Finance with the £4m refinance and restructure of the A-Belco group, which involved security and inter-creditor issues. Other work includes advising Deloitte, as the receivers, on a large commercial retail development in Nottingham, and assisting RSM as joint administrators of Sheffield-based construction management business Management Cubed with negotiating contractual agreements with debtors and creditors. Other clients include Lloyds, RBS, PwC, KPMG and EY.

Gateley Plc’s practice handles business restructurings, refinancing, rescues and turnarounds. Team head William Ballmann handles high-profile restructurings and insolvencies, and Rob Payne acts for financial institutions on various contentious matters, including defending claims arising from account conduct, product sales and realisation of security, and complex recoveries claims. The team also handles cross-border insolvency litigation.

Gosschalks’ practice head Steve Dillon handles ancillary shareholder and director litigation and acts for liquidators, administrators, supervisors of voluntary arrangements, trustees in bankruptcy, LPA receivers and banks enforcing securities. Nigel Beckwith and Simon Lunt are the other key team members. Recent work includes acting for PwC as the administrators of Acepoint; representing a company in liquidation in a dispute with its insurers; and handling a bankruptcy appeal for a trustee in bankruptcy.

HLW Keeble Hawson is known for its expertise handling largescale bankruptcy investigations and liquidations. Leeds-based practice head Natalie Nattress focuses on investigations and is supported by a team in the Sheffield office that is recognised for its contentious strengths. Recent highlights include advising an insolvency practitioner on the administration of an insolvent estate and acting for the joint liquidators in bringing a claim against the directors of a company to recover monies procured before the company’s liquidation. The team is also handling various matters for the liquidators of a property development company, including advising on various matters pertaining to property transfers, overage agreements, novation agreements, disclaimers, and FCA authorisation. Ron Whitlam retired in 2016.

Schofield Sweeney’s three-partner team includes Bradford-based Amar Rashid, who handles banking and shareholder disputes and insolvencies, insolvency specialist David Arundel and corporate restructuring expert Richard Fergusson. Associate Zoe Oates joined in 2016 from HLW Keeble Hawson and has expertise in contentious and personal insolvency matters. The team recently handled a restructuring process for Oughtred & Harrison and assisted C4X Discovery with the acquisition of assets from Molplex which is in administration. Other work included acting for the joint administrators of Conexion Media Group on a range of matters, including handling lender security issues, claims from US creditors, disputes regarding catalogue ownership, and asset realisations.

Gillian Kaufman is the key contact at Ward Hadaway, and has notable expertise handling administrations, liquidations, bankruptcies, and corporate and personal voluntary arrangements. Consultant Steven Frieze handles international debt recovery work for export credit insurers and also acts for commercial debt collection agencies and creditors. The team has further strengths advising on complex restructuring and funding arrangements, and handling shareholder disputes concerning insolvent companies.

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Legal Developments in Yorkshire and the Humber for Insolvency and corporate recovery

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

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