The Legal 500

Speechly Bircham LLP

Work 020 7427 6400
Fax 020 7427 6600
Zurich, Paris, Paris, Luxembourg, London, Geneva


Top-tier recommendations


  • London: Projects, energy and natural resources > PFI and PPP

London: Corporate and commercial

Within Financial services, tier 4

At Speechly Bircham LLP, team head Elizabeth Budd advises on the structuring of authorised and unauthorised funds both onshore and offshore, and acts for clients including fund managers, trustees and depositaries. Jonathan Bayliss is recommended for his work in the wealth management and private banking sectors.

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Within Flotations: small and mid-cap, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

At Speechly Bircham LLP, Chris Putt is ‘thorough and insightful’. He acted for Stratmin Global Resources plc on its acquisition of the Graphmada group and the re-listing of the enlarged group on AIM. Tom Shaw advised longstanding client Aviation plc on a share placing.

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Within M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m, Speechly Bircham LLP is a first tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP continues to attract deals beyond its traditional sub-£50m market, with 2012 seeing it act for longstanding client Countryside Property Group on its acquisition by Oaktree Capital Management. Tom Shaw leads a 12-partner group.

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Within Private equity: transactions, tier 7

In 2012, Malcolm MacDougall’s team at Speechly Bircham LLP acted for FF&P Private Equity on the MBO of furniture supplier David Phillips. It also advises management on disposals to private equity firms.

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Within Venture capital, tier 4

At Speechly Bircham LLP, Chris Putt leads the firm’s practice advising growth companies. Private equity partner Andrew Clarke also regularly handles venture capital deals, working closely with the firm’s tax team to provide efficient structuring.

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London: Dispute resolution

Within Commercial litigation, tier 6

Speechly Bircham LLPkeeps clients well informed’. The practice acted in appeals against notices of decision concerning the income tax and national insurance contributions treatment of payments made to employees. Alexander Carter-Silk is ‘a leading litigator’.

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London: Finance

Within Corporate restructuring and insolvency, tier 5

Speechly Bircham LLP’s four-partner team provides ‘commercial and technical’ advice to a range of stakeholders in the SME market. Rupert Connell is ‘innovative, client friendly and commercial’.

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Within Investment funds, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP’s ‘very knowledgeable’ group is highly experienced in retail, listed and mid-market private equity funds. Clients include Fidelity, CBRE and Cazenove Capital, and the firm has acted on authorised funds for BNY Mellon. Elizabeth Budd is ‘very helpful, and excellent’, and practice head Nick Janmohamed and Vincent Mercer are also recommended.

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Within Securitisation, tier 5

Trusted advisersPaul Kay, Daniel Sullivan and Brendan Slack at Speechly Bircham LLP mainly advise investment managers and corporate finance boutiques on their participation in securitisations.

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London: Human resources

Within Employment: employers and senior executives, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

Trevor Bettany leads the team at Speechly Bircham LLP and has expertise in post-termination restraint of trade, discrimination and termination issues. Clients include banks, investment management businesses and hedge funds, employment agencies, and senior executives. Richard Linskell left the firm in April 2013.

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Within Immigration,

Also noted for their immigration law capabilities are Bircham Dyson Bell; Bonheur Legal; Dundas & Wilson LLP; Hudson McKenzie; Mills & Reeve LLP; Morgan Cole LLP; Nicholas Moore; Pinsent Masons LLP; Speechly Bircham LLP; Stephens Scown LLP; and Watson, Farley & Williams LLP.

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Within Pensions, tier 4

The small but ‘excellent’ team at Speechly Bircham LLP advises trophy client ThyssenKrupp on a variety of matters, and acted opposite Slaughter and May and Travers Smith LLP in a recent transaction on behalf of PA Consulting. Other clients include the Trustees of the Olympic SA Pension & Life Assurance Scheme and Heron. Practice head Penny Cogher and Jane Wolstenholme provide practical advice ‘based on solid knowledge of the client’s industry and the relevant areas of law, while taking into account business needs’.

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London: Insurance

Within Insurance: corporate and regulatory, tier 4

Nick Janmohamed heads the insurance and financial institutions team at Speechly Bircham LLP, and spent much of 2012 dealing with a novel contingent scheme of arrangement in New Zealand. Alexander Carter-Silk advised on policy wording for a number of major insurers. Clients include the Ecclesiastical and Scottish Life.

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London: Private client

Within Agriculture and estates, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP counts major London estates and international billionaires among its clients. Thomas Moran and Amanda O’Keeffe are recommended on the property side.

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Within Art and cultural property, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

John Ward and William Hancock are the names to note at Speechly Bircham LLP. The firm is notable for its diverse mix of clients; it represents, among others, a major French collector of pre-Columbian antiquities, the trustees of large UK families, and a range of philanthropists and donors.

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Within Charities and not-for-profit, tier 4

John Ward’s team at Speechly Bircham LLP delivers ‘consistently appropriate advice’. The firm is active in the establishment of grants and in US/UK charitable structures, as well as handling charities mergers. Employment guru Trevor Bettanyunderstands difficult employee relations matters’. Clients include the RSPCA and Barnardo’s.

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Within Contentious trusts and probate, Speechly Bircham LLP is a second tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP’s practice head Graeme Kleiner is ‘sensible, with good offshore knowledge’, and acts for trustees, executors and beneficiaries in disputes. He recently advised in relation to a multi-jurisdictional takeover of assets in a large trust. Litigator Andrea Zavos is ‘straightforward and sensible’, and has been active in relation to a significant disputed loan agreement. The firm ‘approaches difficulty in an objective way’.

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Within Family, tier 4

Speechly Bircham LLP’s James Freeman is ‘one of the best family lawyers to work with’, and handles major work for ultra-high-net-worth individuals in property and sport. Victoria Francisgets to the heart of the issue’, and was promoted to the partnership in November 2012.

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Within Personal tax, trusts and probate, Speechly Bircham LLP is a second tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP has ‘technical expertise across a wide range of complex issues, both onshore and offshore’, advising on matters ranging from the mitigation of IHT on arts and heritage to the restructuring of high-end property and protection of trust assets from dissolute beneficiaries. Graeme Kleiner, Mark Summers, Dominic Lawrance, Alison Broadberry and John Wardall have excellent reputations, superb knowledge and a friendly, doctor-like approach’. Charles Gothard joined Macfarlanes LLP in 2012.

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London: Projects, energy and natural resources

Within PFI and PPP, tier 6

Speechly Bircham LLP is singled out as having outstanding knowledge of the LIFT and PPP market. Team head Matthew Newing is very highly regarded by clients, and Meriel Bennett has ‘detailed knowledge of PFI contracts’.

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London: Public sector

Within Healthcare, tier 5

At Speechly Bircham LLP, head of projects Matthew Newing has expertise in healthcare infrastructure.

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London: Real estate

Within Commercial property, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP has a strong practice across regeneration, urban estates (where clients include Howard de Walden Estates), and private clients and funds divisions, and is well placed to assist on inward investment deals. The team recently acted for Henderson and P&O on the 82,500sq ft pre-let agreements for Regent Quarter, King’s Cross. Mark Smith, Lee Medlock, Robin Grove and Ashley Kopitko have ‘excellent sector knowledge’.

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Within Construction, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice focuses on UK property and contracting, and international engineering. Supplier clients include Atkins, Bouyges and United House, while purchaser clients include Derwent London and Harrods. Steven Carey and Tim Raper lead the eight-partner team on construction and real estate, respectively. Kevin Forsythconsiders every angle’.

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Within Planning, tier 5

Speechly Bircham LLP recently provided strategic planning advice to Bouygues Developments regarding the mixed-use planning application for a development in Canning Town. Recent recruit Claire Fallows, whose clients include the Church Commissioners for England, has a ‘no-nonsense approach’.

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Within Property finance, tier 4

Speechly Bircham LLP advised Lloyds TSB Bank on a £57m term loan to refinance a shopping centre acquisition, and acted for Bank of Scotland on the amendment and restatement of property investment and general corporate facilities totalling £95m. Brendan Slack is ‘technically strong, and goes the extra mile for clients, with a reliable team behind him’.

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Within Property litigation, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP is a trusted adviser to large developers and landowners. In 2012, Jeremy Hudson won a landmark enfranchisement case before the Supreme Court on behalf of Howard de Walden Estates. Group head Graham Ling is ‘tremendous with clients’, and land use specialist James Souter is ‘a real go-getter’.

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London: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Within Data protection, Speechly Bircham LLP is a third tier firm,

Speechly Bircham LLP’s Robert Bond has ‘a strong grasp of the pragmatism needed to apply the law, and a good understanding of the changing nature of the technology landscape’. He has been leading on standalone compliance and advisory matters as well as corporate support work. Highlights included advising Daimler on implementing a Europe-wide whistleblower service, and advising both Pentair and Watson Pharmaceuticals on cross-border compliance issues. Vinod Bange joined Taylor Wessing LLP in 2012.

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Within Intellectual property, tier 5

Speechly Bircham LLP’s strengths lie in soft IP protection and enforcement matters as well as technology sector litigation. Alexander Carter-Silk continued to represent the defendant in the SAS v WPL copyright case. Robin Lightner Maisashvili, who joined from Rouse Legal, and trade mark attorney Paul Nicholson are also recommended. Alexander Carter-Silk is now at Brown Rudnick LLP.

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Within IT and telecoms, tier 5

Speechly Bircham LLP handles transactional, regulatory and disputes work for clients such as NTT Europe, Chartis/Global Switch and Savvis Communications Corporation. Alexander Carter-Silk heads the department, which includes technology lawyer Mark Bailey and telecoms expert Nathalie Moreno.

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Within Media and entertainment, tier 4

Speechly Bircham LLP’s practice head Alexander Carter-Silk handles high-profile copyright litigation, and acts for clients including Elle Macpherson. Michelle Lewiston advises broadcasters and publishers on production and content agreements. Robert Bond advises digital media and computer game companies. Nicholas Tall joined f.

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Further information on Speechly Bircham LLP

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Legal Developments by:
Speechly Bircham LLP

  • Annual reports and annual general meetings

    With the Summer annual general meeting (AGM) season now on the horizon, many company secretaries and general counsel will be considering the preparation for their AGMs and the publication of their annual reports. 

    - Speechly Bircham

Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Home Office announces extension of support service for SMEs

    An online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) which need to recruit skilled overseas workers has been extended until 28 February 2014. The pilot was launched by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and provides a step by step guide to sponsoring an overseas worker. This service is available via the GLA website.
  • Penningtons Manches' immigration team considers new changes to the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

    The Home Office has recently published new Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance, version 12/13. This guidance is to be used by all prospective and existing Tier 4 sponsors from 11 December 2013.
  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

  • Behind the corporate veil: is that all there is?

    That companies have an existence entirely separate to that of their shareholders and directors is a foundational principle of English law and commerce.

  • Playing fair with penalty clauses

    It is often difficult to predict what will be recoverable as damages for breach of contract. To provide some certainty, parties will often seek to agree the sum that will be payable in the event of specified breaches. 

  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

  • The role of arbitrators in EU antitrust law

    In May 2014, it will be ten years since Regulation No 1/2003 entered into force. When the legislator of the European Union adopted this Regulation on 16 December 2002, its main objective was to decentralise the enforcement of the two main provisions of EU antitrust law, Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Where do the arbitrators fit in this picture?

  • New Immigration Bill, October 2013: cause for concern or appeasing public sentiment?

    The year 2013 has seen a string of reforms to the immigration system by the current coalition government. On 10 October, the government published a Bill aimed at continuing its drive to reduce net migration figures. 

  • New Schengen EU Regulations: impact on short-stay visa visitors

    The publication on 26 June 2013 of the European Union Regulation EU 610/2013 modified the incumbent Regulation EU 562/2006 in relation to third country nationals (ie non-EU citizens) and those travelling on a short-stay visitor visa, as well as those who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria. Exceptions include EU and EEA nationals travelling to other EU/EEA states within the Schengen area together with foreign nationals holding either long-stay or residence permits for their destination Schengen countries.

  • 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