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Ashfords LLP

TOWER WHARF, CHEESE LANE, BRISTOL, BS2 0JJ, ENGLAND
Tel:
Work 0117 321 8000
Fax:
Fax 0117 321 8001
DX:
151760 BRISTOL 30
Email:
Web:
www.ashfords.co.uk

South West: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and commercial: Bristol
Corporate and commercial: Bristol - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP’s Bristol-based corporate team is increasingly acting for large national and international clients, especially in the retail and tech sectors. The corporate department is known for its work in capital markets transactions, including IPOs, as well as transactions involving private equity and venture capital funds. Andrew Betteridge heads the corporate team and is acting for Sysrepublic on the sale of its entire issued share capital to TRE SR Holdings, a deal valued at several tens-of-millions of pounds. In an illustration of the group’s real expertise, Betteridge led a large team that advised Perwyn LLP on the buyout of Sumo Digital by Perwyn Private Equity, which received senior debt financing from Clydesdale Bank and mezzanine financing from PIF Republica. Chris Dyson acted for Notion Capital Managers on a $13m investment in GoCardless, a subsidiary of US-based Groupay, and in another US-facing matter, advised the shareholders of Internal Results on the sale of the business to US-based Madison Logic. Rory Suggett is also recommended.

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Corporate and commercial: The West Country
Corporate and commercial: The West Country - ranked: tier 1

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP’s ‘approachable and responsive’ corporate and M&A team is recognised for its experience of venture capital and private equity-backed transactions, as well as capital markets transactions. Primarily located in Exeter, but with offices in Taunton and Plymouth, the department operates seamlessly across firm’s West Country offices, as well as offices in Bristol and London. The ‘pragmatic and client-friendly’ Louise Workman leads the corporate practice out of the Exeter office and assisted Flybe Limited with a reduction of capital for the purpose of providing distributable reserves to support the allocation of shares under the company’s employee share schemes. Other highlights for the Exeter team included advising Swallowfield on its £11m purchase of Brand Architekts. Rebecca Dury advised Tavistock Investments on financing arrangements related to the client’s acquisition of Abacus Associates Financial Services. Pauline Bearblock and Zoe Brewer left the firm for in-house roles, while Simon Staples joined Blake Morgan LLP.

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Corporate tax
Corporate tax - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

Ashfords LLP’s tax team regularly advises on the tax aspects of large, often multi-jurisdictional mergers and demergers. In addition to handling the gamut of taxation issues affecting businesses, such as land tax, VAT, EIS and SEIS, and stamp duty, the department also has expertise in employee share and share-option schemes. In 2016, practice head Angus Bauer acted for Schlumberger Oilfield UK on the tax aspects of multiple cross-border share purchase transactions, including the $110m purchase of Rubislaw Investments and the purchase of Meta Downhole’s issued share capital for $32.2m. Bauer provides ongoing assistance to The Planning Inspectorate on a number of taxation issues such as employment tax and VAT. In another highlight, the team advised Karhoo on obtaining approval for an enterprise investment scheme, and also helped with the implementation of an enterprise management incentives option scheme. Clare Werry has been involved in a number of multi-jurisdictional and national demergers in 2016.

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EU and competition
EU and competition - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

The ‘approachable and down-to-earth’ competition department at Ashfords LLP is renowned for its specialised state aid practice, which is the ‘best in the region’. Working for a range of public and private sector clients, the team is noted for its expertise in state aid funding solutions, as well as public procurement. Practice co-head Elizabeth Gibson specialises in state aid and procurement work and acts for a number of city and county councils on issues such as the implications of the European Commission’s decision on the National Broadband Scheme for the UK. Gibson acted for Your Consortium Limited on the state aid implications of the client’s application to the Building Better Opportunities funding programme for a grant of £7.4m. Joint department head Stuart Mathews is ‘very thorough on the competition and commercial side’ and focuses on providing competition and merger control advice related to national and international M&A and business disposals. Lucy Woods rounds out the state aid and procurement team.

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South West: Crime, fraud and licensing

Crime: fraud
Crime: fraud - ranked: tier 1

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

Ashfords LLP advises both on the defence and prosecution of a wide range of fraud cases for public and private sector clients, including representing victims of crime. It stands out for its expertise in handling multimillion-pound fraud cases and has experience in handling cross-border matters as well as in organising freezing orders to secure assets. The team is noted for prosecuting rogue trader frauds, money laundering and trading standards cases for local authorities. The practice’s areas of strength extend to advising on boiler room fraud cases, as well as to acting in bribery and blackmail matters. It has a strong record of dealing with European distribution fraud. Senior associate Jeremy Asher also has extensive experience in defending Crown Court cases brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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Crime: general
Crime: general - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

Ashfords LLP provides full service criminal defence to privately paying clients and also undertakes prosecution work, standing out from its peers for representing victims of crime. It is particularly adept at defending allegations of having committed motoring offences, including allegations of drink driving and of causing death by careless driving. The caseload also includes defending against allegations of obstructing a police officer in the course of duty and defending against allegations of illegal street trading. The team’s prosecution work includes prosecutions on behalf of central government, for example prosecuting the provision of unregulated immigration advice and perverting the course of justice. A particular area of strength is handling highly sensitive and serious cases with a high reputational risk attached to them, such as cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual abuse. Senior associate and practice head Jeremy Asher led the team on the majority of highlight matters.

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South West: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Bristol
Commercial litigation: Bristol - ranked: tier 4

Ashfords LLP

The litigation team in Ashfords LLP’s Bristol office deals primarily with matters in the financial services, IT and tech and retail sectors. Rory Mac Neice, who was appointed head of the commercial litigation department in 2016, represented Offshore Marine Management Limited in a claim against a purchaser of one of the client’s subsidiary companies regarding the failure of the purchaser to comply with registration regulations in addition to disputes over sales agreements. In the IT sector, Mac Neice is advising a tech solutions company on the provision of white-label IT solutions to an intermediary. Polly Russell-Stower took an in-house position in 2016, while Joanne Saye joined the firm from TLT.

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Commercial litigation: The West Country
Commercial litigation: The West Country - ranked: tier 1

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP’s litigation team, spread across its offices in Exeter, Plymouth and Taunton, is known for its ability to ‘quickly resolve sensitive issues’ and handles a mix of national and international work. The department is ‘as good as any in the region’ according to once client. Antony Lee acts for clients such as Viridor Waste Management and Tamoil Lubricants International on a variety of contractual disputes and has also handled multiple disputes for The London Borough of Corydon. Andrew Perkins acted for HR Dept Limited on the enforcement of a restrictive covenant against a former franchisee, who established a competing business after the termination of the franchise. Jason Squire works out of the Taunton office and assisted Interim Executives (Guernsey), a pensions provider, in a claim regarding a trustee’s duty to preserve assets. In the Plymouth office, Charles Hattersley has experience of marine and transport litigation.

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Debt recovery
Debt recovery - ranked: tier 3

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

The asset recovery team at Ashfords LLP acts for local authorities, commercial organisations and financial institutions, and has expertise in cross-border debt recovery and the recovery of invoice debts. Headed by legal director Katie Farmer, the group regularly acts for Smith & Williamson in connection with invoice debt recovery matters. Farmer’s recent work includes pursuing an unpaid debt for professional fees from a company registered in the Isle of Man. She also works in the firm’s insolvency department and has experience of contentious banking and insolvency litigation. Other areas of expertise include acting for high street lenders and estate agents such as Hampton Estates and Bradleys Estate Agents.

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South West: Finance

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 3

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Plymouth)

Ashfords LLP has substantial experience in real estate and development finance and has noted an uptick in lender-side instructions in 2016. Many of the department’s largest deals contain international aspects; in a notable example, practice head Rebecca Dury is assisting a European bank with the English law aspects of its financing of a group of European property investors, including advising on security over insurance and derivative contracts. In a local highlight, Dury is acting for Exeter Finance on the provision of loans to multiple borrowers for property development and acquisitions. James Heath acted for Lloyds Bank on the acquisition of a shopping centre. The group has acted for a number of lender and borrower clients on the funding aspects of energy projects and care home developments. Other lender clients include Santander and RBS, while its borrower clients include The HAB Group and Targetfollow Group.

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Insolvency and corporate recovery
Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Bristol, Exeter)

Fielding a ‘truly national practice’, Ashfords LLP has experience of multi-jurisdictional insolvency and restructuring. Law firm insolvencies are a particular area of expertise; the ‘invaluable’ Samantha Palmer is appointed as joint solicitor manager in relation to King & Wood Mallesons’ insolvency, which involved providing regulatory and insolvency advice to the joint administrators of the firm. Bristol-based practice head David Pomeroy worked with Quantuma on the administration of Isaac Abraham LLP via court application, and Palmer subsequently advised on the sale and asset transfer of the partnership. ‘A fierce litigator’, Alan Bennett has expertise in foreign jurisdictions including Canada, USA and Dubai, and acted for an Ireland-based bankrupt individual in opposing an application made by the official receiver to annul the client’s bankruptcy. Legal director Katie Farmer has experience of contentious and non-contentious insolvency issues.

Leading individuals

David Pomeroy - Ashfords LLP

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South West: Human resources

Employment: Bristol
Employment: Bristol - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP has vast experience in the retail and private healthcare sectors. The practice is adept at handling tribunal and High Court litigation, notably in disability discrimination claims, providing commercial and corporate business support. A particular area of strength is handling disability discrimination claims. Clients include recruitment group New Directions, ARAG and the Institute of Ecology. Bristol-based practice head Stephen Moore advised the Post Office on a range of matters, such as TUPE issues, the drafting of employment documents and negotiating settlement agreements. The team also acted for Bluebird Care in relation to potential and actual Employment Tribunal claims. It also regularly advises McDonald’s franchisees on all aspects of employment law, including potential and actual Employment Tribunal claims, disciplinary actions, drafting various staff and disciplinary policies, and immigration. The group was also instructed by a private individual to handle a whistleblowing, disability discrimination, and unfair dismissal claim, obtaining an outstandingly high £1,2m in tribunal awards.

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Employment: The West Country
Employment: The West Country - ranked: tier 1

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP undertakes work in the full range of employment law, acting in both contentious and non-contentious matters. It is adept at handling tribunal litigation for local authorities and has experience in handling TUPE matters in relation to business sales, insolvency sales, and in private sector outsourcing projects for multinational companies. Another area of strength is advising on the HR and employment law aspects of international share purchases. The team, led by Bristol-based partner Stephen Moore, consists of ‘highly effective, very responsive, practical advisors’. Charles Pallot, who has ‘enormous breadth of knowledge and experience’, assisted Viridor Waste Management with a complex collective redundancy consultation process, and acted for national brewery group C&C Group on all the employment aspects of the disposal of its remaining business at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill. This latter highlight included supporting the client in its relationship with unions and negotiating complex TUPE and related risk sharing issues. The practice is also representing the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in a complex claim for alleged constructive dismissal and disability discrimination brought forward by a former employee. ‘Highly practical’ senior associate Kirsty Cooke, whose case preparation is ‘second to none’, and ‘thorough’ legal director Su Apps are ‘clear and succinct’ as well as ‘very experienced and true specialists’. Clients include Mylan Group, HelloFresh, and Somerset Larder.

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Health and safety
Health and safety - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Bristol, Exeter)

Ashfords LLP specialises in defending large corporations and smaller businesses from a broad range of industry sectors, notably construction, manufacturing, food and agriculture, waste, education and sport. The ‘excellent’ team is ‘thorough and professional at all times’, delivering ‘excellent advice’. A key area of expertise is advising clients on the health and safety issues surrounding corporate and property transactions, also regularly acting on the health and safety aspects of fatalities in the workplace, especially allegations of corporate manslaughter. Practice head Richard Voke is ‘outstanding both in the depth of his knowledge and in his pragmatic and tactical approach’, providing ‘superb service’. He is also a director at Safety in Design, an organisation set up by the HSE and construction industry organisations with the aim of providing guidance to design professionals in relation to health and safety issues.

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Immigration
Immigration - ranked: tier 3

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

Ashfords LLP delivers ‘extremely efficient’ advice to regional, national and international clients on the full range of recruitment and employment law for foreign nationals, but also advises on non-contentious immigration issues for high-net-worth private individuals. Its Tier 2 expertise encompasses applications for companies to become sponsors under the points-based system, obtaining visas for overseas workers recruited to work in the UK, and intra-company transfers. The practice also advises on employment-related immigration issues in corporate transactions, as part of the due diligence process or post-acquisition. It has experience in handling applications for indefinite leave to remain and spousal applications. Senior associate Kirsty Cooke, who is ‘able to answer questions articulately and with backed up evidence’, heads the immigration practice and advised a large NHS foundation trust on a number of immigration work issues, including its sponsor obligations. She also assisted Techstars London Ltd with immigration issues arising from the opening of a new accelerator programme in the UK. Other clients include SWMAS, Cachematrix UK, Penhaligon’s, and Diana Food.

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South West: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant
Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Ashfords LLP (Taunton)

Ashfords LLP acts for claimants in clinical negligence cases involving either psychological or physical injury. Key areas of expertise include advising on claims arising from the wrongful death of adults; the death of children, including advising on antenatal complications matters; surgical errors, in particular negligent eye surgeries; and misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Jason Squire heads the team, which includes ‘extremely good’, ‘bright and very personable’ associate Claire Boucher. The practice’s recent caseload includes advising a couple on a claim arising from the death of their child due to a negligently inserted feeding tube, assisting the couple with the fatal accidents claim for damages against the relevant Hospital Trust, including a claim for the couple’s PTSD. The team also represented a client in a claim arising from a stillbirth allegedly caused by negligent treatment of a high-risk pregnancy by staff of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

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Personal injury: claimant
Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Ashfords LLP (Taunton, Exeter)

Ashfords LLP provides ‘dependable advice’ on the full range of personal injury claims in relation to road traffic accidents, employers’ liability claims, public and product liability claims as well as occupational and industrial disease claims, claims arising from fatal accidents, and claims arising from injuries caused by animals. The ‘excellent’ team is led by legal director and ‘highly experienced practitioner’ Stephen Walker. The ‘highly intelligent’ Flora Wood offers ‘exceptional client care’ and handles ‘high-value cases with flair, initiative and extensive knowledge of her practice area’. Jason Squire is recommended alongside ‘particularly impressive’ associate Elizabeth Johnson.

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Personal injury: defendant
Personal injury: defendant - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

Ashfords LLP’s very strong ‘all-round practice with great individuals’ provides ‘prompt, sound advice’ and enjoys a reputation for being in ‘the upper echelon of skill, professionalism and reliability’. The team handles workplace accident, public liability, fatal accident, brain injury and catastrophic injury claims as well as road accident and amputation cases. Practice head Flora Wood ‘brings experience and common sense’ to her cases and is noted for her ability to robustly fight for her clients. Associate Elizabeth Johnson is ‘extremely professional and very reliable’ and known for her ‘meticulous preparation and case management’. The practice advised a road traffic accident insurer on a £1.7m long-running claim involving serious leg injuries and an above-the-knee amputation, advising the client on the reserve sum required in the case and assisting with likely upcoming costs such as the costs for prosthetic provisions, future earning capacity and care needs. The team also supported Cornish Mutual in handling a public liability multi-track claim involving work-hindering injuries, successfully reducing the damages by a significant amount through extensive gathering of evidence and establishing contributory liability from the insured. Cornish Mutual and the Sandwell Met Borough Council are clients.

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Professional negligence
Professional negligence - ranked: tier 3

Ashfords LLP (Bristol, Exeter)

Ashfords LLP advises claimants on claims in six areas of practice: banking, bloodstock, construction, solicitors, accountants and financial services. The team’s expertise in the banking sector includes claims against surveyors, solicitors and project managers, as well as claims in relation to over-valuations, failures to report, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. In the bloodstock sector, it acts in claims against veterinary surgeons and other professionals while work in the construction sector includes handling claims arising from negligent design, cost advice and project management, with claims brought against architects, engineers and quantity surveyors as well as project managers. Rory Mac Neice heads the team, which includes Victoria Bonnet. Clients include Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland plc, The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation and Devon County Council. The team’s recent caseload includes advising a leading high street clearing bank on a multi-defendant claim brought against a large firm of surveyors regarding the over-valuation of a property.

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South West: Private client

Agriculture and estates
Agriculture and estates - ranked: tier 3

Ashfords LLP (Tiverton, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP’s agricultural team displays ‘a can-do philosophy which concentrates on delivering timely and jargon-free advice’. It advises on a broad range of regulatory issues, including farm-based energy projects, while also handling wealth management and succession planning matters for landed estates and owners of agricultural enterprises. ‘Approachable’ practice head Darren Blackburn is ‘a high-quality conveyancing solicitor who is at the top of his game’. Tom Biddick is ‘becoming a force to be reckoned with’, he is ‘excellent at dealing with clients’ and has ‘a real understanding of a wide range of agricultural matters’. He has a particular specialism in estate planning for farmers and landed individuals dealing with agricultural property relief and business property relief issues. Robert Horsey, who leads the disputed wills and trusts team, advises on agricultural landlord and tenant disputes and proprietary estoppel claims.

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Contentious trusts and probate
Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Tiverton)

Ashfords LLP’s Tiverton-based contentious trusts and probate team ‘competes on a national level’ and is ‘particularly strong in farming disputes’. It advises a broad range of clients including trust corporations, charities and high-net-worth individuals. Practice head Robert Horsey is ‘an authoritative and experienced lawyer’ who has ‘excellent client management skills’, ‘acting constructively and powerfully for his clients’. Kerry Morgan-Gould is ‘an experienced, pro-active, detail-orientated and tenacious litigator’ who is particularly experienced in capacity issues and in representing national charities in relation to legacy disputes. The team recently acted for the executors of a substantial estate in claims made against it, and advised the son and granddaughter of the deceased in a claim against the deceased’s daughter challenging the validity of the deceased’s last will. It also regularly represents claimants and defendants in high value Inheritance Act claims. Other areas of expertise include acting on professional negligence claims relating to estates and trusts, and handling contentious Court of Protection matters.

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Personal tax, trusts and probate
Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Tiverton, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP has ‘the right partners, staff and level of expertise’, ‘understanding the requirements of high-net-worth individuals and reacting promptly when instructed’. It advises landed estates and high-net-worth individuals on all aspects of succession planning, tax mitigation, wills, trusts and diversification. Recent highlights include acting for the executors in the administration of a taxable estate which included a life interest trust aggregated for inheritance tax purposes. Practice head Michael Alden, a Court of Protection deputy, has ‘an amazing work ethic’, ‘an empathetic way of dealing with clients of all kinds’ and is ‘incredibly strong and very up-to-date technically’. He regularly handles inheritance tax planning matters. The full service team, noted for its ‘good communication’, includes Tiverton-based agricultural specialists Tom Biddick, who is ‘especially detail-focused and is prepared to help outside of the brief when necessary’, and Darren Blackburn, as well as Taunton-based Sue Savill, who has particular expertise in succession planning and tax mitigation as well as capacity issues for vulnerable individuals. Other Tiverton key contacts Andrew Carrigan and Laura England are ‘knowledgeable and approachable’.

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South West: Projects, energy and natural resources

Energy
Energy - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

The energy and waste department at Ashfords LLP handles a variety of renewable projects, but is especially active for developers on EPC issues associated with renewable energy and municipal energy-from-waste projects. In 2016, the group advised both developers and lenders on a multitude of anaerobic digestion and biomass projects across the UK. Practice head Ruth Murray is acting for pension fund investor Ethika Fund SICAV on the funding, construction and commercial agreements related to a series of renewable developments in the UK and Northern Ireland. The energy department works closely with the firm’s property and corporate teams, and was involved in a cross-disciplinary matter that involved the property and environmental due diligence in relation to the strategic acquisition of a waste site in Middlesbrough. In an illustration of Mark Northey’s expertise in biomass gasification projects, he is currently involved in a first-of-its-kind biomass project in the UK, advising on the contractual and commercial agreements for the operation and construction of the project.

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Project finance and PFI
Project finance and PFI - ranked: tier 1

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

The ‘professional and precise’ project finance group at Ashfords LLP is especially well regarded for handling waste and renewable energy projects, IT infrastructure, and transportation projects, as well as renegotiating PFI contracts for public and private sector clients. In one particularly high-value matter, Brian Farrell advised a joint venture comprising Balfour Beatty and Urbaser on the Gloucestershire County Council Waste PPP. The ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Ruth Murray heads the Exeter projects team and is acting for a local authority on the procurement and contractual documentation for an IT infrastructure project. Murray is also advising on a support contract for the development and operation of a highly publicised energy project in the UK. Clare Brewer, a project finance specialist with experience of both banking documentation and commercial contracts, acted for public and private sector clients in relation to the funding aspects of transport and waste energy projects. Nicholas McGrenra has experience acting for funders, sponsors and procurement authorities.

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South West: Public sector

Local government
Local government - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

Ashfords LLP’s multi-disciplinary local government team, led by Elizabeth Gibson, acts for a large number of local authorities and public sector bodies. It continues to handle major infrastructure, including broadband infrastructure, and regeneration projects, as well as state aid, employment and regulatory matters. Highlights included assisting the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea with the £30m Edenham Way regeneration project; acting for Cormac Solutions, a Cornwall Council wholly owned Teckal company, on its highways joint venture with Nottinghamshire County Council; and advising Exeter City Council on the procurement of a design team for a new leisure facility. Wandsworth Borough Council is a key client which has recently instructed the team on a broad range of matters including housing claims, employment tribunal claims as well as TUPE-related and Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) issues arising from of the outsourcing of various services. Gibson specialises in procurement law including outsourcing arrangements, project structuring, fund arrangements and state aid. Property litigator Sian Gibbon, planning specialist Graham Cridland, employment law expert Charles Pallot, as well as senior associate Lucy Woods are other names of note.

Next generation lawyers

Lucy Woods - Ashfords LLP

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South West: Real estate

Commercial property: Bristol
Commercial property: Bristol - ranked: tier 4

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP’s Bristol-based team handles a range of commercial property work, from landlord/tenant matters in the retail sector, to acquisitions and disposals. Andrew Worley leads the team in Bristol and acted for Ovo Energy Group on the grant of a reversion of One Rivergate, Bristol, as well as the grant of a new office lease at Temple Back in Bristol. Worley also handled the property due diligence for Curtis Banks Group in connection with the client’s acquisition of Suffolk Life. Nicholas Lykke Dahn has wide-ranging experience of property matters.

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Commercial property: The West Country
Commercial property: The West Country - ranked: tier 1

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton, Tiverton)

Ashfords LLP’s property team has extensive experience of urban regeneration, pension scheme related property and real estate investment matters, and is especially well known for advising on large-scale property development for commercial developers as well as regional and national housebuilders. The firm leverages its prominent regional footprint to provide wide-ranging expertise across its Exeter, Taunton and Plymouth offices, the last of which was strengthened by the arrival of David Ellis from Foot Anstey. He acted for Progress Land in relation to a strategic land acquisition of a major South West development site, which involved negotiating with several different landowners. Taunton-based Michael Gay, who also joined from Foot Anstey, acted for Abbey Manor Developments on the £4m land disposal to multiple developers for future residential development. While the majority of the practice’s clients stem from the private sector, the firm also handles mandates for public sector entities; Andrew Rothwell assisted Exeter City Council with negotiations concerning the development agreement for the redevelopment of the Exeter Bus and Coach Station. In an illustration of its work on secured lending for banks and lenders, James Heath acted for RBS in connection with a grant of security over a long-leasehold city centre building, in addition to advising on the construction documentation related to the planning consent for the redevelopment of the building. Tim Heal heads the practice from the Exeter office, which includes Andrew MacMillan-Scott, who is active on the investment side.

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Construction
Construction - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Bristol, Exeter, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP’s ‘incredibly responsive and commercial’ construction team handles a range of contentious and non-contentious matters – including procurement and development – for public and private sector clients. Stephen Homer, who heads the firm’s adjudication and arbitration team, represented Devon County Council in mediation in connection with an £11.5m claim against a design consultant and contractor regarding the construction of a school. Homer also handles non-contentious work and advised Exeter County Council on the design and build contracts for the new Passivhaus swimming pool and leisure development. Patrick Blake heads the practice acted in a multimillion-pound EPC contract dispute in the renewable energy sector. Other key contacts include Mark Manning, who handles construction disputes and non-contentious matters and has extensive experience of the renewable energy and retail sectors. Viridor Waste Management Limited, South Coast Construction Limited and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are among the team’s clients.

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Environment
Environment - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Bristol, Exeter)

Ashfords LLP’s business risk and regulation department is praised for its track record in environmental crime prosecutions and, with clients considering its expertise to be ‘comparable to that of any regional firm in England’. The team also advises on environmental compliance and regularly acts for agricultural clients and public and quasi-public bodies. Department head Richard Voke has a ‘strong technical background in environmental science as well as environmental law’; he has been involved in multiple pollution and contamination prosecutions for clients in the energy and care sectors, in addition to advising on regulatory due diligence issues related to various transactions in the oil and gas sector. Senior associate Jeremy Asher (‘as good as any lawyer in the field’) acted on behalf of various public bodies in Environment Agency prosecutions regarding pollution and breach of environmental permits.

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Planning
Planning - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP’s planning department handles a range of matters for housebuilders and acts in community infrastructure projects, as well as advising on appeals, CPOs and planning challenges. Graham Cridland specialises in residential development, and acted for Devon County Council in relation to the £70m redevelopment of the Exeter Coach and Bus Station, which will include a mixed-use development. Working out of the Plymouth office, Gareth Pinwell prepared and submitted planning objections for Thames Water Utilities against Hertfordshire County Council, regarding the designation of an area of land as a Town and Village Green. CPO specialist David Richardson joined the firm in 2016 from Michelmores LLP and has experience in the retail, energy and waste, public and agriculture sectors. Legal director Duncan Moors also joined the team from Teignbridge District Council. The group has a developing marine planning offering through senior associate Lara Moore, who handles nationwide marine licensing for Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Wainhomes (SW) Holdings, Stongvox Limited, Shelfside Holdings and Bovis Homes are also clients.

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Property litigation
Property litigation - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Bristol, Exeter, Taunton, Tiverton)

For some, Ashfords LLP is ‘plainly, one of the best firms for property litigation in the West Country, with strength in depth and a number of talented individuals’. Group head Sian Gibbon (whose ‘property knowledge is second to none’) acted for Exeter City Council on the contentious aspects of its £75m redevelopment of the Exeter Bus and Coach Station. Gibbon acted alongside Victoria Bonnet for Lloyds Banking Group on secured and unsecured lending recovery litigation. Rob Nicholson represented CDS Stores International in a £3m misrepresentation claim against a landlord following the discovery of asbestos in the client’s commercial property in Northern England. One of the firm’s ‘leading talents’, Robert Horsey specialises in trust issues associated with agricultural properties. Other clients include The London Borough of Wandsworth, Majestic Wine and Yorkley Court Farm.

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Social housing
Social housing - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter, Tiverton)

Ashfords LLP acts for some of the largest social housing landlords in the UK and also acts for local authorities in contentious and non-contentious housing matters. Joint department head Sian Gibbon (‘the driving force behind the team’s success’) acts for The Guinness Partnership in connection with contentious housing matters, while fellow head Tim Heal acted for a housing association on a high-value acquisition of land and affordable housing units in Gloucestershire. Mark Moore negotiated a sensitive land acquisition on behalf of Knightstone Housing Association in 2016. The team was strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of Michael Gay, who joined the firm from Foot Anstey and focuses on development acquisition work.

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South West: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

IT and telecoms
IT and telecoms - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth)

Clients find Ashfords LLP’s communications to be ‘clear as well as precise’ and advice to be ‘in plain English with every attempt to be practical and helpful’. Bristol-based Chris Dyson heads the five-strong team, which also includes utilities sector smart metering technology expert Garry Mackay, who is ‘thoroughly professional with superb knowledge and experience in the IT arena’. Exeter-based firm chairman Mark Lomas is ‘a friendly voice, wise council and great strategist’; he specialises in IT contracts as well as technology licensing and distribution. The team strengthened through the hire of highly regarded commercial practitioner Andy Braithwaite from Thrings LLP in April 2017. It recently advised Internal Results on the licensing and data protection aspects of its sale to Madison Logic, acted for Brightpearl and investors on inward investment from investment funds and venture debt from Silicon Valley Bank and Columbia Lake Partners, and is advising a technology company on its global distribution of a software product. The Land Registry, Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Post Office and Notion Capital are also clients. Associates Suzie Miles and Chris Coughlan are ‘names to watch’.

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Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Exeter)

Ashfords LLP expanded its IP practice with the launch of a European patent attorney through its hire of Kaya Elkiner, who joined from Keltie in April 2016. Its case load features a mix of IP transactions, patent filing, opposition and portfolio management as well as copyright, design and trade mark infringement claims. Trade mark specialist Carl Steele, who is particularly ‘detail-focussed’, is advising Penhaligon's and L'artisan Parfumeur (both owned by Puig), on managing their worldwide trade mark and registered design portfolios, which included prosecuting over 100 trade mark applications and conducting trade mark oppositions and infringement disputes. With the support from Giles Lane, Steele is also representing the Roald Dahl Estate in a number of IP infringement cases against online retailers, hospitality businesses and educational workshop operators. The team is also assisting HelloFresh UK with the preparation of patent, registered design and trade mark application to protect innovations, and is acting for a global insurance company on opposing the use and registration of third party-owned trade marks. Firm chairman Mark Lomas heads the IP department, which also includes Tom Phipps who focuses on copyright, media and entertainment and franchising.

Leading individuals

Andrew Braithwaite - Ashfords LLP

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Sport
Sport - ranked: tier 2

Ashfords LLP (Bristol)

Ashfords LLP is a recognised leader in sports regulations. It acts for defendants and regulatory bodies, with a focus on race-fixing and doping allegations; it also represents a number of jockeys in respect of failed doping controls both in the UK and overseas and represents jockeys, trainers and owners before regulatory panels across all equestrian sports disciplines. Practice head Rory Mac Neice, a former professional National Hunt jockey, ‘leaves no stone unturned’, supported by Joanne Saye. Neice’s recent work highlights include acting for a jockey in a successful appeal to the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority against the finding of local stewards claiming improper riding, representing a professional jockey following a positive control for cocaine taken at a racecourse and assisting the British Harness Racing Club with two doping appeals. Andrew Braithwaite joined from Thrings LLP in April 2017.

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South West: Transport

Shipping
Shipping - ranked: tier 1

Ashfords LLP (Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton)

Ashfords LLP specialises in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious marine work including the sale and purchase of high-value commercial vessels and superyachts; ship finance in respect of a variety of vessels including superyachts, cargo shortage and high-value demurrage claims; contractual disputes; and fishing industry transactions and litigation. It also conducts work in marine personal injury, casualty work including salvage and collision claims, marine insurance, and the full range of marine regulatory issues such as wreck removal, harbour and pilotage dues, bye-law prosecutions, and pollution risks and obligations. Senior associate Lara Moore has particular experience in marine regulation and licensing. Clients include Exe Shipping, Hao Shun Shipping, Barclays, RBS, Rowse Fishing, and the Royal National Lifeboat Association. The team is adept at handling matters touching on several jurisdictions, such as the international enforcement in Ghana, Togo and Nigeria of a judgment from a London arbitration under London Maritime Arbitrators Association rules in which practice head Charles Hattersley and solicitor Ieuan Jones acted on behalf of Metmar Ship Management. Key cases included advising the Gibraltar-incorporated Cameron Holdings on the Blue Water East Side Project, and assisting Waterdance in the negotiations and documentation in the purchase of five trawlers plus quota and licence. The practice further acts for the owners of the Bugaled Breizh on all aspects of maritime UK proceedings.

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Further information on Ashfords LLP

Please choose from this list to view details of what we say about Ashfords LLP in other jurisdictions.

London

Offices in London

South West

Offices in Bristol, Taunton, Tiverton, Exeter, and Plymouth

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