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VWV

NARROW QUAY HOUSE, NARROW QUAY, BRISTOL, BS1 4QA, ENGLAND
Tel:
Work 0117 925 2020
Fax:
Fax 0117 925 2025
DX:
7831 BRISTOL
Email:
Web:
www.vwv.co.uk

South West: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and commercial: Bristol
Corporate and commercial: Bristol - ranked: tier 4

VWV

VWV’s clients praise the corporate and commercial group’s ‘straightforward pricing’ and ‘sound industry knowledge’, but note in particular the ‘feeling of comfort and trust in the firm’s advice’. Fielding dedicated corporate and commercial teams headed by Robert Collier and Doug Locke, respectively, the group has been increasingly active for start-up and tech businesses and has been involved in a number of transactions with inbound foreign investors. In one of the group’s highlight transactions, Nathan Guest advised the shareholders of an internationally active technology company on the £55m sale of their shareholding. Solicitor Katie Hanson acted for Bath-based e-commerce company Prezola in relation to a £3m investment by the Business Growth Fund. The team remains active in the education and healthcare sectors and Edward Rimmell assists North Somerset Council with its outsourcing of statutory and non-statutory education services. Oliver Pool and Andrew Gallie were made partners in the commercial team, and Jos Moule is a recommended corporate partner.

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Corporate tax
Corporate tax - ranked: tier 3

VWV

With expertise in acting for clients in the charities and education sectors, VWV’s tax department regularly supports the firm’s flagship corporate and property transactions. The team has also received instructions from non-UK domiciled individuals regarding various changes to personal tax regulation and has extensive experience in contentious tax issues. Practice head Emma Bradley assisted a professional trustee company on tax relief negotiations with HMRC. Bradley also advised Bath-based e-commerce company Prezola on the tax aspects of the Business Growth Fund’s £3m investment into the client. Consultant Ann Farquhar acts as a tax consultant and the team took on a newly qualified solicitor in 2017.

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South West: Crime, fraud and licensing

Licensing
Licensing - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV advises public and private sector clients on all licensing issues, including applications for a new premises licence, advice on the licensing objectives, variation applications, transfer applications, applications for temporary event notices and bringing or defending of licensing prosecutions. It also advises on civil marriage licenses, gaming law, private venue hire and events. The firm can also advise on licensing issues in relation to events that involve children and alcohol. Partner Jason Prosser heads the team.

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South West: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Bristol
Commercial litigation: Bristol - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV is a ‘strong, approachable mid-sized firm, with a range of specialisms’ that are attractive to corporates, charities and education sector clients. Ed Husband heads the team and acted for Tudor Rose International in a £2.3m contract dispute regarding the variation of an exclusive distribution agreement. Additionally, Husband and the ‘top-notch’ senior associate Nick Martindale are advising the purchasers of mining company Miller Argent on multiple high-value litigation and arbitration claims following the clients’ acquisition of Miller Argent. The team also has handled a number of commercial disputes in the energy and utilities space and has experience in procurement litigation. Indeed, Ben Holt was involved in a number of procurement challenges in the healthcare sector and, separately, advised a private school in relation to roughly 30 years of unregistered utility services.

Next generation lawyers

Nick Martindale - VWV

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Debt recovery
Debt recovery - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV has strength in insolvency litigation and debt recovery claims and has won a number of new clients and panel appointments in 2017. Led by Ed Husband, the team was appointed to provide certain debt recovery services to The Bar Council, which comprises all members of the English Bar, as well as barristers chambers in England and Wales. Tabitha Cave focuses on recovery matters in the education sector and assists various schools and nurseries with school fee collections. The team is also active in the energy sector, and Dee Kundi provides ongoing support to a corporate energy supplier in relation to its collection of historical debts. Additionally, the team has seen increased instructions from private-sector corporates and has also invested heavily in its 24-hour digital debt recovery system.

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South West: Finance

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV has considerable experience of bilateral and business-to-business finance transactions in the education, healthcare and charity sectors. Group head Robert Collier advised Epping College on the refinancing of a £16m term loan with Lloyds Bank. On the lender side, the team advised a high-street bank on the provision of two facilities for a borrower in the healthcare sector. In the business-to-business space, the team assisted a prominent London-based property developer with the provision of a multimillion-pound loan to replace an existing high-street loan. Property partner Steven McGuigan focuses on secured lending work and has advised domestic and international banks on the provision of property development loans.

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

VWV

VWV handles a range of corporate and personal insolvency matters, but has particular expertise in charity restructuring, energy-sector supply chain insolvencies and insolvency litigation. Department head Ed Husband, who has experience in insolvency litigation, acted for the liquidators of Officeserve Technologies in various claims arising out of the company’s compulsory liquidation, including misfeasance and breach of duty claims against a former company director. Similary, Husband advised the trustees in a personal bankruptcy on claims against various individuals related to the bankrupt individual. In the non-contentious space, Husband advised the directors and proposed administrators of Resourceful Earth on its pre-administration actions, and continues to assist the administrators with a variety of post-administration issues. Senior associate Nick Martindale also has experience in contentious insolvencies.

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South West: Human resources

Employment: Bristol
Employment: Bristol - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV works extensively with local authorities and has a particular focus on the education sector. It also advises commercial clients and charities on employment tribunal claims, sex discrimination, unfair dismissal, and disciplinary procedures. Gareth Edwards heads the team and advises on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, including labour relations, TUPE, executive exits, outsourcing and business reorganisation. Partner Simon Bevan focuses on the education sector; he recently acted for the Harpur Trust in a number of test cases concerning the Working Time Regulations. Partner Alice Reeve acts for independent schools and academies on a full range of employment law issues including restructuring, redundancy, grievance and capability processes. Naseem Nabi has particular expertise in acquisitions, mergers and TUPE issues in the education sector. Allison Cook acts for local authorities, emergency services, third sector and commercial clients on day-to-day HR advice, complex employment disputes, internal dispute resolution and public sector pension schemes. Clients include Airbus, ATG Media, Bristol Grammar School, Cheltenham College, Museum of London Archaeology and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

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Health and safety
Health and safety - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV provides advice on compliance, governance issues, regulators, and contentious and non-contentious matters such as due diligence on corporate transactions. It also advises on internal and external investigations, reputation management, liability, compensation claims and reviewal of policies and procedures. The firm is adept at handling investigations by the HSE, local authorities, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, Ofsted, the CQC and the Charity Commission. It is mainly focused on the education sector, where it acts for clients including independent schools, maintained schools, academies, FE colleges and higher education institutions. Recent cases include historical abuse allegations, accidental deaths, asbestos issues, fire safety compliance and a Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) claim. Tabitha Cave heads the practice and focuses on governance issues, operational management, compliance and incident management. Senior associate Andrew Andrews joined from Freemans Solicitors and focuses on environmental matters, contentious regulatory issues, and food safety and hygiene matters.

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Immigration
Immigration - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV Bristol advises on all aspects of immigration law across all sectors with a particular focus on services to technology companies and the education sector, acting for independent schools and higher education establishments. Consultant Matthew Burgess is particularly adept at assisting independent schools with Tier 4 compliance. Associate Judith Hockin  advises on all aspects of immigration such as family applications, appeals, judicial reviews and corporate immigration issues. Senior associate Tom Brett Young heads the team and specialises in advising employers on immigration and nationality law. Recent highlights include acting for a university to prevent its Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 sponsor licenses being revoked. The firm also assisted a high-net worth individual who wanted to invest money in a UK company.

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South West: Insurance

Personal injury: claimant
Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV advises on serious injuries, road traffic accidents, industrial diseases, workplace accidents, fatal accident claims and professional negligence claims involving personal injury. The firm ‘ensures that their client’s needs are truly at the heart of what they do’. Jan Markland  heads the practice and specialises in cases involving marine and air accidents, stress and pain disorders and fatalities. Jon Webster  focuses on head injury and spinal injury work.Jonathon Peacock  is regarded nationally for high-value catastrophic injury work. His areas of specialism are ‘numerous’ and ‘his strategic and innovative approach to cases benefits all clients he works for’. Recent highlights include settling a claim for a client with a serious brain injury sustained as a baby in a road traffic accident, the claim was settled for over £6m. The firm has ‘a collection of extremely high calibre lawyers who each bring something different to the team’.

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Professional negligence
Professional negligence - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV handles disputes involving financial issues, business breakdown, contract disputes, corporate insolvency, securitisation and negligent administration of pension funds. Ed Husband heads the team and is supported by partner Ben Holt and senior associate Nick Martindale, who focuses on  insolvency litigation and liquidations. The firm acted for Platform Funding, a subsidiary of the Co-operative Bank in relation to a multi-party claim against solicitors who did not report a fraudulent sale and leaseback scheme. It also acted for Platform funding in relation to a negligent valuation report with regards to a residential mortgage.

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South West: Private client

Charities and not-for-profit
Charities and not-for-profit - ranked: tier 1

VWV

VWV advises various national charities, such as Citizens Advice, Volunteering Matters, City & Guilds London Institute and Education Development Trust, as well as, increasingly, charitable independent schools such as Eton College and Christ's Hospital School. The firm also advises faith charities, including the Diocese of Gloucester, the Diocese of Truro and several regional synods of the United Reformed Church. Con Alexander acts for charities, academies, schools and universities, as well as social enterprises across the charity and not-for-profit sector. Emma-Jane Dalley has particular expertise in advising independent schools and further and higher education bodies, as well as charities on franchise projects overseas. The charity team made two hires in late 2017: Paul Voller joined as partner from London firm Bircham Dyson Bell in October, bringing particular expertise in the corporate and commercial aspects of the charity sector, and associate Kate Parkinson joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP in November. Senior associate Rachel Tonkin and associate Laura Chesham are highly recommended.

Leading individuals
Next generation lawyers

Rachel Tonkin - VWV

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Contentious trusts and probate
Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

VWV

VWV is a ‘high-quality and professional firm providing really good advice’. Head of the department Michelle Rose is ‘the visionary leading the firm from strength to strength’ and is currently acting on ten substantial and complex estates as an independent administrator. She is also working as a deputy in relation to a multimillion-pound estate. Rose and senior associate Fiona Lawrence are 'both excellent, with excellent client service and good commercial sense’. Lawrence specialises in complex, cross-border disputes. Senior associate Marianne Nankervis has ‘obvious aptitude’ and extensive experience in professional negligence claims relating to the drafting of wills and trusts and tax advice.

Leading individuals
Next generation lawyers

Fiona Lawrence - VWV

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Family
Family - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV is an ‘excellent’ firm, with ‘significant experience, including in various methods of dispute resolution.’ Practice head Samantha Hickman  has a ‘wonderfully down-to-earth manner which belies the strategic thinking of a chess grandmaster’. Acting locally, nationally and internationally, and covering financial settlements on divorce, unmarried family disputes (ToLATA and Schedule 1), and divorce and separation planning, Hickman is ‘pragmatic without being overly pessimistic’, and her clients include musicians, authors, artists and TV stars. 'Highly recommended' senior associate Hannah Petherickjoined in January 2018 from Gregg Latchams LLP. Working in financial resolutions and arrangements for children, as well as drafting pre- and post-marital agreements, Petherick is ‘courteous, professional, well prepared, unflappable, and conscientious’.

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Personal tax, trusts and probate
Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV is recommended by clients ‘in particular regarding wills, personal tax and trusts’ . The ‘competent and professional firm’ is headed by Michelle Rose. Mary McCrorie is ‘on point with current issues and able to find practical solutions’; she advises on probate administration and all aspects of tax and accounting, specialising in cross-border and foreign assets. Rachel Armstrong focuses on succession planning for farming clients, such as advising on moral obligations and on inheritance tax and capital gains considerations.

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South West: Projects, energy and natural resources

Energy
Energy - ranked: tier 4

VWV

VWV handles contentious and non-contentious instructions involving a range of renewable technologies, but is best known for its ‘invaluable knowledge of land ownership issues involving cross-country pipelines’. David Bird was instructed by Seabank Power to negotiate crossing agreements with Wessex Water and Ecotricity. Mainline Pipelines and CLH Pipeline System are among the team’s major pipeline clients. Edward Rimmell advised Hills Waste Solutions on the commercial and project agreements for its mechanical and biological treatment plant in Wiltshire. Ed Husband is a key contact in the disputes team, which has also been involved in various contentious matters for energy companies and energy purchasers. Jason Prosser heads the department.

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Project finance and PFI
Project finance and PFI - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV’s ‘impressive’ specialist procurement team was strengthened in 2017 by the arrival of Stephanie Rickard from Burges Salmon LLP. Since joining the firm, Rickard has been instructed by various contractors to handle procurement matters for a number of high-value services and construction projects. Rickard is advising Dorset County Council on the procurement in connection with a five-year strategic plan to develop new facilities for housing, health and social care. Further, the team assisted Bath Spa University with the main contractor procurement for the client’s £25m project to refurbish and repurpose a grade-II listed building for future use. Ben Holt specialises in procurement litigation and represents claimants and defendants in complex and often high-value procurement challenges. Additional clients include Hills Waste Solutions, National Composites Centre and Institute of Cancer Research.

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South West: Public sector

Education
Education - ranked: tier 1

VWV

VWV provides ‘excellent service and sector knowledge’ with ‘strength in depth’. It advises on establishment and operation of MATs, education-related corporate property transactions such as mergers, debt finance, refinancing and corporate restructuring, pastoral care issues, policies and procedures, and disciplinary matters. Areas of specialism include procurement and state aid, charity law, governance, safeguarding children, immigration and regulatory compliance. Head of independent schools Barney Northover specialises in governance and strategic matters. Yvonne Spencer is head of academies and maintained schools, and Bettina Rigg leads on higher education. Simon Bevan focuses on regulation and compliance issues such as safer recruitment, child protection incident management and reporting obligations. Tabitha Cave deals with high-profile cases relating to student issues, disputes, regulatory issues, she also specialises historic abuse allegations against independent schools. Emma-Jane Dalley is head of further education and advises on strategic change, constitutional review, maximising assets, acquisitions and good governance. Recent highlights include acting for the University of Bristol with regards to its acquisition of St. Augustines' Courtyard for £11.75m from Schroder Real Estate Investment Trust. Another highlight includes acting for a university in relation to the defence of an employment tribunal claim brought by a former in-house lawyer for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and whistleblowing, the claim was settled before hearing for a much reduced sum.

Leading individuals

Simon Bevan - VWV

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Health
Health - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV merged with Lockharts in January 2017, giving the practice greater coverage and strengthening its dental and primary care capabilities. It provides ‘a robust and reliable service’ and has ‘a good spread of knowledge with expert level advice’. The firm specialises in acting for GP practices pm partnership agreements, mergers, collaboration disputes, legal structures and private sector partnerships. It is also increasingly acting in the formation of super-partnerships - the merging of several practices that can have over 25 partners and 30,000 patients. Ben Willis heads the team and focuses on healthcare development work and funding. He is ‘able to bring together solutions for mergers that reassure the partners’. Oliver Pool was promoted to partner and is adept at handling GP partnerships and mergers. Other key figures include Nick Martindale, who handles contractual and partnership disputes; Rebecca Beardsley, who deals with property matters; and Andrew Andrews, who joined as senior associate from Freemans Solicitors.

Leading individuals

Ben Willis - VWV

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Local government
Local government - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV provides advice to local authorities and emergency services. It advises on commercial matters, redevelopment, public sector-related employment law and pensions. Recent highlights include advising Dorset County Council in relation to the acquisition of new spaces for social care, housing and health facilities over the next 5 years. This involved creating partnerships with development partners and advising on procurement strategy, the matter is expected to be worth around £430m. Allison Cook heads the team, she specialises in employment and industrial law issues. David Bird focuses on planning, infrastructure and property development. Stephanie Rickard joined as partner from Burges Salmon LLP, she specialises in procurement and state aid matters. Mark Heath joined as a consultant. David Hansom left the firm. The practice provides ‘excellent service level’ and can ‘quickly assess instruction detail and requirements and provide extremely comprehensive advice in a very tight timescale’.

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South West: Real estate

Commercial property: Bristol
Commercial property: Bristol - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV's commercial property group has particular expertise in the education and healthcare sectors, and public sector work more generally. Steven McGuigan heads the practice group and has a notably wide-ranging practice. McGuigan advised The University of Bristol on its £11.8m acquisition of St. Augustine’s Courtyard, and also assisted Highways England Company with the negotiation of two options agreements concerning a section of the M49 motorway. The department head is also assisting Fareham Borough Council with various land agreements concerning the National Grid’s IFA2 project. In the house builder space, a team including senior associate Gemma Williams advises a national house builder on its disposals nationwide. Further, Jessica Booz (‘a consummate professional’) is acting for a residential developer in relation to various plot sales and leases on a London development site. Additional contacts include Ben Willis, Simon Linnitt and senior associate Robin Rajanah.

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Construction
Construction - ranked: tier 2

VWV

VWV handles public sector procurement, construction transactional due diligence and disputes, and has particular experience in the education and healthcare sectors. Of note, Jason Prosser is leading a team that is advising Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on the construction aspects of its £50m five-year capital development programme. In the contentious space, Prosser represented a property development group in a number of adjudication proceedings against a contractor regarding a luxury housing development. Department head Huw Morgan assisted Imagination Technologies with the construction due diligence of a £32.5m property transaction. The team also acts for a variety of universities and local authorities. Other key contacts include senior associate Alice Lang and solicitor David Arnold, who has experience in construction disputes.

Leading individuals

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Planning
Planning - ranked: tier 4

VWV

VWV provides ‘comprehensive and consistently solid planning advice’, but perhaps most importantly, the team ‘typically finds a way to add value to the projects on which it advises’. Headed by David Bird, the planning group handles a range of mandates, but has particular expertise in oil pipeline work. Bird advises clients such as Mainline Pipelines and CLH Pipeline System on protective provision agreements and land rights associated with the HS2 project. In the contentious space, Bird represented Redcliffe Homes in a successful appeal against the planning permission for a residential development near Bristol. Additionally, a team including the highly recommended solicitor Thomas Ewings assisted P3 Group with the planning agreements for a development including 1,700 houses, a commercial space and significant infrastructure provisions. The team also has expertise in contentious and non-contentious CPO mandates.

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Property litigation
Property litigation - ranked: tier 2

VWV

With ‘solid technical knowledge and extremely competitive rates’, VWV ‘compares favourably to its regional competitors’ and has particular strength in public sector property disputes. The ‘sensible and commercial’ Michelle Bendall is representing Highways England Company in an Upper Tribunal matter concerning the level of compensation due with respect to a compulsory purchase order. Bendall also assisted MD Homes with a possession order regarding a development site that had been occupied by protesters. Also recommended is David Bird, who advised a client in the education sector on an infringement of its right to light in an office block in Birmingham. Senior associate Daniel Hall manages the department’s work for PricewaterhouseCoopers and associate Georgina Little has experience in landlord and tenant issues and breach of covenant claims. St Vincent de Paul Society and Crest Nicholson Operations are also among the team’s clients.

Leading individuals

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South West: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 3

VWV

VWV is renowned for its focus on the education sector and specialises in advising on international school licensing projects. Highlights include acting for Rugby School in advising on the opening of a new school in Thailand, this involved advising on structure and liaising with Chinese lawyers to ensure compliance with Chinese regulations. The team also acted for a large automotive company based in the Midlands to create a new suite of template merchandising licences including vehicles featuring interactive games, luxury goods, models, toys, consumer products and copyright licences in respect of technical data. Doug Locke heads the team and advises on a broad range of IP matters including protecting, licensing and enforcing and also advises universities on joint ventures, partnerships, and franchise agreements in multiple jurisdictions. Senior associate Paula Williams heads the trade marks team, she specialises in trade mark law protection, enforcement and exploitation, licensing and portfolio management. IP solicitors Mary Rendle and Daliah Haughton joined the Bristol team and senior associate Penny Bygrave joined the London office.

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Further information on VWV

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

London

Offices in London

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Offices in Watford

South West

Offices in Bristol

West Midlands

Offices in Birmingham

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