The Legal 500

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Leeds, London

London: Crime, fraud and licensing

Fraud: civil
Fraud: civil - ranked: tier 4

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP's disputes team works almost exclusively for companies outside the banking sector, giving it an edge on other firms looking to litigate against banks. The practice is jointly led by 'highly effective litigator' and firmwide senior partner Philip Barden and James Dunn; Barden focuses on complex commercial disputes in the UK's highest courts, while Dunn specialises in fraud, regulatory and inquiry work. Fellow partner Anna Buch is also praised for her 'phenomenal presence in this market'.

Practice head(s):Philip Barden; James Dunn

Other key lawyers:Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs; James Dunn; Anna Buch; Jim Varley


‘Philip Barden is economic, pragmatic and client focused.'            

‘Devonshires is a strong City firm with a wide client base’.            

‘Philip Barden is an aggressive and highly effective litigator’.

 ‘A go-to team for complex crime and fraud especially with an international element’.

‘Anna Buch works tremendously hard and has a phenomenal legal presence in this market’.

Key Clients

Solicitors Regulation Authority

Law Society

Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management

Work highlights

  • Acting for Vadim Shulman in a dispute worth over £500m against two other Ukrainian oligarchs - Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov - in relation to an alleged fraud on Ukraine’s largest commercial Bank PrivatBank.

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London: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation
Commercial litigation - ranked: tier 8

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP's 'pragmatic, economic and client-focused practice' is  well known for its large client base of housing providers. The team's disputes experience includes insolvency, debt recovery, fraud, regulatory issues and private finance initiatives. Philip Barden, James Dunn and Jim Varley are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):Philip Barden; James Dunn

Other key lawyers:Jim Varley; Anna Buch


'Excellent value for money without compromising on quality'.

'Philip Barden is pragmatic and understands clients' business'.

'James Dunn is extremely diligent and on top of the detail'.

Key Clients

Solicitors Regulation Authority

First Priority Housing Association

Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management

Insolve Plus


Thompson Reuters

Michael Page International

Ultra Insurance Company

Work highlights

  • Acted in a high-value dispute against two Ukrainian oligarchs, which involved an alleged fraud on PrivatBank.

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Debt recovery
Debt recovery - ranked: tier 2

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP's clients include a mix of City SMEs, financial institutions, large multinational businesses, social housing landlords and local authorities. The team, which is spread across London, Colchester and Leeds, handles all forms of secured and unsecured debt recovery. Robert Edge and Jim Varley co-lead the team. Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs left the firm after a seven-year stint to join Keystone Law in May 2018.

Practice head(s):Robert Edge; Jim Varley

Other key lawyers:Nikki Bowker; Ann Dixon; Matthew Garbutt; Pauline Lepissier

Key Clients

Kone plc

Sodexo plc

Michael Page  International


Thomson Produce

ERI Recoveries

High Top Property

Work highlights

  • Pursuing monies due under recruitment contact in Dubai for Michael Page International.

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London: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant
Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 4

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP is adept at bringing claims on behalf of adults and children against hospitals, GPs, dentists and private healthcare providers. The team demonstrates experience handling claims involving birth and brain injuries, surgical errors, delay in diagnosis of medical conditions as well as fatal accident claims and inappropriate treatment claims. The practice is further recognised as a go-to firm for ophthalmology claims, fielding a specialist eye team led by Nick Grant.

Practice head(s):Nick Grant

Other key lawyers:Karen Cathcart; Nicola Bould


'Devonshires's clinical negligence team provide an approachable and personal service to clients.'

'The team takes on serious clinical negligence claims and gets consistently good results.'

'They are never afraid to make a tough decision but always treats clients with great humanity'

'Nicola Bould's strengths lie in her ability to identify the real issues in the case, analyse them and instruct excellent experts to advise and report on those issues. Her knowledge of anatomy is very impressive, which enables her to be on the same wavelength as experts.'

'Karen Cathcart is a rising star. She has enormous energy, a great strategic brain and she fights hard until the very end.'

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London: Projects, energy and natural resources

Infrastructure (including PFI and PPP)
Infrastructure (including PFI and PPP) - ranked: tier 4

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP is instructed by private and public clients from a wide range of industry sectors, such as leisure, housing, transport, education, energy, and healthcare. Led by Paul Buckland and Robert Turner, the team knows project finance particularly well, and it works closely with the firm's capital market team. Buckland is noted for his experience in PFI/ PPP and EU procurement matters, while Turner is well versed in the commercial aspects of infrastructure projects. Caroline Mostowfi specialises in regeneration and development projects.

Practice head(s):Paul Buckland; Robert Turner

Other key lawyers:Kris Kelliher; Caroline Mostowfi

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London: Real estate

Construction: contentious
Construction: contentious - ranked: tier 5

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP's contentious practice is known for its work with public and private developers of social housing and local authorities undertaking nationwide residential and mixed use developments. The team is led by the 'knowledgeable' and 'highly proactive' Mark London . He acts primarily for residential developers and increasingly for public sector bodies on health and fire safety issues. Matthew Cocklin produces 'outstanding' work and is known for his expertise in relation to the fire safety of rain-screen cladding systems on high rise buildings.

Practice head(s):Mark London

Other key lawyers:Matthew Cocklin


'The team work incredibly well to assemble appropriate experts and counsel to put together a great case.'

'Mark London's advice has been invaluable to our clients.'

'Mark London and his team are highly knowledgeable.'

'Mathew Cocklin and Adam Mathewson have worked incredibly effectively to tight deadlines producing work of an outstanding standard.'

'Mark London has become our go-to lawyer on any contentious issues we face.'

'Mark is highly proactive in advising us on any relevant issues within the industry and has a very high profile within the sector.'

Key Clients

Notting Hill Genesis

Peabody Housing Trust

Flagship Housing Association


Work highlights

  • Representing Robert E Lee, a dry lining sub-contractor, in multi-party proceedings in respect of a claim for contribution, breach of contract and restitutionary damages brought by the main contractor.
  • Acted for Metropolitan Housing Trust in regards to a residential development in London.

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Contruction: non-contentious
Contruction: non-contentious - ranked: tier 5

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP's non-contentious construction team works with funders, developers and local authorities. The team is led by Asif Patel, who acts for clients on design and build, joint venture, management contracting and construction management arrangements. He recently advised on a regeneration project in Canada Water consisting of mixed residential and commercial development.

Practice head(s):Asif Patel

Other key lawyers:Kris Kelliher


'Devonshires are unique because they provide very clear and practical advice with no ambiguity in a responsive and timely manner.'

'Kris Kelliher provides excellent advice on all aspects of procurement.'

'Kris Kelliher and Asif Patel are excellent and always go the extra mile to ensure we have the highest quality of advice and documentation.'

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Social housing: finance
Social housing: finance - ranked: tier 1

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP's heavyweight team distinguishes itself in a broad cross-section of finance transactions in the social housing sector. It has a particularly notable profile acting for registered providers and registered social landlords throughout England and Wales, as well as their wider group members (including their joint venture vehicles). The practice covers all aspects of social housing finance, including wholesale and retail bond issues, private placements, and syndicated and bilateral loans. Sharon Kirkham leads the securitisation team, which advises over 100 registered providers on charging properties to facilities, bonds and private placements. Banking head Julian Barker has an outstanding track record acting for key clients such as A2Dominion Housing Group and Notting Hill Genesis, among others. The deep bench of partners includes other highly regarded names: Chris Drabble, Gary Grigor and Saghar Roya. Barker and Drabble co-led a team, which advised Great Places Housing Group on releasing and recharging 781 properties to its bond tap, and also advised the same client on the reallocation of 1,585 properties to RBS. Andrew Cowan has led on many of the largest mergers in the sector. Another key partner is Richard Sharpe, who has more than 15 years of social housing experience.

Practice head(s):Julian Barker (head of banking); Sharon Kirkham (head of securitisation)

Other key lawyers:Chris Drabble; Gary Grigor; Saghar Roya; Richard Sharpe;


'The team understands our business, approach and what matters and advises accordingly. It is always on hand and always delivers on time at a reasonable cost.'

'Julian Barker and Sharon Kirkham are the stand-out partners. We retain an excellent relationship with them, a relationship that has the elements of openness, honesty, feedback and learning at its core.'

'Devonshires has assembled an excellent team to support all aspects of business that housing associations are involved in. The team is extremely knowledgeable, offers proactive advice and solutions and works very closely with our business across a range of disciplines'.

'The breadth of experience that Devonshires is able to call upon is a real plus.'

'The team's knowledge and ability to find solutions is exceptional. Issues are approached with a can-do attitude. The team is always friendly, professional, helpful and takes time to explain things in clear and understandable ways.'

'Chris Drabble constantly exceeds expectations. He is friendly, helpful and incredibly patient. His knowledge is vast and he makes sure that we are kept updated of current sector issues/government changes. His ability to communicate/educate to all levels of staff is a real quality. He never talks down to people, and will always take time to make sure that everyone understands why things are being done and how the jigsaw pieces fit together.'

'The team is extremely knowledgeable as it covers so much of the market. It is a pleasure to work with and understands clients' needs well.'

'Gary Grigor is an expert in his field and is very approachable and always happy to help. Natalie Swales is also extremely knowledgeable and very hardworking.'

'Andrew Cowan is widely respected and influential within the industry. We greatly value his pragmatic and down-to-earth approach.'

Key Clients

Great Places Housing Group

Notting Hill Genesis

Metropolitan Thames Valley


Onward Housing

Orbit Housing Group

One Housing Group

Optivo Limited


A2Dominion Housing Group

Work highlights

  • In a two-stage process, the banking team acted for Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT) and Genesis on obtaining consent to the merger from its existing funders and advised NHHT and Genesis on restructuring certain of its existing financing arrangements to streamline operational arrangements and refinance circa £1.98bn of debt.
  • The banking team acted for Metropolitan and Thames Valley on their successful partnership, which completed in October 2018. The partnership involved a transfer of engagements from Thames Valley Charitable Housing Association (TVCHA), the main asset holding entity and registered provider of social housing within the Thames Valley group, to Metropolitan, which also became a subsidiary of Thames Valley.
  • The team advised on the refinancing aspects emanating out of the merger between Coast & Country Housing and Yorkshire Coast Homes, which formed Beyond Housing.
  • Advised Onward Homes Limited on its restructuring and consolidation.
  • Acted for Orbit Housing Group on securing a £450m bond.
Leading individuals

Andrew Cowan - Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Chris Drabble - Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Julian Barker - Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Sharon Kirkham - Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Next Generation Partners

Gary Grigor - Devonshires Solicitors LLP

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Social housing: local authorities and registered providers
Social housing: local authorities and registered providers - ranked: tier 2

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP's footprint in the social housing sector is highlighted by the fact that it acts for 200 registered providers, which includes all of the London G15 members, and it has been a major player in the market since the early 1970s. It is at the forefront of the most current issues impacting the industry, working closely with key regulators, such as the Regulator of Social Housing, Homes England, Financial Conduct Authority and Charity Commission. The firm's multisciplinary capabilities enable it to advise clients on all types of complex issues, including those connected with housing management, development, governance and finance. Its first-rate team includes Andrew Crawford, Triya Maicha, Dan Moan and Elad Yasdi, who acted for Peabody Trust on its £350m acquisition of the Neptune Wharf and Monier Road sites on Fish Island in Hackney Wick, with planning consent to deliver 580 homes. On the contentious side, Donna McCarthy acted for Aldwyck Housing Group Limited in a High Court appeal brought by a tenant over the client's alleged failure to comply with its public sector equality duty under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010. Jonathan Jarvis, Maicha and Jonathan Corris made equity partners. Nick Billingham is also noted. Gareth Hall has stepped down from the partnership, but retains a role as a consultant. Andrew Cowan is another name to note.

Practice head(s):Andrew Cowan – Head of Social Housing; Julian Barker – Head of Banking; Sharon Kirkham – Head of Securitisation; Mark London – Head of Construction; Ronnie Tong – Head of Employment; Nick Billingham – Head of Housing Management; Philip Barden – Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution; Paul Buckland – Head of Real Estate and Projects; Neil Toner – Head of Real Estate

Other key lawyers:Triya Maicha; Dan Moan; Elad Yasdi; Donna McCarthy; Jonathan Jarvis; Neil Lawlor; Caroline Mostowfi; Jonathan Corris

Key Clients

Hyde Housing Association Limited

Notting Hill Genesis

London & Quadrant Housing Trust

Sage Housing Limited

Peabody Trust

Metropolitan Thames Valley

Clarion Housing Group

One Housing Group

Stonewater Limited

First Priority Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Clarion on its acquisition and development of Castle Hill, Ebbsfleet with a total development value of over £100m from Land Securities.
  • Advised First Priority Housing Association (FPHA) on entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), the social housing sector’s first such arrangement.
  • Advising Metropolitan Housing Trust on its circa £1.6bn Clapham Park Regeneration Project, one of the largest regeneration schemes in the country.
  • Advised Radian Developments Limited and its group entities on a £63.9m joint venture deal with developer Thakeham Homes Limited.
  • Advised Notting Hill Housing Trust and Genesis Housing Association on their amalgamation to form Notting Hill Genesis.
Leading individuals

Andrew Cowan - Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Nick Billingham - Devonshires Solicitors LLP

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Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
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