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  1. Corporate and commercial: Ipswich
  2. Leading individuals (region-wide)
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Birketts LLP’s pre-eminent corporate and commercial team in Ipswich was further strengthened with the recruitment of senior corporate lawyer Alexandra Nelson. She joined from Reed Smith LLP in London and has particular experience in matters relating to export control and sanctions compliance, especially for those companies in the aerospace and defence and shipping industries. Senior partner James Austin leads the team, which includes corporate finance and banking partner Mark Henry; IT contracts and data protection expert Mark Gipson, who frequently advises on matters relating to franchising, agency and distribution agreements; and legal director Andrew Tubb, whose broad corporate finance expertise encompasses acquisitions, disposals, MBOs and reorganisations for sellers, buyers and other investors. The firm acts for regional and national businesses such as Notcutts, Silk Industries, Muntons and Nationwide Metal Recycling. Recent highlights include the sale of a food sector business, which involved complex negotiations relating to ongoing supply agreements; the multimillion-pound purchase of a company in the insurance sector; and the purchase of an import and distribution business from a US multinational.

Gotelee Solicitors has expanded its presence across Suffolk although the core of its corporate and commercial team is based in Ipswich. Practice head Max Harnden regularly acts on rail infrastructure matters and attracts praise for his ‘excellent attention to detail; he is great at summarising very complex issues and at the same time is able to take a strategic view’. Harnden’s team includes Petra Sharp, who has a niche specialism in healthcare-sector matters, and Laura Gray, who regularly advises owner-managed and SME businesses in Suffolk. In 2016, the firm handled the re-sale of numerous franchises, acted on the MBO of a local logistics and transportation company, advised an international publishing company on its sale to an overseas purchaser, and assisted railway infrastructure contractors with a wide range of issues regarding their obligations under a £10m contract with Network Rail.

At Ashtons Legal, ‘advice is always of a high standard and takes into account the commercial as well as the legal aspects’. The firm has become a respected adviser to start-up and high-growth business in Suffolk. Head of business services Paul Whittingham is noted for his ‘prompt understanding of clients’ needs and efficient management of all matters’. Solicitor Joel Furniss is also recommended for his work on shareholder and commercial agreements. Highlights included advising on the multimillion-pound sale of a company in the healthcare sector; assisting a client in the leisure sector with its sale to a national chain; advising on the sale of a company that supplies parts to the haulage industry; and acting on the sale of a holiday lettings company.

At Prettysthe service is excellent on all counts; response times are good, cost estimates are fair, and the diverse and capable team ensures clients have the right support’. Respected practitioner Ian Waine has 30 years’ experience handling strategic transactions, funding and contractual matters for predominantly local clients as well as clients beyond Suffolk. Waine ‘speaks in layman’s terms and understands his clients’ needs’. Solicitor Daniel Billson is also recommended. In 2016, Waine acted for haulage company WMA Holdings on the multimillion-pound sale of Macintyre Transport to Turners (Soham). The firm’s other clients include Amber Care (East Anglia), Itsu, Marriott Motor Group and Trans European Oil and Gas Limited. Former head of department Jon Bloor joined Ellisons Solicitors in Colchester.

Kerseys Solicitors has a varied and growing workload of business acquisitions and disposals, commercial contracts matters, compliance and franchising work for companies in Suffolk. Partner Kimat Singh leads the department, backed by senior solicitor Amanda Wheatley and consultant Adrian Chaffey, who each have more than 20 years’ experience of corporate and commercial matters. The firm’s highlights included advising a local authority on contracting services; acting for a local business on a £2.5m finance transaction; and assisting with the acquisition of a vehicle repair and servicing business. Matthew Osborn is now a self-employed consultant.


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