Corporate and commercial: Ipswich in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has by far the largest corporate and commercial practice in Suffolk and the team in Ipswich works as part of a single practice across the firm's four offices. Clients praise the 'speed of response, the personal engagement and the understanding of clients' business. from a commercially-minded team'. Senior partner James Austin and corporate finance expert Mark Henry are leading lights in the market. The practice's client base comprises a local businesses and national enterprises covering all sectors in a broad array of industry sectors.

Practice head(s):

James Austin; Mark Henry; Mark Gipson

Other key lawyers:

Alexandra Nelson; Emma Bysouth; Sarah Lewis; Andrew Tubb


“The team works extremely well together involving other areas of the firm where appropriate. They all go out of their way to ensure that a solution is found to some very difficult situations.”

“Mark Henry, Alexandra Nelson and Emma Bysouth all work extremely well in the corporate team. They work very hard in finding solutions and are very responsive to our needs. They have handled two acquisitions this year in incredibly short timescales and both had their challenges but they were very commercial in their approach, enabling us to complete within timescales.”

“Mark Henry is incredibly dedicated and hard working.”

“Mark Gipson always makes himself available and provides sound advice.”

“The firm is approachable and has a high level of engagement. It feels like Birketts is on our side and is supportive.”

“Sarah Lewis is diligent, approachable and a pleasure to deal with.”

“The breadth of knowledge, industry expertise and available services is exceptionally comprehensive. Due to this, we have never required the assistance of another firm.”

“Sarah Lewis is our primary contact and I cannot be more complimentary about the service she provides and the way in which she conducts herself. She always makes herself available, is easy to work with and is a consummate professional.”

“The breadth and depth of expertise and client support is benchmark. The Birketts team has supported three business transactions in the past 12 months and each engagement was tailored to the specific requirements of the deal, resourced accordingly and competitively priced.”

“I was impressed by the high standards, both set and achieved, as well as team’s flexibility to ensure I was seldom on the critical path for long.”

“Once initial contact with Birketts was established with Mark Henry, Alexandra Nelson became the lead on each transaction from start to finish. Given these transactions are rarely uneventful and would occasionally deviate from plan, I welcomed the legal counsel provided by Alexandra and the flawless, professional approach to ensuring all matters were resolved in a positive manner.”

“Emma Bysouth provided exceptional support to each transaction and demonstrated outstanding professionalism throughout.”

“I have always found Birketts to be very efficient, down-to-earth and approachable.”

“Very few firms have offered the same very high standard service that Birketts has always provided.”

“During the last few years I have worked very closely with James Austin and Sarah Lewis and they have always delivered on there promises. They are very competent and very approachable.”

“The leading mid-market law firm for M&A in East Anglia. Birketts is able to draw on a vast depth and breadth of experience to help its clients unlock the tricky world of M&A transactions.”

“Mark Henry and his team set the bar for high-quality delivery. He and Emma Bysouth consistently go the extra mile to exceed client expectations and deliver exceptional results.”

“The firm has a really strong team with lots of depth compared to most regional practices.”

“Mark Henry is always a very strong lawyer and dependable in a tight spot.”

Key clients

Silk Industries Limited

Jas Bowman & Sons Limited

Notcutts Limited

Muntons Plc

Thurlow Nunn Holdings Plc

Nationwide Metal Recycling Limited

Green Label Foods Limited

Autumn Foods Holdings Limited

Morrison Freight Limited

Tex Holdings Plc

Perivan Limited

Marshall Wolfe Limited

Gressingham Foods

Bruni Erben

Work highlights

  • Birketts represented Perrywood Garden Centre and Nurseries Limited in its acquisition of the property, goodwill and assets of Wyevale Sudbury.
  • Represented the shareholders of H.Erben Holdings Limited in their disposal of H.Erben Holdings Limited to Berlin Packaging.
  • Represented Gressingham in its purchase of J.F Edwards (Smithfield) Limited.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal now has two highly respected partners based full-time in its Ipswich office. Practice head Geoff Hazlewood and the vastly experienced Paul Whittingham both specialise in M&A transactions, with notable expertise in the care homes and veterinary sectors. The practice is handling a growing stream of high-value and complex transactions, and calls upon the firms highly regarded franchising and technology practices to assist franchised businesses and high-growth companies throughout East Anglia.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Hazlewood

Other key lawyers:

Paul Whittingham


‘We have found Geoff Hazlewood and his team to be excellent. They are practical, very commercial and ensure risks are understood, but dealt with in a practical fashion that ensures deals actually get done.’

‘As a client, you feel reassured that Geoff has taken full ownership and will ensure everything is done well across the board.’

‘Geoff Hazlewood has excellent knowledge and always applies a very practical and commercial approach to all situations. This means work gets completed in a cost effective and timely fashion with minimal stress.’

‘A quality team who work well together and have a practical and very commercial approach. They don’t get into unnecessary detail, they focus on what matters to get a deal done as appropriate for the client’s attitude to risk. They’e also a very personable bunch.’

‘Geoff Hazlewood is consistently solid and dependable with excellent knowledge and a very commercial and sensible approach to his work.’

‘Paul Whittingham is a fountain of knowledge and excellent in front of clients and very reliable.’

‘Craig Fiddaman is a star of the future with an excellent attitude, very practical and clearly singing off the same hymn sheet as the other partners and lawyers in the tea and across the firm.’

‘They are down to earth; they have a practical nature with excellent knowledge and with a commercial approach, which means they’re a first choice team but with very strong individuals you can rely on.’

Key clients

Cosworth Group


TaxAssist Group

Signs Express

Comm-Tech Voice and Data / Conrad Global Group

Stow Healthcare Group Ltd (Formerly k/a Stowlangtoft Healthcare Group Ltd)

Medical Management Systems Ltd

Cambridge Building Society

Barenbrug UK Ltd

Recroot Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acquisition of business and assets of Attwoods Manor Nursing Home, and the acquisition of adjoining land and overage agreements.
  • Sale of entire issued share capital of Haughcare Ltd to OHI UK Healthcare Properties Ltd and associated sale of operating business to Healthcare Homes Group Ltd.
  • Sale of shares in AB Plant Shipping Limited.
  • Advising on an MBO with in excess of 30 employees joining the MBO team.

Gotelee Solicitors

Gotelee Solicitors has a respected regional corporate and commercial practice that is headquartered in the firm's Ipswich office. Max Harnden, who has 30 years' experience in the market, leads a practice that acts for both SMEs and large corporates in local, regional and national matters. One client remarks that 'the firm has supported our business throughout the 27 years of its existence and is a natural port of call to assist us'. Laura Gray moved to Birketts LLP and Petra Sharp moved to Ellisons Solicitors.

Practice head(s):

Max Harnden


“Max Harnden has considerably relevant experience and provides insightful and helpful analysis and guidance throughout.”


Blocks acts for a wide range of businesses in sectors including utilities, manufacturing, construction, outsourcing and financial services. Practice head Andrew Fleming has 30 years' experience and is well known in the local area for his work on complex transactions and new recruit Ed Manning, who previously had an in-house role at BUUK Infrastructure, has in-depth knowledge of contracts and procurement.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Fleming

Other key lawyers:

Ed Manning

Work highlights

  • Blocks advised a client on a high-value contract for the installation of industrial silos.
  • The initial buy back purchase of the majority shares from two retiring Directors, restructuring the share classes and creating new denominations, appointing a set of new Directors and creating an incentive share scheme by the company for those new Directors.

Ellisons Solicitors

The Ipswich office of Ellisons Solicitors joins the rankings this year as the firm extends its local offering into corporate and commercial work. Vastly experienced partner Jon Bloor has moved to the region to lead the practice, bringing extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions, private equity investment, and banking and secured lending work. He was joined in early 2019 by partner Petra Sharp from Gotelee Solicitors, who specialises in M&A deals.

Practice head(s):

John Bloor

Other key lawyers:

Petra Sharp


“Jon Bloor is an exceptional individual who has the ability to review and explain a technical document in a way that is easy to understand.”

“Having Jon Bloor available at the end of the phone to discuss legal matters at short notice made the process so much easier for us.”

“The firm has an excellent team that is very professional and approachable.”

“The firm provides first-class advice, which focuses on solving problems rather than just finding them. Fee rates are very competitive for the value delivered.”

“Jon Bloor provides excellent quality advice and is extremely pragmatic and relaxed but focused on finding solutions. He is great to work with as solutions are often a compromise between legal and commercial considerations, and therefore client and lawyer working together. Jon is very good at this.”

Kerseys Solicitors LLP

Kimat Singh at Kerseys Solicitors LLP leads both the commercial department and the commercial property practice, both of which grew steadily in 2018. The firm advises local businesses on general company commercial law, business development projects, commercial contracts, compliance, governance and risk avoidance, joint ventures, employment, franchising, acquisitions and disposals.

Practice head(s):

Kimat Singh

Other key lawyers:

Adrian Chaffey; Adrian Green

Work highlights

  • Completed a review and overhaul of the client’s website terms of use and terms of business.
  • Share purchase of a company.
  • Purchase of accountancy practice.
  • Acted for company in preparing a shareholders’ agreement.
  • Sale of a restaurant as a going concern.

Prettys Solicitors LLP

Prettys Solicitors LLP has a strong corporate and commercial practice focused on Ipswich, where it is a key player in the market, though it also handles significant matters outside Suffolk and East Anglia. Senior partner Ian Waine leads the practice and he handles both domestic and cross-border transactions involving UK companies. His work encompasses M&A, disposals, private equity investments, joint venture arrangements, governance, outsourcing and financing transactions in both the public and private sectors.

Practice head(s):

Ian Waine