Commercial litigation: Cambridge in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

The Cambridge office of Birketts LLP has 'a very strong team which works well together'; clients praise the 'prompt, courteous and professional service'. From complex fraud to shipping cases, from high-value commercial litigation to judicial reviews, the firm has a deep bench of experienced lawyers. 'Decisive yet very deliberative' practice had Laurence Weeks focuses predominantly on insolvency, financial services and fraud litigation, though he also handles a broad range of commercial, contract, company and professional negligence cases. Partner Sara Sayer and legal director Maria-Christina Peyman are highly recommended by clients.

Practice head(s):

Laurence Weeks

Other key lawyers:

Sara Sayer; Maria-Christina Peyman; Julie Spencer

Testimonials

‘Birketts have a very strong team which works well together. I had difficult contractual issue with a formidable opponent and the team had great tactics at every stage which resolved the difficult issue. ’

‘Laurence Weeks was always decisive yet very deliberative. His understanding and quick uptake of the law was very effective.’

‘Julie Spencer was excellent with drafting and keeping costs reasonable by effective communications. Really worth a trip from London to Cambridge to get better service and lower costs from an absolute class act.’

‘Every member of the practice team I have dealt with has provided prompt, courteous and professional service.’

‘Sara Sayer has worked tirelessly to assist us with our dispute resolution case. Her advice has been highly practical and professional and invaluable in guiding us through a new and difficult area.’

‘Maria Peyman and Laurence Weeks were standout; Laurence in terms of strategy and oversight and Maria in terms of the brilliant, on-point correspondence she sent to the third party which left them nowhere to go. They were in tune with my arguments and I took their advice at every stage against a formidable opponent not known for losing cases. 100% recommendation to Birketts and especially the two people in question.’

‘Laurence Weeks: excellent lawyer with a deep understanding of his client’s needs. Excellent path from translating client’s needs into appropriate legal strategy.’

‘They displayed a willingness to spend time to understand international laws and client objectives. Despite being in Asia, it was felt that I was in the Birketts office with the team at the Cambridge office during the disruptive period from April 2020 onwards. I did not have to get a senior lawyer from my home country involved for needless cross-continent conferences due to the fast uptake of the Birketts team. Super collaborative approach to the litigation.’

Key clients

Trinity Hall College Cambridge

Mills & Reeve LLP

The litigation group in the Cambridge office of Mills & Reeve LLP is known for providing 'pragmatic solutions to problems'. It frequently handles disputes on national significance, as well as some of the largest cases in the East Anglia region. Jamie Wheatley, who handles complex insolvency and contract litigation, and Douglas McDonald, who specialises in high-value commercial disputes for clients in the technology and life sciences sectors, are the lead partners. Principal associates Helen Prandy, who 'provides great, practical advice which is based on an understanding of the client's business', and Lino Di Lorenzo play key roles in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Wheatley; Douglas McDonald

Other key lawyers:

Helen Prandy; Lino Di Lorenzo

Testimonials

‘A real understanding of our business and pragmatic solutions to our problems.’

‘Helen Prandy is excellent, she provides great, practical advice which is based on an understanding of our business. Helen is my first point of contact if we face a problem and I have no hesitation in recommending her.’

Key clients

RPC Group Limited/ Berry Global Inc

Department of Health and Social Care

Lotus Cars Limited

Railways Pension Trustee Company Limited

Bernard Matthews Foods Limited

Kettle Foods Limited

University of East Anglia

The Insolvency Service

Archant Limited

Vissim AS

Aquaterra Energy Limited

AIG

The Recruit Venture Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising a global medical technology company on a multimillion-pound dispute in connection with a long-standing distribution agreement across several jurisdictions.
  • Advising a client on the defence of a £25m multi-party claim for damages under s.423 Insolvency Act 1986, and/or breach of fiduciary duty and/or conspiracy to injure.
  • Advised a Gibraltar-based client, Westward Consultants Limited, in relation to its claim for the payment of an uplift connected with the provision of litigation funding to a third party.

Taylor Vinters

Taylor Vinters acts for international and domestic technology companies in substantial disputes across the world. Its work spans general commercial disputes, largely in industries focused on innovation, though it also handles a large volume of work for substantial landowners and alternative energy companies. 'The disputes team has a myriad of discrete specialisms which are used to good effect to provide holistic advice on the legal issues faced', remarks one client. Practice head Luke Hibbert and partner Gareth Dickson excel in disputes for innovators and entrepreneurs. 'Legally savvy' senior associates Beth Price, Jessica Boxford and Naomi Westcott, and associate Jonathan Davies are among the many up-and-coming practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Luke Hibbert

Other key lawyers:

Gareth Dickson; Beth Price; Jonathan Davies; Jessica Boxford

Testimonials

‘The dispute team has a myriad of discrete specialisms which are used to good effect to provide holistic advice on the legal issues faced. Being able to draw on such a pool of talent means that the client can be confident that the advice they are being provided with is full and informed and provides a range of commercial answers tailored to the client’s individual objectives and needs. ’

‘Beth Price is legally savvy but with commercial reality in spades – she cuts to the heart of the issue and you know she will always deliver.’

‘Jonathan Davies is an amazing team player, whose good spirits are much appreciated in a crisis. Iron fist in a kid leather glove. Definitely someone you want on your team – and not on the other side!’

‘Luke Hibbert has learly created an environment where associates are expected, but trusted, to deliver. Good in a tight spot and great with clients.’

‘Jessica Boxford is a highly competent and approachable lawyer. As well as having an expert grasp of the technical issues, she has a shrewd sense of pragmatism in getting the desired result. Beth Price has also acted effectively in the past.’

‘In-depth knowledge coupled with good commercial awareness. An ongoing drive to cover the hot topics of the day and an openness to feedback.’

‘Patience! An ability to see the bigger picture, not to just churn out the legal facts. Speed of delivery.’

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has a diverse litigation practice that works across its office network in East Anglia. Though led by Tom Bailey in Norwich, the practice has a standout partner in Cambridge - firm chairman Michael Frape, who is known for his expertise in complex and high-value commercial disputes for a broad spectrum of clients ranging from public companies to private individuals. His recent caseload includes multimillion-pound disputes for large regional companies.

Practice head(s):

Tom Bailey

Key clients

The Cambridge Satchel Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for an international poultry processing company in relation to an agency dispute with its UK-based principal. The matter settled at mediation.
  • Acting for a timeshare investor against the liquidators of a timeshare company in a dispute over the value of the client’s investment in the company.
  • Acting for a recycling company in connection with a multi-million public procurement challenge under the Public Procurement Regulations 2016.

HCR Hewitsons

At HCR Hewitsons, 'the commercial litigation team is highly responsive, and always delivers high-quality advice rivalling any top City firm'. The core of the litigation practice is in Cambridge, where practice head Simon Biggin handles a range of work from contract and product liability disputes to warranty claims, and shareholder litigation. Legal director Stewart Morrison, whose recent work includes a High Court judicial review, is a 'hardworking litigator who always delivers sound legal advice'. Public procurement disputes are a key area of expertise for the firm.

Practice head(s):

Simon Biggin

Other key lawyers:

Stewart Morrison; Toby Price

Testimonials

‘The commercial litigation team is highly responsive, and always deliver high quality advice rivalling any top City firm. I especially appreciate their flexibility and willingness to discuss queries over the telephone and are often prepared to give quick, off-the-cuff advice.’

‘I am especially impressed by Stewart Morrison. He is a hard working litigator who always delivers sound legal advice. The quality of his advice in fact rivals that of many partners in other firms. He is certainly a talented litigator.’

‘HCR Hewitsons has a strong commercial litigation team with a fantastically loyal set of clients. They take the trouble to understand clients’ disputes and are high-quality litigators.’

‘Stewart Morrison is a real star. He is very considered in his approach, and delivers excellent results for clients.’

‘I have worked closely over the last couple of years with Stewart Morrison, Simon Biggin and their team in an ongoing, complicated high-value construction dispute. They are a joy to work with because of their team ethos. Stewart in particular has a real can-do attitude, knows the relevant law extremely well, is receptive and proactive and a calm and effective client handler. ’

‘Stewart Morrison is a pleasure to work with in all respects.’

‘The dispute resolution team at HCR Hewitsons is fantastically bright and responsive and provides a high-quality service.’

‘Stewart Morrison stands out for his complete mastery of the facts of his cases, his willingness to make himself available at any time to discuss tricky points, and his keen sense of litigation strategy. Toby Price is also an impressive young lawyer.’

Key clients

NFU

Neology UK Limited

University of Cambridge

Work highlights

  • Instructed by Neology UK Limited in a significant public procurement challenge for automatic number plate recognition technology.
  • Acted on behalf of the claimant, John Philip Sawkill, in a dispute regarding the extent of Highways England’s statutory surveying powers.
  • Acted on behalf of the University of Cambridge in response to a First Tier Tribunal appeal concerning information withheld under the commercial interests exception of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP is praised for its 'excellent legal knowledge coupled with great commercial approach'. In 2020, the firm handled claims with a total value exceeding £300m. Practice head Michael Green, who works from both the Norwich and Cambridge offices, has more than 20 years’ experience in dealing with large complex commercial disputes, in particular shareholder disputes, warranty claims, partnership advice, restraint of trade, technology claims, contract disputes, contentious probate and insolvency. Director Victoria Sandell has a broad litigation practice and frequently runs her own cases.

Practice head(s):

Michael Green

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Sandell

Testimonials

‘Excellent legal knowledge coupled with great commercial approach.’

‘Legal knowledge, approachability, availability, responsiveness.’

Key clients

Dave Thomas Property Management Ltd

Tingdene Homes Limited

Southampton International Boat Show Limited

Masters Logistical Services Limited

Saxton 4 x 4 Ltd

Cholmondeley Estate

Work highlights

  • Advising a shareholder of large agricultural family company regarding the separation of various businesses and assets of the partnership and associated companies including extensive land and businesses worth over £50m.
  • Advising Cambridge Technology Company in relation to in excess of 1000 x separate breaches of worldwide software licencing agreement including overseas breaches to include issues on cancellation of perpetual rights in complex international contractual arrangements with potential damages worth in excess of £2m
  • Advising class beneficiaries upon their rights, amendments & variation to a large family trust (value over £200m). The case is unreported and has an order for anonymity but is one of the larger High Court trust cases of 2021.

Stobbs IP

Known predominantly for IP disputes and brand management, Stobbs IP continues to expand the scope of its work to encompass general commercial litigation. Clients appreciate the firm's 'combination of a skilled commercial litigation team with cost-efficient staffing, high-end expertise and extensive experience'. Solicitor team head Chris Sleep (who is 'a class act who is all over the factual intricacies of a given case') and litigation principal Geoff Steward, who is 'a very safe pair of battle-hardened hands' are the main contacts.

Practice head(s):

Chris Sleep; Geoff Steward

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Peach

Testimonials

‘The combination of a skilled commercial litigation team with cost-efficient staffing, high-end expertise and extensive experience in IP infringement matters, and the variety of innovative tools and valuable ancillary services they can offer to a client in and around all aspects of IP and brand protection, valuation and exploitation, is quite unlike anything that I have seen offered by the competition. ’

‘Geoff Steward stands out in particular. The way in which he has been able to transplant his IP and commercial litigation expertise into the team at Stobbs since joining, seamlessly allying it with their existing capabilities and the array of complementary services for brand-owning clients that Stobbs has built around it is genuinely impressive.’

‘Stobbs are a much needed breath of fresh air in a sector that is still dominated by an old boys network of the same old faces and firms. For too long, IP law has been a closed shop with high barriers to entry, where the narrow selection of specialist firms available has led to too little competition and choice (and correspondingly high hourly rates). Stobbs’ offer is truly innovative: costs control and transparency (either through fixed fees or contingent fee agreements) allied with expert and experienced litigators who are able to take on (and beat) the most established names in the sector. I cannot recommend them highly enough.’

‘Chris Sleep is a class act who is all over the factual intricacies of a given case whilst also being a Grand Master level strategist. Chris has an unstuffy approach and brings a clear vision to cases that is driven by the client’s commercial needs and goals (rather than a desire to run interesting but academic legal points or engage in pointless correspondence on satellite issues).’

‘Geoff Steward is a litigation veteran who brings his unique insight and experience to the table on how a case theory should be crafted, developed, and presented. A very safe pair of (battle-hardened) hands.’

‘Charlotte Peach is a great talent to watch for the future. Calm, detail-oriented, and commercial, she cuts through the noise and nonsense of litigation with ease. Client friendly and razor-sharp, Charlotte usually understands the point you want to make before you realised that you even wanted to make it.’

Key clients

7-Eleven

AB InBev (Becks, Budweiser, Corona, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Stella Artois, etc.)

All Saints

ASOS

Balfour Beatty

Beiersdorf AG (Nivea)

BUPA

Cambridge University

Capri Sun

Channel 4

Combe International (Vagisil)

Corkers Crisps

Distinctive Wholesale

District Financial Limited

Giesswein

Glencairn Crystal

Harley-Davidson

Jack Daniels

Jagex Limited

Liverpool Football Club

Marks & Spencer

Mars Wrigley

Meyer Bergman

Philip Warren & Son Butchers

Pip & Nut

Premier Foods

O2

Orla Kiely

Raffles Hotels

Slater & Gordon

Ted Baker

Tottenham Hotspur FC

UEFA

Webstorm Information Technology Private Limited (an Indian entitry)

Work highlights

  • Acting for Beiersdorf AG in a High Court claim against Aldi Stores Limited in relation to trade mark infringement in respect of their Nivea lookalike suncare range.
  • Acting for well-known, high end, family butchers, Philip Warren & Son, in a High Court (Shorter Trial Scheme) claim for passing off against Lidl, relating to their use of WARREN & SONS on their own brand meat products (with an estimated value of £50m).
  • Acting for VAGISIL, the well-known female hygiene brand, in a High Court trade mark infringement claim against Dr Wolff, the manufacturers of a competing brand under the name VAGISAN.

Tees Law

Tees Law 'always provides a very well balanced and professional service, with very sound advice - they treat their clients like people rather than numbers'. The firm is well-versed in complex contract disputes and 'extremely business-minded and responsive' senior associate Sara Stabler, who leads the practice, is 'always actively involved and brings a pragmatic and hands on approach'. Stabler is a Higher Courts Advocate with more than 25 years' litigation experience.

Practice head(s):

Sara Stabler

Testimonials

‘Tees have always been innovative and as a consequence of the early adoption of remote working technology adapted seamlessly to the working practices required by COVID. Their use of video conferencing, telephone conferencing and electronic bundles common to all allowed them to continue to provide advice and representation to their clients.’

‘Sara Stabler is always actively involved and brings a pragmatic and hands on approach. She is extremely business minded and responsive.’

‘Tees have always provided a very well balanced and professional service. They use very sound advice and treat their clients like people rather than numbers. ’

‘I have worked with Sara Stabler on several matters and have found her to be not only very knowledgeable but also extremely approachable.’