Commercial litigation: Norwich in East Anglia

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP's Norwich team handles dispute resolution for regional, national and international clients in the technology, automotive, food and beverage, health and education, including multimillion-pound cross-border disputes. Its work spans complex contract disputes, international arbitration, post-M&A breach of warranty claims, fraud investigation and much more. The 'accessible, knowledgeable and authoritative' Rachel Higgs is the key name in the Norwich office. Associates Catherine Noble and Abaigh Compton (who is 'thorough, accurate and compassionate') are recommended by clients and peers.

Practice head(s):

Rachel Higgs

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Noble; Abaigh Compton

Testimonials

‘There is a strong dynamic and working relationship between junior staff members and partners, helping to keep billing more reasonable.’

‘Abaigh Compton is thorough, accurate and compassionate.’

‘Rachel Higgs is accessible, knowledgeable and authoritative.’

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

East Suffolk Council

Archant Limited

Vissim AS

Aquaterra Energy Limited

AIG

The Recruit Venture Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for a local authority in a multimillion-pound dispute over an outsourcing contract.
  • Acted for majority shareholders in two shareholder disputes; one worth £6m, and the other £2m.
  • Obtained interim and final injunctions against a former employee to prevent the misuse of highly confidential information.

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has a strong core of litigators in its Norwich office, which has a strong reputation in Chancery work, including breach of trust cases, as well as corporate and commercial disputes. Partner Max Roessler and consultant Paul Matthews are the main contacts. The firm recently hired  former barrister Andrew Kinnison from Prettys Solicitors LLP, who handles contractual disputes and professional negligence claims. They are supported by associate Adam Blenkinsop, who also acts in his own right for a broad range of business clients.

Practice head(s):

Max Roessler; Paul Matthews

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Kinnison; Adam Blenkinsop

Key clients

Norwich Airport Ltd

Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP has a lean but highly skilled litigation practice, which handles high-value, complex and high-profile disputes across many UK jurisdictions and overseas. In 2020, the firm handles claims with a value in excess of £300m and clients praise it for its 'seamless and hassle free' service. Michael Green, who works in both the Norwich and Cambridge offices,  is ably supported by director Gordon Simpson, who is 'extremely supportive and is always on hand to offer the best advice'.

Practice head(s):

Michael Green

Other key lawyers:

Gordon Simpson

Testimonials

‘The level of service that I received has been extremely impressive and my contact, Gordon Simpson, has made himself available whenever I needed assistance. What is also extremely impressive is the way Gordon actively encouraged the progression of trainees within the business. The way in which he mentored trainees meant that during incredibly busy periods the team ethic that was developed helped me tremendously with my case.’

‘I have been dealing with Gordon Simpson of Howes Percival for nearly two years. During that period Gordon has been extremely supportive and demonstrated an extensive knowledge of the law and has been and continues to be extremely dedicated. Gordon’s standout quality is his integrity and he possesses every attribute that you would hope for in a legal professional.’

‘My dealings with Howes Percival over the years have always been a seamless and hassle-free exercise. Even when dealing with very complex matters, the team have taken time to work with us to ensure all parties were clear in the objectives. The honest opinion of the team at Howes Percival is key to the ongoing relationship gap personnel have with them.’

‘Gordon Simpson of Howes Percival is our trusted legal partner of choice. He is always on hand to offer the best advice and does so based on “client first” perspective. Due to the open and honest communication that Gordon offers, we have actively promoted Howes Percival to colleagues within the recruitment sector.’

Key clients

Shareholder of Large Agricultural Family Company and Associated Companies

Dave Thomas Property Management Ltd

Tingdene Homes Limited

Southampton International Boat Show Limited

Masters Logistical Services Limited

Saxton 4 x 4 Ltd

Quattro Recruitment Limited

Cholmondeley Estate

Work highlights

  • Advising a shareholder of a 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 a 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 £2,m.
  • Advising class beneficiaries upon their rights, amendments & variation to a large family trust (value over £200m).

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal is known for ‘a realistic business approach to dispute resolution as opposed to just the legal view‘. The firm has broad litigation expertise that encompasses franchising, commercial and shareholder disputes, as well as beach of director’s duties claims and matter relating to corporate finance. Barrister and practice head Tom Bailey is ‘an exceptional lawyer and a calming influence‘ handles both complex litigation and international arbitration matters. Among his clients are Cambridge colleges, regional developers and national franchisors.

Practice head(s):

Tom Bailey

Other key lawyers:

Damian Pitts

Testimonials

‘Tom Bailey an exceptional lawyer. He is a calming influence on clients; his client retention speaks volumes for his client handling skills. Personally I find Tom a joy to work with, and his opinion most valuable.’

‘Ashtons have a broad range of internal expertise, some specialist, which ensures that issues can be given detailed consideration. Ashtons have a realistic business approach to dispute resolution as opposed to just the legal view.’

‘All the team members we work with have the same qualities – practical, down to earth, fun to work with, conscientious, skilled and professional in their areas of specialism.’

Key clients

CeX

Water Babies

Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries

Signs Express

Flip Out

The Cambridge Building Society

The Cambridge Satchel Company Limited

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors has a core litigation team in Norwich and two other offices in North Norfolk, providing advice on commercial disputes, debt recovery, property litigation and insolvency. Head of litigation Mark Kermez has more than 16 years' experience and key partner Philip Lumb more than 20, and consultant Michael Olmer more than 40; this hugely experienced trio are supported by 'outstanding' legal executive Katie Smith. Litigation executive Shaun Taylor also plays a key role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Mark Kermez

Other key lawyers:

Katie Smith

Testimonials

‘As this was the first time I needed a lawyer for dispute resolution I was understandably apprehensive, but the communication was very clear and the matter was sorted out swiftly in my favour. Even during the midst of the original coronavirus lockdown they still managed to operate as normal and were very helpful.’

‘Kate Smith was outstanding and it only took a few strongly worded emails to the body in question for them to realise they were wrong.’

Work highlights

  • Advising the former partner of a business on his entitlement to a share of profits following the appropriation by a partner of a significant amount of money from the business.
  • Advising a company in the defence of a claim concerning its obligations under a referral agreement.
  • Advising on a complex dispute concerning clawback conditions in a share purchase agreement.

Fosters

Fosters is 'incredibly approachable and very knowledgeable'; one client remarks that 'everyone in the team seems to have a genuine care for their clients and real empathy for the situation'. The firm handles a broad range of work from derivative claims and contractual matters to construction disputes and defamation suits. Chris Fielding has 'extensive knowledge alongside a pragmatic and empathetic approach'. Senior associate Gurpal Singh frequently acts for developers and SMEs.

Practice head(s):

Chris Fielding

Other key lawyers:

Gurpal Singh

Testimonials

‘Chris Fielding was top-class in keeping me informed and advising me at every corner.’

‘I have always found Fosters to be incredibly approachable and very knowledgeable. Everyone in the team seems to have a genuine care for their clients and real empathy for the situation. ’

‘Chris Fielding was fantastic in helping with the dispute I faced – his talent was combining his extensive knowledge alongside a pragmatic and empathetic approach to reach a fast and agreeable resolution. I have been so grateful for his help and support through what was an incredibly difficult matter.’

‘Chris Fielding kept things calm and reasonable, and this approach paid off. ’

‘Gurpal Singh impressed us from the outset and made us feel that we were in safe hands.’

‘Gurpal Singh was brilliant – thanks to Gurpal and his good advice.’

‘I have used other solicitors in the past and generally always ended up chasing them for information regarding the legal matters we had. I have never had to do test with Fosters in Norwich and always had returned emails and notifications of what was being done. I have now used them for other legal issues which they have also done to a high standard.’

Key clients

Norwich City Football Club

Anson Timberworks Limited

Tele-Tronics V & S Sales & Services Ltd (Mark Davis)

Tingdene Holiday Parks Limited

Lowestoft Electrical Group

Flowscreed Norfolk Limited

Taylor Properties Trading Ltd

J Davey Construction Limited

Cherrytree Veterinary Practice

B&H Building Consultants

Chilled Driving School

Chalk Farm Financial Planning Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing a shareholder as the petitioner within an Unfair Prejudice Petition claim proceeding in the High Court.
  • Representing a minority shareholder in a dispute based on her legitimate claim for just and equitable winding up, or alternatively an unfair prejudice claim. The matter settled pre-action with an agreement to sell the client’s shares for £1m.
  • Successfully advised MD of screeding company with minority shareholding. Achieved favourable settlement on complex factual matrix concerning allegations of breach of outgoing director’s duties / unfair prejudice / non re-payment of directors loan account.

Nicholsons Solicitors LLP

Nicholsons Solicitors LLP joins the ranking this year having hired partner Robert Tiffen from Birketts LLP to lead the litigation practice in its Norwich office. Described as 'honest, commercially astute, creative and effective', Tiffen has experience in High Court and the Court of Appeal matters, as well as multi-jurisdictional disputes. He focuses predominantly on shareholder disputes involving multimillion-pound businesses.

Practice head(s):

Robert Tiffen

Testimonials

‘I have worked with Rob Tiffen previously. Rob was very effective and commercially focused. Rob always clearly stated the risk/benefit case for options.’

‘Honest, commercially astute, creative and effective.’