Next Generation Partners

Banking and finance in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

The banking and finance practice at Birketts LLP is noted as being ‘proactive and supportive'. The firm acts for regional, national and London-based clients from its four regional offices, and it is a frequent advisor to, among others, HSBC Bank, Lloyds Bank and Santander. Cambridge-based practice head Alex Schaafsma, described as ‘always ready to advise and support when necessary', recently assisted borrower Milbank Ventures Limited with a facility from Arbuthnot Commercial ABL to refinance its existing facilities and finance the acquisition of Bruno Rimini Limited; this included a £12.6m asset-based lending facility agreement. Also in Cambridge, James Allen is a specialist in financing mobile home parks, and senior associate Kathryn Palmer is active in ship finance, educational lending and real estate finance. Senior associate Lottie Fletcher in Norwich also plays a key role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Alex Schaafsma

Other key lawyers:

James Allen; Lottie Fletcher; Kathryn Palmer


‘Responsive to our ever-changing demands – very practical and commercial.’

‘Birketts are proactive and supportive across the full-range of skills that we as a successful property company in Cambridge require. Their banking and finance team have advised us on a number of projects, all of which have been successfully completed.’

‘Alex Schaafsma is head of the team and is always ready to advise and support when necessary.’

Key clients

HSBC Bank plc

Lloyds Bank plc

OakNorth Bank plc

Santander plc

Triple Point Capital

National Westminster Bank plc / RBS

Time Holdco Limited

Time Group Holdings Limited

One Savings Bank trading as Kent Reliance

Alpha Bank London Limited

Secure Trust Bank plc

Oxbury Bank plc


Muntons plc

Green Label Foods Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Milbank Ventures Limited on a £12.6m ABL facility agreement partially to refinance its existing lender and partially to finance the acquisition of Bruno Rimini Limited, a leading global agricultural specialist.
  • Advised Muntons plc on the amendment and restatement of its £90m receivables and stock financing facilities made available by HSBC Invoice Finance (UK) Limited, which included a USA cross-border element.
  • Advised the Arbora Group on a term loan facility of £10m from LendNet LLP to finance property development.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP's team delivers a ‘strong partner-led service‘ and has the deepest bench of banking and finance lawyers in East Anglia. The firm has the region’s only debt capital markets practice, which notably handled more than £1bn worth of public and private bonds in 2022. Cambridge-based practice head William Roles focuses on corporate and acquisition finance and is ‘the perfect lawyer to put in front of a potential client as he is always balanced, fair and well-reasoned in his approach'. Also in Cambridge, not-for-profit finance specialist Sarah Seed and principal associate Matthew Howling are names to note; both recently assisted The University of Hull with a £40m sustainability-linked Revolving Credit Facility and an £86m privately placed issue of green debt securities. Partner Laura Holdaway and principal associate Sarah Greenwood are the key contacts for real estate finance, whilst Bethany Webb is described as being ‘the dictionary definition of an up-and-coming lawyer'. In Norwich, Zak Virgin ‘provides consistent and clear advice‘ on asset-based lending, and borrower-side and government finance specialist Frances Churchard is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

William Roles

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Seed; Laura Holdaway; Frances Churchard; Zak Virgin; Matthew Howling; Sarah Greenwood; Bethany Webb


‘We only partner with organisations who we consider share our ethos of providing high levels of client service, transparency in working whilst being flexible in providing value-added solutions in terms of fees and timelines. The banking and finance team at Mills Reeve have always fulfilled or exceeded our expectations and provide a great service.’

‘We always seem to work with tight deadlines and complicated property requirements and Will Roles always successfully delivers. Communication is critical when time is of the essence and contact channels have always been available.’

‘We have a longstanding relationship with the teams in Cambridge, Norwich and London. In the past they have always provided a strong partner-led service but in recent years we have seen them build out their team with a number of senior associates and associates who have all also provided us with a high level of service.’

‘One of the things that sets them apart is the amount of time they invest in their juniors and how they look after them from transaction to transaction. At no point do their team members seem overworked, stretched or under competing pressures. Our transactions feel like they get their full attention and this is reflected in the quality of service we receive.’

‘The team provides us with relevant and tailored updates from time-to-time an example being their suggested specific amendments to our standard security documents last year following a change in law when none of our other panel firms reached out.’

‘Will Roles and Zak Virgin we have worked with for years. Will is the perfect lawyer to put in front of a potential client as he is always balanced, fair and well-reasoned in his approach to transactions. Zak is just as good in front of new clients and also (quite remarkably) seems to remember the position we’ve taken on almost a decade’s worth of transactions, so always manages to provide consistent and clear advice.’

‘The real change in the past few years with M&R has been their ability to involve more senior associates in our work. If Bethany Webb isn’t the dictionary definition of an ‘up and coming lawyer’ then we don’t know what is. Bethany is hardworking, readily available and consistent in her drafting.’

Key clients

HSBC UK Bank Plc

PNC Financial Services Ltd

Gravitee Topco Limited

Mick George Limited



Marshall of Cambridge Group

Kadans Group

Howard Group

R&Q Insurance Holdings Ltd

Midwich Group PLC

Arbuthnot Commercial Asset Based Lending Limited

Jarrold & Sons Group

Automoney Limited

Adnams PLC

Ashtons Legal

At Ashtons Legal, the team ‘quickly gets to the crux of issues and provides pragmatic solutions’. ‘Experienced, professional, approachable and commercial‘ practice head Ron Clare in Bury St Edmunds manages the firm’s panel relationships, among them HSBC UK and Clydesdale Bank, as well as handling high-value secured lending transactions. He acted for Handelsbanken in the refinancing of one of its investor customers with a portfolio exceeding £11m. Ipswich-based corporate partner Geoff Hazlewood frequently acts for the firm’s panel bank clients. Agriculture specialist Jeanette Dennis in Cambridge acts for many regional banks and farmers in finance transactions. The firm hired senior associate Greg McCurday in Norwich from Birketts LLP to handle real estate finance matters.

Practice head(s):

Ron Clare

Other key lawyers:

Geoff Hazlewood; Jeanette Dennis; Greg McCurday; Mark Watson; Hannah Jones


‘A strong, experienced team with good depth which is very well-led by Ron Clare. The team is commercial and they quickly get to the crux of issues and provide pragmatic solutions. Very good value for money given the high quality of service provided.’

‘Ron Clare is very experienced, professional, approachable and commercial. He is readily available, will always give his opinions and views and is a pleasure to work with. We are very pleased to have him undertake legal work and provide guidance and advice for us. He is a great sounding board.’

‘Ashtons Legal are a well-organised and professional firm. They deliver advice in a timely and, importantly, clear manner. They have a broad depth of experience within the team.’

‘I primarily work with Ron Clare and Hannah Jones on the corporate banking team. Ron is extremely experienced and a valued member of the team. He provides timely advice and understands what is important to the bank. He is very approachable and accessible when required. Once deadlines are agreed, Ron ensures they are met.’

‘They give excellent corporate advice, have local knowledge, good response times and transparent billing.’

‘Mark Watson provides excellent advice and provides common sense solutions to complicated scenarios. Mark is quick to respond and is always willing to go the extra mile to help both the bank and our customers.’

‘The staff at this practice are always particularly willing to provide advice and guidance. They are truly friendly and passionate about sharing their knowledge with banking partners.’

‘I regularly work with Ron Clare and Jeannette Dennis on various matters ranging from property acquisitions to agricultural landed estates matters. Both individuals are incredibly approachable, passionate about providing a fantastic service and committed to ensuring excellent work for reasonable costs.’

Key clients

Handelsbanken plc

HSBC UK Bank plc

NatWest Bank plc

Clydesdale Bank plc

C Hoare & Co

AFP (Asset Finance Partners)

Unity Trust Bank Plc

Abbey International Finance Limited

State Bank of India

Lloyds Bank plc

Paragon Bank

Work highlights

  • Acting for Handelsbanken in connection with the refinancing of one of its investor customers, secured by legal charges over a portfolio of mixed-use commercial and residential investments in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk valued at over £11m.
  • Acting for HSBC UK Plc on a range of commercial property refinancing matters across the region, each coming with its own complications some of which included rights of access, registration of title and alterations to listed premises for which appropriate permission had not been sought.
  • Acting for the Unity Trust Bank on taking a legal charge in connection with a £10m facility they have provided to a well-known regional charity.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP has an ‘approachable and knowledgeable‘ corporate, commercial and banking practice that works in a cohesive manner across its Cambridge and Norwich offices, as well as its sites in Leicester, Milton Keynes and Northampton. In Norwich, practice head Joanna Nicholls is a specialist in real estate finance, as is head of real estate Tessa Haskey, who clients describe as ‘experienced and highly engaging‘. Property partners Steven Beach, who has particular expertise in dealing with security for property development finance, and Michaela Henson in Cambridge also play pivotal roles in finance work. Norwich-based agricultural law partner Katharine Danks advises landowners, landlords, tenants and lenders on secured lending transactions.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Nicholls

Other key lawyers:

Tessa Haskey; Steven Beach; Michaela Henson; Katharine Danks


‘Approachable and knowledgeable. I regularly attend the firm’s seminars and always find them informative.’

‘Tessa Haskey is experienced and highly engaging.’

Key clients

RQ Capital Limited

HSBC UK Bank plc

Lloyds Bank plc

Barclays Bank plc

Santander UK plc

Handelsbanken plc

National Westminster Bank plc

Bank of Scotland plc

The Property Investor Partnership Limited

Cambridge and Countries Bank plc

HSBC Asset Finance (UK) Limited

Coutts & Company

Taylor Rose MW

The Peterborough office of Taylor Rose MW noted as being ‘a one-stop shop for most matters’ has a banking and finance practice which is led by Stephanie Creasey, who is recommended for her ‘reliability, and her proactive and diligent work‘. Property finance work is a key area of focus for the team. Creasey recently acted for Handelsbanken plc in the refinancing of a 15-property portfolio and related securitisation, and advised Santander UK plc on a security package for a group of companies comprising two overdraft facilities and a secured term loan facility.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie Creasey

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Crowson


‘Stephanie Creasey and Stephanie Crowson are exceptionally organized, efficient, and proactive. They are well ahead of any other legal firm we work with.’

‘I have mainly worked with Stephanie Creasey on a number of complex deals where we were under pressure to deliver in very tight timescales. Stephanie has dealt with those situations in a very professional way.’

‘Stephanie Creasey is local and proactive – our relations with Stephanie have developed over the years. She is reliable, proactive and diligent and provides an excellent, on-point service. A trusted work partner who we can rely upon to deliver.’

‘Stephanie Creasey has all the commercial experiences required – this always gives us confidence that the transaction is likely to proceed well. Having a one-stop shop for most matters that our clients require is the key strength of the firm.’

‘In our experience not all commercial solicitors are great in terms of customer communication and do not keep relevant parties informed which can often lead to projects stalling and falling away. We have always been kept well-informed throughout the process with Taylor Rose and we have found that they have been very responsive to our requirements.’

Key clients

Handelsbanken plc

Santander UK plc (Corporate and Commercial Banking)

Denal Properties Limited

JAS (Commercial) Ltd

JAS Property Development Ltd

Newmafruit Farms Limited

Olimax Property Developers Ltd

Shevlane Properties Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Handelsbanken plc on the £1.4m refinancing of a property portfolio comprising 15 tenanted properties and related securitisation, with related property acquisition.
  • Advised Santander UK plc on a £600k security package for a group of companies comprising two overdraft facilities and secured term loan facility.
  • Advised Olimax Property Developers Limited in connection with complex finance arrangements for the purposes of an asset acquisition, involving both a commercial mortgage and additional bridging finance loan from two separate providers.