Banking and finance in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

The banking and finance practice at Birketts LLP is known for its ‘high integrity and cooperation‘, and it is a key adviser to well-known institutional lenders, among them HSBC, Lloyds Bank and Santander. Recognised as a go-to regional firm for banking and finance work, it also advises a growing roster of alternative lenders including OakNorth Bank. Alex Schaafsma, who is ‘highly experienced and able to cut through the legal challenges in a timely manner‘, now leads the practice from Cambridge, where James Allen is a key adviser on banking matters, particular in regard to the financing of mobile home parks. Senior associate Kathryn Palmer is’ excellent in driving the process over the line‘. Partner Andrew Tubb in Ipswich also plays a key role in corporate finance and banking matters.

Practice head(s):

Alex Schaafsma

Other key lawyers:

James Allen; Andrew Tubb; Lottie Fletcher; Elizabeth Lee; Kathryn Palmer


‘Very capable team, strength in depth. Particular stand out locations are Chelmsford and Ipswich where I would say they are the best firm in each location.’

‘Birketts has acted for us on multiple deals over the past 2 years. These have often been complex and protracted due to unexpected external factors (including those under the CBILS scheme) and the Birketts team have been excellent in overcoming these difficulties.’

‘Alex Schaafsma as partner overseeing the banking team has proven herself to be highly experienced and able to cut through the legal challenges in a timely manner. She has always made herself available for calls outside of the usual process. Within Alex’s team, Kathryn Palmer in particular has been excellent in driving the process over the line, always maintaining suitable communications of status or action points.’

‘High integrity and cooperation.’

‘Lottie Fletcher and Elizabeth Lee, both are reliable and consistently expert in what they do.’

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

  • Advising Alpha CRC Limited on two term loan facilities for each of £3,800,000 and £2,700,000 and a revolving credit facility for £750,000 from Shawbrook Bank Limited to facilitate the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Intertranslations S.A. together with a security package provided by the Group.
  • Advising a property developer on their financing arrangements – which span across a large group with borrowings from multiple lenders with different and at times, complex, security arrangements.
  • Advising Green Label Foods on its new £50m receivables, inventory and real estate financing facilities from HSBC UK Bank plc in order to refinance its existing facilities made available by another lender.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP‘s finance practice is known for ‘strong communication and collaboration, and a commercial, practical and responsive approach‘. Clients note that the firm is ‘well resourced with people of City firm background with the benefits that brings without the cost‘. Alongside a lending practice, the firm also a notable debt capital markets practice. Among its clients are lenders including HSBC and numerous borrowers, among them Flagship Housing Association. Corporate and acquisition finance partner William Roles leads the practice from Cambridge, where not-for-profit finance specialist Sarah Seed and real estate finance partner Laura Holdaway, and newly promoted borrower-side adviser Frances Churchard are key practitioners. Zak Virgin in Norwich is the lead partner for asset-based lending. Cambridge-based principal associate Matthew Howling advises not-for-profit issuers on private placements and bank facilities.

Practice head(s):

William Roles

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Seed; Laura Holdaway; Frances Churchard; Zak Virgin; Matthew Howling


‘Very strong capital market steam in the higher education sector. Strong communication and collaboration, commercial, practical and responsive.

‘Both Sarah Seed and Matthew Howling are excellent to work with. Strong communication and collaboration, commercial, practical and responsive.’

‘They are well resourced with people of City firm background with the benefits that brings without the cost. They seem to be a contented bunch of people.’

‘Frances Churchard is our lead contact she is quick and responsive answering the points raised. She is capable academically but also deals with counterparties and their lawyers US or UK well.’

Key clients

PNC Financial Services UK Limited

Hill Marshall LLP/Marshall Group Properties Limited/Marshall of Cambridge Group


HSBC UK Bank Plc – regional debt finance panel

Flagship Housing Association

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Cardiff University

4Syte Structured Finance Limited

Reassure (now part of Phoenix Group)

Legendre Group

Bridgnorth Aluminium Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for HSBC in their provision of term loan facilities to the TTP Group in relation to the sale of its entire issued share capital to an employee ownership trust. This is the largest EOT transaction by value to have taken place
  • Advised Reassure on two additional loan facilities to Target Healthcare REIT plc to refinance an additional healthcare portfolio (£37m) and additional loan facilities to acquire a further 18 healthcare portfolio from a Jersey based investor (£64m). Target are a UK listed specialist investor in modern, purpose-built care homes. The Facility is the first part of new loan facilities for the Group, totalling £100 million.
  • Advising Cardiff University on a second publicly listed bond issue, raising £100,000,000 3% 40 year fixed rate bonds.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has a practice led by high-value secured lending specialist and ‘first-class operator‘ Ron Clare in Bury St Edmunds. The firm is ‘always professional, knowledgeable, experienced and provides a great service level‘ and ‘has the breadth to bring different legal specialisms to a transaction and provide a comprehensive service‘. A member of numerous bank panels, among them HSBC and NatWest Bank, the firm frequently handles real estate secured lending, agricultural finance and corporate finance matters, with notable strength in high-value loan agreements. The firm’s acquisition of Steeles Law in Norwich brings experienced corporate finance partner Richard Bailey and property refinancing expert Michael Fahy into the practice.

Practice head(s):

Ron Clare

Other key lawyers:

Richard Bailey; Michael Fahy


‘The Banking and Finance team is very well lead by Ron Clare. His is a first-class operator who is very knowledgeable. The team has good depth and they provide very competitive quotes.’

‘Ron Clare, Partner is very experienced, commercial, is always available and will readily give his views on a subject. He even takes calls whilst on holiday. He is an expert in his field.’

‘I work with Ashtons Legal on bank/commercial requirements. They are always professional, knowledgeable, experienced and provide a great service level. Always open to a discussion and then provide good feedback if something more detailed is required.’

‘Ron Clare is extremely experienced and provides an overall excellent level of work and service. He meets deadline sand keeps me informed of issues during a deal and not at the end!’

‘All the team are very approachable and willing to listen to the questions put before them. The team is large and therefore any absence through illness or holiday does not affect the performance and availability of specialist support in my experience.’

‘I work with Ron Clare on a number of transactions, whether that be alongside our client or under direct Instruction. Ron always makes time to clearly articulate the scenario and provides simple to understand guidance so that we can prepare instructions that meet stringent minimum standards and on a right first time basis.’

‘The firm has the breadth to bring different legal specialisms to a transaction and provide a comprehensive service. In my experience they have been good at communicating progress as a deal progresses.’

‘Ron Clare has a practical approach and provides solutions to hurdles as they arise. He is good at staying in touch and advising how a transaction is progressing.’

Key clients

Handelsbanken plc

HSBC UK Bank plc

NatWest Bank plc

Virgin Money (formerly Clydesdale Bank plc)

C Hoare & Co

AFP (Asset Finance Partners)

Unity Trust Bank Plc

Abbey International Finance Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for trustees purchasing an estate in East Suffolk and their lender, a first-tier clearing bank. Of particular interest was the need to structure the loan arrangements in order to blend with the tranches of sale proceeds coming in from the sale of a residential development site. Deal value in excess of £6m.
  • Acting for Unity Trust Bank PLCon taking a legal charge in connection with a £10 million facility they have provided to a well-known regional charity.
  • Representing HSBC UK Bank plc in connection with its taking a charge over light industrial and storage premises in Basildon as security for its loan to the purchaser. The premises had previously been used in conjunction with the adjacent site to the rear and it was necessary to terminate the informal arrangements since the adjacent site was also sold and mortgaged to a different bank.

Howes Percival LLP

The Norwich office of Howes Percival LLP is a key hub for the firm’s cross-office banking and finance practice, and it works closely with teams in Leicester, Northampton, Cambridge and Milton Keynes to advise a strong roster of clients, among them HSBC, Lloyds Bank and Handelsbanken. As well as banks, the firm also acts for corporate funders and private clients and property investors. Practice head Joanna Nicholls is a specialist in real estate finance, as is head of real estate Tessa Haskey, who frequently acts for private lenders in relation to property security. So, too, do property partners Steven Beach and Michaela Henson in Cambridge. 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

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 Counties Bank Limited

HSBC Asset Finance (UK) Ltd

Coutts and Company

Work highlights

  • Advising National Westminster in relation to refinancing various property assets held by a settled trust.
  • Advising RQ Capital Limited in relation to financing the development of a large grade II listed site in East Midlands.