Specialist construction firm Archor was founded in June 2021 by a large group of ex-Birketts LLP lawyers led by Andrew Rush, managing partner Ruth Sunaway and non-contentious head Rory Abel. The hugely experienced Rush handles both contentious and non-contentious matters, while Sunaway, who was previously head of contentious construction at her former firm, leads on disputes. The firm handles a wide range of work, covering development, adjudications and complex contracts. Its client base primarily comprises, contractors, subcontractors and developers, as well as individuals, consultants, public sector bodies, lenders and education providers. While the firm’s head office is in Colchester, most lawyers are based across the East Anglia region.
Construction in East Anglia
Andrew Rush; Ruth Sunaway; Rory Abel
Other key lawyers:
Carolyn Porter; Oli Worth; Hanna McNab
‘Archor are by far the friendliest and nicest-natured legal firm I’ve worked with. They have embraced modern e-signatures, online file storage and a paperless way of working where possible. At every stage they keep in touch, you see most of the partners most months on a call or in person.’
‘Rory Abel is able to understand the commercial and practical impacts of decision-making to help facilitate a much more streamlined process. ‘
‘Although Oli Worth has all the legal attributes you would want from your advisor, he also has a personable approach and can deal with each case as if he were one of your own team. He becomes one of the team.’
‘Rory Abel is by far and away the best construction lawyer I have dealt with. His ability to process things in extreme pace with absolute accuracy is astonishing. He just completely gets it, the whole process of development, construction and third party agreements, he is able to process what each document represents and how it impacts upon others – a truly remarkable feat for a young lawyer. He is able to talk to anyone from any side of the table with respect and social intelligence, he knows when to push, when to concede and how to completely break something down to something so simple and understandable.’
‘Ruth Sunaway and Oli Worth are stand out partners.’
‘Very responsive – you are able to speak to a partner at all times. Balance of legal and commercial approach to interpreting issues and contracts are what sets them apart.’
‘Archor are experts in construction disputes. They have the ability to make you feel you are their most important client with their speed of response and ease of contact. They provide clear and unambiguous advice.’
‘The Archor team are very quick to respond to any issue placed in front of them. They offer their view and do not sit on the fence. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.’
FE MH Dev Co Ltd (part of Frontier Estates)
Big Sky Developments Ltd
Metro One Property Development Ltd (part ofInterland Group)
Cresswick St Albans Limited
Higgins Partnerships 1961 PLC
RGB P&C Ltd
A J Morrisroe & Sons
John Henry Group
McGee Civil Engineering Limited
- Advised Metro One Property Development on the construction documentation associated with a 213 room student accommodation building in Watford.
- Advised Frontier Estates in relation to the construction documentation associated with a forward funded 76 bed care home for Care UK.
- Advised Big Sky on the construction documentation associated with a £85m GDV housing scheme.
Birketts LLP has refreshed its construction practice following the departure of key partners in 2021 and now has a 15-lawyer practice that has dedicated construction lawyers operating in all of its four offices. It handles a broad range of work that spans development funding, public sector and infrastructure projects, contract documentation, and contentious matters. Stefan Harris-Wright leads the practice from Cambridge and he is ‘a true professional, always calm and thoughtful‘. He advised O&H Land on the negotiation of construction documentation across its estate. Up-and-coming partner Catherine Andrews in Ipswich joined from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, as did legal director Patrick Cooney in Cambridge. Also in Cambridge, senior associate Katrina Bretten stands out for non-contentious matters.
Other key lawyers:
Catherine Andrews; Patrick Cooney; Katrina Bretten
‘Its the personal touch, the team are very experienced but they know there clients and are able to offer us support tailored to our needs including training.’
‘Stefan Harris-Wright is a true professional, always calm, thoughtful and really understands our business.’
‘The people put onto our case were very knowledgeable and went all out to win for us when we decided as a matter of principle not to agree a settlement. Costs were estimated at the start and came in close to the original figure. No idea how diverse they are, and neither do I care. There was no collaboration required with other organisations.’
‘We worked with Catherine Andrews who was a star and even though she strongly advised us not to fight it, when we did she nevertheless put absolutely every effort into backing us and winning against three separate attempts by the other side.’
Persimmon Homes (Anglia) Limited
Jesus College Developments (Oxford) Limited
Independent Community Heating Limited (ICHL)
This Land Development Limited
Concertus Design and Property Consultants Limited (Concertus)
An engineering group of companies providing water treatment products and services internationally (“Waterco”)
Rock-Tech AV Ltd
Poppet Construction Limited
Borough of Broxbourne Council
Oxford Instruments Nanotechnology Tools Limited
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in Cambridge has a ‘straightforward, enthusiastic, and ‘user-friendly‘ construction and engineering practice, which clients describe as ‘incredibly cohesive and client-focused team‘. The firm is prominent in transport infrastructure matters across the UK and counts Transport for London and Network Rail among its clients. Head of the firm’s international transport group Dominic Lacey is ‘incredibly pragmatic‘ in both transactional and contentious work. He acted for the Government of Slovenia in an ICC arbitration relating to the construction of a road and new Danube River crossing in Bratislava, Slovakia. Tom Douglas specialises in transactional construction, and principal associate Ed Freeman handles complex development projects in the senior living, regeneration and fulfilment centre sectors. Senior associate Joanne Naylor is ‘extremely hardworking and driven‘.
Other key lawyers:
Tom Douglas; Ed Freeman; Joanne Naylor; Alison Mallard
‘The nature, competence and legal knowledge of certain individuals and the quality of the working relationship with them makes this practice stand out. Other practices have certain individuals that have similar qualities – straightforward, enthusiastic, and ‘user-friendly’, but we have found that at Eversheds there is a small group of partners with whom we have developed a close and useful relationship’
‘Dominic Lacey is very knowledgeable but also quick to understand issues and to identify solutions which other lawyers sometimes take time to evaluate and then provide over cautious advice.’
‘The team is incredibly cohesive. They work very well to provide excellent results. They are a very client-focused team.’
‘Dominic Lacey is a fantastic partner who provides great leadership but allows the individual members of his team to shine and take responsibility in a supportive environment. Joanne Naylor is extremely hardworking and driven. She has led on complex matters and is also one to watch.’
‘The team’s strength is in the high quality of their staff and the enthusiasm and availability of partners to be actively involved in the delivery of high quality legal advice.’
‘I have valued Tom Douglas’ active engagement in the provision of clearly articulated, sector specific, pragmatic legal advice and Alison Mallard’s added value and ability to readily convert it into high-quality legal drafting.’
‘Their response time is phenomenal and they take the best commercial practise for companies which makes working with them super beneficial for in-house lawyers.’
‘Dominic Lacey has outstanding commercial awareness and is incredibly pragmatic.’
Transport for London
Government of Slovakia
Legal and General
Signature Senior Living
Mace Develop Limited
Mills & Reeve LLP
At Mills & Reeve LLP, ‘the team is knowledgeable, skilled and highly qualified to provide incisive and informative legal information to facilitate decision by the client‘. The firm handles major construction projects throughout East Anglia and beyond, among recent examples being developments by Urban& Civic in Alconbury Weald, Corby Middlebeck Newark, Wintringham and Waterbeach Barracks. The Cambridge office is home to a deep bench of talent, including practice head Stuart Thompson, who is highly experienced in construction procurement, government outsourcing and project management matters. He acted for the University of Cambridge in the procurement of its new facilities management provider for the University’s estate. Raith Pickup is also recommended for complex construction matters, as are consultant Peter Rout, who handles PFI and PPP projects, and principal associates Alexandra Pike and Gary Rushworth.
Other key lawyers:
Raith Pickup; Peter Rout; Alexandra Pike; Gary Rushworth
‘The building industry can be a difficult industry and there are many different types of people. The M&R team worked very well with us and took us through the stages as we went along, we were also not afraid to question the advice to ensure that we all knew where we were heading.’
‘The team at M&R is knowledgeable, skilled and highly qualified to provide incisive and informative legal information to facilitate decision by the client. They listen to the needs and requests and respond quickly and accurately.’
‘They are very customer-focused and highly response for information requests.’
‘The team is always available to assist with all matters and provide prompt and clear advise. They are able to provide a good level of resource even where projects appear at short notice and are very urgent or have tight deadlines.’
‘The team are exactly that. They work together, share experiences and lessons learned and pull together for us as client when ever required. the standardisation and knowledge sharing works well for both parties and whilst you always feel that there is a “project lead” you equally know that there is a wide foundation of support below, stabilising the whole process.’
‘Person and personality. The relationship you develop with individuals and the passion and integrity with which they drive through the client requirements with utmost professionalism, quietly confident and with the engagement that we have never found elsewhere.’
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
University of Cambridge
Urban & Civic PLC
British Medical Association (BMA)
The Wine Society
Ministry of Defence (MOD)
Bowmer & Kirkland
English Architectural Glazing
Grove Developments Limited
Somerset County Council
London & Regional Properties
University of Suffolk
Norwich Research Park
Greene & Greene
The construction practice at Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds is ‘easily accessible and responses are always very prompt‘, and clients praise the firm’s ‘clear and concise advice‘. It frequently acts for funders, developers, contractors and sub-contractors on large-scale projects and high-value construction disputes. Sarah Western leads the construction practice and ‘goes above and beyond to ensure total client satisfaction‘. Litigation partners Rob Adam and Michael Batty and residential and commercial development specialist Hugo Greer-Walker (who is ‘‘very efficient, friendly and highly knowledgeable‘ also play key roles in the practice. Associate Anna Britland is also recommended for public procurement and state aid matters.
Sarah Western; Rob Adam; Michael Batty; Hugo Greer-Walker
‘Easily accessible and responses are always very prompt. Advice given is always clear and concise and easily understood by someone who is not schooled in the matter that is being dealt with.’
‘Sarah Western is quick to respond to queries and provides clear illustrations of the work she can and will undertake, and timescales involved. Subsequent correspondence and advice is delivered in a clear, concise and easy to understand format.’
‘Small firm ethos but big firm knowledge and skillset, Greene and Greene are very knowledgeable in construction law whilst maintaining a personal approach with its clients. I can not praise them enough for the support and advice they have provided me over the last few years on some complex issues.’
‘Sarah Western is always a pleasure to deal with, professional yet personable. She goes above and beyond to ensure total client satisfaction.’
‘Very efficient and friendly. Hugo Greer-Walker is highly knowledgeable.’
‘Greene and Greene are, in my opinion, a no non-sense firm. They know what needs to be done and how to achieve it. Their advice is always on point and you know where you stand. The will make sure you are fully informed on the position before you proceed and they take the time to understand your position and business. This is a cultural root of the business which I have found in all area. You get what you pay for and with Greene and Greene, I have always found the end result always outweighed the fees.’
‘Sarah Western is a stand out for our business, she has, in one particular case, managed to deal with a very challenging customer, took on all the strain and stress of the contract, dealt with the matter impeccably and got the result we needed. Professional, direct and assured. Absolute godsend when things needs a stronger play!’
Greenwoods Legal handles construction projects across the East of England, but also elsewhere in the UK and overseas. It has a particular focus on the UK maintenance and lighting industry. ‘The practice is extremely experienced and knowledgeable of construction disputes', remarks one client. Another notes that the practice is 'highly responsive, prompt, accurate, with attention to details'. 'Very straight-talking' practice head Lorna Carter, who works in both Cambridge and Peterborough, is recommended for both contentious matters and for advice on documentation for major projects. She assisted Studio Ashby Limited in negotiations for its appointment for interior design services for a prestigious residential project in Paris. Associate Sarah Lidgett is highly experienced in construction litigation and adjudication.
Other key lawyers:
‘The practice is extremely experienced and knowledgeable of construction claims/disputes.’
‘Lorna Carter leads by example and is very considered of client needs and provides the level of support and advise that is required for each appointment. Very straight talking ensuring that the level of support (and associated fee) is measured to what is needed for the appointment.’
‘Very efficient. Always reply to messages quickly and take action on our behalf. Knowledgable and always have out best interests at the forefront.’
‘Highly responsive and cooperative. Give the right solution in the right time.’
‘Highly responsive, prompt, accurate, with attention to details.’
‘We value Greenwoods ability to give us expert support across a range of different business issues, including data protection, governance-related issues, and dispute resolution.’
‘We have worked with Lorna Carter for a number of years, and she is always available to give us support with the work of our Standards Committee, which maintains quality standards amongst our membership. Her input to the committee’s deliberations is invaluable. I am not really qualified to comment on some of the issues asked about below, (eg diversity, resourcing)but have contributed where I have direct knowledge.’
‘Their ability to help with both the legal and commercial perspectives.’
- Representing Studio Ashby Limited in continuing negotiations for its appointment for interior design services.
- Advising Morrison Water Services Limited concerning contract document drafting in relation to major maintenance and water metering works for Thames Water in South London.
- Represented leading agricultural land agent Bidwells in a pre-action payment dispute with one of its large landowner clients.
HCR Hewitsons has a substantial construction practice across its office network and the Cambridge office is a key hub for its work on major projects for developer, schools, life sciences companies, charities and universities. The firm acted for UK-based nationwide contractor Fishbourne Number 3 on the development of multimillion-pound projects including and accommodation development in Brighton. Colin Jones is the lead partner in Cambridge and he is supported by associate Sardeep Gill, who acted for Rosewood Developments on the construction elements of a £17m accommodation development in Norwich.
Other key lawyers:
Colin Jones; Sardeep Gill
Rosewood Developments (Norwich)
Fishbourne Number 3
JG Poole & Co. LLP
‘The team has a vast amount of knowledge of construction in the public sector', says a client JG Poole & Co. LLP in Ely. The firm was founded as a specialist higher education boutique and remains highly active in that sector, though it has expanded its scope to work for a broader range of real estate investors, developers and construction clients. Lead partner Katherine Souter is 'very pragmatic and approachable, and she simplifies very complex issues'. Legal director Robert Weatherley joined from Mills & Reeve LLP, bringing substantial experience in project development as well as expertise in Chinese law. He advised Knapp UK Limited on design and installation contracts and long-term follow-up maintenance contracts.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team has a vast amount of knowledge of construction in the public sector and have recently expanded the team meaning they have larger resource to pick matters up.’
‘Katherine Souter is very pragmatic and approachable. She simplifies very complex issues.’
‘JG Poole & Co LLP provide a very personal service, with expertise which take time to really understand the needs and requirements of the business they are advising, by building a strong relationship and taking the time to act and advise consistent with company strategy.’
‘The expertise provided by Robert Weatherley allows us to have legal support on hand to assist with our day to day activities. This approach provides confidence that all of our legal requirements can be supported by an external partner who knows and understands the needs of our business.’
Knapp UK Limited
Floorspan Contracts Limited
- Advised Knapp UK Limited in a sole legal counsel capacity across a range of different things, most specifically advising on design and installation contracts and long term follow up maintenance contracts. Knapp’s customers include Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Tesco and Boots.
Howes Percival LLP
Howes Percival LLP has a small construction practice that nevertheless acts for numerous commercial developers, institutional lenders, contractors and consultants. The firm focuses on niche areas such as offshore windfarm projects and cutting-edge waste management developments. Director Simon Franklin in Cambridge is the firm's only construction practitioner in the region. He acted for Loughborough Town Properties Limited firm in relation to the purchase and development of student accommodation projects for an international client, which included advice on the procurement of the works.
Turnstone Colchester Limited
- Advised Loughborough Town Properties Limited relating to the purchase and development of student accommodation.
- Advised Braintree District Council: in respect of commercial development.
- Advised Westmoreland Investments Limited in respect of new build office and facilities.