Commercial litigation: Nottingham and Derby in East Midlands

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP is instructed by notable local clients and national companies to act in a diverse range of disputes. The manufacturing, retail, finance, IT and energy sectors are areas of particular expertise, and the group is also able to handle multijurisdictional proceedings. Jonathan Tardif leads the team and frequently represents high-profile local clients; in 2020, Tardif represented Nottingham Forest FC in disputes with its former owners. Senior associate George Petrou combines experience in general commercial litigation with a strong contentious insolvency practice.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Tardif

Other key lawyers:

George Petrou; Chloe Poskitt

Testimonials

‘Jonathan Tardif is an excellent partner.’

‘Very responsive, excellent application of industry knowledge and understanding and high-quality deliverables.’

‘Excellent to work with and we have high trust that they can deliver what we need and when we need it!’

‘Very capable specialists with deep knowledge & skills which provided excellent commercially focused advice.’

Key clients

Centrica /British Gas

Vision Express

Nottingham Forest Football Club

Staffline

NHS England

FairFX/Equals Group Plc

London EV Company (formerly London Taxi)

Hiscox

Goodyear Tyres

Work highlights

  • Advising a global manufacturer on a worldwide product recall issue resulting in a £38m product liability dispute in the TCC.
  • Representing Nottingham Forest Football Club in a £10m dispute concerning the valuation of the club’s liabilities at the point of its acquisition by the current owners in 2017.
  • Acting for a leading UK parcel delivery brand in a £30m multi-party dispute with some of its franchisees over the operation of various contractual provisions and a complaint of anti-competitive practices.

Flint Bishop LLP

Led by 'pragmatic and articulate litigator' Nick Wells, Flint Bishop LLP is a key name in Derby for contentious issues. The group works with a range of national clients, including leading pub chains, insurers and convenience stores, acting in complex commercial disputes in specialist lists of the High Court. Firm chief executive Qamer Ghafoor focuses his fee-earning work on professional negligence and property-related disputes. Former practice head Lorna Truman departed the firm in September 2020 to join Bray & Bray.

Practice head(s):

Nick Wells

Other key lawyers:

Qamer Ghafoor; Richard Woodward

Testimonials

‘An excellent niche team punching well above its weight in this region.’

‘Qamer Ghafoor: a force of nature. Passionate; determined; hugely energetic; charismatic. He can win a case or force a great settlement through pure force of will. Great fun to work for. Richard Woodward: ultra thorough, careful, organised, efficient, he is the type of associate that no winning litigation team can do without.

‘It is a commercially savvy and attentive team, that handles a wide range of commercial disputes cost effectively and pragmatically.’

‘I have worked with Nick Wells for a number of years. He is always on top of the factual detail, law, navigates a good strategic course and achieves good outcomes for his clients.’

‘I would particularly commend: Qamer Ghafoor, an experienced litigator and very robust negotiator, who always has a keen eye on the commercial objectives of his clients. Nick Wells, a very good technical lawyer who is excellent both on points of detail whilst never losing sight of the overall litigation strategy.’

‘Ours was a deep dispute and the way Flint Bishop communicated was superb. Use of documents with suggested editing and our ability to edit and send back at all times of the day.’

‘Nick Wells was superb. Guided us and advised us but we felt like we were making the decisions- very good style. Was not aggressive with other side, just factual, and relentless. Didn’t cut corners or risk any mistruths. He took on the other side who had more lawyers and was more professional, better informed, better knowledge and better processes.’

‘Nick Wells has continued to provide excellent support and advice throughout the pandemic. His considerable expertise makes a real difference at all stages of the process.’

Key clients

Office Depot

Marston’s PLC

LexisNexis

YHA (England & Wales)

Food Standards Agency

Haven Insurance Company

Costcutter Supermarkets Group

Henry Boot Developments

National Trust

Yu Energy

Work highlights

  • Acting for the successful defendants in the twice-reported case concerning springboard injunctive relief.
  • Acting for Haven Insurance Company in successfully defending a £10m plus claim from another insurer.
  • Acting for the successful claimants in a complex summary judgment application concerning the interpretation of contractual terms of Rightmove and Zoopla.

Geldards LLP

Geldards LLP has developed a key reputation for its work in shareholders' disputes, contractual breaches and commercial fraud matters. Led by Nino Simone, the group is particularly active in the automotive sector and sports disputes; it represents leading retailers and suppliers in vehicle ownership disputes, and also represented key local client Derby County FC in regulatory proceedings concerning the value of its stadium. Other key team members include Jonathan Butler, who specialises in freezing orders and injunctions, and associate Rebecca Stojak, who is recommended for equine law issues.

Practice head(s):

Nino Simone

Other key lawyers:

Andrea Clayton; Rebecca Stojak; Jonathan Butler

Testimonials

‘The quality of the firm’s clients reflects the stand-out service offered by the team. Substantial cases are not over-lawyered, but dealt with by appropriate teams with hands-on partner leadership.’

‘Jon Butler’s thoughtful and hands-on approach to running complex litigation, managing experts and counsel as well as his own team, is particularly impressive.’

Key clients

AGFA Graphics NV

Car Giant Limited

Derby County Football Club

Pendragon PLC

Stellantis (formerly PSA)

Parkway Volkswagen

finnCap Limited

Tesco

Trouw Nutrition GB

University of Leicester

Work highlights

  • Defended Pendragon PLC and 21 subsidiary group companies in claims for £1m for unpaid invoices arising out of the provision of valeting services to its dealer network nationwide.
  • Defended Derby County FC in regulatory proceedings brought by the English Football League before a Disciplinary Commission for alleged breaches of the Profit & Sustainability Rules.
  • Representing Dublin Coach in a High Court claim against EvoBus (UK) Limited for alleged defective vehicles.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's Nottingham team works closely with its Birmingham office to act for national clients in all types of proceedings. While active in numerous sectors, the group is particularly strong in the automotive and energy industries, representing leading car manufacturers as well as utility companies including Thames Water and the National Grid. Louise Howarth is the key practitioner in the East Midlands; as head of the national energy regulatory disputes practice, Howarth specialises in Ofgem regulatory investigations and judicial review proceedings following regulatory decisions in the energy, water and environmental sectors.

Practice head(s):

Louise Howarth

Testimonials

‘The team are accessible and good at keeping in touch/keeping us updated. Billing is always transparent and we rarely get surprises. They are excellent at predicting future spend, which is helpful from a budgeting perspective. The team is well resourced with the right level of seniority doing appropriate roles. I feel we get good value for money.’

Key clients

Compass Group

Experian

John Lewis Partnership

National Grid

Severn Trent

Thames Water

Shell

Mitchells & Butlers

Vestey Foods

Sherwin Williams

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Plc

The Haemophilia Society

Telford and Wrekin Council

Freeths LLP

Freeths LLP's practice is 'strong across the board' and acts in complex commercial disputes, financial issues and professional negligence claims. Contentious insolvency work is the group's primary field of specialism; Nottingham team head Graham Greenfield and managing associate Jade Flint are frequently instructed by accountants, insolvency practitioners and business advisers in member’s voluntary liquidation issues and ownership disputes. In the Derby office, Jonathan Jefferies, who has particular expertise in mineral disputes, is the name to note.

Practice head(s):

Graham Greenfield; Jonathan Jefferies

Other key lawyers:

Jade Flint

Testimonials

‘The Commercial Litigation team based out of Nottingham is excellent, under the guidance and leadership of Graham Greenfield.’

‘Jade Flint is an exceptional lawyer and is extremely busy with a high level of new business, which evidences her ability to acquire new work and maintain her current client base through the quality of work she delivers. Jade provides sensible, commercially relevant advice to her clients and is not afraid to advise at a early stage and get stuck in. Jade has worked her way up to being just below partner level in a few short years. Graham Greenfield is the managing partner who provides an exceptional level of service and who oversees the busy team seamlessly. ’

‘Strong across the board, very fast to react and go the extra mile.’

‘Graham Greenfield: hugely experienced, tactically really astute, brilliant at getting the best outcomes and deals for his clients.’

‘Personal and bespoke service from the litigation team personnel.’

‘Graham Greenfield is an awesome individual who offers calm , reassuring, pragmatic advice in any situation. His wealth of experience is extremely impressive and he uses it to the full advantage, ensuring the client gets the best possible service. Graham is now a highly valued member of our wider leadership team.’

‘Outstanding leadership and service from Graham Greenfield, litigation partner.’

‘Jade Flint – Understands client’s needs well, can turn work around in short notice whilst remaining thorough, progresses cases well and is a good sounding board when assisting with problematic situations. always provides options. Graham Greenfield – extremely thorough, knowledgably, brings solutions to the table and very good people skills especially in potentially confrontational scenarios. can bring clients at ease very quickly.’

Key clients

FRP Advisory LLP

The Way Ahead Group Limited t/a See Tickets

Redwood Bank Limited

Central Bridging Loans Limited

Mazars LLP

CBA Business Services Limited

Skills Motor Coaches Limited

Reditum Capital

Chancerygate

Reflex Labels Limited

Chris Fountain Limited

Bio Dynamic (UK) Limited

Sytner Cars Limited/Sytner Group

Bridgewood Financial Solutions Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted in a claim for indemnity under an insurance policy with respect of business interruption insurance losses arising out of Covid-19.
  • Advised a sole practitioner on a defendant’s continued reluctance to provide copies of court documents.
  • Acted in a dispute relating to a joint venture partnership created to identify, purchase, renovate and sell properties in London.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited

Nelsons Solicitors Limited, which primarily represents companies based in the East Midlands, is active across a range of contentious mandates including shareholder and partnership disputes, unpaid invoice claims and business interruption insurance policies as they relate to the Covid-19 pandemic. Practice co-heads Jon Roberts and Cathryn Selby operate from Nottingham and Derby respectively; the former frequently acts in disputes related to the construction industry, while the latter handles contractual, insurance and civil fraud issues. Chris Adams retired in June 2020.

Practice head(s):

Jon Roberts; Cathryn Selby

Other key lawyers:

Simon Key

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

Based in Nottingham, Shakespeare Martineau LLP assists private companies, trustees and administrators with various contractual, commercial and insolvency disputes. The group is well-known for its energy sector and insolvency expertise; in 2020, practice head Tim Speed combined these specialisms to advise key client Npower in relation to the insolvency of one of its multi-site retail customers. Kendal Litherland specialises in handling professional negligence claims against solicitors, financial advisers and accountants, while fellow legal director Steven Skiba acts in shareholder and partnership disputes.

Practice head(s):

Tim Speed

Other key lawyers:

Steven Skiba; Kendal Litherland; Alex Ryan

Testimonials

‘The firm is experienced in energy, debt collection and insolvency. The team manages our expectations and responds quickly to urgent requests for advice. The advice provided is user-friendly and commercially focused.’

‘Tim is an excellent litigator and insolvency lawyer who has greatly helped us over the last few years to manage a number of high profile customers who went into administration.’

‘Steven Skiba – pursuing all the options and exploration of even options that seem less likely which may aid the dispute. Always available and updating me.’

‘The firm show’s real personality through the group of individuals that make up the team and Shakespeare Martineau. They seem to have a real identity and culture in what they do at all levels.’

‘Tim Speed is an excellent operator, he delivers fast and efficient service and is attentive to the needs of clients. He properly understands what a client wants and then creates a solution to fit.’

‘Strengths: clear explanation of issues for me as a lay person not familiar with this area of law. Considered all options in relation to pursuing the matter / dispute, and acted on each action point swiftly and comprehensively. Also clear billing process, and linking in with counsel as needed.’

Key clients

Deloitte

Smith Cooper

Npower Limited

Robin Hood Energy Limited

Community R4C Limited

Recresco Limited

South Staffordshire Water plc

Tully Forensic Psychology Limited

Highways England Company Limited

Vision Express UK Limited

Everards Brewery Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Npower in relation to a number of high-profile retail insolvencies.
  • Acting for Community R4C Limited in a High Court procurement dispute with Gloucester City Council.
  • Acted for Robin Hood Energy on the sale of customer contracts, followed by administration issues.

Actons

Actons primarily works with individuals and SMEs within the East Midlands area, and also assists companies from outside the region. With expertise in all areas of commercial litigation, the team is particular active in contract disputes, partnership issues and property-related proceedings. Caroline Bowler, in addition to leading the team, has notable expertise in equine disputes and leverages additional experience in professional negligence litigation to act in claims against veterinary professionals.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Bowler

Other key lawyers:

Gordon Monaghan

Testimonials

‘The team responded quickly to my initial inquiry and were quick to understand my issue and provide advice on the best way forward. All interaction was managed effectively given that it was remote.’

‘Caroline Bowler handled my case. She had a deep domain knowledge of the subject area and was able to develop a strategy with me that achieved a good outcome in an efficient manner. Equine law can be notoriously difficult and whilst I had made the correct initial steps Caroline was able to bring the case to successful conclusion.

‘The Dispute Resolution team has a wide remit, with expertise in a number of commercial litigation fields.’

‘Caroline Bowler has excellent, in-depth knowledge of equine litigation, with phenomenal determination and drive to pursue her client’s best interests, even in the most difficult, complex and/or challenging cases.’

‘It is rare to find a firm with such authentic depth of understanding of equestrian related work, which can span from gritty contractual disputes to negligence claims and a myriad of often unique cases in between.’

‘Caroline Bowler is outstanding for her attitude towards client care. Equine related disputes nearly always invoke very personal reactions from clients, which Caroline handles with ease, bringing both sympathy and honesty, and she therefore manages clients’ expectations brilliantly. Caroline is exceptionally good at getting to grips with the fundamental issues in any case, managing the case well before sending it to counsel. Her own personal knowledge sets her apart from her peers and garners true respect from counsel she instructs.’

‘The majority of our contact with Actons revolves primarily around Dispute Resolution and Employment Law. They provide accurate and timely advice and we have tremendous confidence in the service and advice they provide.’

‘Caroline Bowler, provides the company with ongoing informed, precise and swift advice in order to secure efficient outcomes when we face Dispute challenges. Caroline never fails in providing excellent advice at all times.’

Key clients

Soper of Lincoln Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of client in a procurement challenge against a London Borough Council.
  • Acting on behalf of a Belgian client in relation to enforcing a guarantee provided by an English guarantor in relation to the performance of a contract by a Dutch company.
  • Acting for two individuals in a complex shareholder dispute.

Smith Partnership

Smith Partnership assists with a variety of disputes and has a particularly strong track record in acting in shareholder and partnership disputes, as well as handling contractual issues. Russell Davies leads the Derby team and frequently acts in disputes related to property and business ownership; he has also developed a specialism in representing clients in litigation relating to pub tenancies.

Practice head(s):

Russell Davies

Other key lawyers:

Bally Atwal

Testimonials

‘Proactive advice and guidance throughout protracted dispute. Clear communications and liaison with counsel were key to understanding progress. Able to explain difficult legal concepts in plain English.’

‘Russell Davies’ ease of contact, transparency, knowledge stand out.’

‘Smith Partnership offer a very friendly and people facing approach and are always quick to return calls and offer advice.’

‘When dealing with any business, the key driver is trust and we have complete trust in the people at Smith Partnership to always give fair and unbiased advice. It may not always be what we want to hear, however it is essential that we have such qualified feedback.’

‘They have a combination of people with varying degrees of skill available to us depending on what type of advice or input we need. We always seem to be able to get the right person for the job at hand.’

‘Russell Davies is an super important person to have as a contact. We have tried other dispute resolution specialists in our time but we can’t see ourselves ever moving away from Russell. He has been an incredibly valuable resource during difficult situations. His knowledge and advice is second to none.’

Key clients

Ei Group Limited

Huub Limited

Littler Investments Limited

Orange Living Limited

National Merchant Buying Society Limited

Workchain Limited

Eurocell PLC

Luke Evans Bakery Limited

Georges’ Tradition Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for private individuals as claimants who were not paid deferred consideration of approximately £2m under the terms of a Share Purchase Agreement following the sale of their business.
  • Acting for a lettings agency in multiple claims by former landlords alleging breach of contract in failing to let their properties.
  • Advised Eurocell PLC in relation to the enforcement of two retention of title claims following the administration of two customers of the business.