Bates Wells has a well-established reputation for advising prominent political figures, and has advised many key players in the major elections and referendums of recent years. The team also provides advice on non-party campaigns, and is known for its expertise with regards to the complex relationship between electoral law and digital campaign organisations, as well as the establishment of new political parties and groups. Practice co-head Simon Steeden works with the Green Party and many other high-profile political actors, while practice co-head Rosamund McCarthy Etherington advises non-party campaigns such as charities, public benefit organisations,and foundations on election law, as well as on matters relating to regulatory investigations by the Electoral Commission. Head of the public and regulatory group Melanie Carter also offers expertise on all issues related to non-party campaigning, while lead associate Jessica Collings advises on a broad range of matters, including lobbying regulation, defamation, and charity law related to political activity.
Electoral in London
‘Approachability, friendliness, understanding of the charity sector – the team offers political thinking as well as legal expertise and the ability to explain complex legal issues to non-lawyers.’
The Green Party
Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
Campaign Academy (t/a Campaign Bootcamp)
Wales Audit Office
- Continued to be retained by the Green Party, advising extensively throughout 2019 and 2020 as the party progresses its restructuring work.
- Invited by the Thomson Reuters Foundation to prepare a suite of guidance on legal considerations for campaigners across electoral law, defamation and media law, data privacy and shareholder activism.
- Advised the Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority with their investigations conducted under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 following complaints made about expenses claimed by MPs.
Edwards Duthie Shamash
Edwards Duthie Shamash - the result of the 2019 merger of Edwards Duthie and Steel & Shamash - has broad expertise in the area of electoral law, handling important political litigation and advising on matters relating to parliamentary boundary inquiries, codes of conduct and reputation management. Gerald Shamash is highly regarded for his work for the Labour Party, advising on legislative proposals, parliamentary rules and the reformation of election law, and is described as 'peerless', 'a legend', 'one in a million', and 'the god of election law'. Frances Randle is the local government solicitor to the Labour Party and has represented councillors before a wide range of panels and commissions across the UK.
Other key lawyers:
‘Gerald Shamash’s inside knowledge of clients and their needs is peerless. It gives him a sound tactical sense of where we are trying to go.’
‘Gerald Shamash is a leader in the field of understanding a political party’s legal needs.’
‘This is a dynamic team with unique insights into the inner workings of the Labour party and labyrinthine rules it works under. Top players at the top of their game. Gerald Shamash is a legend in his own lifetime.
‘Frances Randle in a stalwart of the local government team. She is passionate and committed and knows everything there is to know about the finer points of the Labour Party and electoral law.‘
‘Edwards Duthie Shamash is peerless in this context. They are amazing. Always a delight to deal with, they attract lawyers of the highest calibre who are passionate about the work.’
‘Gerald Shamash is the god of election law. There is barely a case he has not been involved in. He is a complete delight to work with.‘
‘The team, headed by Gerald Shamash, has a unique level of experience in election law and practice. This is the result of having been the election law solicitors for Labour for over 25 years. They have represented litigants in numerous election law cases in election courts and in the High Court. Election law is a very small and specialised area of practice so this is truly unique.’
‘Gerald Shamash is hugely experienced, having represented clients in election law cases from all over England and Wales for over 25 years. He is knowledgeable, easy to work with, and very popular with clients.’
‘All the expertise of a big city law firm combined with all the passion and the personal touch of a small (but top-notch) boutique firm. Unparalleled expertise in parliamentary and electoral law brought by the merger of Steel and Shamash to Edwards Duthie Shamash, the firm continues to move into new areas of law.’
‘Gerald Shamash is the man you want on your side in any difficult situation – he can win over any court, coroner, opponent, or witness in even the most polarised and sensitive of cases with his unbridled energy, compassion, and charm. His expertise and approach works well for both individuals and large organisations. Gerald is truly a force of nature. I defy anyone not to like him. He has worked wonders for the Labour Party over the years. A total joy to work for and with: Gerald is one in a million.’
The Labour Party
K&L Gates LLP
K&L Gates LLP's London team assists election candidates and political officials on a broad range of electoral law matters, including being instructed by candidates under investigation by the Electoral Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service. Since the 2015 General Election, the team has frequently advised campaigning groups on fundraising and spending rules. Consultant Piers Coleman is a 'walking encyclopaedia', advising campaign groups and the Liberal Democrats on a range of key matters, such as referendums, elections, and the treatment of election funds. Dylan Moses focuses on white-collar crime and electoral fraud, while associate Rosie Naylor handles related work in parliamentary elections.
‘The team is very knowledgeable with huge experience. They act across the spectrum and so are very non-biased and very strategic. K&L Gates understands the sensitivity of the area, is very accessible, and acts quickly.’
‘Piers Coleman stands out: he is a walking encyclopaedia and adviser. He is accessible, discreet, and tells you how it is in a way you can understand without dressing it up.’
Sharpe Pritchard LLP provides expert specialist advice to returning officers in contested election cases and on high-profile matters related to investigations by the Electoral Commission, such as alleged breaches of spending limits, as well as complex time-sensitive queries related to election law. Parliamentary agents Alastair Lewis and Emyr Thomas are both highly skilled in all related areas of electoral law.
Other key lawyers:
The Returning Officer of Swindon Borough Council
The Returning Officer of Westminster City Council
- Advised the Returning Officer of Swindon Borough Council throughout election petition challenge.
Recently established boutique Astraea Legal has already built up a strong reputation for representing Conservative MPs and party staff in litigation involving allegations of election law violations, as well as defamation cases. The team also has a record of work on less controversial matters, such as interpreting election expenses laws. Practice co-heads James Roochove and Nama Zarroug both specialise in litigation regarding election law - the team is also described as having 'an understanding of the public affairs industry that would put most public relations experts to shame.'
‘An excellent team that undertook a huge volume of work to advise a large number of MPs about potential prosecutions after the 2015 general election. The team has great attention to detail and a great ability to uncover and identify the key evidence. They are very approachable and great with clients, witnesses, and opponents.’
‘Nara Zarroug is bright, has great attention to detail and is engaging and very approachable. She is fantastic with clients and has a great approach to the case in general. A real pleasure to work with.’
‘James Roochove and Nama Zarroug have a knowledge and mastery of the nuanced and complex field of electoral and political legal affairs that is second to no other individual lawyers or practices. Not only is their knowledge of the law outstanding but the application of their political judgement is also superb. Their service goes well beyond expert legal assistance as they demonstrate an understanding of the public affairs industry including reputational and crisis management that would put most public relations experts to shame.’
‘Astraea are a very highly qualified and capable team of lawyers who are able to employ their skills sometimes in unique ways to resolve the situation that you find yourself in. Individual partners cover a wide range of situations and legal needs and are very well connected.’
‘Nothing is too much trouble and there is almost a 24/7 approach to dealing with problems. James Roochove gave me first class service and opinions and nothing was too much trouble for him. I would recommend him for to anyone who required a legal opinion.’
- Acted for MP for South Thanet to secure his acquittal after a three-month trial at Southwark Crown Court regarding allegations of election fraud.
- Successfully defended election petition questioning the validity of the decisive ballot paper to determine the results of the Tetbury Town ward in the 2019 local elections.
- Obtained an apology and damages from the Zelo Street blog following the publication of a defamatory article about Dr Mullan during the 2019 General Election campaign.
Intellectual property firm Venner Shipley LLP has notable expertise in data protection law, an increasingly important issue with regards to elections and campaigning. Partner and barrister James Tumbridge leads the firm's practice - he is described as being 'exceptionally knowledgeable of UK electoral law.' In addition to data protection, the firm also advises clients on Electoral Commission investigations and Information Commissioner inquiries.
‘This practice provides a range of advice which comes with a high level of expertise and knowledge.The practice is incredibly knowledgeable in its areas of expertise. What I find unique is their ability to think strategically and problem-solve, something which does not come naturally to many solicitors.’
‘Highly detailed legal and practical knowledge of the sector, based on wide experience, and particularly in respect of technology – increasingly important in the 21st century.
‘Constant real-time availability and reactions to situations and demands as they occur 24/7. Fantastic and very helpful on complicated legal issues and attending meetings at short notice.’
‘Very few lawyers really understand electoral law but Venner Shipley most certainly do. They should be the number one ‘go to’ firm for anyone who needs guidance in this rather niche sector. They understand not only the written law but also the practicalities, in real life, of what it means to run an election campaign. This gives huge confidence to a client.’
‘James Tumbridge is the foremost expert on the issues we have to deal with. James is informed, strategic and clear with advice. Ideal legal counsel. I could not recommend him highly enough.’
‘James Tumbridge is exceptionally knowledgeable of UK electoral law. I would go as far as to say he understands the law better than the regulators. He goes above and beyond for his clients. I would not hesitate to recommend him. He is a credit to his firm and his profession.’
‘James Tumbridge is a formidable lawyer with an impressive and consistently well informed workrate, always available and with excellent interpersonal communication skills.’
‘James Tumbridge is very attentive and adaptable.’
‘James Tumbridge is in a different league to any other lawyer that I have worked with. First class in every department, he really takes a huge personal interest in each case and his patience is beyond compare. He appears to be available 24/7 and his explanations of his reasonings are always exceedingly clear and understandable. A fabulous lawyer who you leaves no stone unturned.’
- Advised various political parties on the twin regulatory areas of election law and data protection.
- Defended half a dozen clients in Electoral Commission investigations/assessment reviews, and conducted multiple defences in regard to Information Commissioner inquiries.
- Advised 14 campaigning groups in the General Election 2019, ranging from compliance on returns, spending, use of data, issues on co-ordinations, and donations.