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  1. Commercial litigation: elsewhere in the North West
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Who Represents Who

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Aaron & Partners LLP delivers a ‘first-class service’ across complex and high-value shareholder and partnership disputes; disputes arising out of corporate transactions; claims involving directors; restrictive covenants; property litigation and professional negligence. Key highlights included representing two directors of a group of food companies in a professional negligence claim against the companies’ former solicitors, and representing two Florida-based banks in the collection of mortgage shortfalls from British citizens who invested in the US property market. David Harries handles energy, engineering, construction and IT disputes, and is also noted for land and fiduciary obligations work. Also recommended are John Devoy, who is experienced in professional negligence cases, David Potts, who is noted for shareholder disputes, and David Mann, who was promoted to partner in 2017 and has ‘an excellent listening ear’. Simon Edwards and recently promoted associate Bryony Cook are also key members of the department, which is led by Nick Clarke.

FIRMS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

FS Legal

Known for high-profile and typically multi-million pound ‘big ticket’ litigation. With offices in Manchester, London and Birmingham, FS Legal boasts a nationally renowned team of litigators. Its long standing, loyal clients seek out the firm on word-of-mouth recommendation and reputation. The firm’s corporate, employment and commercial departments provide cross-practice support.

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Brabners LLP's wide-ranging workload covers director, shareholder and partnership disputes, as well as professional negligence, insolvency, warranty, commercial fraud and contentious probate matters. The team, which is noted for its experience in the recruitment sector, acts for high-net-worth individuals in addition to small, medium and large corporate clients. The ‘exceptional’ Stuart Irons heads the team.

DTM Legal LLP is highly rated for its ‘good response times’, ‘technical knowledge’ and ‘good availability’. The practice handles a range of disputes, often involving contractual, IP, construction and property issues. The team represented Johann Van Den Noort Beheer and Johann Van Den Noort in a case involving cross-border patents; alleged infringement relating to the design and manufacture of a flood barrier, breach of a licence agreement, misrepresentation and damages. It is also representing Rotex Europe in £38m claim brought by a Saudi Arabian company. Richard Thomas has an extensive track record in complex commercial disputes, with an emphasis on insolvency-related instructions. Duncan McAllister handles a range of commercial disputes and has experience in contentious probate, employment and education-related issues. Associate Guy Thomas is noted for construction work. The Liverpool-based Jim Morris leads the team.

Singled out for its ‘fantastic client-care’, Gorvins Solicitors handles high-value commercial disputes for companies, shareholders and partners; corporate and personal insolvency issues; professional negligence claims; and commercial property disputes. Avonside Group, Bibby Leasing, Thorne Credit Union, Crystal Finance (Europe), Oldham Credit Union and E-Foods are all clients. Key figures include Mark Deverell, who specialises in commercial and insolvency-related litigation; the ‘brilliant’ Guy Lightowler, who is noted for contentious property and corporate disputes; David Guest , who handles contentious corporate and personal insolvency;senior associate Danielle Clements, who leads on contentious probate instructions and property disputes; and consultant Jonathan Crook, who handles regulatory and financial disputes.

The ‘brilliant’ commercial litigation team at Jolliffe & Co LLP handles a full range of contentious commercial work including high-value contractual disputes, shareholder and partnership disputes, professional negligence, breach of warranty claims, and personal and corporate insolvency. It also acts in IT, construction, property and restrictive covenant disputes and contentious probate matters. Team head Andrew Bartley (‘an exceptional litigator whose technical expertise is second to none’) is regularly instructed on contractual disputes, shareholder disputes, warranty claims, injunction proceedings, insolvency and property litigation. Jo-Anna Martin  handles contractual claims, heavyweight partnership disputes and construction-related claims. Also recommended are consultant Simon Parrington, for regulatory work, and Peter Anderson. Fiona Blakeborough joined Hillyer McKeown in 2018.

The ‘dynamic, positive, forward-thinking, effective and tenacious’ team at Myerson Solicitors LLP gives ‘sound and sensible legal advice’ and is ‘very client-friendly’. It handles general commercial litigation including shareholder disputes and professional negligence, in addition to contentious trusts and probate, IP, banking and property litigation and commercial agency matters. The team is representing CGL Group in a £6m professional negligence claim against a solicitor relating to the mis-selling of interest rate swap agreements. Team head Adam Maher is an ‘excellent communicator and an outstanding team leader; he harnesses the best from his team’. Also recommended are the ‘very experienced’ Tim Norman, who is a ‘very clear thinker’ and advises on commercial and property cases; and the ‘proactive’ Jonathan Hassall, who specialises in IP, financial and regulatory disputes. Helen Thompson leads on contentious trusts and probate work and is ably supported by senior solicitor John Lambe, who joined from Hillyer McKeown in 2017.  Property litigator Seán Hackett joined the team in 2018 from Pannone Corporate LLP, as did Suzanne Carr.

Napthens LLP attracts praise for its ‘pragmatic and client-focused advice’, ‘consistent and rigorous approach’, and for the team's ‘steely determination to explore all the issues and get the very best outcome for the client’. Its litigation department regularly handles commercial, contract, property, contentious probate and regulatory disputes, and has expertise across the agricultural, ecclesiastical, leisure, energy and education sectors.  David Bailey ‘gets straight to the issues, is responsive, and is prepared to offer constructive advice whilst going through the pros and cons of the issues’. He heads the team alongside Robert Richards. Firm chairman John Whittingslow and Richards are ‘personable, approachable and good with clients’. Senior associate Andrew Holden is ‘practical and thorough’. Iain Wharton retired.

Forbes Solicitors is commended for its ‘deep knowledge’ and it represents plc, SME and local authority clients on corporate and contractual disputes, property, construction, debt recovery and contested probate disputes and professional negligence cases. Representing Blackburn Cathedral Development Trust on an engineering claim and representing a shareholder and former director of care homes in the North of England on a shareholder dispute. Blackburn Rovers FC, Burnley FC and Croud Inc are also clients. Tom Smith heads the department and is ably supported by Robin Stephens. Associates Claire Edbury and Ben Wilson, who joined from Myerson Solicitors LLP in 2017 and is a contentious probate specialist, are also recommended.

Boutique litigation firm FS Legal is ‘robust and uncompromising’ in its approach and houses ‘fearless and innovative litigators who really seem to go the extra mile for their clients’. It handles complex, high-value commercial litigation, is praised for its ‘extensive experience’ in professional negligence cases and is also active across complex contractual disputes, financial services, arbitration, adjudication and expert determination in commercial property development and planning cases, shareholder disputes, warranty claims, tax litigation and property litigation. The team is instructed by the claimants in a £6m claim against Champion Consulting and Champion Group of Companies relating to tax advice arising from tax mitigation schemes. Kit Sorrell is a ‘great tactician and inspires real confidence in his clients’ and heads the team with Julia Norris, who is ‘extremely hard working, very bright and unfazed’. Senior associate Mubarik Haider is ‘very responsive’.

KBL Solicitors LLP regularly handles complex and high value disputes on behalf of owner-managed businesses. It is particularly experienced in professional negligence cases and is also adept at advising on bank and financial investment mis-selling cases. It also handles shareholder and partnership disputes, construction and manufacturing cases, as well as insolvency and property litigation. Department head Michael Slater is a 'highly experienced individual who will go that extra mile for a client’ and is ‘very approachable and pro-active’. Consultant Nick Horsfall handles property-related cases and Gregory Gardner-Boyes, who is now a partner, is ‘hardworking’ and ‘experienced’. Associate Stephen McArdleis ‘exceptional’.

Boutique litigation outfit Manleys Solicitors is praised for its ‘excellent client commitment’; it ‘always responds quickly to any queries and is very supportive in terms of explaining legal jargon so it is easily understood’. The team advises on a range of complex litigation across the media, entertainment, politics, private healthcare and sports sectors, and also handles contentious trusts and estates work. The team represented ex Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook on a partnership claim brought by his former band mates, and on an IP claim brought by Vitalturn. The team also represented former professional footballer Jonathan Woodgate in his phone hacking claim against News Group Newspapers, and is representing Michael Owen in two phone hacking claims against News Group Newspapers and Mirror News Group. The Liverpool Fair, Contego Media and Lovania Nurseries are also clients. Team head Mark Manley ‘has strong commercial sense’ and is a ‘seasoned litigator who brings not only experience but acute judgement to each of his cases’. Leanne Wheeler is ‘tough and tenacious in fighting for clients’ and is noted for her healthcare sector expertise, and for professional negligence cases. Also recommended are recently promoted senior associate Katie Mickleburgh, who is ‘experienced’ and ‘very thorough’, and solicitor Adam Berman, who joined from Weightmans LLP in 2017.

Slater Heelis LLP is commended for its ‘excellent client care’ and for its ‘compassionate approach’. It represents owner-managed businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs across IP, contractual, construction, property, public law, insolvency and immigration disputes as well as professional negligence and contentious probate cases. Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery, Angela Mortimer plc, State Bank of India and CHS Learning are clients. Department head Helen Brown is ‘very experienced’ and managing partner Chris Bishop is also recommended. Associate Pritham Raj ‘has a real eye for a case’ and is ‘extremely knowledgeable’.

The ‘focused and client-orientated’ team at Butcher & Barlow LLP  handles contentious commercial, contractual and property cases as well as negligence, insolvency, construction, agriculture, trusts and estates disputes. The team represented James Sharp & Co in a £1m disputed in relation to the proposed takeover of Dee Valley Water Group by Severn Trent Water Ltd. The team is headed by Alex Sandland, who ‘thinks strategically and is robust in pursuing his client’s case’, and the ‘excellent’ Anthony Higham. Adam Shawcross  and Andy Mackenzie were promoted to the partnership in May 2018. Solicitor James Holton recently joined from Slater and Gordon.

Farleys Solicitors LLP’s ‘exceptional’ team handles breach of contract claims, IP disputes, commercial landlord and tenant matters, professional negligence cases and shareholder disputes. Department head Kieran O’Connor regularly handles complex contract disputes as well as matters involving disputed wills and inheritance. Associate partner Rachel Harrison ‘works tirelessly to achieve the best outcome in the best interests of her clients’ and is noted for professional negligence claims in addition to shareholder disputes, insolvency, banking and property litigation.

Hillyer McKeown LLP represents high-net-worth individuals, financial institutions and SMEs on a range of commercial and insolvency disputes. Highlights included representing GEP Training & Consultancy in a shareholder dispute. The Funding Corporation and The Bodyline Clinic are also clients. Fiona Blakeborough, who joined in 2018 from Jolliffe & Co LLP, heads the commercial litigation team and is based across the firm’s Chester and Liverpool offices. Paul Marsh leads on contentious insolvency and recovery work and is noted for his fraud and recovery expertise. Barrister Michelle Mayoh, who is experienced in shareholder disputes, is also a key member of the team. Former team head John Lambe joined Myerson Solicitors LLP in 2017.

The commercial litigation team at Linder Myers  is commended for its ‘consistency’ and ‘responsiveness’ and operates closely with its offices in Manchester, Lytham, Sale, Chester, Shrewsbury. Sale-based team head Peter Kaye  handles banking, corporate and private disputes, property litigation, professional negligence and general commercial and contractual litigation matters. Kaye also leads the firm’s Shrewsbury-based debt recovery team.

The ‘very professional and specialist firm’ Mason Hayes Solicitors has ‘forged a solid reputation’ and has ‘vast expertise in the TMT sector’. The team is active in commercial litigation and has expertise in insolvency disputes, construction litigation and debt collection. The ‘astute and professional’ Marcus Hayes has a ‘sharp commercial mind’.

SAS Daniels LLP regularly handles general commercial disputes, as well as property, fraud, negligence, construction and probate-related litigation. Paul Formby, who heads the insolvency and corporate recovery department, and senior associate Anna Barnes, who specialises in contractual, shareholder and partnership disputes, lead head the team. Roger Allsup  is noted for contentious construction instructions. Senior associates Hannah Leese, who is noted for her experience of the food sector, and Ray Woodward, who specialises in property litigation, professional negligence claims and freezing orders, are also key members of the team. Former team head Christopher MacCafferty recently retired.

Backhouse Jones is a ‘pre-eminent firm in the transport and logistics sector and has unrivalled sector knowledge’. It regularly handles competition, regulatory, Judicial Review, sale of goods, carriage of goods and breach of warranty claims for small businesses as well as multinationals in both the haulage and passenger carrying sectors. Commercial litigation and employment team head Steven Meyerhoff is an ‘excellent litigator and is also very user friendly, commercial and client focussed’.

Baines Wilson LLP regularly represents large national corporate clients, as well as local businesses and individuals on contractual disputes, partnership and shareholder disputes and professional negligence claims, as well as contentious media, IP, insurance, construction and engineering cases. Elizabeth Black leads the team and is ably supported by associate Caroline Rayner, who is noted for construction and building disputes. Katherine Sibley  joined Napthens LLP in March 2018.

JWK Solicitors handles a raft of commercial litigation instructions, with expertise that spans professional negligence, contentious probate and other heavy-weight commercial disputes. Team head +Martin Stafford joined in 2017 from Baines Wilson LLP and consultant Isobel Milburn specialises in professional negligence, insurance disputes and contentious construction cases.

The team at MLP Law LLP handles a range of matters including contractual disputes, professional negligence claims, shareholder claims and warranty claims for large corporates, owner-managed businesses, SMEs and high-net worth individuals. The construction, e-commerce, hospitality, logistics, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and retail sectors are key areas of focus. Team head Elizabeth Wilkinson, who joined in 2017 from Pannone Corporate LLP, is ‘brilliant’ and delivers ‘immediate responses’.

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