Firms To Watch: Commercial litigation: Liverpool

In March 2022, highly regarded litigator David Mann left Aaron & Partners LLP to launch dispute resolution boutique Mann Roberts; the newly formed firm will largely focus on representing clients from specific sectors, including construction, agriculture and energy.

Commercial litigation: Liverpool in North West

Brabners LLP

The team at Brabners LLP is widely recognised for its successes in High Court defamation cases, particularly those with a nexus to the sporting world; the group’s ongoing representation of Coleen Rooney is just one recent example of such a mandate. Partnership, director and shareholder disputes, as well as insolvency claims, are also regular areas of work. ‘Fine negotiatorPaul Lunt heads up the practice, which also fields recommended legal director Helen Otty. During the spring and autumn of 2021, the group welcomed Graeme McParland and associate Matthew Moy, both from HM3 Legal.

Practice head(s):

Paul Lunt

Other key lawyers:

Helen Otty; Jennifer Lockhart; Graeme McParland; Matthew Moy


‘Sensible approach seeking to look at matters in perspective and seeking to arrive at a solution without getting to the courts.’

‘Our matter required input from several departments and the different teams work well together and minimised duplication of time and costs.’

‘Good knowledge in specialist areas and the ability to pull together a case based upon the multiple issues involved.’

‘Our dealings with the commercial litigation team have been led by Helen Otty who has been excellent.’

‘Very practical and robust and conscious that the costs being incurred must be proportionate to the claim. Good strategic advice. Helen Otty works well with her specialist colleagues and traps concepts quickly and accurately.’

‘The Brabners commercial litigation practice in Liverpool provides a high-quality service with particular strength in supporting the less advantaged party (e.g. a minority shareholder or a financially weaker party) in their disputes against the supposedly stronger party. They are willing to be flexible about their fee structure and are alive to the stresses and the human side of heavy and contentious litigation.’

‘Helen Otty is an experienced and capable litigator, with particular experience and expertise in shareholder disputes. She is easy to work with, very good with, and empathetic to, clients, and is tactically astute.’

‘Paul Lunt has a well deserved expertise in minority shareholder litigation, in which he he has a keen academic as well as practical interest. He is a seasoned litigator, who clients find to be a reassuring presence, and a fine negotiator. He is also enjoyable to work with.’

Key clients

Lynn Cannell and LCA Jobs Limited

Coleen Rooney

Wayne Rooney

Peel Ports Group

Ben and Deborah Stokes

TJ Morris Limited (t/a Home Bargain)

Dr Riccardo Frati

Pharmaceuticals Direct Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing Coleen Rooney, television personality and wife of former England international footballer Wayne Rooney, in libel proceedings which have been issued against her by Rebekah Vardy, wife of former England international footballer Jamie Vardy.
  • Representing Ben Stokes, England international cricketer, and his mother, Deborah Stokes, in their invasion of privacy claim against News Group Newspapers.
  • Representing Pharmaceuticals Direct in judicial review proceedings relating to the award of a £102.6m contract to the client for the supply of personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.


The ‘top quality litigators‘ at DWF provide a ‘faultless service‘ to an enviable client roster in which nationally recognised brands sit beside major North West businesses and high-net-worth individuals based in the region. ‘Excellent leader’ Andrew Whalley heads up the commercial disputes offering, while Matthew Stoll oversees the insured litigation practice group. Chris King regularly ‘brings both common-sense and savviness to crack tough cases‘, particularly those with a nexus to contractual issues. Legal director Lyndsay Crowder-Barton completes the roster of key practitioners, and is singled out as ‘a very useful asset to any team‘.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Whalley; Matthew Stoll

Other key lawyers:

Chris King; Lyndsay Crowder-Barton; Paul Maddock


‘The team has a broad depth of resources and experience, as you would expect from a leading, national litigation firm. The team has a good balance of junior and senior solicitors, with some exceptional individuals in particular areas.’

‘Top quality litigators for far better value for money than the usual London-based suspects. They gave the client a faultless service: spot-on advice on strategic settlement offers, the right choice of specialist counsel, and getting the job done efficiently without wasting fee-earners’ time on unnecessary tasks. First class.’

‘Andrew Whalley stands out for his strategic guidance and commercial nous. So, too, does Lindsay Crowder-Barton for her attention to detail and ability to drive the engine of a legal team.’

‘Great strength in depth and superb client care.’

‘Good strength in depth – senior associates and associates punch above their weight, taking greater responsibility than one sees in equivalent teams. The team functions very well together on large matters, with everybody from junior associates to partner performing smoothly together.’

‘Andrew Whalley is an excellent leader who combines first-rate client management skills with attention to detail. Absolutely on top of the detail of the case, and manages a large team very effectively. Lyndsay Crowder-Barton is a very useful asset to any team. Impressive legal analysis coupled with good organisation, and an unfailingly positive attitude.’

‘This is a lean, commercial, solutions-driven team.’

‘Andrew Whalley is an excellent head of the team. He is a superb litigator with a wealth of experience yet an easy manner. Chris King brings both common-sense and savviness to crack tough cases.’

Key clients

Virgin Media O2 (formerly Telefonica UK Limited t/a O2)

Burton’s Foods Limited

Stage Capital (formerly NBGI)

Crown Paints Limited

giffgaff Limited

DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Limited

Liverpool John Moores University

Chess ICT Limited

Lloyds Banking Group

ACC Liverpool Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented O2 in two Court of Appeal cases flowing from the claim for restitution of annual licence fees.
  • Acting on behalf of a manufacturing client regarding a significant data breach caused by the systematic downloading of personal data, confidential information and business critical IP by an ex-employee.
  • Representing a national bank regarding the use of an insolvent company’s bank account to launder several million pounds.

Hill Dickinson LLP

Under the leadership of the ‘firm and confidentFiona Parry, the team at Hill Dickinson LLP takes on the full gamut of high-value, complex commercial disputes for a varied roster of clients. Alongside shareholder, partnership, and post-M&A disputes, the group also regularly acts in environmental and breach of confidence claims, fraud cases, and freezing injunctions. Multi-jurisdictional work is frequently carried out by the firm. Nina Ferris, who counts third party funding as one of her niche areas of expertise, ‘can be relied on to undertake the largest cases‘. Paul Walsh is also recommended, as is recently arrived senior associate and former barrister Karen Hope, who joined from HM3 Legal in January 2022.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Parry; Christopher Tyrrell

Other key lawyers:

Paul Walsh; Nina Ferris; Kate Steele; Jon Scally; Karen Hope


‘Fiona Parry is very commercially astute and focused. She is understated in her style, but in my experience very effective.’

‘Very solid and professional full-service offering.’

‘Fiona Parry leads a strong team of associates – she is firm and confident in the positions she takes and is almost always proved right.’

‘Nina Ferris is a first class litigator who sees the bigger commercial picture and can be relied on to undertake the largest cases.’

‘Excellent team from the very beginning. Very welcoming and also accessible. They have an excellent knowledge of handling matters and how to approach various subjects. The team are very helpful in explaining terms which those of us who are not legally minded do not know. The team always explain anything that they do before it it is done.’

‘I have dealt with Nina Ferris from day one and have found her most knowledgeable and helpful. She has demonstrated this for the past six years that I have known her and continues to do so to date.’

‘Good collaboration between partners and associates; quick and responsive; on top of the detail.’

Key clients

Condair Limited

Paul Bell

Tamsin Landelle and Colin MacDougall

Karl Wignall

Extrude Hone GmBH

Terra Solutions Limited

365 Health and Wellbeing Limited and Mr John Smith

Agilent Technologies LDA UK Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting for the claimant, Condair, in successfully applying to court for a freezing injunction against a former employee who defrauded the company.
  • Acted for Paul Bell, the second defendant in a claim issued by Ivy Technologies, and successfully applied to discharge an ex-parte freezing injunction which was obtained against the defendants.
  • Representing Terra Solutions and MDA in a dispute with a third joint venture German shareholder, Ludwig Pfeiffer.

Provenio Litigation

Provenio Litigation stands out for its ‘combination of big-firm litigators in a nimble and entrepreneurial outfit‘. The team is singled out by one client for its ‘unrivaled experience of handling “big ticket” commercial litigation‘. A particular highlight continues to be the group’s involvement with claims against Mercedes Benz, Daimler and related companies, concerning damages arising from the defect devices fitted to Mercedes diesel vehicles during the period 2009 to 2018. Mark Goodwin heads up the practice, with ‘impressive junior partnerHannah Catterall supporting, and recently promoted legal director Emma Charnock bringing additional ‘intelligence and energy‘ to the group.

Practice head(s):

Mark Goodwin

Other key lawyers:

Emma Charnock; Hannah Catterall


‘Mark Goodwin is excellent as head of the firm. Hannah Catterall is a first rate commercial litigation partner.’

‘Unrivalled experience of handling “big ticket” commercial litigation of the highest value and greatest complexity. A stand-out player outside of London and able to go “toe to toe” with the larger litigation boutiques as well as the big firm litigation departments.’

‘Mark Goodwin is an outstanding litigator who is rightly regarded as one of the most talented and experienced litigators anywhere in the country. He has great instincts, an agile legal brain coupled with commercial acumen. He is also fantastic with clients. Hannah Catterall is an impressive junior partner with a fine eye for detail and a calm and measured approach. Emma Charnock is a name to watch going forward. She brings intelligence and energy to the team.’

‘The firm is an unusual combination of big-firm litigators in a nimble and entrepreneurial outfit.’

‘Mark Goodwin is very experienced and utterly unflappable under pressure.’

Work highlights

  • Defending an investor in a £200m commercial court claim in relation to the sale of a portfolio of hotels in central London.
  • Acting for the Provenio Mercedes Emissions Group of claimants in claims against Mercedes Benz, Daimler and related companies, concerning damages arising from the defect devices fitted to Mercedes diesel vehicles during the period 2009 to 2018.
  • Acting for the founders and significant shareholders of a global healthcare business in a dispute with a private equity investor.


Bermans continues to strengthen its niche reputation in invoice, asset finance and banking disputes, while also building on its burgeoning regional and national standing in the representation of SMEs and private clients across the gamut of litigious issues. The Escalate packaged offering, which forms part of the firm’s suite of funding solutions, has been instrumental in securing a UK-wide network of referrers. Nick Harvey, whose regular workload centres around professional negligence claims and high-value contractual disputes, leads the team. Jonathan Berkson and Andrew Koffman are also key names to note.

Practice head(s):

Nick Harvey

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Berkson; Andrew Koffman; Michael Smeaton; Phil Farrelly


‘Bermans are in many ways uniquely client-driven via their sister firm Escalate which offers an award-winning litigation funding product. Separately from that, they have a strong team of commercial litigators and are the preeminent firm in Liverpool for commercial litigation. They have good litigation instincts as to when to fight and when to settle, they have good client care and they are good value for money compared to some other firms in the same region.’

‘I deal with Nick Harvey and Michael Smeaton. Both are experienced and first rate litigators. As testament to that, if and when I am asked to recommend a firm in the Liverpool region for commercial litigation, invariably it will be Bermans that I recommend. They are commercially aware, hard but fair in their conduct litigation and know when to fight and when to settle and how to go about getting the best terms of settlement.’

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of more than 200 high-net-worth claimant investors in a claim for breach of contract and duty against HSBC Bank.
  • Acting on behalf of four high-net-worth individuals in claims for damages for malicious prosecution and/or misfeasance in a public offic, with each claim worth between £3m and £12m.
  • Acting on behalf of a liquidator in a claim for misfeasance against a former director for the sale of one of its principal assets at an undervalue.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper UK LLP‘s North West offering functions as a seamless collaboration between the firm’s Manchester and Liverpool offices. ‘Formidable litigator’ and location head Andrew Smith splits his time between the two locations, while ‘tough commercial lawyer and brilliant client handlerChristina Sharma takes charge at the latter. The team is known for conducting complex, multi-jurisdictional and high-value work, mainly out of the High Court or in the international arbitration arena. Sharma also brings her expertise as the media, sports and entertainment group lead to the practice.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Smith; Christina Sharma

Other key lawyers:

Danielle Carter


‘Hugely experienced commercial lawyers, strength in depth, very approachable and easy to work with, tough.’

‘Christina Sharma is a tough commercial lawyer and brilliant client handler, and just a delight to work with.’

‘The team had excellent leadership and and a mix of seniority to progress and conclude the our case within a pre-defined cost envelope. Each member of the DLA Piper team was empowered to deliver the agreed tasks and activities. When working on the case, the client and DLA Piper team worked as one to pursue the objective. We needed a firm that could provide an assertive stance, expert advice and proactive management. DLA Piper delivered in all respects.’

‘All members of the team were committed to our case and showed the same commitment as the client team. Conversations and written communications were timely, constructive and always crafted with the end in mind.’

‘The team was led by Christiana Sharma. Christina recognised that we as a client team were not legal experts and managed us ensuring the case remained on track. Christina has deep expertise in her field, is able to create and execute a case strategy and has sound commercial judgement.’

‘My experience of working with DLA Piper Liverpool has left me impressed by the team’s legal analysis, responsiveness, and grasp of detail.’

‘When I compare this team to the London commercial city firms I am instructed by, I am struck by how much better value the DLA Piper Liverpool office provides.’

‘Andrew Smith is a formidable litigator. Andrew has exceptional judgement and inspires great confidence as a result. He remains on top of detail, with an impressive grasp of shareholder issues in particular, but never loses sight of the strategic objectives in the litigation. Andrew is also an easy communicator, meaning that the client is always up to speed and understands their options.’

Key clients

Flywheel IT Services Limited

OBN Private Jet Limited

Portaltech Reply Limited & The Reply Group

The Liverpool Football & Athletic Grounds Limited (LFC)

His Excellency Naser Butti Yousef Almheiri (UAE high networth)

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL)

ScottishPower Energy Retail Limited

Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited (USS)

International Cotton Association

Work highlights

  • Representing Flywheel in relation to separate but related High Court proceedings arising from the acquisition of an IT company, facing a claim for £3.5m and bringing a claim for misrepresentation/breach of warranty for approximately £12m.
  • Representing OBN Private Jet and Mr Naser Butti Yousef Almheiri in High Court proceedings valued at approximately $30m, in relation to the purchase and financing of a private jet.
  • Acting for Portaltech Reply in a technology dispute against Iceland Foods, which concerns Iceland’s website, in which Portaltech was claiming sums from Iceland.

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP‘s well-established offering services a broad and diversified client base, which spans large corporates, owner-managed businesses, local authorities, and private individuals. The manufacturing and education sectors are ones in which the team is seeing an increasing level of instruction. Co-heads Sarah Conroy and Andrew Roberts are both noted for their expertise in commercial contract disputes; under their guidance, the team is renowned for being ‘able to handle the most complex and challenging litigation‘. Principal associate Michelle Connor completes the roster of recommended practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Conroy

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Roberts; Michelle Connor


‘Sarah Conroy: strategic and practical.’

‘Weightmans are easy to approach, friendly and extremely professional.’

‘Sarah Conroy is outstanding. She is thoughtful, proactive, excellent at drafting, and is a pleasure to work with. Most importantly, she has excellent judgement and is able to focus on what really matters in a case. Sarah is one of the most impressive lawyers I have ever worked with.’

‘Weightmans practice provides a tailor made approach, they listen to the customer needs and allocate the appropriate level of resources for an effective and efficient service. They are open, clear and transparent, collaborative and work co-operatively with other practices (including in foreign jurisdictions) to ensure the best outcome for the client.’

‘The lead contact for our case is Andrew Roberts, he is approachable, clear and he puts the interest of the client first. His advice is always balanced, simple to understand and hugely helpful. The thorough analysis of the specifics of the case results in a detailed yet straight forward recommendation and option for the customer.’

‘Sarah Conroy has been particularly helpful in supporting our business in complex litigation, she has always been available and has arranged for further support and guidance whenever required.’

‘Top litigation team. Able to handle the most complex and challenging litigation.’

‘Sarah Conroy is a highly experienced and talented litigator, able to fight cases effectively and efficiently.’

Key clients

Northside Truck & Van Limited

Ventcroft Limited

Gentoo Group Limited

Empower Housing Association Limited

Liverpool City Council

Sovini Property Services Limited

Merseyside Scaffolding Limited

University of Liverpool

Landmarc Support Services Limited

Bertazzoni S.p.A

EOC UK Limited

Anglesey County Council

Kirkby (Tyres) Limited

Staffordshire County Council

Work highlights

  • Acted for Northside Truck and Van throughout their successful defence of High Court proceedings brought against them by Green GRP Logistics.


Construction specialist Jim Morris helms the practice at DTM Legal LLP; the firm is consequently extremely well regarded for its disputes expertise in this industry. The team is also very proficient in handling general commercial and insolvency litigation. ‘Talented lawyersRichard Harris and Kate Roberts expertly handle the full gamut of shareholder disagreements, defamation cases, and restrictive covenant matters.

Practice head(s):

Jim Morris

Other key lawyers:

Kate Roberts; Richard Harris


‘The team’s strength is the provision of a high-quality legal service tailored to the client’s needs and combined with full client engagement. This also goes for the firm as a whole.’

‘Richard Harris is a fighter who gets stuck in whilst at the same time never losing sight of the client’s objectives and the routes to get to the same.’

‘Richard Harris has a hands-on and down to earth approach, which helps him establish an easy rapport with clients, identify the key issues in the case, and work towards pragmatic and commercial solutions.’

‘What makes this practice unique is access to top level legal advice mixed with commercial savvy. The lawyers in this team work very much in partnership with their clients and counsel. You could ask any question about the terms and conditions of a contract or a client’s mechanism for dealing with something and you will get an immediate answer because they have taken the trouble to properly understand all elements of the client’s business.’

‘Kate Roberts and Richard Harris are both talented lawyers. Their attention to detail and ability to engage with complicated legal principles is extremely impressive.’

Key clients

The Atmore Group

Funding Circle Limited

Rotex Europe Limited (part of Hillenbrand Group listed on NYSE)

Foundation For Art and Creative Technology t/a FACT

Elements (Europe) Limited

Begbies Traynor

Edge Recovery

Clancy Consulting Limited

Zodeq Limited

Pen-Y-Bryn EMI Ltd

Global Baggage Solutions

Carpenter Build Ltd

Swishfund Limited

Sterling Services

MCK Aesthetics t/a The Consultant Clinic

Grant Thornton

CCI Credit Management Ltd

Ellison Europe Limited

Pilkingtons Solicitors

GW Lawyer Limited

Willan Group Ltd

MSoft eSolutions Ltd

Vectorex Construction Limited

Luxlite Ltd

Legat Owen

I Data Com Limited

Esterform Packaging Limited

Blackrock Medical Recruitment Limited

Thomas Storey Fabrications Limited

Simon Phipps

Net World Sports Limited

Marine Specialised Technology Limited

Nightfly Limited

Azzurro Associates Limited

Formwork Direct International Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting in High Court proceedings involving a complex shareholder dispute.
  • Successfully obtained a worldwide freezing injunction against an individual who was trying to divert funds out of the country, on behalf of Swishfund.
  • Successfully settled proceedings in an administration that had been ongoing for a number of years, ultimately resulting in a significant payment to the administrators.

Excello Law

At Excello Law, joint practice heads Dominic McGinn and Sarah Nolanwork brilliantly together‘ to successfully litigate corporate and shareholder disputes, insolvency claims, and football-related cases; this last category is a particular niche specialism for the firm, and results in a large volume of leading sports agencies and clubs featuring in the client roster. The group is typically instructed in complex and high value litigation matters, and consequently regularly appears in the Business and Property Courts.

Practice head(s):

Dominic McGinn; Sarah Nolan


‘The team operate on a very individualistic basis and give the strong impression that their practices are very bespoke and that they have experts who can deal with any situation or area. It is an extremely personable approach and the client feels that the team is focused on his/her issue alone.’

‘A real can-do attitude and personal approach from the people who work within the company. There seems to be an emotional buy-in from all involved at Excello Law. At a stressful time during litigation they have been very understanding.’

‘Sarah Nolan and Dominic McGinn have become like family to me and have really pushed back hard against aggressive opponents. I have always felt like they genuinely cared about the outcome of my case right from the start.’

‘I can recommend Sarah Nolan as exceptional. Sarah is the perfect mix of personable, legally astute, and carries significant practical experience. Her clients listen to her, and her advice is given with authority and empathy. She stands out above others by how practical and strategic her early advice often is.’

‘Dominic McGinn and Sarah Nolan work brilliantly together for combined client service. Very diligent and hard working. No stone left unturned.’

‘I have worked with Sarah Nolan for many years and it has been an absolute privilege. Sarah is a true professional, but above all she is trustworthy, hard working, warm and friendly and I know our clients are in excellent hands with her.’

‘The flexibility and capacity of understanding complex situations generated in other legal systems and look for solutions in the UK is, in our opinion, the key capability of Excello.’

‘The ability of Dominic McGinn to understand the complex situation generated in football issues, in which the stakeholders interested are so different, and the real effort to understand the role of the agents is particularly remarkable. To co-operate with a colleague like Dominic is a pleasure, which allows us to offer to the client a very high level of legal services, and, at the same time, adapt to the financial needs of the client.’

Key clients

World Sports Advisers S.L

YPG Development Group

Begbies Traynor Group Plc


Parkin S Booth Ltd

El Gouna Football Club

Eleven Football Management

Antenor Limited

Leonard Curtis Recovery Ltd

Apollo Care (Franchising) Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for six minority shareholders in unfair prejudice proceedings brought against private equity investors/shareholders in a multi-million-pound technology company.
  • Defending a distributor against a £2m claim made by a manufacturer, and a cross claim for damages for £4m.
  • Represented a financial institution in a claim against a wealth management company for damages following alleged breach of an asset sale agreement.