Commercial litigation: Liverpool in North West
Clients recommend Brabners LLP for its ‘quick responses, good understanding of organisational challenges and reasoned, practical advice’. Practice head Paul Lunt is an expert in contractual disputes and, along with Philip Steele, also handles a large number of shareholder disputes. Steele, who is hailed as ‘inspiring confidence’ is also routinely engaged for director disputes along with a range of commercial fraud matters. Aside from commercial litigation, the dispute resolution team is also busy handling probate disputes, finance litigation, debt recovery and sporting litigation. Well-regarded legal director Helen Otty joined from DWF.
‘Quick response, good understanding of our organisational challenges, reasoned and practical advice.’
‘Philip Steele inspires confidence, providing practical, measured advice.’
‘The team are commercially minded and provide astute advice which is to the point and punchy – they stand behind their opinions.’
‘Individuals we engage with, are down to earth offering clear and concise advice/opinion.’
‘They are a firm that actually care. Big enough to have the resources needed for any case, but it really seems like a small firm because you are in constant contact and care of the litigators. I would use Brabners again 1,000 times over.’
Bibby Factors Northwest Limited
Apeejay Tea (Panama) Inc (brands include Typhoo Tea)
Nichols PLC (brands include Vimto)
Arnold Clark Finance Limited
Rugby Football League
T J Morris Limited (Home & Bargain)
- Instructed by Barnsley FC following receipt of a claim from Portuguese football club FC Alcananense for payment of FIFA Training Compensation in respect of Barnsley FC player Elliott Simoes.
- Acted for a husband and wife following their sale of their company to TTT Moneycorp Limited. The team applied for an injunction to prevent the expert accountant procedure from continuing on the basis that the provision of information was a condition precedent to the instigation of the expert account procedure.
- Acting on behalf of a firm of solicitors who had its offer of professional indemnity insurance coverage for 2018/2019 withdrawn by its prospective insurer two working days before the policy was due to take effect.
DWF is home to a ‘superb’ team of ‘commercial, practical and savvy’ lawyers. Though active across a plethora of industries, the group is particularly knowledgeable of the food and drink, retail and education sectors. The ‘highly impressive’ Andrew Whalley heads the commercial litigation department which acts on contractual and commercial disputes in addition to shareholder and partnership-related litigation. Other key names include ‘excellent’ director Chris King and ‘efficient, calm and effective’ senior associate Lyndsay Crowder-Barton, both of whom are well-versed in cross-border disputes. Strengths of the wider dispute resolution team include professional negligence, judicial reviews, competition matters, contentious probate and judicial reviews.
‘This team is really good. Solid on the law, full of common sense, and really great to deal with. They seem to work together very well. I would not hesitate to recommend them.’
‘Lyndsay Crowder-Barton is excellent. Very user-friendly, efficient, calm but effective. Great to work with.’
‘The team are simply superb. Commercial, practical and savvy; they stand out from the crowd.’
‘Andrew Whalley is highly impressive – he is solutions-focused and obtains results where others would not. Chris King is also excellent – bright and even-tempered. ‘
‘Well resourced firm who react to my needs, and give commercially focused legal advice. Down-to-earth lawyers who I would be happy to have a drink with.’
‘Andy Whalley is particularly responsive and reliable, and gives clear, practical advice, never failing to see the bigger picture.’
Telefonica UK Limited (O2)
Burton’s Foods Limited
Stage Capital (formerly NBGI)
Crown Paints Limited
DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Limited
Liverpool John Moores University
Chess ICT Limited
Lloyds Banking Group
- Successfully acting for O2 in its claim for restitution of annual licence fees paid to Ofcom in respect of wireless telegraphy licences during the period October 2015 to November 2017.
- Acting on behalf of Burton’s Foods in relation to business interruption / loss of profit claim against Barratt Homes for flooding caused to client’s factory following development of adjacent land by Barratt.
- Acting on behalf of the beneficiary of a substantial estate in defence of a claim based on questions regarding the testator’s capacity to execute her will.
The team at Hill Dickinson LLP, which is ‘always available and ready to assist', is jointly led by the ‘commercial’ and ‘personable’ Fiona Parry and Manchester-based Christopher Tyrrell. The team is well-regarded for high-value shareholder and partnership disputes and breach of contract claims, often acting on matters spanning multiple jurisdictions. Paul Walsh is 'thorough at client-focused' while at the junior end, legal director Nina Ferris is well-versed in partnership disputes relating to retirement, expulsion and the enforcement of restrictive covenants. Beyond commercial litigation, the contentious offering also includes tax, defamation, professional negligence, product liability, probate and competition-related disputes.
‘Fiona Parry is personable, very pragmatic and user friendly. Her advice is well balanced and commercial. She is highly recommended for commercial litigation. Paul Walsh is thorough and client focused. His focus is financial sector litigation and he is recommended for disputes in that area.’
‘They are always available and ready to assist, no matter what the problem, even the minute details are covered by this practise, so that I have nothing to worry about.’
‘Full confidence in their ability to do the job first time, every time. Strengths: listening skills, professionalism, approachable, always available, confidence builders, friendly, you are the most important person, they do not need to be reminded of the issue(s) they are addressing for you, when you call.’
Direct Accident Management Limited
F S Commercial Limited
Agilent Technologies LDA UK Limited
Cheshire East Council
Quinn Infrastructure Services Limited (part of MJ Quinn Group)
Terra Solutions Limited
365 Health & Wellbeing Limited
- Obtaining and executing a search order on behalf of Direct Accident Management Limited (DAM) arising from mis-use of confidential information. Successfully applying for orders for delivery up and destruction and damages plus an award of costs.
- Acting for FS Commercial Limited in the First Tier Tax Tribunal in relation to appeals against determinations in respect of allegedly underpaid PAYE and NICs. The value of the claim is significant The trial will be listed for at least 10 days.
- Advising 365 Health & Wellbeing Limited in connection with the defence of a claim for damages/account of profits and injunction regarding alleged copyright infringement with trial on liability scheduled for July 2020 in IPEC.
Provenio Litigation, founded in 2019 by a breakaway team of former DLA Piper lawyers, has ‘done exceptionally well in attracting high-quality, high-value commercial litigation in a very short period of time’. The firm, which has a distinct focus on high-end business litigation, is led by Mark Goodwin - ‘a long recognised litigation force, not only in the North West but nationally’ - who was previously head of litigation and regulatory in DLA's Liverpool office. The fledgling firm's caseload includes high-value commercial contract disputes, M&A-related litigation as well as shareholder and partnership disputes. Catherine Radcliffe, who also joined from DLA, is recommended as 'a superb lawyer with an attention to detail'. The team also has expertise in IT and outsourcing matters.
‘This new conflict-free litigation boutique has done exceptionally well in attracting a book of high quality, high value commercial litigation in a very short period of time. A real market disrupter, it seems set for future success. The team offers ready access to skilled litigators. It is hands-on, responsive and flexible.’
‘Mark Goodwin has long been a recognised force not only in the north west but nationally as a leading litigator. A first-rate lawyer, he brings a commercial and pragmatic approach to cases and an easy-going client-oriented manner. Catherine Radcliffe bring a calm authority to her work that inspires confidence and is a joy to work with. They are ably supported by Emma Charnock, an impressive and assured litigator, and the equally impressive Hannah Catterall.’
‘Provenio Litigation are a unique firm – they just do litigation. They are true specialists with years of experience. Very often, big firms are referring work to them when they have a conflict because they do not see them as a threat.’
‘Mark Goodwin is a fantastic commercial litigator with 20 years experience at DLA doing the biggest cases – the best. Catherine Radcliffe is another partner with 10 years + experience at DLA – a technically superb lawyer with an attention to detail.’
Zeus Capital Limited
Zeus Renewables Limited
‘A force to be reckoned with in Liverpool’, Bermans is highly rated for contractual disputes, shareholder, partnership and franchisor issues along with licensed leisure-related litigation. Led by the ‘very driven and committed’ Nick Harvey, the team is particularly knowledgeable of the media, insurance, professional services, entertainment, consumer credit and publishing sectors and complements its commercial litigation offering by undertaking employment, property, construction, IP, tax and banking disputes.
‘Bermans have become a force to be reckoned with in Liverpool a North West.’
‘Nick Harvey is very driven and committed to making Bermans successful; a good laywer and full of ideas.’
‘Jonathan Berkson goes the extra mile for his clients.’
- Acting on behalf of 200+ high-net-worth claimant investors in a claim for breach of contract and duty against HSBC Bank for compensation of circa £55m.
- Acting on behalf of four high-net-worth Individuals in claims for damages for malicious prosecution and/or misfeasance in a public office each claim worth £3m-£12m in value.
- Acting on behalf of a liquidator in a claim for misfeasance against a former director for the sale of one of its principal assets [a company based in the USA] at an undervalue. A claim valued at circa £1.5m involving restraint of assets in the USA.
Following the departure of Mark Goodwin to establish Provenio Litigation, the ‘excellent’ Christina Sharma, a legal director, now heads up DLA Piper's Liverpool disputes offering, with Manchester-based Stewart Plant leading the overall North West practice. Sharma advises on the full life-cycle of commercial contractual relationships including management issues, change controls and variations; she is also relied upon for a range of shareholder and partnership disputes. The ‘determined’ team, which is ‘very good at anticipating client needs’, is particularly knowledgeable of the technology sector and acts on a range of disputes relating to corporate transactions.
Other key lawyers:
‘Christina Sharma was excellent as the lead lawyer on a complex case.’
‘Very client-focused, very good at anticipating client needs. Determined.’
‘Christina Sharma has excellent client handling skills and is always willing to be available.’
Information Commissioner Office
Liverpool Football Club
International Cotton Association
Rhea Group Services Limited
- Advised a high-net-worth individual and former owner of Europe’s largest private jet operator in his Defence of a Part 20 claim relating to the maintenance; replacement of engines and the management of a private jet.
- Concluded a historic case on behalf of Lonrho Limited with a confidential settlement in respect of a judgment debt that has been due and owing since 2017.
- Acting on a matter where Bellmare Holding Limited issued its claim in deceit against the director of a Guernsey based company for fraudulent misrepresentation in respect of a Loan Agreement which was governed by English law. The team successfully acted for the Swiss domiciled director in his jurisdictional challenge, which resulted in the English Court declining jurisdiction following his Appeal.
At Weightmans LLP, Andrew Cox heads the national commercial litigation department with Sarah Conroy fronting the Liverpool practice. Disputes relating to commercial contracts are a key area of focus for the team, with advice given on all issues related to their interpretation and termination. Corporate, shareholder, franchise and partnership disputes are also handled by the group which has specialist knowledge of the education and manufacturing sectors, the latter of which is a specialist industry for the highly regarded Andrew Roberts.
Other key lawyers:
‘They have a practical, realistic approach to litigation and client needs in and outside of the litigation.’
‘Sarah Conroy brings good attention to detail and holistic, practical and advanced thinking in how to respond to each stage.’
Peel Ports Limited
Equality & Human Rights Commission
University of Wolverhampton
The Cabinet Office
Thomas Hardie Commercials
BMP Europe Limited
Kirkby (Tyres) Limited
International Medical Press Limited
School Letting Solutions Limited
All About Food Limited
Best Storage Limited
Northside Truck & Van Limited
S. Norton & Co Limited
Bruce Ashley Group Inc
- Advised EHRC and Claimants on various breaches of the Equality Act 2010 by a Housing Management company. The Court found in favour of the Claimants in a decision that champions the rights of disabled persons with long leasehold interests in a property where there is an absolute restriction in the lease on adaptations.
- Advised the University of Wolverhampton on a claim for judicial review brought by a student expelled for failure to declare spent criminal convictions. Although the decision was quashed, the sole basis the student succeeded was because the decision of the FTP panel was found to be flawed in certain respects including its approach to mitigation and sanction and much of the student’s claim was dismissed.
Jim Morris is the key name to note at DTM Legal LLP, where he serves as department head for litigation. He is notably experienced in terms of contractual disputes, recently acting on the wrongful termination of a logistics contract and defending consultancy contract claims in the energy sector. Boardroom and shareholder actions, on behalf of majority and minority interests are a further strength, as are the full range of shareholder disagreements. In addition to commercial litigation, the firm also handles IP, finance, construction and procurement disputes. Richard Harris
‘This practice is unique in the way in which the lawyers operate – they are partner-led, and whatever level of fee earner looks after your matter, the partners are always engaged and accessible. This creates flexibility and speed without losing the key ingredient of experience.’
‘Engaging DTM is the next best thing to having an ‘in-house’ legal team.’
‘Jim Morris is an excellent presence at partner level. He fights hard for his clients and has a very good tactical and strategic sense. A good lawyer and a pleasure to work with.’
‘Richard Harris is a really good associate, with great eye for detail and a determination to get things right.’
‘Jim Morris and Richard Harris are both very committed to their clients and highly competent.’
‘Jim Morris is an excellent litigator – tough, pragmatic, imaginative with good commercial judgement.’
‘Guy Thomas and Jim Morris are the specific standout individuals. Guy is exceptionally responsive, very reliable and thorough. He is highly professional and very focused. Having worked with Guy for a number of years we are impressed with his top quality advice and industry knowledge. Guy gets to grips with our parameters and the issues at hand very quickly, without over-complicating matters, offering expert, accurate, pragmatic advice in a straightforward manner. Very much could also be said of Jim Morris who has assisted us in some complex cases.’
‘Richard Harris is excellent – he has a very good commercial sense.’
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
CRS Plant Ltd
J R Pickstock Ltd
J Ross Developments Limited
Elements (Europe) Limited
Clancy Consulting Limited
Pen-Y-Bryn EMI Ltd
Global Baggage Solutions
Carpenter Build Ltd
MCK Aesthetics t/a The Consultant Clinic
CCI Credit Management Ltd
Signature Living Group
Ellison Europe Limited
GW Lawyer Limited
Willan Group Ltd
MSoft eSolutions Ltd
Vectorex Construction Limited
- Acting for Rotex Europe Limited in a complex case seeking a sum in excess of £38m which was listed for a 10-day trial in the Technology and Construction Court in London involving 10 factual witnesses, two engineering expert witnesses and two accountancy expert witnesses.
- Obtaining Summary Judgment on behalf of Funding Circle Limited on all aspects of a Defence including arguments of assignment, the taking of legal advice, undue influence, duress, and reckless lending leaving only the validity of the signature to be decided.
- Acting on proceedings which were commenced in the Business & Property Court in London to overturn an alleged sham lease and to obtain vacant possession of the property to maximise realisation and return to creditors. The matter settled before judgment was reached.
Hillyer McKeown’s ‘commercial litigation department attracts heavyweight work and boasts impressive individuals’, including Fiona Blakeborough , who heads the department alongside Paul Marsh. Contentious contracts matters, company-related litigation and partnership disputes are among the key strengths with the practice, which represents large corporates, SMEs and OMBs. The commercial litigation offering is also supplemented by expertise in property litigation, professional negligence and contentious probate.
‘Fiona Blakeborough’s experience at both national and regional firms shines through in the work she does for her clients. She and her team offer first-rate, responsive and pragmatic advice on the trickiest of commercial disputes.’
‘Hillyer McKeown’s commercial litigation department attracts some heavyweight work and boasts some impressive individuals. They have expertise in a diverse range of specialisms.’
‘Fiona Blakeborough has a lovely manner with clients and can always be relied upon to see the wood for the trees.’
‘From our experience, we feel that Hillyer McKeown compared with other solicitors in our case acted efficiently in a professional and helpful manner. They kept us abreast from the beginning to the end of the case. We would have no hesitation in recommending this firm.’
‘Our solicitor Fiona Blakeborough was extremely supportive, in what was a very difficult case for us emotionally. She was very knowledgeable and did not hesitate to help with any queries we had along the way. She showed compassion and completely professionalism throughout. They were determined and did get the best result for us. We can’t thank them enough.’
‘Very responsive to the need. Allocated a mix of junior and more senior lawyers to support us. Not really had any comparison with other forms in my current role but this felt very personal to us rather than a corporate feel response I have seen in previous roles.’
‘They were happy to listen and advise. They admit when they need to take more advice. Happy to talk through our thoughts and take on board our views, not just a tell. Very balanced in their responses and don’t make you feel stupid if you ask or suggest something that they don’t agree with or can’t work from a legal perspective.’
They are pragmatic and approachable – you get the sense that they are trying to help reach the best outcome rather than maximise fees.’
‘Fiona Blakeborough works well under pressure and is always pragmatic.’
Halo Foods Limited
Tranmere Rovers Football Club
- Acting for Halo Foods Limited in committal proceedings brought by Perkier Foods Limited arising from alleged breach of mandatory commercial injunction.