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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South East > Corporate and commercial > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


B P Collins LLP fields a team that 'understands clients' needs and compares well with City firms both on price and service'. The group has an extensive track record in the waste management, recycling, renewable energy, technology, food, logistics and pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, and has longstanding relationships with national and international clients such as Biffa Group. In an illustration of the depth of the firm's waste industry knowledge, practice head Alex Zachary    ('Very thorough and will stick to his guns where required') and solicitors Lucy Newman   and Dana Eyre  acted for Biffa Wast Services on its £4.9m acquisition of Amber Engineering, a waste management business in South Wales. In another key transactional highlight, David Smellie  acted for the shareholders of Martello Holdings on the sale of the company's issued share capital to Franki Foundations UK. Other key figures include technology sector specialist Simon Deans , whose clients include CliniMed and Rico Logistics; and Victoria Holland , whose expertise encompasses retail and leisure and professional services.

Dentons¬†in Milton Keynes stands out for its ability to leverage the firm's substantial global reach, making it a go-to for cross-border transactions. In 2017, the office played a role in transactions spanning Europe, Turkey, the United States, Russia, Australia and Turkey; recent cross-border highlights include advising a longstanding FTSE 100 client on its ‚ā¨8.5m acquisition of a company with operations in France, Spain and china. Christopher Colclough¬†¬†led on that deal and has been instrumental in the development of the practice's international capability; he also led the team (which included senior associates Francesca Betterman¬†¬†and Matthew Wimot) advising Solera Holdings on its acquisition of an international software business with operations in Australia and South Africa. The firm also has an excellent reputation for mandates in the automotive sector, with Betterman leading the automotive team in Milton Keynes. In an illustration of its track record in motor retail, Wilmot and Betterman acted for Marshall Motor Holdings, the seventh-largest motor retail group in the UK, on the sale of its leasing division. Practice head and Milton Keynes managing partner Andrew Harris¬†¬†has also been active in automotive sector deals; he led a team acting for Group 1 Automotive UK on its acquisition of Beadles Group. Also recommended are Peter Cox, who acted for Business Growth Fund on its ¬£7m investment in Netcall, and Faye Garvey¬†, who acted for Informa on its acquisition of Futurum Media.

Clients of EMW Law LLP  are quick to praise the firm's 'excellent service - it is partner-led, deal-focused, very commercial in its approach, and takes ownership of the matter rather than leaving it all to the client.' with a presence in Milton Keynes spanning 20 years, the firm is a prominent regional player for corporate transactions, particularly in the lower mid-market space.  Ian Mabbutt  heads the corporate team, which includes Simon Arkell; together they are 'a fantastic pair', with Arkell cited as 'a guy you want in your corner thanks to his effectiveness at winning people over'. Arkell led the team advising BGF Investments on its £2.65m investment in an SPV created for the purposes of acquiring Monodraught from Danish parent company VKR Holding. At associate level, Kirsty Simmonds  ('Very hardworking, driven and easy to deal with - she gets it done right and on time') has established herself as a go-to for start-up businesses; she acted alongside Nick Lloyd and Ross Hayward for Riverside Capital Group on its £8m sale of Cresta Court Hotel to its management team. Lloyd is particularly noted for his expertise in limited fund partnership structures, as illustrated by his work for Barwood Capital Limited on the initial close of its 2017 regional property fund. Recruitment sector specialist Gurpreet Sanghara is also recommended on the transactional front, as are Paul Bevington and Ian Morris, who acted for the shareholders of Associated Continuity Team on its MBO. On the commercial front, James Geary and Matthew Holman  handle a range of commercial agreements; Geary and Holman act for a leading independent school provider on a variety of commercial matters, and are assisting National Accident Helpline with the renegotiation of business-critical contracts and supply agreements.

Freeths LLP has particular strength in the drinks and hospitality and leisure sectors, where it acts for major brewers and pub operators, including Charles Wells, as well as restaurant chain owners. Practice head Jonathan Hambleton and senior associate Natalie Drought advised Charles Wells, which owns a portfolio of more than 250 pubs as well as several well-known beer brands, on its £55m disposal to Marston's, which included the sale of the client's business in Italy. Hambleton also acted alongside Michaela Selvester in Birmingham for Hatch Mansfield UK on a joint venture with Champagne Tattinger to create an English sparkling wine. Outside of the drinks and hospitality sectors, the team acted for Frosts Garden Centres on the sale of a landscape and ground maintenance business; and assisted JF Eilbeck (Chemist) on the sale of its pharmacy business to Norchem Healthcare for £7.1m. The team was joined in 2017 by Gary Smith from Dentons; he acted for Blackstar Amplification on a complicated MBO which involved buying out funds controlled by Foresight Group as well as two of the original founders, and the acquisition of two well-known producers of electric and acoustic guitars. Other key figures include Andrew Sharple, who is 'an outstandingly good lawyer who gets the client to the desired solution on a cost-effective basis'.

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) is well positioned to capture the lion's share of work for SME and owner-managed businesses located in West London and the wider Thames Valley region, and is continuing to attract mandates from larger corporates and multinationals such as Hertz and Cegedim. In an illustration of its growing track record in cross-border deals, Adam Dowdney and Harriett Jones advised Italian drinks dispenser company, Celli, on its acquisition of Brewday. In a highlight demonstrating the firm's entrenched relationships with owner-managed businesses, Dowdney and Jones assisted the shareholders of Resourcing Solutions with the £15m sale of a 70% shareholding to Match Group, and the grant of put and call options over the remaining 30%. The practice also works in close collaboration with with the firm's real estate and construction groups to handle a range of work emanating from the hotel and housing sectors. Other clients include Renault Retail Group.

Shoosmiths LLP's Milton Keynes office works closely with offices across the South East and Nationwide, making the firm a compelling offering in the Thames Valley for corporate, private equity, venture capital and M&A transactions. On the commercial front, the automotive sector is a particular area of strength; headed by Robin Webb , who also leads the commercial team in Milton Keynes, the national sector group regularly handles cutting-edge, complex and cross-border commercial contract and technology projects. Recent highlights include advising Volkswagen Group United Kingdom on the procurement of telephony and data network services for use across its trade parts centres, which involved liaising with multiple stakeholders and handling numerous rounds of negotiation with the supplier. Other areas of expertise for the commercial team include the food and drink and retail sectors, where clients include a number of household names. The corporate department is headed by Sanjeev Sharma, who splits his time between Milton Keynes and Reading, and includes private equity expert Amit Nayyar. Nayyar acted alongside senior associates Jason Hill and Iain Butler, as well as associate Claire Checketts, for Five Arrows Principal Investments on a competitive auction process and sale of Educo One, a specialist education provider for people with autism, to Antin Infrastructure Partners. Other highlights included advising Foundation Investment Partners on its initial acquisition and buy and build strategy to create the Pro-Vets Group, as well as the subsequent £65m sale of the group to Independent Vetcare, one of the largest vet groups in the UK.

Clients of Machins Solicitors LLP are quick to praise the 'excellent support it provides to their business'. The 'expert and responsive' corporate and commercial team is headed by Mark Pelopida and includes Sing Li and Jon Alvarez, who provide 'pertinent advice during tricky discussions'. Pelopida's clients include PLCs and multinational organisations, for which he regularly handles M&A transactions as well as commercial contract work. Pelopida also works closely with Li on aviation-related matters. Also recommended are Sarah Liddiard , who is 'patient and generous with her time', and whose particular expertise encompasses commercial contract matters; and Simon Porter, who has notable strength in work related to dentists, pharmacies, care home and GP practices, as well as hotel matters.

Under the leadership of the 'consistently reliable and accessible', Teri Hunter, Moorcrofts LLP fields a corporate practice that is considered 'a trusted partner to clients' and is 'excellent on all fronts, particularly with regard to response times'. The firm's focus on corporate technology mandates makes it a natural choice for clients ranging from start-ups to PLCs. In an illustration of the firm's technology-sector expertise, Adrian Phillips  (who 'drives projects forward and protects clients' interests') and Peter Woolley  led a team advising Extrinsica Global on the demerger of the client's intelligent automation software business, which involved two preliminary capital reductions and a subsequent capital reduction demerger. In another highlight, Hunter ('excellent at explaining technicalities') acted alongside Will Pearce  and Mohsin Shabbir  ('responds in a timely fashion to calls for assistance') for Big Sky Partnership, a photographic and production studio, on two strategic acquisitions to expand its studio and production capabilities, and acted for the shareholders of TeamUltra on its £6m sale to Computacenter.

Clients of SA Law LLP praise the firm's 'always accessible and approachable' corporate and commercial practice for providing 'a City-level service at a more acceptable cost'. Headed by Christopher Wilks ('a good, practical lawyer with a great depth of experience'), the practice is regularly called on to handle complex transactions and commercial mandates for many of the region's most prominent businesses. In an illustration of the practice's cross-border expertise, Peter Goodman acted on the sale of a UK-owned virtual reality IT business specialising in augmented technology and virtual reality to a large technology company based in California. In another highlight, Goodman acted for an integrated service provider based in St Albans on a group restructure, which involved the incorporation of two companies and the drafting of fifteen agreements and a number of ancillary documents.

Headed by the 'excellent' Mark Thompson, the practice at Shakespeare Martineau LLP has established an excellent reputation for hotel and leisure deals, with IT, renewable energy and construction other areas of expertise. The practice has noted an uptick in hotel and data centre related deals during 2017; on the hotel front, Thompson acted alongside Chris Northway for longstanding client Focus Hotels on the disposal of its interest in the Goldthorn Hotel in Wolverhampton to Talesh Hotels Group. In another key highlight, the practice acted for Suzhou SLAC Precision Equipment, a Chinese company that designs and produces production equipment sets, tooling systems and spare parts, on its acquisition of a UK firm specialising in equipment for two-piece can printing.

Sherrards Solicitors LLP fields a team of 'superb and professional practitioners' who are 'clear in their communication and effective at getting the job done'. From its base in Hertfordshire, the firm handles a range of M&A and private equity transactions for local, national and international clients, with particular strength advising owner-managed businesses. The firm has developed a strong reputation in the media and entertainment sector, where it acts for clients including Graphite Media, Earworm Music and Bestival. In an illustration of its work for international clients, Jean-Paul da Costa assisted Ofo UK, a China-based bike sharing company, with the establishment of its UK branch, which involved ensuring compliance with UK data protection laws, as well as handling UK trade mark applications. In another key mandate, practice head Leigh Head acted for Winkworth Franchising on a number of acquisitions and disposals, in addition to assisting it with commercial negotiations with franchisees. Also recommended are Geraldine Fabre, who particularly stands out for cross-border deals involving France and the UK; Kiall Bagnell, who was part of the team advising Cambria Automobiles on the £60m refinancing of the client's bank facilities; and Andrew Cooke, whose growing client base comprises private equity firms, high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs and public companies.

Clients of @taylor Taylor Walton LLP are 'overall very satisfied with the service provided' by the firm's corporate and commercial practice, which has an extensive track record acting on acquisitions, sales and company reorganisations across the region and internationally. The corporate practice is headed by Jeremy Brockis and includes Simon Hughes, who acted for the chairman and management team on the management buyout of Ceta Insurance, which involved advising on the equity, debt and tax structuring of the acquisition group. In another transactional highlight, Mike Pettit acted for Caledonian Consumer Finance on its sale of a portfolio of consumer loans to Honeycomb investment Trust. Pettit heads the commercial practice and is continuing to provide advice to Campaign for Real Ale on consitutional and other matters related to its ongoing project involving the group's 190,000 members. Other key figures include the 'professional, knowledgeable and helpful' Clive Borthwick, who recently advised Bank of Ireland on the UK security aspects of loans made to various Irish and English companies.

VWV's 'very effective' corporate and commercial team in Watford was further strengthened by the firm's acquisition of healthcare specialist Lockharts, bringing on board partnership specialist Paul Werrell. In addition to healthcare, the practice's sector expertise also encompasses pharmaceuticals and life sciences, where clients include Sigma Pharmaceuticals; technology, where it has acted for more than 30 tech start-ups in 2017; education, where the practice has advised on a number of conversion matters for multi-academy trusts; and banking, where it regularly acts on large institutional lending and refinancing transactions, as well as for secondary lenders and borrowers. Richard Phillips heads the team and is 'a very capable lawyer who is also able to see the bigger picture, meaning he can give practical advice not merely legal technical guidance'. In an illustration of the practice's cross-border workload, Phillips acted of the sale of a Norwegian software company to an English purchaser. Other highlights included advising the National Pharmacy Association on an investment into a technology company that has developed an app to assist pharmacies with streamlining deliveries, improving record keeping and enhancing patient safety; and acting on the sale of Bodoni Systems to Agfa Graphics. Other key figures include Emma Cameron, who regularly advises on technology-related transactions, and Paul Gershlick, who heads the firm's pharmaceuticals and life sciences practice.

Debenhams Ottaway provides 'a high quality of advice without the need to pay London fees', making it a natural choice for clients within the region as well as further afield, particularly in the healthcare, charities and recruitment arenas. Clients include Europa Components & Equipment and Fujitsu. In a highlight transaction, Andrew Yates ('always very helpful and goes out of his way to understand clients' requirements') acted for the sellers on the disposal of a majority shareholding in a company that provide educational support services and practice aptitude tests. On the commercial front, consultant David Silver is assisting RPP Franchise, the owner of the Roosters Piri Piri restaurant franchise, on the expansion of its overseas operations, which involved developing a suite of contracts, including a franchise development agreement, a master franchise agreement, and a sub-franchise agreement.

Longmores Solicitors LLP is praised for providing 'valuable advice in a concise and responsive manner - advice is always commercially useful and extends beyond just the simple legal risk-based answers, and the business acumen/industry knowledge is strong'. Practice head Rina Sond, who was promoted to partner in January 2017, is singled out for her 'ability to listen, break down complex scenarios and then provide coherent action points and advice; she goes the extra mile to ensure quality advice is given'. The practice's client base comprises owner-managed businesses across Hertfordshire, Essex and North London, for which it handles a range of corporate transactions; recruitment companies, which it assists with their trading agreements with local authorities, NHS trusts, primary contractors and sub-contractors; property developers, which it advises on corporate acquisitions; and investors and entrepreneurs, for which it handles a range of investment activities. Sond acted alongside Craig Harrison for the sellers on a restructuring and subsequent sale of shares in a property management services company; they also acted for the majority shareholder on a £45m sale of shares  in Meadow Storage Holdings.

Neves is praised for its 'great understanding of clients' business, concerns and objectives - advice received is always appropriate and includes in-depth description of the key legal matters at hand'. The practice is headed by Stewart Matthews, who 'grasps the contractual issues quickly and provides a thorough response in plain English, all done in a friendly and professional manner'. Areas of expertise include company acquisitions and disposals, franchise agreements, and partnership matters for clients in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors, among others.

The corporate practice at Woodfines LLP underwent several changes in 2017: Neil Gibbs was appointed practice head following Stephen Oliver 's departure to Buckles Solicitors LLP, while Martin Smith joined the Cambridge office. The practice has continued to focus on servicing the needs of its core SME client base, while growing its roster of larger corporates. It is particularly noted for its strengths in the road transport, agriculture,  public procurement, and recruitment arenas. In a highlight matter, Gibbs and Alice Wooler advised a longstanding SME client on a share sale.

Corporate and commercial: Essex

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Essex
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Essex clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Birketts LLP's 'responsive' corporate practice provides a 'good and prompt service', especially in relation to commercial contracts. Particular focus areas further include international transactions, while the team's experience in the transport and insurance sectors has also developed. In a recent highlight, Nigel Thompson advised the shareholders of Selcia on the complete sale of its issued share capital to Eurofins Agroscience Services. Other key clients include Transport Innovation, which sought assistance with the preparation of cab aggregator agreements with a number of taxi businesses, and Gates Group, which acquired four motor dealerships from Ford Retail Group. The practice represented AllClear Insurance Services for the first time in 2017. Clients recommend team lead Rafael Ruiz, who is 'structured, attuned to clients' needs and able to explain the course of action in simple terms'. Nick Burnett and Adam Jones make up the rest of the core team in Chelmsford.

Birkett Long LLP's 'awareness of client requirements, coupled with technical knowledge and its ability to bring transactions to completion, proves invaluable'. The corporate practice handles domestic and international business transactions, shareholder and joint venture agreements, corporate restructurings and commercial contracts. The healthcare, technology and media sectors are historically strong, while consultant solicitor Alan Massenhove, who joined from a London firm in October 2017, brings in more expertise in franchise businesses and the regulated sectors, including banking. Praxis42, Valeo, Wilkin & Sons, Systematic Logistics International and E2V Technologies form the client roster. Team lead Tracey Dickens is an 'excellent communicator and technical adviser, while remaining commercially pragmatic'. Other key members include David Wisbey and Basildon-based solicitors Stephen Avila and  Tim Field.

The corporate and commercial team at Ellisons Solicitors has experience in transactions, restructurings, joint ventures, supply agreements, and franchise and financing work, including in-depth knowledge of the banking sector and recent experience with US companies. During 2017, the lawyers advised administrators McTear Williams & Wood on the asset sale of Searon Logistics to Logistic Planning Services. Other highlights include client Gray Dawes Travel's acquisition of the entirety of CTM Travel Management's share capital from P & P Associates, as well as client S.A.W. Group of Companies' purchase of the insolvent company Enigma Insulations. Managing partner Seamus Clifford and M&A specialist Paul Forsyth are the key team members, while former Prettys Solicitors LLP partner Jon Bloor joined in April 2017, bringing additional experience in private equity matters, as well as general corporate, commercial and banking expertise.

Thompson Smith and Puxon's corporate department provides 'exemplary service' with an 'efficient, pragmatic and commercial approach' and 'resolves matters in a prompt and professional way'. M&A, restructurings, commercial contracts, business disposals and sponsor agreements form the bulk of the practice's work. The team achieved a growth in matters relating to the agricultural, construction and food industries, while healthcare remains a strong focus. The 'helpful and informative' Mary Anne Fedeyko 'explains proceedings clearly' and has a 'rapid understanding of the relevant issues and how to manage relationships with other solicitors'. 'Extremely thorough' property expert Stephen Firmin and the 'calm, unflustered and committed' Caroline Nicholls are also recommended. Together with Claire Powell and Nick Mayles, they make up the core team in Colchester.

The 'approachable' corporate and commercial practice at Wortley Byers LLP is recommended for its 'exceptional "one-stop-shop" service and overall time and cost effectiveness', as well as its 'above-average expertise in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector'. Here, the respective key clients include Warneford Healthcare and Claridon Group, as well as Martindale Pharma and its parent company Bolt Equity, both of which were advised on Bolt Equity's acquisition by French group Ethypharm. Other strengths include intellectual property and outsourcing projects, as well as corporate work in the leisure, transport and engineering industries. The 'focused' Sue Dowman 'always finds the time to deal with issues promptly'. Lucy Folley represented Benfleet Forwarding's shareholders during the multi-million-pound sale of all of the company's issued share capital.

The 'thorough and quick-to-respond' corporate practice of Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP provides 'good value for money' and focuses on M&A transactions, agreements and restructurings in the charity, education, technology and healthcare sectors. The 'friendly-yet-professional' Ashton Carter is recommended. Together with practice lead Tony Fisher, he advised Point Zero Solutions on the acquisition of a competing company and an internal restructuring, and also represented technical solutions provider Adsar during its £480,000 partial sale. Leah Groves specialises in dental M&A work.

Clients recommend the 'knowledgeable and professional' Pinney Talfourd LLP for its 'proactivity, collaborative approach and keen understanding of client needs', resulting in 'service levels beyond expectation'. The team covers M&A, restructuring, contractual, shareholder and partnership issues, while its key industries include real estate, transport and logistics, accountancy and business support. In a recent highlight, the practice represented the majority shareholder and director of GTS Learning during the buyout of his IT skills and training development business by a US corporation. SAT Holdings and carer charity Redbridge, Epping & Harlow Crossroads also brought their matters to the department. The 'very approachable' Edward Garston has 'brought a new dynamic to the firm', possesses 'excellent attention to detail' and 'never lets a problem get in the way'.

Tees Law's corporate practice is able to 'satisfy client expectations in relation to response times, appropriateness of advice, team strength and value for money'. Its main focus lies on M&A, acquisition finance, shareholder agreements and joint venture matters, as well as commercial distribution, trading and agency agreements. Recent highlights include the representation of Keswick European Holdings during the £25m sale of its UK and Romanian logistics businesses to a Japanese corporation. Xpediator, which acquired Benfleet Forwarding for over £10m and Regional Express for £2m, was also a key client during 2017. The 'pragmatic and commercial' Richard Payne joined the Chelmsford office from Aquabridge in summer 2017, while associate Pieta Daglish joined from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

The 'very strong' Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors impresses with its 'clear advice, efficiency, personable support and high standard of work', especially for SMEs, banks and owner-managed businesses in relation to M&A, start-up matters, financing, franchising, commercial contracts, partnerships and corporate reorganisations. Recent highlights include the joint venture and operating agreement advice provided to a company in connection with a military disposals contract tender, as well as the representation of a business owner during the sale of his fishmongers to his manager. The 'professional' Mark Stigwood 'possesses strong technical knowledge and a real commercial understanding' and is 'very good at communicating legal matters in a pain-free way'. Jonathan Clarke and Leanne Philps make up the rest of the team.

The corporate and commercial practice of BTMK Solicitors covers transactional, commercial contract and joint venture agreement matters for its SME and private client base, especially in relation to the property, healthcare and leisure sectors. Lee Emptage advised Springfield Holdings on its £4.25m share purchase acquisition of a care home. Another highlight was the representation of Sigma Dental during the sale of a dental practice for £1m. Road safety scheme provider NDORS and boxer Conor Benn also received commercial advice. The team in Southend-on-Sea further consists of partners Ian Powell and Sean Callaghan.

The 'excellent' corporate department at Palmers is recommended for its 'high level of expertise, consistent knowledge and response times, as well as its business-like approach'. The education, leisure, technology and engineering industries remain a strong focus within the practice's M&A, restructuring, commercial contract and investment work. Recent highlights include advising a global group of companies on the reorganisation of its UK businesses via a transfer of assets and liabilities, as well as the incorporation of new group companies from a multi-jurisdictional perspective. The team also represented an estate agent in a matter regarding the regulatory data protection requirements for its online terms and conditions. The 'proficient and approachable' Matthew Johnson stands out for his business contract work. Partner BJ Chong leads the practice from Thurrock, as the previous head of department, Matthew Poli, left for iLaw in London.

The corporate team of Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP handles business transactions, start-up matters, commercial contracts, and franchise and licensing work, as well as financings and restructurings. An ongoing highlight is the commercial contract advice provided to a pharmaceutical company, involving trusts, suppliers and public procurement proceedings. Mark Deans in Billericay, as well as Wendy Cole and Fiona Colwell in Westcliff-on-Sea, make up the core team of partners.

Corporate and commercial: Hampshire

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Hampshire
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Hampshire clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Blake Morgan LLP has 'an excellent range and depth of team knowledge and good commercial understanding' according to clients. One of the largest teams in the South East, it is equipped to handle the full range of corporate and commercial work and private equity investments. It can also draw on its specialist expertise in areas including franchising, restructurings, acquisition finance and capital markets. It attracts clients ranging from SMEs to AIM and publicly listed companies in diverse sectors such as healthcare, education, technology and retail. James Hawkeswood heads an 'outstanding' team that includes 'outstanding negotiator' Mark Hepworth, who is 'diligent, knowledgeable and professional with great pragmatism'. Stephen Archibald and Simon Treherne are other core team members together with 'experienced and trusted adviser' Gemma Spiceley and Jasmin Eames, who is 'excellent on detail and holding people to account'. Mary Chant  joined Thrings LLP in June 2017.

Clients value Shoosmiths LLP's 'ability to deliver high quality corporate advice throughout a transaction and its commitment to talking business sense'  and consider the group to be 'first rate.' Group head Stephen Porter, who has a particular focus on the insurance and technology industries, stands out for his 'dynamic personality and extensive experience, which enables him to guide clients through some of the most complex corporate transactions'. Mark Shepherd, who is a key name in the Solent office, is considered 'a genuine star' by one client and Sean Wright, who heads the firm's corporate team in the south, specialises in private equity transactions, where he is assisted by senior associate Tim Moss. In recent work, the team advised AIM-listed Science in Sport on a private placing and open offer to raise £15m of new capital to fund further growth of the business. It also assisted Solent Global Holdings and its shareholders on a complex transaction that involved a demerger, restructuring of the Solent Group and subsequent sale of its oral care business to Ranir, which is part of the US-based Ranir Group.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's team attracts praise for 'its very good business acumen, industry know-how and focused and pragmatic advice'. It has a strong sector focus, particularly in the transport, energy, retail and finance arenas, serving UK and international corporate clients. Recent work included advising Intrinsic Financial Services on the acquisition of Caerus Capital Group. In addition to structuring the deal, the team also handled an FCA change of control approval. In other work it assisted  RES, the global renewable energy company, with the sale of the Port of Tyne 35MW battery storage project to infrastructure and private equity investment manager, Foresight Group. Corporate head Ian Holden is acknowledged for 'his good understanding of business and key drivers' and Sebastian Briggs is 'a pleasure to work with', as well as 'very commercially minded and adept at proposing sensible solutions to challenging problems'. Stephen Pierce is the national head of the practice and Paula Bartlett specialises in commercial contracts including complex outsourcing deals.

Irwin Mitchell has the expertise to serve mid-market and large corporates as well as high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs and has the additional strength of a network of national offices. John Riddick specialises in assisting owner-managed companies and Dean Drew has acknowledged automotive and real estate sector expertise. The team advised Business Logic Systems on the sale of its African telecom software business to Evolving Systems and in other highlight work assisted the Montrose Group and its Swedish parent, Bufab as guarantor, with the acquisition of the share capital of Thunderbolts Group. Other clients include the Hendy Group, Datacolor International and the Scott Brownrigg Group.

The lawyers at Moore Blatch LLP are 'exceptionally professional, commercial in approach' and 'always provide exceptional value'. Roger Bailey leads the group and has a wealth of experience in M&A, MBOs, joint venture and private equity matters with a focus on the telecoms, technology and financial services industries. The 'disarmingly sharp' Peter Jeffery, who has 'acute  attention to detail and is incredibly fair and balanced', has notable expertise in the technology and telecoms space. Dorothy Agnew is 'a pleasure to deal with' and has 'an exceptional understanding of the commercial aspects in the technology sector.' John Warchus and Jeremy Over are also key members of the team. Clients include Bytes Technology, Blue Chip Data Systems and Inframon.

Sean Davies heads a team at Paris Smith LLP that provides 'an overall level of service that is excellent'. Davies stands out for 'his impartiality, along with his breath of experience in the owner-managed sector and no-nonsense approach'. In addition to the full range of M&A and commercial work, the group can also draw on the expertise of the firm's banking, property and litigation teams. Highlights included acting for the management team of Churches Fire Security on an investment package valued at £40m provided by Lyceum Capital Partners and assisting EDC Communications, backed by US private equity firm Mill Road Capital, on the sale of Elvis Communications to Next Fifteen Communications Group. Other key names include Jonathon Roy, Michael Moore, commercial contracts expert Crispin Dick, and Richard Atcherley . The team was further enhanced by the arrival of Amanda Brockwell from Coffin Mew LLP.

According to one client, the team at Clarke Willmott LLP's 'commercial approach and acumen on a transaction was second to none'. The group handles all aspects of M&A and general commercial work, including acquisitions, business and share sales, MBOs and fundraisings. It has a focus on the finance and technology sectors and counts banks and alternative lenders among its clients. The team acted for the selling shareholders of Ambant on the disposal of the company to Davies Group, a transaction that required FCA approval. Practice head Kelvin Balmont  is 'approachable and an expert in the field' and has a 'commercial approach' to his handling of acquisitions and MBO work. Chidem Aliss and Richard Swain are other key team members.

Coffin Mew LLP handles corporate and commercial mandates, frequently with international elements. The team has a noted focus on private equity matters, as well as expertise in the technology, and food and drink sectors. Highlights included acting for the Business Growth Fund on a range of issues concerning its investment into Dolphin Homes. In other work, it has handled an array of sales of the entire share capital for various clients. Hayley Bevis heads the team, which includes firm chairman Nick Gross , who is able to draw on some 30 years of expertise. Dominic Travers joined from Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP in December 2017 and Jonathan Sherman is another core member of the team.

Pitmans LLP advises on M&A matters, private equity and debt financing. Its expertise covers leveraged buy-ins and buy-outs, investment and equity funding as well as corporate reorganisations. In one highlight, it acted for Panoramic Growth Equity on its investment into Majestic Polymers and DSA Chemicals via a management buy-out/buy in; the team handled the acquisition, equity and banking aspects of the deal. Other clients include Red Funnel Group Ferries, Altitude Partners and ITS Technology Group. Oliver Kelly heads the group and Sean Kelly has expertise across all aspects of corporate and commercial work.

Trethowans LLP acted for the shareholders on the sale of the entire issued share capital of iSupply Energy to German energy corporate Vattenfall. Riskstop Group, Baker Perkins and Saint-Gobain/Jewson are other clients. The group's expertise includes corporate finance, M&A, disposals and joint venture agreements, where is acts for clients ranging from SMEs to plcs. Key team members include practice head Mike Watson, Nick Gent, Paula Eckton and newly made-up partner Lucy Grey.

Corporate and commercial: Kent, Surrey, Sussex

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Kent, Surrey, Sussex
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Kent, Surrey, Sussex clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Clyde & Co LLP acts for national and international clients from its Guildford and London offices on the full spectrum of corporate, M&A and private equity transactions. Its expertise crosses a broad range of industries, notably the real estate, industrial manufacturing, energy and marine sectors. Highlights included advising Cennox on the acquisition of global ATM manufacturer Diebold International from Diebold Nixdorf. The team also assisted Leon Restaurants with securing £25m in private equity funding to facilitate a secondary sale and raise funds for overseas expansion. Nick Purnell heads the corporate practice and undertakes the gamut of corporate work including joint ventures and outsourcing especially in the infrastructure and marine sectors. Simon Vere Nicoll handles M&A work, joint ventures and fund structuring. Richard Elks' corporate work is focused on the structuring of real estate assets including those located on- and off-shore.

Cripps LLP¬†¬†is highly rated for its ‚Äėsolid knowledge of corporate and M&A transactions and reliable, straightforward advice‚Äô. The¬† team continues to attract an impressive range of mandates across mergers, acquisitions, sales and secondary buyouts, many of which are inbound. It is known for its focus on transactions in the private equity sphere and expertise in the technology and media sectors. Highlights included advising the shareholders of MTR Group on the sale of the entire share capital and assisting the management team of Bunker Secure Hosting with the secondary, leveraged buyout of the company from Foresight Private Equity.¬†James Beaton¬†leads the corporate division, Nigel Stanford¬†heads the corporate team and¬†Pete Kenyon¬†leads the commercial group.¬†Salim Somjee¬† is highly regarded for his M&A and private equity skill set and managing associate¬†Helen Garner¬†has expertise in private equity and capital markets.

Irwin Mitchell‚Äôs ‚Äėservice level is excellent - the strong team is responsive and proactive, providing pragmatic, commercial and considered advice‚Äô. It routinely advises regional, national and international clients, including private equity and venture capital firms and private and publicly listed corporates and has expertise in the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors. It advised Air Partner on the acquisition of SafeSkys and also assisted Brighton-based life sciences company Destiny Pharma with its admission to AIM and an institutional placing, in a transaction valued at ¬£70m. The team in Crawley is led by Daniel Bastide and with Stuart Padgham as the national head of the group; the duo provide ‚Äėtimely, pragmatic advice and have high technical skills‚Äô. Faye Bargery has noted expertise in handling private equity transactions and on the commercial side, and Dan Hedley and solicitor Chris Bridges are ‚Äėexcellent‚Äô with Bridges also highlighted for his strength in data protection matters.

Mundays LLP  is highlighted for its 'efficient teamwork and transparent pricing.' The team, which is headed by Neale Andrews , is 'excellent to deal with - much better value than London firms and just as good'. It acts for national and international clients from sectors ranging from real estate and logistics to healthcare and life sciences, including Concordia International, Drakes Restaurant group and Sodexo. It handles the gamut of corporate M&A and commercial mandates including the purchase of franchise businesses, share buybacks, joint ventures and restructurings. David Irwin, who is 'wonderfully commercial and understands people', is noted for his strategic advice particularly in relation to cross-border deals. Mark Andrew 's expertise extends to financing and private equity deals and 'excellent corporate lawyer' Alex Young is praised for his client-handling skills.

Stevens & Bolton LLP's team is ‚Äėexcellent'¬†for corporate M&A and commercial services work. It serves clients ranging from local startups, especially in the technology sectors, to international corporate clients including US investors. It advised the shareholders of e-Travel, which is based in Athens and has an office in Ireland, on its merger with Etraveli, a global online travel platform based in Sweden. James Waddell¬†leads a team that can ‚Äėfocus on the key issues‚Äô even during tight time frames and Nick Atkins¬† ‚Äėis pro-active, responsive, ¬†easy to speak to and commercial in his approach to understanding the client‚Äôs needs‚Äô. Joe Bedford¬†and Ken Woffenden¬†are highlighted for ‚Äėtheir great understanding‚Äô of clients' commercial needs. Other core names include Jenny Robertson, highly experienced duo¬†Richard Baxter¬†and Keith Syson, and head of commercial Beverley Whittaker. Senior associates James Floyd¬†and Oscar Horwich¬†¬†are also noted.

asb law LLP¬†provides ‚Äėtop notch, practical and commercial advice.‚Äô Helen Mead¬†heads the group, which handles acquisitions, sales and mergers, as well as restructuring of shareholdings and corporate governance issues; she is highlighted¬† for providing 'exceptional value for the high-quality legal advice and assistance provided'. The team acted for Highway¬†Care on a major¬†restructuring of its shareholding by way of the creation of new classes of shares.¬†In other work, it advised Seventeen Group on its acquisition of Westscott Insurance Brokers. Claire Williams¬†and associate Nikki Ashfield¬†focus on corporate finance and senior consultant Russell Bell¬†handles commercial and corporate matters; the trio are 'approachable and know what they‚Äôre doing'. Debbie Venn¬†focuses on commercial matters.¬†Andrew Hoad¬†joined¬†PDT Solicitors¬†in January 2018.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP impresses clients 'with the quality of the advice and the timeliness of the delivery'. It undertakes all aspects of corporate M&A and commercial work including management buyouts, joint ventures and corporate restructures in sectors such as telecoms, technology and healthcare. It acted for the shareholders of Vocality International on the sale of the company to US company Cubic Corporation. It also assisted the Disability Trust with the termination of its joint venture with North Lincolnshire & Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the sale of its business to the Trust. Geoffrey Sparks leads the team. Catherine Drew  focuses on corporate work in the care homes sector, as does Tim Jenkins,  who is 'very experienced; calm; thoughtful; intelligent; and commercial'. The 'commercial, thorough and excellent project manager'  Jonathan Steele handles a range of acquisition and investment work and senior associate Rebecca Burford stands out for 'her breadth of expertise' and willingness to 'go the extra mile to achieve a successful outcome'.

The 'very strong' team at DMH Stallard LLP instills clients with 'confidence in its advice and therefore provides good value for money'. The team acts for a number of regional clients, especially in the healthcare, technology, media and travel sectors.  It advised on a management buyout of Albatross Group Holdings and in other work assisted Posturite and its shareholders with the sale of a minority stake to US global office supplies manufacturer, Fellowes International. Abigail Owen  'is efficient and provides clear strategic advice with an eye on the future, limiting exposure or complications that may come up'. Experienced practitioners Jonathan Grant and John Yates take on a range of corporate and commercial work and Danos Athanasi and Kate Norgett are other key names.

Penningtons Manches Cooper fields a team of 'excellent all-round deal lawyers'. The national head of corporate, Simon Bickerdike , 'is a standout individual - a true trusted adviser', who advises on both domestic and cross-border acquisitions,  management buyouts and share sales. The team also attracts high-value MBOs and  fundraising mandates, often with multi-jurisdictional aspects. It advised the shareholders of  a group of Criterion companies on the sale of its entire issued share capital to Charles Taylor, a deal valued at up to £13m. It also assisted APA Publications with its acquisition of the Rough Guides from Dorling Kindersley. David Kendall, who handles the gamut of corporate transactions, especially those involving technology and IP, 'could confidently take the lead in any negotiation'. The 'calm, collected, intelligent, experienced and commercially astute' Philip Walton  is highlighted for his experience in the venture capital and private equity spheres; senior associate Liz Gillingham is also noted as is associate Hannah McIIwraith, who 'is always up to speed with  transactions, very knowledgeable and approachable'.

Thomson Snell & Passmore offers a comprehensive service across corporate and commercial matters, restructuring, and debt and equity raising. According to one client, 'the firm is the best we have encountered so far', while another commented that 'the personable team provides practical advice and is good value for money.' It advised Sunray Engineering on the acquisition of Prestige Fire Door Services and assisted Kit for Kids, a Sevenoaks-based designer and manufacturer of innovative child sleep and educational products, with its £3.7m fund raising with Connection Capital.  Joanne Gallagher heads the team, which includes senior partner James Partridge,  Nicholas Gabay and  Gina Bicknell. 

Barlow Robbins LLP's team is recommended for 'taking a sensible, commercial approach to its advice' and for 'balancing risk and the commercial aspects' of a client's business. It handles corporate transactions and advisory work in sectors including education, real estate and leisure. On the M&A side, highlights included handling British Study Centre Group's acquisition of  Experience English to create the BSC Group. Mark Lucas, who heads the practice, and Jo Farr are recommended for their ability to navigate complicated transactions and are supported by Laurie Heizler and senior associate Ian McDonald, who was a new arrival from Lewis Silkin LLP.

Brachers  is highlighted for combining efficiency with 'good knowledge of a wide variety of sectors and strength across the team'. Led by James Bullock, the team acted on a number of MBOs, including assisting the management team on the MBO of UK Medical from US-based Becton Dickinson, a matter that was complicated due to ongoing services, supply and distribution agreements and the negotiation of a share sale agreement. In other recent work, the group handled private equity acquisitions and transactions in the energy sector that were frequently led by Matthew Simmonds  and Erol Huseyin.

Clarkson Wright & Jakes acts for a long-standing and core client base of owner-managed small- to medium-sized companies from an array of sectors. Ben Madden leads a team that handles the range of corporate and commercial work including acquisitions and investment transactions, as well as MBOs and company reorganisations. Ben Madden heads the department, which includes managing partner Andrew Wright, whose expertise covers AIM matters, as well as acquisitions and sales.

Furley Page Solicitors ,according to one client, 'understands business needs and provides advice that is always proportionate and appropriate'. Its expertise covers mergers, acquisitions, share sales and related commercial work. It acted on a share sale of Forte Pharma to Alliance Healthcare (part of the Boots and Walgreens group) and in other highlight work assisted Mobility Networks with its merger with Netherlands-based Acdeos. 'Highly qualified and experienced' department head Susan Jennings is recommended for 'always having the client’s best interests at heart and for being pragmatic and practical in her advice'. Tony Chester's expertise extends to restructuring, demerger and share buyback work.

Moore Law offers a niche service in the media, technology, sports and life sciences sectors. It handles a broad range of commercial mandates, which frequently include IP issues, for a client base that is largely regional but has a growing international element. The team continues to act for P1vital companies on a range of commercial and IP matters connected with clinical studies and also counts software developer RocketRoute and advertising company Bigfoot among its clients. Tristram Moore and Scott Moore are the key practitioners.

Morrisons Solicitors LLP advises on acquisitions, joint ventures,  and share sales, as well as reorganisations and fund raisings. It also handles a  range of commercial and data protection matters. The team's healthcare client base continues to grow and  Louise Fegan handles M&A in the dental sector. Peter Savage, who heads the team, acted for Secom on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Northern Ireland-based Scan Alarms and Security Systems. Karen Lord's workload included advising the shareholders of GMK Pepper Holdings on the sale of the entire share capital to US-based investment group ELI Global. In other work, John Andrews assisted a client on the time-pressured acquisition of a business and its assets from the administrators of a major plc.

PDT Solicitors is adept at transactions across the range of corporate and commercial work, including related financing and corporate reorganisations.  Practice leader Noel Ruddy's extensive expertise extends to financing and he is also recognised as 'a national asset-based lending expert who stands out in the field'.  In a highlight matter, the team advised the shareholders of Atomwide on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to AdEPT Telecom. The acquisition, which was valued at £26m, included managing several groups of sellers. The 'very commercial and deal friendly' Rebecca Glazebrook advises corporates and lenders on the gamut of corporate work including MBOs and private equity deals;  Jo Williams has a strong focus on the pharma and dental sectors; and 'solid corporate lawyer' Andew Hoad joined from asb law LLP in January 2018.

With five offices in the South East, Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP is considered 'ideal for larger transactions, but equally able to deliver a cost-effective solution for smaller transactions'. It provides full corporate and commercial services to local, national and overseas clients in sectors such as insurance, telecoms, healthcare and construction. Recent work included acting for the sellers on the sale of the entire issued share capital of Broadham Care to residential care specialist Elysium Healthcare. Group head Sara Carpenter is 'top class' and Alan Zeal 'is a consummate professional, who brings a wealth of experience to the table'. The firm's chairman Bruce Hayter is 'very solution oriented and focuses on what really matters.' Sevenoaks-based managing partner Richard Cripps has a wealth of corporate and secured-finance expertise. The team was further strengthened by the addition of Tim Sadka, who joined in September 2017 and, according to one client, 'brings a depth of experience and technical capability to an already effective and versatile team'.

TWM Solicitors LLP acts for strong local and regional clients, including banks, and is increasingly attracting work from overseas clients for which it handles the spectrum of corporate and commercial work including share sales, MBOs, joint ventures and finance work. Recent work includes acting for Chris Lane Leisure on the acquisition of a leisure centre from Virgin Active by way of an asset purchase. Jamie Berry leads the group and counts ultra-high net worth individuals and family businesses among his clients; Peter Stevens' clients include those in the auto industry as well as inbound investors and Daniel Jenking leads on a range of corporate and commercial deals for owner-managed businesses.

The team at Warners Solicitors is 'pragmatic in approach and focused on protecting the interests of the clients in a way that ensures that transactions are completed sensibly and effectively'. It handles sales, acquisitions, related finance and commercial contracts for largely owner-managed businesses, especially in the technology  and agriculture sectors. Its recent work included representing the Rough Trade Retail Group in respect of a 34.25% investment stake by Les Nouvelles Editions Indépendantes with a post-money valuation of £5m. Jonathan Roberts' expertise extends to private equity and finance transactions and Russell Brinkhurst acts for buyers and sellers across a diverse range of sectors, focusing predominantly on owner-managed businesses. The duo have 'a sensible and pragmatic approach to working with their clients and a broad range of expertise in the corporate and commercial space'. Practice head Kevin Sullivan has expertise in software-related contracts in addition to his broader corporate, venture capital and private equity work.

From offices in Dorking, Goldalming and Cobham, Downs Solicitors LLP Dorking handles company and asset sales, shareholder sales, joint venture matters and equity funding, with SMEs making up the bulk of its clients. According to one client, 'the service is outstanding, the team gives good advice and is very capable of negotiating with the other party to ensure the deal progresses at a good pace', while according to another client. the team 'compares very favourably with any other firm in the region'. The well-respected team head Julian Harvey is a 'first-class lawyer', who 'is always ahead of the game and remains completely unfazed if hiccups appear during a transaction'. He is also experienced in franchising and share option schemes. 'Extremely knowledgeable' Richard Clapham has considerable experience in advising both national and overseas clients ranging from large corporates to start-ups and family businesses and is ably assisted by 'excellent' associate Magdalena Janki.

GBH Law Limited focuses on the acquisition, sale and reorganisation of partnerships; it acted for a law firm on its acquisition of a niche corporate law practice and has also acted for chartered surveyors and accountancy firms. In other work, it assisted Business Data Partners on the buy out of a 51% French business partner together with the reorganisation of the business structure. Denise Herrington and Christine Goodyear are the key practitioners at the firm.

Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Boyes Turner's practice has a 'broad range of commercial law experience and business acumen', providing a 'solution-orientated approach with speedy resolutions', with 'great value for money'. Particular industry specialisms of importance for the team are technology, fintech, automotive and healthcare, with clients of note including Auto Trader, Panasonic, MortgageGym and Wayfair. 'Outstanding commercial attorney' Mark Blunden heads the team, while Robert Rice leads the corporate group. Highlights included Rice handling the acquisition of assets of PACE Financial Group for US-based client Flywire; Kate Eavis ('smart, practical, experienced and good at delivering work on time') advising Circor International on the acquisition of a target group in a project worth around $855m; and Rice assisting Spain-headquartered company Accelya with its £8m acquisition of Anari. Commercial lawyer Bill Gornall-King is 'able to bring complex business issues into a practical and straightforward and effective approach’ and assisted Accelya with numerous commercial transactions. Sarah Williamson is noted for her experience in the digital, publishing, communications and advertising sectors, acting as in-house counsel to Auto Trader and the Guardian. Associate Helen Dobson and commercial solicitor Amir Kousari joined the team from Osborne Clarke's Reading office and an in-house role respectively.

Blake Morgan LLP has a strong reputation for servicing technology transactions out of the firm’s Oxford and Reading offices, including spinouts, M&A and equity/debt fundraises. Simon Staples joined the team in April 2017, having previously headed the equity capital markets team at Ashfords LLP, and specialises in advising high-tech companies. Staples and Guy Constant acted for Medical Imaging Partnership in its acquisition of the MRI business of Nuada Medical Specialist Imaging, including the transaction’s ancillary equity fundraising issues, while Staples and Mark Hepworth handled Swanton Holdings (Jersey)’s £40m sale of Swanton Care & Community to an Apposite Capital SPV buyer. Alison Patten-Hall heads the firm’s commercial offering, working for public and private sector providers on a range of commercial projects, including IT and outsourcing projects. One recent highlight on this front saw Stephen Tainsh and legal director Elisabeth Bell advise Utilita Energy on a range of commercial projects relating to the provision of utility services to consumers. Significant new client instructions have been received from Nutriment, Label Express and Teathers Financial. Penny Rinta-Suksi splits her time between Reading and Oxford; associate Tim Coles and consultant Dionne Simpson are other key figures in the practice.

Osborne Clarke's team is known for its strength in digital business, small and mid-cap private equity and growth capital, while also possessing experience in energy, media, retail, and real estate and infrastructure, among other areas. Cross-border transactions expert Sara Valentine] heads the Thames Valley corporate practice and acted for the selling shareholders and management team on the sale of CRM and client accounting software provider Reapit to a new company backed by management and technology-focused business investment firm Accel-KKR. Valentine was supported on this deal by associate directors Caroline Drummond and Mike Freer, who are noted as rising stars. National head of corporate Greg Leyshon advised the management team and selling shareholders of the Leisure Pass Group on its £35m sale to Exponent Private Equity and Big Bus Tours, and private equity specialist Rob Wood advised all shareholders, including LDC and Octopus, on the sale of Clifford Thames Group to US trade buyer OEConnection. Other projects of note included India group co-head Jeff Chang handling Infosys’ £7.5m acquisition of Brilliant Basics and commercial lawyer Russell Bowyer advising Hyundai on the design and launch of its Click to Buy vehicle website.

The ‚Äėexcellent and commercial‚Äô team at¬†Penningtons Manches Cooper¬†is recommended as being ‚Äėunfailingly prompt and thorough in their responses, giving clear and actionable advice‚Äô and ‚Äėgood at understanding business context‚Äô. The team has a track record of advising growth companies, with strong relationships with Touchstone Innovations and Oxford University Innovation. The practice is also noted for its work on high-profile venture capital and spin-out transactions; recent highlights include¬†Rob Hayes¬†advising Veryan Holdings on its equity investment from a syndicate of institutional investors and debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank and David Tighe¬†acting for equity crowd-funding platform Seedrs on its new funding round with a follow-on investment by Woodford Investment Management. Life sciences continues to be another area of specialism for the firm in the Thames Valley; technology and life sciences expert Will Axtell¬†advised the management team of Timico on a ¬£50m investment from Lyceum Capital and Chris Shelley¬†advised the shareholders of¬†Oxford Gene Technology on its acquisition by Sysmex Corporation. Other key figures in the team include James Went, Nicola McConville, Justin Starling]¬†and Joanne Vengadesan.

The members of the 'open and approachable' team at¬†Shoosmiths LLP¬†‚Äėprovide a great service, know the industry well and know what is important to their clients‚Äô. Sanjeev Sharma¬†and Simon Edwards¬†head the Thames Valley corporate and commercial teams, respectively. The corporate team is strong in the technology, healthcare and education sectors, while the commercial practice regularly handles considerations in the food and drink and retail sectors. Clients include large corporates, public companies and private equity houses, such as Pizza Hut Restaurants, the RAC, Business Growth Fund and NVM Private Equity. Highlights in 2017 included Edwards assisting Smiths News Trading with the preparation and complex negotiation of website design, hosting and maintenance contracts;¬†Sean Wright¬†handling LDC‚Äôs ¬£16m investment into national hair salon Rush; and various corporate team members advising the founders of SecurEnvoy on the ¬£20m sale and reverse takeover into Shearwater Group. Senior associate Nina Smith¬†and solicitor Mike Patterson¬†are noted for ‚Äėworking excellently as a team, balancing corporate and business viewpoints with alacrity‚Äô. Senior associate Kiran Dhesi¬†¬†is also noted as a rising star. The team saw Emma Gibson¬†and Rachel Turner¬†depart.

Sean Kelly¬†heads the team at Pitmans LLP,¬†which handles a range of transactions, principally in the private company M&A arena but with an increasing weight of expertise in private equity and cross-border transactions. Clients of the practice include Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, Westcoast Group and Bridges Fund Management. IPO and AIM listing expert Oliver Pilkington¬†is recommended for his ‚Äėoutstanding service‚Äô and for ‚Äėexplaining any issue and decisions to be made very clearly with a recommendation on the option to take‚Äô. Pilkington assisted finnCap as nomad and broker to K3 Capital Group in relation to the latter‚Äôs IPO and associated ¬£17.8m fundraising, and advised Sipsmith on its partnership with Beam Suntory, from conception and initial fundraising right through to partnership. Stephanie Perry¬†advised Key2 on its ¬£9.5m sale to Horizon Care and Education Group. ‚ÄėCommercial, intellectual and driven‚Äô managing partner John Hutchinson¬†continues¬†to be a significant figure in the practice, having previously headed the team. Philip Weaver¬†routinely offers advice to high-tech companies on M&A, fundraising, shareholder issues and commercial agreements. Roger Gregory¬†divides his time between Reading and London and is renowned for US and European mandates, concentrating on M&A, private equity and venture capital transactions.

The team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP¬†is noted for its ‚Äėexcellent client service, knowledge and professionalism‚Äô and ‚Äėexceptional value‚Äô. The practice‚Äôs client base ranges from entrepreneurs to owner-managed businesses and multinationals; representative clients include Honda, Business Moves Group and Dominvs Group. The team is led by private equity specialist Penelope Garden, who recently¬†led a team advising the shareholders on the sale of the entire share capital of Property Information Exchange (PIE) to a newco backed by MML Capital Partners and the simultaneous strategic acquisition of PSG Connect from Security Research Group. Firm managing partner Jeremy Parkes¬†handles¬†complex corporate transactions and advised Dominvs Commercial Properties on the disposal of seven Jersey companies with total consideration of around ¬£100m. Senior partner Ian Wood-Smith¬†advised¬†longstanding client Finch on four acquisitions, including the acquisition of Miller Insurance Brokers. Chris Brightling¬†departed to join Girlings' Ashford office.

The ‚Äėextremely knowledgeable, helpful and responsive‚Äô¬†Freeths LLP¬†team in Oxford has considerable experience in the healthcare, automotive and transport, TMT, food and drink, and hospitality and leisure sectors, among others. The department is headed by M&A transaction specialist Leon Arnold¬†(‚Äėclear, authoritative, confident and experienced‚Äô). Arnold and senior associate Malin Svanberg Larsson¬†(‚Äėexcellent at making the process clear and understandable, incisive commercial acumen, able to summarise complex issues in layman‚Äôs terms‚Äô) recently assisted Coopland & Son with obtaining an ¬£8.5m growth capital investment from Business Growth Fund. Arnold and Larsson were also assisted by commercial partner Rebecca Howlett, who recently joined from Harrison Clark Rickerbys, in co-ordinating the W√ľrth Group‚Äôs acquisition of IQD Frequency Products group companies. Tom Walker, who was recently promoted to partner, advised the shareholders of Crystallon, the holding company of Oxford Cryosystems, on the sale of its entire issued share capital to Judges Scientific, further to Freeths‚Äô longstanding relationship with Oxford Cryosystems. Key clients of the practice include Adestra, JCAM Investments and the Higher Education Policy Institute.

White & Black Limited's¬†department is ‚Äėcommercially minded, with strength in depth, and each team member is good to deal with‚Äô. The corporate and technology-focused boutique receives numerous cross-border instructions covering M&A, investments, company disposals and share capital reorganisations. Clients of note include software provider Solid Solutions, games developer Mediatonic Games and private equity houses Highland Capital and NVM Private Equity. Practice co-head John Allen]¬†(‚Äėknowledgeable and focused on what the business is trying to achieve‚Äô) led a team handling One Event Management‚Äôs acquisition of Absolute Taste from McLaren Technology Group. Allen and his fellow practice co-head Phil Riman¬†also led a sizeable team advising Matchesfashion on its majority buy-out by Apax Funds and related matters. Commercial expert Stephen Silvester¬†advised South Korea-listed company G-SMATT Global on issues such as its management incentive share option scheme and various subscription rounds, supported by ‚Äėvalued associate‚Äô Alexander Smith. Newly promoted partner Rob Powell¬†is head of the sports and leisure practice and is also recommended for private equity and venture capital work.

Clarkslegal LLP¬†routinely¬†advises international companies on making investments in the UK.¬†Ashan Arif¬†heads the practice, as well as leading the technology and media sector groups. Arif and senior solicitor¬†Esme Kilic¬†advise disruptive technology start-ups and early-stage businesses on everything from initial corporate structuring to complex and high-value equity investments and commercial arrangements. The team‚Äôs client list includes Carillion, the University of Reading, Eden Motor Group and Insta Group. Senior consultant¬†John Chapman¬†is noted as being ‚Äėvery commercial, efficient and perceptive‚Äô, with wide-ranging experience encompassing M&A, private equity, banking and finance, and corporate reorganisations. Fellow senior consultant and commercial agreement specialist¬†Kirstin Parker¬†is also noted.

The 'excellent' Gateley Plc¬†team in Reading is led by ‚Äėexperienced and knowledgeable‚Äô corporate practice head Andrew Peddie¬†and head of commerce, technology and media¬†Paul De Vince. De Vince joined from Shoosmiths LLP,¬†where he headed the commercial team; his expertise includes outsourcing, designing trade models, supply chain management and procurement matters. The team was also strengthened by the hire of senior associate Mailin Bala.¬†The team‚Äôs work has increasingly focused on servicing the needs of private equity houses in the Thames Valley corridor; Peddie assisted Maven Capital Partners and NVM Private Equity and their respective related venture capital trusts on an investment in Contego Fraud Solutions. Senior associates Mark Metcalfe]¬†and Sarah Souter¬†also advised Connection Capital on the MBO of financial risk management advisory firm JCRA Group, with the assistance of Birmingham-based supervising partner¬†Tom Durrant.¬†The team also excels in the technology, food, defence and recruitment sectors, with CACI, Vittles Foods and Cohort featuring on the client roster.

Herrington Carmichael LLP¬†meets ‚Äėinternational legal business standards in the field of mergers and acquisitions‚Äô and is recommended for ‚Äėdistilling down complicated contractual advice into clear, concise and insightful feedback with clear recommendations and options‚Äô. Corporate lawyer and practice head Yavan Brar¬†and senior solicitor Alex Canham¬†are recommended for ‚Äėtheir reactive and comprehensive approach when confronted with complex, international corporate legal situations‚Äô, while commercial specialist Mark Chapman¬†‚Äėhas strong technical knowledge and deals expeditiously with requests‚Äô and ‚Äėtakes the time to understand clients‚Äô businesses and shape his advice and support in a way that works for the client‚Äô. Work highlights included advising on acquisitions, share buy-backs and issuances, refinancing arrangements and financial services regulatory matters.

The 'brilliant team' at BrookStreet des Roches is noted for its broad base of work, with particular strength in the food, engineering, technology and healthcare sectors. Head of corporate Paddy Gregan routinely handles significant transactions affecting the food production sector, notably advising on PD Hook Group’s acquisition of Bernard Matthews turkey business following the insolvency of the latter. Gregan also acted for Nuffield College on the formation of a public-private corporate joint venture between Nuffield and Oxford City Council to develop a major £200m mixed-use scheme in Oxford’s West End. Hugh Tebay heads the commercial side of the practice and recently assisted Smeg UK with the drafting and negotiation of logistics and warehousing agreements. Gayle Curry joined from Blake Morgan LLP to head the practice's healthcare transactional offering.

Blandy & Blandy LLP¬†gives ‚Äėexcellent advice at a fair cost‚Äô to owner-managed businesses, investors and financiers on deals with values up to ¬£25m. Corporate practitioner David Few¬†heads the practice and advised Lloyds Bank in connection with the financing of the acquisition of Witney Lakes Resort, Spa and Golf Club by The Club Company. Few also assisted Search Technologies with the due diligence exercise undertaken on the UK subsidiary in the course of the acquisition of Search Technologies and its global subsidiaries by Accenture. IP practice head Debbie Brett¬†and Nick Burrows,¬†who leads the charity and education team, are the primary contacts for commercial work. Perfetti Van Melle and Launch Diagnostics are also clients.

Gardner Leader LLP¬†is ‚Äėvery good in terms of response times and also thoroughness of following up on outstanding items‚Äô. The team recently expanded with the hire of senior associate Sarah Samuel-Gibbon, who focuses on advising clients in the technology, media and telecoms sectors, and commercial associate Ami Bhatt,¬†who has a specialism in owner-managed businesses and SMEs in the IT, real estate, telecoms and health sectors. Commercial lawyer Greg Humphreys¬†heads the practice out of the firm‚Äôs Newbury office alongside managing partner Derek Rodgers, while Diane Yarrow¬†and Richard Buckeridge¬†are the key figures based in the Maidenhead office.

The team at¬†Spratt Endicott, which is considered 'excellent value for money', operates principally out of the firm‚Äôs Banbury and Bicester offices. Name partner and team head¬†John Spratt¬†is¬†‚Äėexcellent at drafting and negotiating complex commercial agreements‚Äô, with regular instructions on share purchase agreements, management buy-ins and buy-outs, shareholders‚Äô agreements and international commercial agreements. Director Hitendra Patel¬†provides ‚Äėvery practical advice and support on transactions‚Äô, with valuable experience of corporate work relating to the technology sector and complex reorganisation projects. Associate Catherine O'Riordan¬†is ‚Äėwell organised and has excellent attention to detail‚Äô, with expertise in e-commerce law and general commercial matters including data protection and competition law.

Brethertons LLP's areas of expertise include the property management, healthcare, and banking and finance sectors. The practice has had a significant number of instructions on acquisitions and disposals, commercial agreements and business structures, together with work advising clients on compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. Alison McCormack and Brian Auld lead on corporate and commercial matters respectively.

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors' practice¬†is headed by Barry Niven,¬†‚Äėwho is developing a team of knowledgeable and responsive lawyers who seek to understand client needs and tailor their approach and advice to those requirements‚Äô. Solicitor Joel Molloy¬†'is easy¬†and straightforward to deal with and responds efficiently and very effectively‚Äô, with Niven and Molloy ‚Äėboth offering a responsiveness you expect from a City law firm with the commercial understanding of how to apply their advice in practice to a range of situations‚Äô. The team undertakes a broad range of corporate and commercial work, including transaction management, bank security arrangements and work for professional practices such as chartered surveyors, IFAs and estate agents.

Royds Withy King's team¬†is recommended for its ‚Äėresponsive and knowledgeable‚Äô solicitors, who exhibit ‚Äėimpeccable attention to detail‚Äô. Corporate team head¬†John North¬†possesses over 25 years‚Äô experience in a broad range of corporate and commercial transactions, with expertise in joint ventures, reorganisations, and publishing and media contracts. Solicitor Jennifer Sampson¬†is recommended for her ‚Äėattention to detail and explanation of issues‚Äô. Sampson notably advised Oxford Genetics on the negotiation of an investment agreement and assisted the client with the disclosure exercise and amendment to its constitutional documents pursuant to the investment terms. Other clients of the firm include HSBC, Invest UK and Oxford Ventures. Iain Butler¬†joined in March 2018 from Shoosmiths LLP.

Corporate tax

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The corporate tax practice at Blake Morgan LLP provides '100% commitment to clients - the team is always available and completely "on it", ensuring all the small print is read, understood and challenged where necessary'. Headed by Simon Court, the practice's 'deep sectoral knowledge' extends to recruitment, education, healthcare, medical devices, charities and retail. It regularly handles equity fundraising matters for venture capitalists; management incentive agreements; tax structures for investment funds; corporate reorganisations, including stamp duty issues; and commercial property projects for developers, farmers, local borough councils and social housing landlords. It has been highly active in transactional tax matters; Mark Hepworth ('an outstanding negotiator - diligent, knowledgeable, pragmatic and negotiator') acted for the founders of TTC Group, a provider of road user and cycling education courses, on its sale to a management team backed by Palatine Private Equity. In another highlight, James Hawkeswood acted for Ground Control Holdings on the acquisition of the Litterboss Group.

Clarke Willmott LLP fields an 'excellent' corporate tax practice that has wide-ranging expertise covering share incentive schemes, property-related tax structuring issues, issues arising from historic tax liabilities (including settling tax liabilities through the use of the LDF and other disclosure facilities), and corporate tax issues arising from acquisitions and disposals. Niall Murphy heads the practice and brings more than 30 years' experience across a range of tax matters, including international tax planning and tax litigation. Recent transactional highlights include advising Addnobe Group on the tax aspects of the client's acquisition of Intrinsys Limited, which involved assisting with tax warranties and covenants. On the real estate front, Murphy advised Sheet Anchor Investments on the SDLT and direct tax implications of its acquisition and financing of a freehold interest in a shopping centre in Derby.

Clients of Field Seymour Parkes LLP award its corporate tax team 'full points on all fronts; the team clearly has the industry knowledge and experience with inputs into timely, practical advice'. Practice head Philippa Roles is praised for being 'on point, extremely knowledgeable, and able to guide the client without complicating the issue with industry jargon; she is a real professional'. The practice is noted for its ability to provide pre-and-post transaction tax planning advice, as illustrated by its handling of Stampede Global Europe's group restructuring, which involved advising on the UK tax implications of transferring shares in offshore subsidiaries to an intermediate group company and the subsequent sale of the lower tier company shares. In another highlight, the practice provided with enterprise investment scheme advice and planning, and applied for advance assurance from HMRC with regard to scheme availability.

Shoosmiths LLP fields a tax team from its Reading office that is praised for its 'excellent response times and commercial knowledge', with practice head Tom Wilde singled out for his 'pragmatic and commercial approach, without compromising on the legals and technicalities'. The team advises investors and investee companies on enterprise investment schemes and venture capital trust (VCT) compliant investments.  On the transactional front, Wilde advised Octopus Investments on its venture capital investment into US cybersecurity firm, Digital Shadows, which involved structuring the investment to ensure it was VCT compliant, as well as obtaining advance assurance from HMRC. The firm also has a dedicated real estate tax practice headed by Daniel Kennedy (who 'delivers complex advice in a pragmatic and understandable way' and whose 'knowledge of the commercial angles enables him to tailor advice accordingly'). Kennedy acted alongside associate Sara Mardell for Allied London on its sale to Schroders of units in the vehicle which owns the No.1  Spinningfields development in Manchester; this involved advising on the tax implication of the pre-transaction reorganisation to enable the property to be sold out of the wider development, and the subsequent tax aspects of the unit sale transaction.

Stevens & Bolton LLP has wide-ranging corporate tax expertise, with a particular focus on advising entrepreneurs, owner managers and SMEs on tax issues, including exit tax planning and equity incentive structures. The firm has continued to develop its capability in the latter category, with 2017 seeing it advise on a range of schemes, including EMI schemes, unapproved option schemes and employment-related incentive structuring for private equity transactions. In a highlight matter, practice head Kate Schmit advised the management team of Thesis Asset Management on the tax aspects of the wealth management company's £47m sale to a buyer funded by a consortium of private equity investors as well as the existing management team. The team was joined in 2017 by Jamie Crawford, who handled the tax aspects of Metropolis International's acquisition of 11 former Emap business-to-business magazine brands, as well as the amendment of the company's term and revolving loan facilities.

EU and competition

Who Represents Who

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Clyde & Co LLP attracts praise for its 'quick responses, industry understanding, commercial but thorough advice, and value for money', with practice head John Milligan attracting praise for his 'good knowledge of the law and commercial approach'. Milligan regularly acts for domestic and overseas companies and trade associations on a range of EU law and international trade matters, including merger and joint venture clearances, cartel investigations, and public procurement. Its highly active litigation practice has been heavily involved in private enforcement matters, while on the non-contentious front it regularly handles competition authority investigations and EU state aid matters for clients across the insurance, transport, energy, infrastructure and trade sectors. Clients include Greenfields Ireland, a dairy trading company based in Ireland, for which it is handling EU food regulation issues related to its dealings with customers and non-EU suppliers.

The team at Shoosmiths LLP attracts praise for its ability to 'cover all major areas of EU law', with Simon Barnes singled out for his 'excellent knowledge of UK authorities'. Barnes, who has wide-ranging experience in EU and competition law matters, is developing particular expertise in the automotive sector, where he is handling a number of strategic matters for several well-known automotive brands, including reviewing distribution agreements. Recent highlights include acting for Micronclean as one of two parties under investigation by the CMA in its investigation into the cleanroom laundry sector, which involved allegations that JV agreements between the client and the other party to the investigation constituted a restriction of competition by object. On the merger control front, Barnes assisted Datix with obtaining merger control clearances in Australia and New Zealand for its acquisition of Riskman.

Stevens & Bolton LLP's highly-rated practice is headed by Gustaf Duhs, who is many clients' 'first port of call for competition queries', thanks in part to his 'razor-sharp advice and upper-class service; he cuts to the heart of a problem and goes the extra mile to solve them in the most commercially elegant way'. The practice is regularly called on to advise FTSE corporates multinational clients on strategic competition matters, with particular strength in the life sciences, TMT and FMCG sectors. Duhs is acting alongside senior associate Maliha Carey for the British Generic Manufacturers Association in relation to developments that may have an impact on pricing of medicines; this involved an application to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to intervene in several appeal cases. They are also advising advising a former director of a pharmaceutical company on the CMA's ongoing investigations into suspected anti-competitive agreements and conduct in the pharmaceutical sector. Other highlights included providing merger control advice to media and technology group Metropolis in relation to its acquisition of former Emap business-to-business magazine brands and advising HF Holding on the merger control aspects of its acquisition of Gantrail International.

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