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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 > Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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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.

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