Firms To Watch: Corporate and commercial: Essex

Holmes & Hills‘ corporate and commercial team grew significantly in 2021, with two new solicitors joining the team led by associate Natalie Stoter.

Corporate and commercial: Essex in South East

Birketts LLP

The Chelmsford-based corporate and commercial team at Birketts LLP, led by Rafael Ruiz, is well regarded for its corporate acquisitions and disposal expertise as well as complex commercial agreements work. On the transactional side, the group is becoming increasingly involved in private equity backed transactions in Essex, advising private equity houses as well as shareholders; it is commended for ‘the strength and depth of its capabilities, especially with regard to private equity transactions, which sets the team apart in the local market.’ Such transactions are often carried out by corporate M&A specialist Adam Jones. Capital markets expert and legal director Caroline Nicholls is a key name to note as well as Heidi Jones, who is developing a niche in employee ownership transactions, and senior associate Alex Forwood.

Practice head(s):

Rafael Ruiz

Other key lawyers:

Alex Forwood; Daden Hunt; Adam Jones; Caroline Nicholls; Heidi Jones


‘Everyone I have dealt with has taken the time to understand our business, our individual needs and the outcomes we desire from the negotiations we are involved in. The advice is useful to the non legal mind to help with understanding even the most complex of issues.’

‘Rafael Ruiz understands the dynamics of our individual shareholders as well as the needs of the business. He is personally very interested in our progress and makes a great partner as a result.’

‘The history and experience shared through the years is a strong factor in continuing to choose their professional expertise. Good interaction across range of team and encouraging that they have specialist expertise in multiple areas.’

‘The strength and depth of the team’s capabilities, especially with regard to private equity transactions, sets the team apart in the local market.’

‘Their history and experience over the years is a strong factor in continuing to choose their professional expertise. They have specialist expertise in multiple areas.’

‘We have had many dealings with Alex Forwood and Daden Hunt and they both merit special mention due to their professional approach at all times. As it’s an area of required detailed technical expertise, Alex and Daden bring clarity and understanding to each decision point and this we really value.’

‘The team has a wide array of services and expertise to cover all requirements needed for a business.’

Key clients

Atalian Servest

Investec Investments (UK) Limited

Investec Bank plc

HHB Communications Limited

Commcise Software

Excess Baggage Group

The Reddington Group

Hydro International Limited

Eatron Technologies


Airtask Group/Directflight

Merryck & Co

Granarolo SpA & Group

Commodity Centre Group

YFM Private Equity

M.W. Beer

Alpha CRC

CLP Aromas


Aston Barclay

Work highlights

  • Acted for mid-market private equity house YFM on its acquisition of and investment in RGE Services.
  • Advised the owners of Manchester Underwriting Holdings Limited on its sale to insurer AJ Gallagher.
  • Acted for AIM-listed Escape Hunt plc on its cross-border acquisition of BGP Escape.

Birkett Long LLP

Birkett Long LLP, which works across Essex from offices in Chelmsford, Colchester, and Basildon, has a large presence in the Essex market and is instructed by a varied clients base operating in the banking, healthcare, franchising and manufacturing sectors. The group is particularly well versed in the healthcare sector, advising both acquisitive care home operators and GPs. Investment work remains a key component of the team’s offering, and practice head Tracey Dickens is known for her corporate transactional work. Dickens is supported by experienced corporate lawyer David Wisbey as well as Thomas Emmett and Tim Field, who were promoted to associate and senior associate respectively in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Tracey Dickens

Other key lawyers:

David Wisbey; Thomas Emmett; Tim Field


‘Clear support on the facts and the next steps. Prompt response times. Understanding of the nature of our organisation.’

‘Thomas Emmett has been particularly attentive to detail, providing detailed facts of the law and how to negotiate ways forward.’

‘We have a small legal panel made up of practices that have consistently delivered high quality support to our organisation. The critical success factor in this relationship is people and we have now worked with Tim Field of Birkett Long LLP’s Corporate and Commercial practice for some years.’

Key clients

Amara Living Limited

Backline Safety Europe Ltd

Blackline Safety Corp.

Flakt Woods Limited

Healthcare Homes (LSC) Limited

Healthcare Homes Group Limited

I&C Limited

Navigator Terminals Limited

Navigator Terminals North Tees Limited

Navigator Terminals Seal Sands Limited

Navigator Terminals Thames BV Ltd

Panfoods Co Limited

Praxis42 Limited

Project Etopia Group Limited

Project Etopia Limited

Project Etopia UK Limited

Simarco International Limited

St Mary’s School Colchester Ltd

Thermotraffic UK Ltd


Wilkin & Sons Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Nichirei Holding Holland B.V. on the purchase of Norish (N. I.) Limited from Norish plc.
  • Advised the shareholders of GB Underwriting Limited on the sale of the company to insurance intermediary Specialist Risk Group.
  • Assisting Blackline Safety Corp with the purchase of the entire issued share capital of Wearable Technologies Ltd group.

Tees Law

Building on its ‘strength in depth in a wide variety of M&A transactions,‘ the group at Tees Law expanded its practice with the arrival of senior associate Alastair Cotton, who added the International Paralympic Committee as a client in the sports sector and has additional expertise in the transport and logistics industries. The team has also worked closely with the firm's commercial property practice to expand its property joint ventures expertise. Lucy Folley, who leads the team from Brentwood, and recently promoted senior associate Baljeet Kaur are key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Folley

Other key lawyers:

Baljeet Kaur; Alastair Cotton


‘Lucy Folley has been my main contact. One of Lucy’s biggest strengths is her pragmatism. In a number of deals Lucy has been involved in, the counterparty in our negotiations has commented on how fair her approach is. This has made it much easier for us to close positions.’

‘Lucy Folley’s advice and knowledge across a wide range of topics was excellent and if an additional service was required, she would brief the relevant specialist team member and get the wider team involved.’

‘We have gained great confidence in Tees Law. We feel that we receive London quality advice but with a more provincial style of attention to customer service and communication.’

‘Members of the Tees team work in a conjoined fashion taking advice from and supporting each other where necessary.’

‘A very experienced team with strength in depth that has skills in a wide variety of M&A transactions.’

‘We have been impressed by their understanding of our business needs within the commercial environment.’

‘The corporate team at Tees have a wide breadth of experience and skills and deliver high quality results for clients. Dealing with transactional work often throws up some unexpected scenarios and the team have demonstrated the flexibility to be able to deal with these when they arise.’

Key clients

Ashberry Healthcare Limited

Brentwood School

Fairacres Group

International Paralympic Committee

Grove & Dean Limited

Turners (Soham) Limited

Xpediator Plc

GTES Holdings Limited

Price Bailey LLP

Cognisoft Limited

Voxtur Group Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising GTES Holdings Limited, a global aviation engine management services company, on management buyout of GT Engine Services Ltd.
  • Advising a global logistics company on all corporate and commercial aspects of its business, including a recent share acquisition.
  • Advising Voxtur Group Ltd to complete a key strategic acquisition of Three Grey Monkeys.

Thompson Smith and Puxon

Based in its Colchester office, the team at Thompson Smith and Puxon has developed a niche in complex reorganisation work, which practice leader Mary Anne Fedeyko has been involved in for over 20 years. Assisting domestic and international clients, the group is also well-regarded in the healthcare sector, where it handles the purchase and sale of dental practices, leveraging Nick Mayles‘ specialty working with dental practices and Claire Powell‘s experience advising GP practices.

Practice head(s):

Mary Anne Fedeyko

Other key lawyers:

Nick Mayles; Claire Powell; Nicola Rout


‘I have worked closely with Mary Anne Fedeyko on two significant cases and she has cut through to the key issues very quickly making the process more efficient and improving the relationship between the parties involved.’

‘Having worked with the corporate team on a recent transaction that was very complex, I was highly impressed with the level of senior led service the practice provided to the client, which was fundamental in getting the deal over the line.’

‘Nick Mayles and Mary Anne Fedeyko were stand out performers in the transaction. They were highly commercial and committed to client delivery.’

‘The commercial team is well organised and has a diverse mix of talent including recruiting younger members into the team, who will no doubt become trail blazers for the future.’

Ellisons Solicitors

Management buyouts have featured in the standout mandates for the group at Ellisons Solicitors, and clients have commended the group for its expertise in this area. Paul Forsyth, who leads the teams in the Chelmsford and Colchester offices, has built a strong reputation as a leading lawyer in the corporate field, and associate David Heller has particular experience in banking and insolvency transactions.

Practice head(s):

Paul Forsyth

Other key lawyers:

David Heller


Their knowledge on the management buyout legal process was flawless and the process was swift.’

Key clients

Web Shield Limited

DSV Air & Sea Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted two individuals in connection with the sale of their shares in ParentApps Limited to the UK arm of US-based Community Brands, Inc..
  • Advised Web Shield Limited on the sale of its shares in a UK based group of companies to Zignec, a listed company in Sweden.
  • Assisted DSV Air & Sea Limited with the integration of Agility’s UK Group into the DSV UK Group.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Led by firmwide CEO Tony Fisher, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP‘s ‘highly responsive and commercially aware’ team is particular active in the care, healthcare and IT sectors, acting for a range of mid-sized IT companies in the south east. Leah Groves is active in the healthcare sector, leading the group’s healthcare practice. Ashton Carter, who is praised for his ability to ‘deliver a rapid response at short notice’, handles both the corporate side of such acquisitions as well as elements of the property related to such transactions.

Practice head(s):

Tony Fisher

Other key lawyers:

Ashton Carter; Leah Groves


‘Highly responsive and commercially aware.’

‘Ashton Carter is notably accessible and was able to deliver a rapid response at short notice.’

‘Fisher Jones Greenwood is excellent. They have been at my side throughout my career, offering advice when needed. During the sale of my business, they understood what I needed from them and dealt with everything professionally and sensitively.’

‘Ashton Carter gave us exceptional service. Nothing was too much trouble.’

Pinney Talfourd LLP

The ‘technically excellent’ corporate and commercial department at Pinney Talfourd LLP in Brentwood has recently expanded its coverage following its merger with Hill & Abbott in November 2021. The team remains well positioned to provide in-depth expert advice to clients across the region and the country. In October 2022, former practice head Edward Garston moved to Spencer West LLP.

Other key lawyers:

Alex Pearce; Julien Pritchard


‘All solicitors communicated efficiently and with clarity.’

‘Technically excellent – genuine city quality advice and support.’

‘Wide skill base at the firm and a real willingness to help. Good communication between different departments.’

‘Due to their consistently high level of service and expertise we consider Pinney Talfourd to always be the first port of call in respect of corporate and commercial matters. In a very competitive market Pinney Talfourd continue to deliver the required all round high level of service.’

‘I find that Julien Pritchard explains issues and resolutions in a way that is clear to understand no matter how complex they may be.’

‘Pinney Talfourd are a modern and progressive firm of solicitors.’

Key clients

Neon Healthcare Limited

Simply Glass Limited

White Calm Wellbeing Limited

Allison Engineering Limited

Stanwell Homes

Inteli2D Group Limited

MRV Support Services

Every Friday Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Rainbow Designs Holdings Limited on the restructuring of its group of companies and exit of Dutch-based long-term strategic shareholder partner Mercis BV.
  • Advised Neon Healthcare on a strategically important distribution agreement for pharmaceutical products in the UK.
  • Advised Allison UK Holdings Limited on a corporate restructuring and group reorganisation.


Led by Keith Vincent and Simon Letts, who deliver ‘exceptional service‘, the team at Aquabridge has a particular expertise in complex and valuable business sales and acquisitions. The pair split their time between offices in Suffolk and Essex.

Practice head(s):

Kieran Lowe; Simon Letts


‘The team have the the skills and expertise of a larger firm. Very pragmatic in getting deals done.’

‘Easy to understand.’

‘Kieran Lowe and Simon Letts consistently deliver exceptional service.’

Key clients

The Knight Group

Cameron Ventures Group


Brentwood Communications

George Baker Group

Secure Shield Limited

Kersey Freight Limited

Maze Logistics Limited

Safely Insured (previously known as Sky Insurance)

Mel Aviation


Keswick Enterprises Group

Hunt Healthcare

Work highlights

  • Advised the sellers on the sale of UK Customs Solutions Limited to Customs Support Group BV.
  • Advised Brentwood Communications Ltd on its acquisition of Radio Links Ltd.
  • Advised the sellers on the sale of a leading UK supplier of CPQ software and other online sales tools to a world leader in the provision of channel incentive software.

BTMK Solicitors

Based in Rayleigh, Southend, and Leigh-on-Sea, the team at BTMK Solicitors are mostly instructed by high-net-worth individuals and SMEs from a range of sectors. The firm's London office adds to the group’s capacity to assist clients from more niche sectors including the sports, entertainment, logistics and engineering industries. Lee Emptage, who is ‘very knowledgeable in commercial sale negotiations‘, leads the team with experienced commercial lawyer Ian Powell.

Practice head(s):

Lee Emptage; Ian Powell

Other key lawyers:

Craig Kelly


‘BTMK is a ‘one stop shop’ for our commercial legal requirements. They have a pragmatic solution to all of our requirements. Our needs are very quickly dealt with in a thorough manner.’

‘I was very impressed by the attention to detail in the contract negotiations and ability to extract what is and isn’t important.’

‘Lee Emptage is very knowledgeable of commercial sale negotiations and is ably supported by Craig Kelly.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a family on the sale of the entire issued share capital of its company in a deal worth in excess of £15m.
  • Advised a client on entering into a new multi million pound contract with two sports streaming services.
  • Advised a client on a contract to review traffic infrastructure in Ghana.

Jefferies Essex LLP

The team at Jefferies Essex LLP has a strong presence in the Essex market, utilising its ‘wealth of experience‘ to advise on a full range of commercial transactions from multi-million-pound mergers and acquisitions to corporate governance matters and joint ventures agreements. Amelia Hayes deals with the property aspects of commercial transactions and practice head Katrina Holland has over 15 years’ experience in advising on a general commercial transactions. Duncan Bennington has particularly experience in share sales and acquisitions.

Practice head(s):

Katrina Holland

Other key lawyers:

Amelia Hayes; Duncan Bennington


Very reliable and experienced team across the entire spectrum of corporate and commercial business genres.’

‘Duncan Bennington cares deeply about the overall client experience and result.’

‘I value the fact I have direct communication with the solicitor I am dealing with. There is a wealth of experience and always someone to deal with any issue.’

Work highlights

  • Assisting with the share sale of a holding company and its subsidiaries in the childcare industry.
  • Assisting with the sale of shares in a property holding company with ownership of a mixed portfolio of properties.
  • Assisting with the restructuring of a group of companies specialising in the roof waterproofing industry.


The corporate commercial group at Palmers works closely with its employment practice and commercial litigation department. Luke Morgan and BJ Chong lead the team from Basildon, which recently advised on business and company acquisitions and sales, shareholders’ agreements and partnership agreements. Associate Matthew Johnson is active in the group’s work on complex company commercial transactions.

Practice head(s):

Luke Morgan; BJ Chong

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Johnson


‘Palmers Solicitors conduct their business in a very professional, yet relevant way, applying a holistic approach when dealing with matters. They are particularly good at understanding and appreciating the commercial practicalities of transactions.’

‘Matthew Johnson particularly stands out as knowledgeable, professional yet approachable. Matthew differs from the competition in so much as he is extremely good at appreciating the clients position, explaining technical matters in a manner that can be understood and retaining a real focus on the core elements of any transaction, attending to the detail in a way that does not distract from the main issue at hand.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a client on a circa £2m sale of shares.
  • Advised a client on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of a kitchen refurbishments company.
  • Advised a client on the commercial lending of £1.6m including security arrangements.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

Alongside general commercial matters, practitioners at Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP handle the business and property elements of asset purchases and sales, as well as share transactions. Practice head Mark Deans, whose expertise includes company formations, M&A, group reorganisations, partnership agreements and commercial contracts, leads the team with Fiona Colwell, who practices from Westcliffe-on-Sea.

Practice head(s):

Mark Deans; Fiona Colwell