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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 > Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Commercial litigation: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

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 of 'exceptionally good litigators' who combine 'good technical knowledge with a personal service'; for many, the team is 'second to none'. Practice head Matthew Brandis is 'exceptional - incredibly thorough and very good at keeping clients informed and up to date'. He has more than 20 years' experience handling complex contractual disputes, defamation actions and professional negligence claims, and is ably supported by Craig Williams, who 'really considers the clients interests when delivering advice on complex legal issues'; and Nick Hallchurch, whose extensive track record covers shareholder disputes, professional negligence claims against solicitors, health and safety disputes, and regulatory claims. The environmental, technology and pharmaceutical sectors are all key areas of strength for the practice; in an illustration of its capability in the waste management sector, Williams and associate Rajiv Malhotra successfully defended PB Donoghue in a £3m claim for damages arising from oral agreements made with a former HGV driver. In another key matter, Williams and senior associate Simon Carroll represented a local charity in a case arising from a gym operator's failure to make payments and refusal to provide account to avoid fee increases.

Dentons has 'an extremely impressive presence in this field', providing 'sound and pragmatic advice to help resolve commercial disputes as swiftly and efficiently as possible'. The 'very professional and hardworking team' comprises eight dedicated partners and more than 40 additional lawyers based in offices in Milton Keynes and Watford with wide-ranging expertise covering post-M&A disputes, joint venture disputes, shareholder disputes and corporate control issues. Tim Constable ('has an excellent knowledge of the law, with an acute ability to identify the difficult points in cases and analyse those points in detail') led a team including senior associate Robert Bedford and associate Steven Baker that defended a global car rental company and longstanding client in a group action in Israel involving potentially tens of thousands of claimants.  In another key matter James Fairbairn ('consistently helpful') represented Haringey Council in a £7m professional negligence claim against Property Consultants concerning negligent design and contract administration services related to the extension of a primary school. Other key figures include Steven Mills, who acted for RBS in a case arising from the allegedly negligent sale of interest rate hedging products; Clare Stothard, who is noted for her extensive experience in investment and retail banking litigation, and who acted for RBS, Barclays and NatWest in a Court of Appeal case concerning interest rate swaps and their linkage to claims founded on regulatory reviews carried out by the FCA;  and Roger McCourt, who has more than 20 years' experience acting in retail and business banking disputes. Helen Simpson left private practice in September 2017.

Freeths LLP has a particularly strong reputation for handling commercial disputes in the drinks and hospitality sector, where its disputes practice acts for a number of well-known UK brand owners, including Casual Dining Group, owners of the Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas restaurant chains. The practice's other clients include UK-based plcs such as Dawsongroup, international companies such as Amscan International, and SMEs. In an illustration of its longstanding relationships with clients, the firm continues to act for the claimants in a long-running case involving the value and rights in a family business, which has involved eight interlocutory hearings, three trials, and which has progressed to a costs assessment. It is also acting for numerous transport and logistics companies in proposed claims for damages against the major truck manufacturers arising from the European Commission's investigation into price fixing cartel behavious. Simon Hobbs  heads the practice, which includes property litigator Mark Brown.

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) further strengthened its commercial litigation offering through the firm's merger with Turbervilles, with John Clement heading the newly combined litigation practice, which acts for a range of UK plcs and multinationals including Renault UK and Manpower UK. The practice is particularly active in the automotive, manufacturing and leisure sectors, with the merger adding expertise in the park homes sector.  Recent work includes acting for Optimise Water in High Court proceedings against Apogee Corporation concerning alleged overcharging for a managed print services contract, and defending a client in an ongoing Commercial Court claim, which is valued at $165m and involves Russia, Italy, Switzerland and Israel. Other key figures include Paul Kite, who has more than 20 years' experience handling a range of disputes related to commercial contracts, product liability, franchising, shareholder issues, and commercial fraud, and senior associate Sarah Jackson, who regularly handles company and partnership disputes and chancery litigation.

Headed by Robert Ryall and Tracy Lacey-Smith, SA Law LLP's highly respected dispute resolution team has an extensive track record in high-value, business-critical cases, often with a multi-jurisdictional element. Collectively, Ryall and Lacy-Smith have more than 40 years' experience as litigators, covering a range of sectors including pharmaceuticals, sport, construction and energy. The practice recently acted for Sutton Housing Partnership in Court of Appeal proceedings concerning the termination of a maintenance services contract, and represented a company in a professional negligence claim against the client's former lawyers arising from the acquisition of an investment property. Other key figures include, Tom Lawrence, who represented Gillingham Football Club in a claim concerning a catering contract, in which the client was awarded £1.4m in damages; senior associate Simon Walsh, who regularly handles domestic and cross-border disputes across a variety of sectors; and senior associate Nathanael Young, who is particularly noted for his expertise in insolvency, intellectual property and media and defamation cases.

EMW Law LLP handles the full range of commercial disputes for clients spanning a wide spectrum of industry sectors, including sports, food, retail, construction, education, renewable energy and banking. Damon Watt heads the team and has extensive experience in insolvency, contract, negligence and shareholder disputes, and also handles warranty claims, partnership and sports law issues, and a variety of ADR matters. Watt recently represented Northamptonshire County Cricket Club in a claim relating to a defective audio visual scoreboard and media board. Other key figures include Charles Clay, who heads the property litigation team as well as handling general commercial litigation and ADR; Karen Young, whose expertise covers defamation and warranty claims, among others; Mark Rondel, who acted for the claimant in a dispute against their insurers concerning back-dated payments under a health insurance policy; and Sean Fitzgerald, who is defending Santander UK in lease renewal proceedings concerning one of its flagship branches.

Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP acts for a range of clients, from SMEs to national and international corporates, in professional negligence claims, shareholder and partnership disputes, construction and property litigation, commercial contract issues, IT and IP disputes, and insolvency matters, among other specialisms. Practice head and real estate litigation specialist Kenneth Stangoe acts for public sector bodies, charities, multinationals and high-profile individuals in right-of-way disputes, dilapidation claims and boundary disputes. In a key mandate, Trevor Coward acted for Hexglade, an SPV established to pursue claims on behalf of travel company Chambers Travel against its finance director, who had defrauded the company to the sum of £3.3m; to date, the firm has secured the recovery of approximately £850,000 and obtained an injunction over a further £400,000, and has issued proceedings against the travel company's auditors at the time of the thefts. Also recommended are debt recovery specialist Guy Brooks, Mairead McErlean, who has specialist expertise in local authority matters, and Richard Millard, who handles construction disputes.

Clients of Sherrards Solicitors LLP are 'thoroughly impressed with the high level and quality of service' provided by the team, which provides 'thoughtful and valued advice at each step of the dispute'. The practice's expertise spans multi-jurisdictional litigation, with a particular emphasis on CIS jurisdictions and Russia, thanks to Marta Grieve's extensive experience in these areas. Practice head Paul Marmor is particularly active in cross-border and fraud-related litigation, and acts for clients including Habibsons Bank. Other key figures include Barney Laurence, who acted for Villa Plus in obtaining an injunction against web hosting company GoDaddy to remove hoax rival holiday sites advertising the client's villas for rental, without the client's knowledge or consent; and Karen Dobson, who specialises in insolvency-related litigation.

Clients of Shoosmiths LLP consider the practice 'a valued extension of the internal legal function; its understanding of clients' business, commercial awareness and the efficiency with which it works marks the team out as a real value-for-money proposition'. Headed by Paul Kirkpatrick, The team in Milton Keynes handles a range of high-value litigation, with particular emphasis on the automotive and retail sectors.  In an illustration of its track record in the latter sector, Kirkpatrick acted for IKEA in proceedings issued by one of its customers for disability discrimination pursuant to the Equality Act. The team's clients also include Volkswagen Group and Calor Gas. Senior associate Harriet Campbell is particularly noted for her reputation management expertise.

Debenhams Ottaway is 'a very accomplished and professional firm, whose core values of commercialism, transparency, effectiveness and good communication inspire confidence'. intellectual property, professional negligence and insolvency disputes are all mainstays for the practice, which also experienced an increase in technology and construction cases. Recent highlights for Luke Harrison's team include defending Fairgate Developments  in a £1.7m damages claim arising from the alleged wrongful termination of a project manager's contract, and acting for the trustee in bankruptcy in proceedings to secure assets of the bankruptcy and claw back antecedent transactions. Also recommended are associate Louise Worton, partner Juliet Schalker, who joined from Rosling King LLP, and IP disputes specialist Rosie Patterson, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Machins Solicitors LLP handles a range of contentious matters, including partnership and property disputes, insolvency litigation, and disputes arising from breach of fiduciary duty. Neil O'Callaghan heads the team, which recently acted for the defendant in a multi-party High Court bankruptcy claim. Other recent work includes acting in a High Court claim for damages in excess of £1.6m relating to faulty products connected to the oil industry, and successfully defending a client against claims for damages arising from allegations of harassment. Commercial property litigator Janice Young is also recommended.

Neves is 'an excellent regional player, capable of handling substantial commercial litigation, even against far bigger City heavyweights'. Peter Kelly heads the practice and 'fights hard for his clients; he has considerable experience and combines this with a practical and pragmatic approach'. He leads a team with extensive experience in high-value commercial disputes, as well as landlord and tenant claims and debt recovery matters. Recent work includes successfully defending an individual in a claim brought by a logistics company concerning allegations of fraudulent conduct, and acting for the defendants before the Court of Appeal in a £10m damages claim for alleged breaches of restrictive covenants. James Harvey is praised for his 'precision and ability to outline both the pros and cons of any issue'.

Tees Law is 'a solid firm with some very impressive individuals'; clients find 'the service to be excellent, the responses prompt, the knowledge base wide, and the fees fair when compared to other law firms'. The dispute resolution practice's clients include a number of household names, including Greene King Brewing and Retailing, for which Justin Robinson continues to act in multiple cases concerning claims against individuals, partnerships, pub companies, non-league football teams and social clubs throughout England and Wales. In another key mandate, Caroline Metcalf (who is noted for her 'down-to-earth, practical approach, coupled with a careful eye to cost') acted for a commercial property owner in a claim arising from land that was subject to a restriction preventing it from being sold without the agreement of a company that had been struck off the companies register; Metcalf secured an undertaking that the former directors of the company would release the client's land from the restriction.

The practice at Blaser Mills Law is rated for its 'excellent response times, industry-specific knowledge and commercial attitude'. Headed by the 'excellent' Alka Kharbanda, the practice includes Jackie Ray, who is praised for her 'strong client liaison skills and excellent presentational skills'. Ray has a strong track record in handling commercial contract enforcement matters as well as international recoveries and registering foreign judgments; in an illustration of the practice's strength in consumables, she recently acted for AB Agri in a case concerning the supply of consumable to a limited company for which payment was subject to a personal guarantee. Other recent work includes acting for SIG Trading in a claim for construction materials and a second claim against a director concerning a personal guarantee. Also recommended are managing partner Jonathan Lilley ('a seasoned litigator with a strong sense of strategy and the commercial interests of the client'), and Sangita Manek, who acts for businesses as well as high-net-worth individuals and professionals.

Clients of Longmores Solicitors LLP report that they are 'very satisfied' with the level of service provided by the firm, and rate the team's 'very good knowledge and expertise'. Particular praise is singled out for contentious property specialist John Wagstaffe, 'a superb lawyer who is genuinely interested in his work and is intellectually very capable'. Other key figures include practice head John Wiblin and Lauren Mackenzie, who recently acted for a commercial landlord in a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service concerning a mis-sold interest rate hedging product. Wilbin also acted for Stubbins Marketing in a claim against former directors alleging that they acted in breach of their fiduciary duties and transferred the assets of the company to third party entities under their control at an undervalue.

Taylor Walton LLP's disputes practice has wide-ranging expertise covering litigation as well as all forms of ADR. James Carpenter  heads the department.

Woodfines LLP's 'efficient and detailed' team is particularly rated for its 'in-depth knowledge of clients' business'. It has an extensive track record in contractual disputes, property litigation, insolvency and debt recovery, among other matters. Clients include Abigrain, Guardian Financial Services and Daisy Wholesale. Andrew Carter is the key contact.

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