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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: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Other

Index of tables

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

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 Commercial litigation: 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 david.burgess@legal500.com.

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The team at the 'very reputable' Blake Morgan LLP handles complex and high-value commercial disputes for international and national corporations, with a broad range of specialisms including fraud and asset tracing, asset finance disputes and warranty claims. Practice head Chris Potts continues to defend Transworld Payment Solutions UK and its liquidator in proceedings filed in Curaçao by its former parent company First Curaçao International Bank (FCIB), assisting with securing evidence relating to fraud, corresponding with authorities in the UK, France and Holland, and co-ordinating litigation in two jurisdictions. Construction partner James Bessey has been advising Haribo on a series of disputes arising from the construction of a £92m factory facility, with mediation on the matters anticipated. Senior associate Nicola Diggle has been acting for a shareholder in a nationwide coffee bar chain in relation to an unfair prejudice claim being brought by another shareholder of the company. Clients include Investec Asset Finance, Miele and Grant Thornton. Also recommended are Stephanie Walls and senior associate Stephen Schneider].

The 'excellent, very responsive' team at Boyes Turner is ‘good value for money and timely in its responses’. ‘Reassuring litigator’ Jonathan Grigg heads the practice and is noted for his ‘expertise and calm attitude’. The focus of Grigg’s expertise is acting for large corporates, particularly in the technology sector and in international disputes, and he is also highly regarded for pensions’ disputes. Grigg is acting for Viavi Solutions in a dispute with trustees questioning the validity and enforceability of pension scheme documentation and is assisting the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain with an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into alleged anti-competitive practices. Senior associate and debt recovery practice head Ally Tow notably defended Auto Trader against a claim brought by a former customer for damages for alleged wrongful termination of an advertising contract. ‘Tenacious, pragmatic’ senior associate Stephen Baker is defending Zimmer Group and Zimmer Biomet against a number of product liability claims relating to metal-on-metal hip devices. ‘Insightful, realistic and unflappable’ senior associate Rowan Turrall heads the construction team. Kelly Services, Colt Group and Advantedge Commercial Finance are also clients.

Clarkslegal LLP has ‘one of the best litigation departments outside London’, with practice heads Antony Morris and Stephen James hailed as ‘top-class litigators for any multi-layered or complex case’. The practice specialises in a number of niche areas including public procurement, education disputes and intellectual property, as well as more broad commercial litigation. Recent prominent instructions have been received from the University of Reading, Crown Packaging and Autoglass. Morris is currently representing Smart Reamer Drilling Systems in a claim against National Oilwell Varco and two group companies for alleged infringement of the client’s UK patents in the field of oil-drilling technology. Chris Tayton is ‘particularly strong at commercial litigation’, with particular expertise in IT, product liability and public procurement disputes. Tayton has been advising BMW in relation to an inquest into the death of an individual who died in an accident involving a BMW vehicle, as well as on related civil claims made by the deceased’s family and an injured passenger. Tayton has been assisted on this matter by associate Emma Butcher, who has a growing reputation for handling national and international commercial disputes.

Penningtons Manches LLP conducts large-scale complex litigation in a range of areas, including regulatory compliance, investigation and enforcement work, and acts on matters in the education and retail sectors; it also has a strong track record for representing the victims of interest rate mis-selling. Julie Bond, who heads the Oxford commercial disputes team, specialises in commercial and corporate disputes, with an emphasis on regulatory work, professional negligence cases and fraud. Bond acted for the Pirbright Institute in respect of a factually complex negligence claim arising from a “vishing” raid, which involved claims under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and has also been advising Sum-It on a potential claim against HMRC for breach of statutory duty alongside senior associate Emma Davies. Regulatory law expert Ed Weightman returned to the practice after a five-year stint with energy regulator Ofgem, where he was head of enforcement casework. Senior associate Rebecca Andrews-Walker is recognised for her expertise in insolvency and recoveries matters and contentious bankruptcy proceedings.

The team at Pitmans LLP is ‘rated very highly for its responsiveness, value for money and knowledge’, with particular strengths in IT disputes, professional negligence claims, corporate and shareholder disputes, and substantial commercial disputes including logistics, distribution and international trade matters. Practice head Tim Clark is advising an individual client on a shareholder dispute in the context of matrimonial proceedings relating to a company valued at around £3m. Phil Smith is ‘first rate; he has a sharp, analytical mind, identifies and advises clearly on key issues, and is very user-friendly’. Clark and Smith have together been advising Dutch YouTube services company Zoom.In on the UK aspects of a dispute with MNN which involves content-hosting arrangements, services and a shareholders’ agreement. William Richmond-Coggan, who has higher rights of audience, has been acting for One Step (Support) in bringing a non-competition and non-solicitation clauses claim against two individuals, which was heard in the Supreme Court in late 2017. Other clients of note include Veritas Technologies, Symantec and Banner Homes. Deputy managing partner and insolvency expert Suzanne Brooker is also noted, as is contentious construction and engineering expert David Gwillim.

The 'knowledgeable and efficient' team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP provides a ‘City-quality service and expertise for far less money’. The practice advises a wide range of high-profile clients including Volvo, Prudential, Infosys and Reading Football Club. The firm’s recent caseload includes construction disputes, claims regarding facilities management agreements and share purchase agreements, and litigation surrounding fraud allegations. Tom Maple] heads the litigation practice and is highly regarded for his work in the automotive and fast-moving consumer goods sectors as well as his niche expertise in the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. Bill Dixon is a key figure for commercial litigation and is ‘a reliable, very experienced litigator, who is aware of the need for commercial solutions’.

The 'consistent, reliable' team at Freeths LLP ‘provides high-quality advice, day in, day out’. The team’s experience encompasses multi-party shareholder, IT supplier and professional negligence cases and passing off claims, with industry specialisms including logistics, technology, manufacturing, construction and retail. Clients of the practice include BMW, GEFCO and Annie Sloan. Head of dispute resolution Duncan Crine] ‘is very good at dealing with complex disputes and delivering practical, commercially focused advice, and is very client friendly’, while Clare Bellis ‘is also very client friendly and good at dealing with urgent and complex disputes’. Senior associate Andrew Dashwood-Begg has a ‘keen legal mind and an eye for detail’. Oxford office managing partner Sarah Foster maintains a significant role in the team.

Gardner Leader LLP's practice ‘punches well above its weight, providing a very attractive client proposition: City-quality advice at provincial charging rates’. Chris Felton ‘is as able as any City litigator; he has invaluable litigation instincts coupled with great knowledge and experience, especially in international litigation and arbitration’. Felton successfully had claims of around £160,000, which were brought against two clients in their roles as partners in HLM Properties, struck out as an abuse of process. Michelle Di Gioia acted for litigation funder Managed Legal Solutions in respect of a security for costs application valued at £6.8m as part of the Seroxat group litigation, with an outcome which is set to have wide-ranging implications for litigation funders. Clients also include Swynson Limited. Senior associates Hilary Messer and Violetta Falla and associate Andrew Shipp are also noted members of the team. Solicitor Katie Dyson joined the team in January 2018 from Simmons & Simmons, adding her expertise in complex commercial disputes and financial litigation.

The Osborne Clarke team's core industry focuses include the digital, financial services, automotive, defence and life sciences sectors, with Hyundai, HTC Europe and Toni & Guy among its clients. Experienced commercial litigator Peter Sheppard heads the practice, supported by associates Dawn Troman and Kristian Assirati. Sheppard and Assirati are currently acting for telecoms company Wireless Logic on a variety of contractual matters, including an alleged breach of agency agreement and an issue with a network provider. Alongside commercial senior associate Joanne Loveridge, the pair have also been acting for Daler-Rowney in various ongoing disputes, including matters relating to IT systems, product liability and alleged product quality issues, and Data Protection Act liabilities.

Shoosmiths LLP's national commercial practice group is headed by Stuart Little, who excels in the automotive, corporate and IT sectors, while senior associate Fleur Turrington heads the Reading office commercial litigation practice; she also leads the compliance retail and public procurement sector groups and is adept in leisure industry matters. Representative industry sector clients include Hamleys and Ikea for retail and leisure and Bang & Olufsen and EValue for technology. Paul Eccles] leads the growing commercial insurance practice, acting for the likes of HDI-Gerling, United Living and MD Insurance. Associate John Shea is highly regarded in the sports sector, specialising in contentious, regulatory and disciplinary issues for teams, agencies and athletes.

White & Black Limited's team is ‘very responsive and easy to work with; they give good commercial and strategic advice on case handling’, with ‘an excellent level of service and good value for money’. Practice head Victoria Wright and Nicholas Mitchell ‘are both very responsive and always happy to answer questions or give preliminary guidance’. The firm leads in technology disputes, with an emphasis on IP matters, including passing off, patent and copyright work. In arguably the firm’s most high-profile case of recent times, Wright and Mitchell acted for Bednest following the death of a seven-week-old baby in a Bednest crib, achieving a settlement between the parties, assisting the company in its extensive modification programme to ensure that the unmodified cribs were no longer in use, and helping to co-ordinate a global investigation. Wright and Mitchell also represented Dr Lars Allers, the former managing director of Mantis Deposition Ltd (Mantis), in a dispute with a majority shareholder in Mantis linked to the consideration payable for the mandatory buy-out of Dr Allers’ shareholding.

David Murray heads the commercial litigation and insolvency sub-practice at Blandy & Blandy LLP, with joint managing partner Philip D'Arcy heading the dispute resolution practice as a whole. Highlights included Murray advising a client in respect of its exposure to the administration of a major tobacco, food and alcohol wholesaler and defending another client against a range of claims, including that it had defamed its departing president. Clients of the ‘responsive and strong team’ include ePayroll Services, Englefield Estate Trust Corporation and BDO.  Debbie Brett and senior associate Jessica Irwin are other names to note.

The team at BrookStreet des Roches advises clients on a broad range of complex litigation matters, with recent highlights including breach of contract claims, professional negligence claims, insolvency litigation and commercial litigation for real estate clients. Philip Shaw heads the team, with 30 years’ experience as a commercial litigator under his belt. Shaw and associate Gemma Tolmie are continuing to act for Smeg in a cross-jurisdictional contractual dispute with its former Irish distributor NAA and are representing The Beaming Smile Company in a professional negligence claim against the client’s former solicitors, together with senior associate Simeon Fenn. Senior consultant Peter Moody] specialises in the hospitality and leisure sector and advises clients in the technology, offshore, finance and transport sectors.

The 'strong, knowledgeable' team at Spratt Endicott provides an ‘exceptional level of service’ with ‘fast, proactive responses and clear and timely advice’. Clients of the team include professional service providers, security service operators and automotive companies. ‘Very personable and approachable’ practice head David Whiting ‘is a robust and practical commercial litigator’, who is recommended for his ‘business acumen and understanding, coupled with his legal experience’. The team was recently strengthened by the hire of banking and finance litigation head Anis Waiz, who is noted for his experience of acting for lenders on large complex mortgage frauds. Director Shamser Pangu] is another name to note, as are associates Kyle Wyness and Petra van Dijk, who lead the property litigation and insolvency teams respectively.

Aston Bond's team ‘approaches cases with a keen eye for detail and respect for its clients’ particular nuances’. Legal director Jagdeep Sandher is the head of litigation and is ‘an intelligent, client-oriented litigator’. Sandher undertakes work for a wide variety of clients, including property developers and owner-managed businesses, with a range of contentious experience including claims for breach of contract, misrepresentation claims and shareholder and director disputes. Firm CEO Stephen Puri has considerable experience of commercial disputes, with special expertise in commercial and civil litigation, professional negligence claims, directors’ duties, and shareholder and partnership disputes.

Brethertons LLP 's predominant areas for contentious expertise are residential property and commercial contract litigation, with other key areas including partnership disputes, IP disputes, defamation and professional negligence. Sioban Calcott, recently promoted to senior associate, continues to manage intricate cases involving exclusive developments. Calcott defended Ridgeland Properties against a claim by Vannin Capital PCC pursuant to the terms of a litigation funding agreement and acted on behalf of Deritend Investments in a claim for recovery of service charge arrears. Firm CEO and director of legal services Shaun Jardine is also recommended.

The ‘very responsive, efficient, proactive and knowledgeable’ practice at Emmerson Law is run by ‘excellent’ sole practitioner Simon Emmerson. Emmerson acts for listed companies, SMEs and owner-managed businesses across a range of sectors including energy, electronics manufacturing, software development and motorsport. Representative clients of his include Williams Grand Prix Engineering. He has extensive trial experience in the High Court and the Technology and Construction Court.

Steven Maier is the ‘go-to person for all contentious matters’ at Maier Blackburn LLP. Maier deals with disputes across the range of business sectors as well as maintaining his specific expertise in the media and entertainment and IP fields. Maier assisted the Tolkien Estate with the successful settlement of long-running litigation in California against Warner Bros and others concerning the extent of the grant of merchandising rights in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Maier also carried out significant projects for Agatha Christie Limited and Matthews & Wilson. Recent client gains include James Ostrer and Watership Down Enterprises.

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