Professional negligence in South East


Cripps deals with high-value claims both regionally and nationally, with a focus on negligence claims against solicitors, surveyors, architects and similar professionals. Russell Simpson is in charge of the Tunbridge Wells-based team, bringing with him more than 25 years of experience in the field of professional negligence. Pradeep Oliver focuses on mis-sold or mismanaged financial arrangements. The team is supported by associate Tristam Razzell, who also has a focus on financial services claims.

Practice head(s):

Russell Simpson

Other key lawyers:

Pradeep Oliver; Tristam Razzell


‘Willing to collaborate one to one. Professional on the issues and helpful on every step.’

‘Tristam Razzell took my issue and was able to resolve it satisfactorily.’

‘High level of specialised advice provided.’

‘Ability to lead in complex situations.’

‘Cripps has a longstanding reputation for excellence in professional negligence work, both acting for claimants and defendants.’

‘Russell Simpson is a particular star. He has vast experience and is a very knowledgeable and dependable figure to have holding the tiller in any dispute. A reassuring presence and expert in his field.’

Work highlights

  • Advised six groups of approximately 300 clients on bringing professional negligence claims against their conveyancing lawyers.
  • Represented executors in a professional negligence claim against two previous firms of solicitors and a land agent.
  • Advised on an ultra-high net worth individual who is bringing a claim against his accountants/tax advisors for failing to declare 1) the income within an offshore trust structure and 2) the benefit of a tax-free loan on his tax returns over eight years.


Dentons has in recent years consolidated its professional negligence teams by closing its Watford office to merge with its base in Milton Keynes, which particularly focuses on construction matters in addition to representing lenders including several major banks. James Fairbairn has nearly 40 years of experience, including work as a solicitor advocate, and is overseeing the expansion of the firm’s sports litigation practice. CEDR-accredited mediator Tim Constable‘s work, meanwhile, is focused on lender claims – he sits on the professional negligence panels of a number of lenders, including ten years for Barclays Bank. He is supported by senior associate Sarah Rutnah, who is focused on claims involving fraud.

Practice head(s):

James Fairbairn; Tim Constable

Other key lawyers:

Louisa Caswell; Sarah Rutnah


‘I have been so impressed by Dentons that I am using them again in another matter. James Fairbairn puts a great deal of thought into his communication with me in what has been an incredibly protracted and distressing situation, he is clear and concise, patient and kind, knowledgeable and efficient and this is reflected in all my interactions with his team. They also laugh at my jokes which takes a special kind of patience.’

‘I was singularly impressed with the professionalism of Sarah Rutnah and her focus on leading me through a very stressful negotiation which led to a very satisfactory outcome. I was kept fully advised each step of the way and I could not have been in better hands.’

‘Sarah Rutnah is a confident, highly knowledgeable and professional lawyer who does not take any prisoners and is so focused that you are persuaded you are the only pebble on the beach.’

Work highlights

  • Advised Delta Hotels on pursuing claims against project managers. The alleged negligence relates to failures to set a proper budget for the improvement of two Hilton brand hotels followed by inadequate management of the building contractor appointed to complete the works. This in turn lead to a circa 3.5 million overspend.
  • Represented Grant Coughtrey in a professional negligence claim against an accountant and tax consultant arising out the entering into and unwinding of an E-Share tax scheme.
  • Assisted the National House-Building Council with providing evidence surrounding guidance which it issued prior to the Grenfell Tower fire. Dentons’ work involves the critical review of the conduct of many parties, including construction professionals, involved with Grenfell Tower disaster and a wider review of accepted professional standards.

Freeths LLP

Freeths LLP has a large national team devoted to dispute resolution, which includes a number of specialist professional negligence lawyers. Its Oxford office is led by managing partner Sarah Foster, who focuses primarily on contentious trusts and probate matters buit also deals with a range of professional negligence matters. Clare Bellis, joint head of the dispute resolution team, specialises in property professional negligence claims; she runs the team alongside Will Richmond-Coggan. Duncan Crine has over 25 years of experience working on complex claims for both claimants and defendants. Sarah is a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP); Clare is a member of the Property Litigation Association and the Agricultural Law Association; and Duncan is a member of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association (PNLA).

Practice head(s):

Clare Bellis; Will Richmond-Coggan

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Foster; Duncan Crine


‘A strong historic track record in the professional negligence sphere’

‘Clare Bellis – a bright lawyer; well-attuned to client needs and pressures; very sensible and pragmatic; brings deep real estate knowledge to professional negligence disputes in that area’

Work highlights

  • Represented a trustee in the defence of a High Court claim brought against a trustee and a professional co-trustee in relation to a sale of trust property.
  • Represented a professional negligence claim against solicitors for alleged failure to advise properly on the automatic merger of freehold and leasehold title.
  • Represented a major professional indemnity insurer in relation to a series of subrogated recovery claims, arising from contractor negligence. The issue had resulted in the collapse of land, resulting in damage to a number of properties, resulting in a substantial outlay for the insurer.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP can draw on resources from its wide network of offices across the UK, with lawyers in different regions co-operating on complex matters. As a full-service law firm, it has a wide range of expertise to draw on in areas such as real estate, tax and construction. The South East team is based in Southampton, headed by James Robins, whose work includes group litigation and tax disputes. He is supported in much of this work by Ivan Roots, Sarah Tivey and Helen Creech.

Practice head(s):

James Robins

Other key lawyers:

Ivan Roots, Sarah Tivey; Helen Creech


‘Excellent service received from James Robins and Sarah Tivey. Their advice was measured, considered and pragmatic and resulted in the appropriate strategy being adopted and the right result achieved. They were also extremely supportive to their client throughout. An object lesson in the provision of dispassionate, expert and practical advice to guide their client through an unfamiliar and stressful process.’

‘Womble Bond Dickinson have a pragmatic and sensible approach to dealing with professional negligence matters. The team have the necessary technical expertise together with the relevant commercial acumen required to obtain great results for its clients. The team are friendly, approachable and a pleasure to deal with all the while maintaining high professional standards.’

‘James Robins in the Southampton office has an incredibly personable approach. He is friendly, calm under pressure and precise and his technical expertise really shines through.’

‘The people we have dealt with are genuinely bothered about the case progress and working with the insured for the best outcomes.’

‘The team works so well that individuals are not what counts, instead a collaborative approach is shown.’

‘They conducted my case entirely remotely and were flexible around my working hours. I had two named people to refer to, and there was a genuinely open discussion following their advice between both of my solicitors and me. It made the whole process feel inclusive and stronger than I had anticipated.’

‘Sarah Tivey and James Robins helped me through an extremely difficult and worrying period. They did it with great care and total professionalism. I felt fully involved at all times. and there was a free-flowing discussion with them at the appropriate times when considering my case.’

‘Very helpful and competent’

Key clients

AIG Europe (UK) Limited

Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund

Solicitors Indemnity Fund

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP‘s professional liability team focuses on claimant work, with a track record of work on cases concerning solicitors, property professionals and financial advisers. The Southampton-based team’s recent work has include claims in sectors ranging from aerospace to pensions and property to tax. Head of team Richard Portlock brings 30 years of experience in the area of professional negligence litigation. He is supported by Michael Colledge, who was promoted to partner in 2022 and specialises in professional negligence and insurance coverage disputes, and experienced associate Stephen Cannell, whose practice also encompasses aviation and marine disputes.

Practice head(s):

Richard Portlock

Other key lawyers:

Michael Colledge; Stephen Cannell

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a strong reputation for representing claimants against professionals – including solicitors, accountants and financial advisors – acting for individuals and companies alike. The team has experience of cases across a wide range of industries, from architecture to financial services. The Guildford-based team is led by partner Stephen Burns, who focuses on sectors including financial services, tech, telecoms and healthcare, and is a member of the Professional Negligence Lawyers’ Association. The firm's hugely experienced Guildford office head Duncan Elson handles claims against solicitors and financial advisers as part of a broader disputes practice.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Burns; David Savage; Duncan Elson


‘Really solid grasp of detail, able to quickly explain the core of the matter. Avoided the tendency to get bogged down in pointless sabre-rattling and name calling. Very reasonable on fees and open to exploring different fee arrangements.’

‘Stephen Burns had a really good understanding of what was important and what needed to be dealt with. He gave great advice that helped move us to a very good outcome in a complicated professional negligence matter. Very solid at mediation.’

Key clients

Icon 1992 Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented a financial services company against their former solicitors regarding negligent advice concerning their exit from a well-known competitor. The dispute was high-value and at its centre comprises allegations of negligent advice relating to fiduciary and fidelity duties, reporting obligations and restrictive covenants (namely non-solicitation).
  • Represented one of the world’s largest investment companies in relation to a number of funds in relation to a potential negligence claim against a firm of architects in the construction sector. The claim arises out of the design and installation of defective cladding.

Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP

Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP – which recently became part of the legal and professional services network Ampa – handles high-value claims against solicitors, surveyors, accountants and architects, amongst others. Karim Mohamed, an accredited mediator, leads the professional negligence group  from East Sussex, covering a broad range of cases. He is supported in all maters by paralegal Rosie Fletcher.

Practice head(s):

Karim Mohamed

Moore Barlow

Moore Barlow was formed in 2020 through the merger of Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins; the combined firm has a broad range of knowledge in the professional negligence sphere, with a particular focus on claims against solicitors related to conveyancing, tax, wills, litigation conduct and commercial transactions. The firm also handles privately funded defendant work, although, unlike other defendant firms, it does not act for PI insurers, freeing it from conflicts of interest. The Guildford-based team is led by David Foster, a member of the London Solicitors Litigation Association and the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association – his recent work has included cases in the leisure and hospitality sectors.

Practice head(s):

David Foster

Other key lawyers:

Mark Osgood; Andrew Reid; Claire Haverfield; Esther Millard


‘Moore Barlow are adept at dealing with claims on behalf of lenders, high net worth individuals and businesses. They have innovative funding and case management mechanisms and are experienced in group actions.’

‘Mark Osgood is a great strategist and fantastic with clients and opponents alike, and also a real team player internally.’

‘Andrew Reid is extremely bright and good at using technology to assist the presentation and progress of claims.’

‘Claire Haverfield is a robust and tough litigator who gets clients’ commercial objectives.’

‘Esther Millard is lovely to work with and very able.’

Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Duncan Lewis Solicitors has a strong focus on claims against solicitors who are alleged to have given negligent advice regarding property disputes. Directors Anthony Okumah and Sobashni De Silva lead on many of these cases, each being members of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association, bringing with them over a decade of experience. They are supported by associate Kulwant Sokhal, who works largely on financial disputes.

Practice head(s):

Sobashni De Silva; Anthony Okumah

Other key lawyers:

Kulwant Sokhal


‘Excellent ability to work in a cross disciplinary fashion which is a boon for professional negligence claims when the underlying claim sometimes needs to be unpicked.’

‘Kulwant Sokhal is incredibly responsive and doesn’t let anything slip through the gaps. Manages to keep a high level overview of a case but doesn’t get tripped up on the detail.’

Work highlights

  • Assisted client with bringing a professional negligence claim against his former solicitor in connection with a property matter.
  • Assisted client with bringing a professional negligence claim against his former solicitor who assisted the client with a conveyancing matter.

Legal Risk LLP

Legal Risk LLP is so-called because of its niche area of focus: providing legal advice to other law firms and their insurers on risk issues. The firm provides specialist input on professional liability including professional indemnity insurance, and professional disciplinary matters. Francis Dingwall leads the team in Oxford, working in tandem with the firm’s Liverpool lawyers. He has worked at a number of other major UK firms and also as practised as a parliamentary counsel.

Practice head(s):

Francis Dingwall


‘The team is excellent, responsive and knowledgeable.’

‘Francis Dingwall is very experienced, diligent and commercial.’

‘A highly experienced and professional firm that provides clear and accurate advice on extremely complicated matters.’

‘Francis Dingwall is exceptional in his field and delivers an excellent service at a competitive rate.’