Commercial litigation: Bristol in South West
The dispute resolution team at Burges Salmon LLP combines an impressive national reach and broad client roster with strong specialisms across the transport, energy, financial services and agriculture sectors. David Hall, who focuses on construction and fraud cases, leads the team alongside Ann Metherall, who has particular transport and energy sector expertise. Experienced litigator Andrew Burnette is highlighted for his broad experience, while Sian Edmunds specialises in commercial and regulatory food and agri-business sector disputes. For transport litigation and procurement disputes, Chris Jackson, Ian Tucker and director Brian Wong are key contacts. Senior associate Caroline Brown attracts praise for her 'level-headed approach'.
Other key lawyers:
‘The Burges Salmon commercial disputes team is one of a handful of firms that in my view provides the same level of service for large-scale disputes as its London-based counterparts, but at non-London prices. The team are exceptionally bright and hard-working.‘
‘Able to compete head to head with the big London commercial litigation teams, but with all the benefits to clients of being based outside London.‘
‘It is clear that they have excellent strategic direction from Sian Edmunds, and Caroline Brown manages the matter in a highly organised and efficient manner. The department is extremely knowledgeable about the agricultural sector, and it does not surprise me that the client has entrusted them with the conduct of its dispute in preference to any rival firms.’
‘Michael Ward is a stand-out partner. He is thoughtful and detailed, as well as able to take on the advocacy for smaller hearings himself where necessary. He is also extremely user-friendly and brings an eminently sensible commercial view to cases.‘
‘Sian Edmunds is unflappable, never loses sight of the big picture.‘
‘The individual I have worked with most closely is Caroline Brown. I have found that she has excellent attention to detail and a very level-headed approach to dispute resolution.‘
FirstGroup plc and subsidiaries
Crown Commercial Service panel
Financial Services Compensation Scheme
PRISA (Promotora de Informaciones) (owners of El Pais)
The Crown Estate
- Advised First Trenitalia West Coast Rail as an interested party in a procurement challenge against the Secretary of State for Transport regarding three major rail franchises (West Coast, including HS2, East Midlands and South Eastern).
- Acted for Financial Services Compensation Scheme Limited in a breach of fiduciary duties claim by an offshore trustee following the collapse of a development company offering off-plan timeshares in a hotel development in St Lucia.
- Represented Ludlow Street Healthcare Limited (and associated group companies) in a claim against a former CEO and his wife for alleged unauthorised diversion of significant sums of money.
Clarke Willmott LLP's commercial litigation team has a notable breadth of expertise spanning IT disputes, multi-party actions, banking professional negligence claims, and disputes under the Companies Act 2006. Practice head Alex Jakubowski has a varied practice and a particular niche in commercial agents regulations. The group also has notable financial services litigation expertise, for which Philippa Hann, Stephen Searle and senior associate Laura Robinson (who has a particular focus on tax mitigation investments and schemes) are names to note. Richard Moore is a key contact for IP litigation, while senior associate Ed Halden handles a range of contentious commercial and corporate matters.
‘A well resourced and flexible team which gets the job done.‘
‘I worked with Clarke Willmott’s Bristol team on a major patent dispute (that settled shortly before trial). The team excelled at building and maintaining client and Counsel relationships – we were regularly kept in the loop, which improved efficiency in delivering the legal product (and at lower cost). This level of engagement is rare amongst firms and is the team’s key strength.‘
‘I find this practice very approachable and responsive. Their service definitely adds value for my clients.‘
‘Alex Jakubowski is astute and a pleasure to deal with.‘
‘Richard Moore excels at building and maintaining close client relationships. As a result, he is responsible for some very large clients that ordinarily might be expected to go to larger firms. He is also extremely engaged, which is rare for a partner. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.‘
‘Richard Moore is highly capable and also very good at keeping me informed about the progress of any litigation matters.‘
Burford Capital (UK) plc
LEBC Group ltd
Microgen Wealth Management Systems Ltd
Gloucester County Cricket Club
Molson Group Ltd
Oscar Mayer Ltd
Wellesley Finance Plc
Lloyds Bank plc
- Acted for Oscar Mayer Ltd in a £1.5m claim against British Independent Utilities relating to an account of secret profits.
- Represented Icescape Limited in a patent dispute at the Patents Court and Court of Appeal, whereby it successfully secured the longest running publication order for a patents case in English legal history.
- Acting in a multi-party action brought on behalf of members of the British steel pension scheme against unscrupulous and negligent advisers.
DAC Beachcroft LLP
DAC Beachcroft LLP stands out for its strong financial and insurance services sector experience. It has a key reputation for commercial disputes, regulatory investigations and enforcement work in this space, and also counts technology, telecoms, life sciences and fraud disputes among its other areas of expertise. Daniel Preddy, who focuses on the financial services and insurance sectors, leads the practice alongside general commercial litigator Ben Daniels, who is a popular choice for fraud and urgent injunction work and life sciences and telecoms sector disputes. Other names to note include pensions expert Rebecca Smith and legal director Martin Langley, who combines experience across the banking, technology and telecoms sectors.
‘I think that the team offers good communication skills. I found that when I lacked understanding in their specialist areas they were happy to explain these in more detail. I also think that the cost/fee structure is more sensible than London.‘
‘We have worked with Rebecca Smith and Lindsay Elliott for most of the case. Quite often in these matters it’s necessary to refer back to previous papers and we found that they both had a detailed working knowledge of these as we progressed the case.‘
Zurich Insurance plc
AXA UK plc
St. James’s Place Wealth Management Group
Arthur J Gallagher
- Defending St. James’s Place Wealth Management (SJP) in a £15m group claim brought relating to various failed investments in non-SJP products with a contribution claim against self-invested personal pensions provide.
- Acted for Greystone/Focus Financial Partners in the successful defence of three claims brought by former investors in a film finance scheme who were prosecuted for and acquitted of defrauding HMRC as a result of their involvement in the scheme.
- Successfully defended crowdfunding platform Lendy against a £10m+ loss of profit claim brought by a group of corporate borrowers and their shareholders.
Osborne Clarke's litigation practice has national and international reach and frequently handles multijurisdictional matters with elements in Europe, Asia and the US. The group has particular experience in the technology, energy and financial services sectors and has a strong cybersecurity and data protection disputes and investigations practice, for which Charlie Wedin is a key contact. Real estate litigator Leona Briggs leads the team, which includes Peter Clough, who has particular energy, technology and financial services sector experience. Clare Robinson and Tom Ellis are highlighted for technology sector work and fraud disputes respectively, while recently promoted partner Charles Crowne focuses on financial services claims.
‘Strength in depth with good quality lawyers at each level.‘
‘This team gives clear, simple, pragmatic advice, always considering the business’ requirements. They have taken time to understand our risk appetite so that their advice is on point. We particularly appreciate that any advice is provided in a clear way so that it does not need to be translated into non-legal language for the business.‘
‘The team gets up to speed very quickly, understanding the key issues at stake, and working to tight time frames as are often demanded in litigious situations.‘
‘Tom Ellis for his exceptional client handling and relationship building.‘
‘Charles Crowne leads the litigation team that we work with and he is a perfect model of the attributes that we value. He is clear, concise, pragmatic and commercial. He responds to our queries promptly and had lead us through some difficult, complicated and business critical matters with aplomb.‘
‘Charles Crowne gives clear, pragmatic advice. He understands the key issues and is focused, but not at the exclusion of briefly pointing out other potential avenues of resolution. Advice is presented in a way which is tailored to the audience – be that the in-house team, or the company board.‘
‘Peter Clough is very good, pragmatic approach to disputes.‘
Oath (formerly Yahoo!)
City of Venice
Marks & Spencer
Western Power Distribution
- Acting for Dell Emerging Markets in High Court litigation involving its Moroccan distributor.
- Defending the Automobile Association Developments Limited in a breach of contract claim brought by The Parts Alliance Limited.
- Acting for the City of Venice in High Court litigation against Dexia Bank and Bank Intesta San Paola relating to a large derivatives dispute.
Thrings LLP's team of 'sensible, pragmatic litigators' excels in director, shareholder and corporate governance disputes, as well as financial services, pensions, agriculture, environment and insolvency litigation. With offices in Bristol, Bath and Romsey, the group has a strong South West presence and an impressive roster of local, national and international clients. In Bristol, practice co-heads Alastair Govier and Mark Cullingford specialise in pensions and insolvency claims respectively, while Russell Reeves is noted for his agriculture and food litigation focus.
Other key lawyers:
‘Sensible, pragmatic litigators.‘
‘Thrings stands out for legal know-how in pensions and incredibly hard work. Immensely responsive and very thoughtful about tactical and legal issues.‘
‘Very client focused organisation with excellent response times and consistently clear and sound legal advice, delivered in a cost effective and efficient manner.‘
‘Alastair Govier is charismatic and dynamic.‘
‘I was massively impressed by Alastair Govier. He was completely on top of what was a very complex and paper-heavy case. Excellent legal knowledge, but didn’t allow the law to obscure the tactical issues.‘
National Deposit Friendly Society
Stonebridge Colleges (Publishing) Limited
AirTanker Services Ltd
CFH Docmail Limited
Pacific IFA Limited
SLR Consulting Ltd
- Represented the State of Romania in a three-day Supreme Court hearing concerning the enforcement of a $365m international arbitration award.
- Represented an individual in a high-profile proprietary estoppel dispute in the Court of Appeal relating to a £11m farming business.
- Defending Pacific IFA in multiple claims before the Financial Ombudsman arising out of collapsed pension investments.
TLT's commercial dispute resolution team is adept at handling a range of litigation and arbitration proceedings with international elements and has particular strength in the financial services, retail, leisure and energy sectors. 'Excellent strategist' Chris Owen (who excels in contentious contractual, corporate and engineering matters) leads the practice alongside financial services dispute and investigation expert Jonathan Hoey. Ed Fiddick is a name to note for restrictive covenant disputes, pensions litigation and injunctions, while Philip May and Victoria Mabbett have particular experience in corporate governance disputes and representing public sector bodies respectively.
‘The team was at all relevant times available and capable of dealing with big amounts of data promptly. I was impressed with the personal devotion of all the team members to achieve the best possible result for the client (which was finally indeed achieved).’
‘Chris Owen is an excellent strategist with an unmatched gut feeling for what will happen in court.‘
Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime
WH Smith plc
Matthew Clark Bibendum
- Successfully represented the Indian Government in a dispute with Pakistan concerning monies held in a British bank account since 1948 (which now amounts to £35m) referred to as the Hyderabad funds.
- Acting for major recycling and waste management company McCarthy Marland in a breach of a share purchase agreement claim in connection with allegations by HMRC that it had been defrauded by the outgoing shareholders.
VWV is recognised for its strong education sector expertise, and has recently been particularly active for its growing roster of commercial clients in contentious corporate matters, procurement disputes and litigation arising out of financial distress. Ed Husband leads the group and handles a range of commercial litigation and insolvency matters. The group also has a growing reputation management practice; Ben Holt is the key contact.
‘We dealt primarily with Nick Martindale. Nick provided sound, pragmatic and timely advice through the many twists and turns of a protracted dispute.‘
Alternative Commercial Finance
The Bar Council
University of South Wales
University of Greenwich
University of West of England
- Acted for EDF Energy in various disputes for over 25 years and recently successfully represented the client in a contractual dispute.
- Instructed on a variety of claims by the Porcelanosa group, including defending and resolving claims and complaints relating to its terms and conditions and promotional material, and product liability issues.
- Acting for a local borough council in a £5m claim against its former professional advisers.
Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP acts for its growing roster of leading regional and national companies in a range of disputes. The group has a number of sector specialisms; practice head Stephen Dilley is notably active in the insurance, financial services and renewables sectors. Dilley is ably assisted by managing associate Victoria Brooks, who has experience in large-scale litigation, including defending group actions, particularly in the renewable energy and retail sectors.
Other key lawyers:
‘Stephen Dilley is excellent at managing relationships and approaching litigation with a common-sense perspective. Samantha Bryant is very good at understanding the practicalities and has a very sensible approach.‘
‘I have worked with the team at WBD on a number of cases regarding the Consumer Credit Act with significant Limitation Act issues. They are always very much on top of both the legal and practical issues and provide a very good service for their clients.‘
‘Stephen Dilley is a very experienced litigator who gets good results for his clients.‘
‘I have worked with Mandy Robertson on a number of matters. She has a great eye for the detail and is always up on all aspects of the case.‘
‘In my opinion, WBD is a top notch litigation practice in Bristol and the South West. As a barrister, I work with them on interesting and complex cases in insolvency litigation and also commercial litigation.‘
‘Stephen Dilley – very experienced and knowledgeable partner dealing with insolvency and commercial litigation. He is very pleasant to deal with. His instructions are excellent. He also has great tactical awareness in relation to his cases.‘
‘Mandy Robertson – excellent associate in commercial litigation.‘
‘Luke Holmes – excellent managing associate.‘
‘Susan Periselneris – I worked with Susan on a negligence case against an insolvency practitioner. She was very thorough, and asked searching and effective questions about the case. I felt that, as a team we delivered a great legal service to the client.‘
‘Unique amongst the profession, Womble Bond Dickinson maintain and display professionalism matched with a clear unequivocal dedication to clear communication, caring and approachability. It is the only legal firm I would recommend without reservation.‘
‘Stephen Dilley – because he truly listens Malcolm Dowden – because he is a genius Andrew Tingley – because he is insightful Craig Moore – because he makes things happen.‘
‘Very strong lawyers with good technical skills and sound commercial judgment.‘
‘Stephen Dilley- A very capable litigator who provides sensible, measured advice to clients and runs cases with well thought out strategies.‘
Renewable Energy Assurance Limited (REAL)
Liverpool Victoria (LV=)
British Gas Trading Limited
Friends Life (now part of Aviva)
The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation plc
Ashfords LLP acts for regional and national clients in a range of commercial litigation with particular financial services and sporting regulatory expertise. Practice head Rory Mac Neice has notable financial services and technology sector knowledge and product recall disputes experience, while associate Joanne Saye counts professional negligence and environmental disputes among her areas of focus.
Other key lawyers:
‘Ashfords understand the needs of the business and so can tailor the way they run a case to those needs. Their flexibility and adaptability is therefore very good for the nature of the case and the type of client. They are all very personable and diligent with excellent dispute resolution skills and an innate understanding of the litigious process.‘
‘Associate Joanne Saye has a keen eye for detail and organisation together with a fine knowledge of the CPR and a keen legal brain.‘
‘Rory Mac Neice provides a very good strategic overview of any case which works very well with Joanne’s diligence.‘
Lloyds Bank Plc
Post Office Limited
Biffa Municipal Limited
Zoo Sport International PTE Ltd (part of the Transworld Group)
Racecourse Association Ltd
Ascot Racecourse Ltd
Dan Skelton Racing Limited
Joint Measurement Board
Ponies Association UK
- Acting for Zoo International Pte, a Singaporean-based company, in two claims arising out of the asset purchase of a sportswear manufacturer in Hong Kong.
- Acted for a premier race horse owner in a professional negligence dispute with a veterinarian practice.
- Acted for the Environment Agency in multi-million pound multi-party flooding litigation.
Bevan Brittan LLP is a key choice for procurement litigation, judicial review proceedings and contractual disputes arising out of the delivery of public infrastructure and public services. The group functions as part of a national practice led by Birmingham-based Adam Kendall, and includes procurement litigation expert Emily Heard, who heads up the Bristol team.
‘The Bevan Brittan team were diligent, responsive, supportive and extremely professional throughout the dispute resolution process. They paid attention to detail and were pro-active in tailoring their support to members of the in-house team.‘
‘A professional and friendly team. Advice provided in a timely way and was straightforward and practical. Risks and issues were identified together with practical solutions. Our officers had confidence in the advice and approach. It was also good to see a team with good depth, not only were partners involved but also good experienced associates providing continuity of advice and work was also undertaken at a more junior level where appropriate.‘
‘Fran Musselwhite – an associate who had most of the day to day conduct of the matter. Fran was calm, logical and very professional in her dealings. Fran was always available when needed, even at short notice. ‘
‘Emily Heard – Emily provided overall supervision and guidance which was helpful in scoping the issues which were in play and evaluating strategy. It was extremely reassuring to work with a partner who had such confidence in her team. ‘
‘Brilliant and quick understanding of the underlying case and very efficient preparation of the claim.‘
‘Emily Heard and Fran Mussellwhite have this perfect ability to not only understand and process your case, but also to draw your attention to those aspect you were not aware of yourself, but which greatly improve your chances of success.‘
‘Fran Mussellwhite was exceptional, she combined good legal knowledge with strategic thinking allowing us to achieve the desired outcome. ‘
‘They are a very effective team when it comes to public commercial work, particularly in relation to NHS contracts where their knowledge and expertise is matched by few other firms. They work well across offices and provide excellent service.‘
‘Fran Mussellwhite is one to look out for. She is hard-working, intelligent and extremely commercially savvy.‘
‘The Bevan Brittan team were very professional throughout the process, providing timely, high quality advice supported by compelling logic and evidence to enable the Local Authority to make effective and efficient decisions.‘
‘The team demonstrated excellent communication skills and were calm and considered in providing practical ’easy to digest’ advice, assisting our client team to consider options appropriately and to make risk based decisions. The advice was also provided in a pro-active manner which helped ensure momentum was not lost.‘
‘Responsive, proactive and realistic advice on outcomes and actions.‘
‘Very thorough attention to detail and ability to find flaw in the opposing case.‘
‘They tend to instruct me in cases involving public sector clients such as local authorities and NHS Trusts. They have huge experience with public sector clients.‘
Hochtief PPP Solutions GmbH
Hochtief Infrastructure GmbH
Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras S.A.
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust
Financial Services Compensation Scheme Ltd
Somerset County Council
City of London Corporation
West London NHS Trust
ERS Medical Ltd
- Acting for a consortium of international construction firms in a High Court procurement claim against Transport for London.
- Representing a local authority in a £15m+ breach of contract claim against a multi-national IT company in relation to a delayed ‘go live’ of the service and substantial missing functionality within the system.
- Acted for an NHS Trust in a High Court procurement claim in which £14m in damages were claimed.
Foot Anstey has grown its commercial disputes presence in Bristol since Mark Rhys-Jones' arrival to the team in 2016. Most recently, the group benefitted from the addition of fraud and financial services sector expert James Gliddon from CMS. Rhys-Jones' experience range from financial and IT disputes to procurement challenges, while Neil Parkes is a key name to note for media sector and IP litigation.
Lloyds Banking Group
Admiral Group Plc
Signet Jewellers Limited (owner of H.Samuel and Ernest Jones)
Adam Smith International Limited
Bank of Ireland
Kawasaki Precision Machinery
- Acting for Adam Smith International in a procurement dispute against the Department for International Development relating to the award of a tender to another party for the implementation of UK Government aid on an infrastructure project.
- Advising Sky UK Limited on content protection and TV anti-piracy matters and acted for the client in several successful broadcast copyright infringement claims.
- Acted for a Qatari company in a breach of contract ICC arbitration claim relating to consultancy services provided by the client to an entity bidding for a major Qatari infrastructure project.
Humphreys & Co. specialises in contractual and shareholders litigation, civil fraud issues, IP disputes and defamation claims. 'Tenacious litigator' Robert Humphreys heads up the practice and has a breadth of experience in cross-border disputes. Paul Wong Chun Yi, who is dual-qualified in the UK and Singapore, has 'expert knowledge of contractual matters' and counts civil fraud litigation, construction and engineering disputes and contentious probate matters among his areas of expertise.
Other key lawyers:
‘Having been a client of the company for over four years, I would say that they always go the extra mile. Nothing ever seems too much. Their knowledge on a number of subjects is second to none, highly recommend the team at Humphreys.‘
‘Humphreys & Co are exceptionally good in litigation. In our case they managed to understand the complexity and face one of the best counsels of the country. We would say that their teams strength is understanding and presenting the reality.‘
‘Robert Humphreys and Paul Wong. They are amazing in their field, and always a pleasure to deal with.’
‘Robert Humphreys is a tenacious litigator and negotiator with an eye for detail. He always looks for the best for his clients, and he has frequently come away from disputes with a settlement in favour of his clients which to me looked impossibly good at the beginning.’
‘Paul Wong is incredibly hard-working, very personable and an excellent solicitor-advocate. He has an excellent grasp of the facts and the law in any case, and is a pleasure to work with.‘
‘Robert Humphreys and Paul Wong are both the kinds of individuals you would be happy to instruct if they worked at major City law firms. It is a surprise and a delight to find them working in a smaller firm.’
‘Paul Wong was excellent in our case he worked quickly to get the correct experts that were good value and along with the expert knowledge of contractual matters from himself.’
‘The team is small but is very capable. In my experience, their commercial litigation team is frequently instructed in cases where the other side are represented by much bigger London or international firms. Invariably it seems Humphreys & Co comes out on top, with an excellent result for their clients, whether in court or in settlement negotiations.‘