Firms To Watch: Commercial litigation: Bristol

gunnercooke LLP‘s practice recently expanded into Bristol through the recruitment of James Pheasant from Stephenson Law, who specialises in a range of commercial and corporate disputes.

Commercial litigation: Bristol in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP fields ‘a great team made up of hardworking individuals and strength and depth at all levels’ with ‘a City ethos and skill levels’ which allow for ‘a mature and commercial approach to disputes’. The practice handles the full spectrum of commercial litigation at a national and international level, acting for a client roster of high-profile companies including Virgin, the BBC and the Ministry of Justice. David Hall and Ann Metherall jointly lead the practice, which also fields ‘one of the smartest solicitors aroundAndrew Burnette, food specialist Sian Edmunds, Chris Jackson, who advises on transport and procurement litigation, and Michael Ward, who regularly handles shareholder disputes. Other key names include solicitor advocate Ian Tucker, financial services expert Matthew Walker and Richard Binns, who focuses on procurement disputes. At associate level, Brian Wong is ‘just the sort of litigator you want by your side’ and Caroline Brown is ‘totally on the ball’.

Practice head(s):

David Hall; Ann Metherall

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Burnette; Sian Edmunds; Chris Jackson; Michael Ward; Ian Tucker; Matthew Walker; Richard Binns; Brian Wong; Caroline Brown; Ewan McIntyre; Laura Beament


‘Andrew Burnette. One of the smartest solicitors around. A great legal mind with a real eye for detail. Takes points others miss.’

‘This is a great practice comprised of hard-working yet hugely affable solicitors determined to do their very best for their clients.’

‘Michael Ward: Michael is never defeated. Absolutely determined to do the best for his client, he will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of that elusive weak point which might just crack a case. And he is great fun to work with.’

‘Andrew Burnette has been excellent throughout the years I have worked with him. He has been fully committed, despite the challenges we face, professional at all times and good at taking the time to talk me through the proposed approach in non-technical terms. All round, very strong.’

‘The team is incredibly efficient and well prepared – working with them is always very straightforward, and I really value how organised and collaborative they are in their approach.’

‘Sian Edmunds’ knowledge of the agricultural sector is unparalleled and she has the kind of experience and instinct that is invaluable when it comes to making tough decisions. Caroline Brown is totally on the ball – as well as being on top of the detail she has great tactical awareness.’

‘Laura Beament – one of the many very strong associates in the commercial team, but Laura stands out for her hard work and exceptional attention to detail. A real asset to any case.’

‘Brian Wong – calm, sensible, just the sort of litigator you want by your side.’

Key clients

FirstGroup plc and subsidiaries


Celtic Energy

Coca-Cola HBC

Crown Commercial Service panel

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

John Lewis/Waitrose

Ministry of Justice

The Crown Estate


Work highlights

  • Represented the Ministry of Justice alongside the Government Legal Department in a high-profile case brought by Mitie relating to the procurement process for facilities management services across the HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service) estate.
  • Represented Northampton Borough Council and Daventry District Council (now combined into West Northamptonshire Council) as interested parties in judicial review proceedings concerning the Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2020. The challenge, brought by Amey Plc and one of its subsidiaries Enterprise Managed Services Limited, was specifically concerned with a contractor’s right to receive an “exit credit” on exiting an LGPS pension fund.

Osborne Clarke LLP

Osborne Clarke LLP provides ‘a City of London service from Bristol’ thanks to a ‘commercial, approachable, friendly and results-focused’ team led by real estate litigator Leona Briggs. The practice is particularly singled out in the region for its expertise in cross-border claims and data protection litigation, and has extensive knowledge of the technology, media, telecoms, energy and financial service sectors; in the latter, the firm recently represented Wirecard Card Solutions in claims arising from a €3bn accounting fraud by its parent company. Clare Robinson is a key contact for clients in the technology and business sectors, Peter Clough is an expert in claims involving Russia, India and the wider Asia region; and Tom Ellis has experience in investigations and fraud work. Other noteworthy practitioners include technology sector specialist Charlie Wedin, financial services expert Charles Crowne and associate Becky Crawford.

Practice head(s):

Leona Briggs

Other key lawyers:

Clare Robinson; Peter Clough; Tom Ellis; Charlie Wedin; Charles Crowne; Becky Crawford; Douglas Peden; Katherine King


‘Commercial, approachable, friendly, results-focused but also mindful of the long-term relationship.’

‘Charlie Wedin is our go-to, not just for litigation but for helping navigate commercial matters that are sensitive or could become contentious. He is friendly, thoughtful, diligent, responsive. He does a great job on the matter at hand but is also thinking about our future business success. He works collaboratively with colleagues across the whole firm.’

‘Very pragmatic advice, take the time to understand the issues and will respond quickly. Advice is practical – can be used “as is” and without the need for further rewriting for use with non-lawyers.’

‘Charles Crowne is a stand out partner – understands what needs to happen in house and the pressures, so will take the time to ensure that any advice is fully adapted for the specific circumstances and the audience.’

‘They are providing a City of London service from Bristol. A strong team throughout with very effective supervision from partner downwards.’

‘Tom Ellis – Partner – very smooth and good with clients. Trusts his team but remains involved.’

‘Expert knowledge of the telecoms and tech sector.’

‘Clare Robinson and Douglas Peden: sharp minds and extremely user friendly.’

Key clients

Wirecard Card Solutions Limited


City of Venice

City of Milan


PricewaterhouseCoopers CI LLP

Turner Broadcasting System Europe Ltd

World Compliance, Inc and LexisNexis Risk Solutions UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Wirecard Card Solutions Limited on the aftermath of the discovery of a €3bn accounting fraud by its parent company.
  • Acting for the City of Venice in a €100m claim against Dexia Bank and Bank Intesta San Paolo. The dispute relates to derivatives transactions (interest rate swaps) between the City of Venice and the two banks.
  • Acted for Vodafone in its defence of, and counterclaim against, a claim by a distributor of sim cards called SIM Local. SIM Local claims payment of commission in relation to Vodafone sim cards which it sold.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Fielding ‘a high-class and very efficient team which will always go the extra mile’, Clarke Willmott LLP ‘provides pragmatic and commercial advice’ for a high-profile national client roster including Lloyds Bank and Restore. The team is active in the financial services space and also excels in energy sector litigation, group claims, procurement challenges, IP and IT work, and regulatory mandates. The ‘tenacious and very smartAlex Jakubowski and financial litigation expert Philippa Hann jointly lead the team, and clients single out ‘savvy litigatorRichard Moore and ‘class act’ senior associate Ed Halden for praise. Martin Askew is the primary name for insolvency and fraud matters, Stephen Searle excels in financial services disputes and Laura Robinson handles issues relating to tax mitigation investments and schemes.

Practice head(s):

Alex Jakubowski; Philippa Hann

Other key lawyers:

Richard Moore; Ed Halden; Martin Askew; Stephen Searle; Laura Robinson; James Marshall; David Stedman


‘A high class and very efficient team who will always go the extra mile.’

‘Alex Jakubowski – tenacious and very, very smart at putting pressure on the other side. Ed Halden – a class act who is a very safe pair of hands.’

‘The team at Clarke Willmott are quick to provide support when required and are very pragmatic.’

‘The team at Clarke Willmott provide pragmatic and commercial advice and are quick to provide support. They are very approachable and supportive.’

‘CW provide an excellent and client-friendly litigation service without the cost associated with large London firms. They can handle disputes of any size, from small personal disputes to larger corporate matters.’

‘Richard Moore is an experienced and savvy litigator. He brings wisdom to any dispute and is a very strong negotiator. He knows just when and how to turn the screw on his opponents.

‘David Stedman is very good. He understands the client’s needs and stays calm in the heat of battle.’

Key clients

Restore Plc

Amicrest Holdings Plc

Burford Capital UK Plc

Mears Group Plc

Lloyds Bank Plc

Oscar Mayer Ltd

Ovo Energy

TrustQuay (UK) Ltd

Decathlon UK

Hepco Slide Systems Ltd

Arbuthnot Latham and Co Ltd

Microgen Wealth Management Systems Ltd


Ontario Management Ltd

Digital Gurus Recruitment Ltd

Rethink Recruitment Ltd

Talent International UK Ltd

Wellesley Finance Ltd

Cognitive Group Ltd

RQ Capital Ltd

Thamescard Technology Ltd

Risksave Technologies Ltd


LEBC Group Ltd

Business Energy Claims Ltd

Sword Security Group

Kingspan Timber Solutions Limited

Mookie Toys

JZ Flowers international

Wolffkran Ltd

Arum Capital

KSJ Investments

Gooch and Housego plc

Kal Tire

Orkney Fishermen’s Society

Solihull Moors Football Club

The Cornish Bakery Shops Ltd

Lakes College West Cumbria

Teleperformance Limited

NetVio Limited

Hampshire Police

ESP Colour Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting for St Joseph’s Independent Hospital Ltd, which has been named as defendant in a shareholders’ dispute.
  • Acting for Mears Group Plc in a series of procurement challenges against contract awards made by a number of local authorities in England & Wales.
  • Acting for Oscar Mayer Limited and over 30 other commercial clients in a series of claims against energy brokers and energy suppliers arising from the payment of hidden commissions.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s ‘commercially experienced team that attracts the highest quality commercial work’ fields ‘an exceptional group of hardworking, client-focused lawyers who really care about their cases and clients’. The practice is highly experienced in financial services litigation and insurance claims, and has recently seen expansion at the junior level add to its cyber and data, pension and white-collar crime expertise. Daniel Preddy and Ben Daniels jointly lead the department; Preddy has notable financial and mis-selling knowledge, while Daniels handles fraud and injunction work. Rebecca Smith is the key contact for pensions and trust litigation, Simon Thomas acts in fraud, cyber and asset recovery work, Chris Dyke leads the white-collar crime group, and Alex Paterson acts for healthcare and finance clients. At legal director level, Martin Langley focuses on the banking and technology industries.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Preddy; Ben Daniels

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Smith; Simon Thomas; Chris Dyke; Alex Paterson; Martin Langley; Vanessa Taylor-Byrne; Justin Tivey; Lindsay Elliott


‘This is an exceptional group of hard-working, client-focused lawyers who really care about their cases and clients. Moreover, there is absolute engagement at partner level and real value for money.’

‘Dan Preddy: exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced, Dan is calm, commercial, unflappable and absolutely focused on the optimum outcome for the client – whether through advantageous settlement or litigating through to trial. You want him on your side’

‘Martin Langley: utterly indefatigable in his determination to chase down the best litigation angle and laser focused in his forensic drafting, Martin is a force of nature in knotty financial services disputes.’

‘Lindsay Elliott: hugely capable and diligent, Lindsay is the fulcrum of any litigation team. She is always on top of all of the papers (however voluminous) and an indispensable source of information and wisdom.’

‘A commercially experienced team that attracts the highest quality commercial work. Excellent team work, hard working and very client friendly.’

‘Martin Langley is an excellent strategist with novel insights into his cases. Ben Daniels showed a very practical and level-headed approach to managing some urgent instructions in a fraud context. Dan Preddy is a superb litigator and strategist, with sound commercial judgment. Lindsay Elliott is very hard working and practical and no doubt deserves to become an excellent partner before long.’

‘Alex Paterson is our go-to person on contentious matters – he understands our business very well and has a really good feel for the positions that we would want to take on matters.’

‘Rebecca Smith is a pleasure to work with. She is level headed, perceptive and pragmatic. She has experience in a wide range of cross over pensions, financial services and insurance matters.’

Key clients

Zurich Insurance plc

AXA UK plc

St. James’s Place Wealth Management Group





Western Union



Work highlights

  • Representing three defendants in a £14m claim in which six claimants allege fraudulent conduct in litigation brought against nine defendants based in various jurisdictions. The claim concerns the ultimate control over ownership of companies in this jurisdiction and in Mauritius and ownership of a hotel.
  • Defending a £10m claim by former senior employee of major stock broking company Rowan Dartington regarding the basis upon which their employment ended, based around terms of deferred consideration for sale of the business and restrictive covenants.
  • Obtaining Freezing Orders (£3m) and several Norwich Pharmacal Orders on behalf of a major private medical insurance provider against suspected fraudsters and their banking providers following a phishing attack.

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP’s dispute resolution practice is divided into distinct specialist sub-teams, which work closely with their non-contentious counterparts to handle a broad range of commercial disputes. Notable areas of expertise include financial services and pension litigation, IP and data work, shareholder disputes, insolvency matters, real estate litigation and agriculture claims. The practice is jointly led by Alastair Govier and Mark Cullingford, who handle financial disputes and insolvency issues respectively. Russell Reeves and Rob James are the key names for agricultural disputes, and Rosalyn Trotman focuses on planning litigation.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Govier; Mark Cullingford

Other key lawyers:

Russell Reeves; Rob James; Rosalyn Trotman


‘Great team, with particular experience of insurance-funded matters.’

‘Alastair Govier – incredibly bright and great to deal with. Manages to combine attention to detail with a broader strategic approach which is excellent for clients.’

Key clients

Stonebridge Colleges (Publishing) Limited


Learn Direct

AirTanker Services Ltd

CFH Docmail Limited

Pacific IFA Limited

The Government of Romania.

Newland Homes Limited

Bourne Group

Work highlights


    TLT fields a team of ‘very able commercial litigators, with good all-round knowledge and experience, who can quickly get to the heart of even the most complex litigation’. Under the joint leadership of Chris Owen and Jonathan Hoey, the practice specialises in high-value, cross-border litigation and has been active throughout the pandemic in business-critical claims including supply chain disputes and mass refund claims. Sector expertise spans the financial, retail, leisure and energy industries. Philip May is the key name for claims involving distressed businesses, Ed Fiddick is ‘extremely good at laying out all of the options’, and Victoria Mabbett excels in pensions litigation.

    Practice head(s):

    Chris Owen; Jonathan Hoey

    Other key lawyers:

    Philip May; Ed Fiddic; Victoria Mabbett


    ‘TLT provided us with sound and appropriate advice, detailed explanations and support through a mediation hearing and demonstrated an understanding that I didn’t think would be possible. Our expectations were managed appropriately and we developed an excellent rapport with the team representing us. The mountain of supporting evidence was managed swiftly and thoroughly, dissected effectively and presented in such a way that we were able to put forward a compelling case and I believe this was instrumental in reaching a satisfactory conclusion.’

    ‘Very able commercial litigators, with good all-round knowledge and experience, who can quickly get to the heart of even the most complex litigation.’

    ‘Chris Owen – experienced and excellent, with a good eye for identifying the critical issues in a case and focusing on those. Knows when to get involved and when to stand back and allow others to deal with a particular part of the case.’

    ‘Vicky Mabbott. Pleasure to work with. great legal mind, but also excellent with clients, particularly difficult or demanding ones. She’s great at running a team.’

    ‘Ed Fiddick. Really commercial and excellent with large corporate clients. By this I mean he is extremely good at laying out all of the options, including the costs and the risks, and putting them in the best place to make a decision about what they want to do.’

    ‘Vicky Mabbett (Partner) – an absolute star who is very knowledgeable but also pragmatic and level headed. She dispenses good advice in a way the clients can easily comprehend, and is a superb strategist.’

    ‘Strong automotive retail background and good grasp of the dealer’s point of view and the relationship with manufacturers.’

    ‘Chris Owen – clear communication, worked hard to get the best outcome but was also realistic in advising when we had secured a good deal and pushing for more could be counter-productive.’

    Key clients

    Members of the Bic Pension Scheme

    Pulmaflex UK Limited

    The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners

    WH Smith plc

    Work highlights

      Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

      With ‘a focus on the client’s needs and objectives and the ability to tailor the advice to the client’s business’, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s Bristol-based practice sits within the firm’s national group and acts for a range of national and FTSE clients including AIG, Npower and Quilter Group. The team also has expertise in the energy, insurance, transport, retail and consumer sectors, among others. Stephen Dilley leads the Bristol commercial disputes practice and focuses on contractual and corporate disputes. At a junior level, managing associate Victoria Brooks is the key name to note.

      Practice head(s):

      Stephen Dilley

      Other key lawyers:

      Victoria Brooks


      ‘The team is commercially minded and easy to deal with – the focus is on the client’s needs and objectives and tailoring the advice to our business. They are also willing to listen to constructive feedback and improve processes as required.’

      ‘Stephen Dilley – easy to deal with and commercial in approach.’

      ‘We have had the opportunity to build up a relationship with the practice over time. We therefore find the individuals we deal with well-briefed and capable.’

      Key clients

      Quilter Group Plc


      Liverpool Victoria (LV=)

      Plymouth University

      British Gas Trading Limited

      Friends Life (now part of Aviva)


      The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation plc

      Work highlights

        Ashfords LLP

        Ashfords LLP ‘gives a real feeling of confidence’ to a variety of regional, national and international clients spanning the technology, retail, professional services, sport and financial services sectors; the group also acts in regulatory and risk-related litigation. Rory Mac Neice leads the team and excels in the technology and financial spaces, while Ben Derrington leads the firm’s risk team, which is active in the construction, waste, food and manufacturing sectors, and handles regulatory disputes. Ian Manners joined the team from DAC Beachcroft LLP in late 2021, and Joanne Saye is the key name at associate level.

        Practice head(s):

        Rory Mac Neice

        Other key lawyers:

        Ben Derrington; Ian Manners; Joanne Saye


        ‘Good client focus; personable; give added value; attention to detail; understand client’s needs.’

        ‘Jo Saye has been very impressive with a fine brain and attention to detail. Tactically very astute.’

        ‘Great strength in depth able to pick up difficult legal issues at short notice.’

        ‘Joanne Saye – Associate. She was able to work at high speed and produce a quality legal product. She stood out as really effective and able to deliver.’

        ‘Great communication, they give a real feeling of confidence. The process was detailed and thorough.’

        ‘Rory Mac Neice was superb, very formidable to the opposition in his desire to get our case settled.’

        Key clients

        Environment Agency

        The National Trainers Federation

        Racecourse Association Ltd

        Ascot Racecourse Ltd

        Noble Foods Limited

        Work highlights

        • Advised a government agency in respect of a multimillion pound flooding claim.
        • Acted for a major waste services provider in connection with a dispute regarding termination of a multimillion pound waste services contract with a local authority.
        • Advised a major national company in connection with a dispute with suppliers arising out of a nationwide replacement scheme for the client’s ATM machines (and associated customer services).

        Bevan Brittan LLP

        Bevan Brittan LLP’s team ‘approaches a matter sensibly and commercially’ and is particularly noted for its expertise in claims arising from public infrastructure projects and public procurement work; the team counts the London Fire Brigade, the City of London Corporation and Barts Health NHS Trust as clients. The practice also has extensive experience in the High Court. In Bristol, Emily Heard leads the team and focuses on procurement litigation and judicial reviews, as do Laura Brealey and Fran Mussellwhite, who also assist with contract disputes.

        Practice head(s):

        Emily Heard

        Other key lawyers:

        Laura Brealey; Fran Mussellwhite; Trevor Watt; Wesley O’Brien


        ‘The BB team were very knowledgeable and gave concise advice throughout the engagement. Their flexibility was something that I have not experienced with other Legal firms, the team made themselves available at short notice in order to support us.’

        ‘Emily Heard (Partner) stood out with how approachable and flexible she was.’

        ‘Bevan Brittan’s commercial litigation team (across the offices) have been excellent. They approach a matter sensibly and commercially which is valuable.’

        ‘Wesley O’Brien is in my view a rising star. His advice has been pragmatic and to the point; He brought a new perspective and options to the table which ultimately got results swiftly in what appeared to be a desperate situation. I would definitely recommend using his services.’

        ‘I have worked with Wesley O’Brien in this team who has been excellent – he has delivered timely, client-focused advice and remained proactive.’

        Key clients

        London Fire Brigade

        City of London Corporation

        Barts Health NHS Trust

        Work highlights

        • Acted for London Fire Brigade and Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue in defence of a High Court test case for damages and declarations brought by three retired fire fighters arising out of central government’s changes to the fire fighters’ pension scheme in 2015.
        • Acted for Barts Health NHS Trust in proceedings issued by an unsuccessful bidder in a procurement for pathology courier services.

        Foot Anstey

        With ‘a quality of service equivalent to big City firms but on a regional basis’, Foot Anstey fields practitioners with knowledge of commercial proceedings, banking disputes, IP and media claims, and charity and trust litigation. While strong regionally, the practice also has experience in multi-jurisdictional claims, where practice head Mark Rhys-Jones is a key name to note. James Gliddon is a noteworthy contact for lender and financial services institutions, and managing associate Catherine Haugh specialises in procurement and shareholder disputes. The team works closely with other offices in the region, particularly colleagues in Exeter and Plymouth.

        Practice head(s):

        Mark Rhys-Jones

        Other key lawyers:

        James Gliddon; Catherine Haugh


        ‘The team provides quality of service equivalent to big city firms but on a regional basis and with strong partner involvement on a hands-on basis.’

        ‘James Gliddon is a superb strategist who always drills down into the detail of the cases he handles.’

        ‘James Gliddon is a very approachable and knowledgeable individual who can be relied upon to get straight to the heart of the matter, both legally and commercially.’

        Key clients

        Dwr Cymru Cyf (Welsh Water)

        Hitachi Capital (UK) Plc T/A Hitachi Capital Business Finance

        Bank of Ireland

        Skew Base Investments SCA RAIF and Skew Base s.a.r.l

        Ahli United Bank (UK) Plc

        FRP Advisory Trading Limited

        Work highlights

          Humphreys & Co.

          Humphreys & Co.’s ‘commercial litigators punch well above their weight’ and ‘have a reputation for working their socks off for their clients to secure the best outcome’. The practice fields specialised units which focus on distinct areas of expertise; examples include litigation arising out of commercial transactions, fraud claims, IP litigation, construction proceedings and gambling and betting litigation. Robert Humphreys heads up the department, and Tristan Morse handles IP claims and professional negligence issues.

          Practice head(s):

          Robert Humphreys

          Other key lawyers:

          Tristan Morse


          ‘The team at Humphreys are exceptional in their knowledge and field of knowledge. We always get right through to the person dealing with our case, and they always have time for their clients.’

          ‘Humphreys & Co’s commercial litigators punch well above their weight and come off better against much bigger firms. They work tirelessly for their clients – available at all hours of the day and night; they are fierce negotiators; and they are good at finding solutions to commercial disputes which would not occur to other lawyers.’

          ‘Robert Humphreys has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law but, even more importantly, is an exceptional negotiator and very commercially minded. I have seen him negotiate settlements for clients which looked well out of reach. He works very hard for his clients.’

          ‘This is a niche commercial litigation practice in Bristol, headed by the formidable Robert Humphreys, that has consistently over many years punched above its weight. They have a reputation for taking on big cases and working their socks off for their clients to secure the best outcome. A combination of superb lawyer skills with exceptional commercial nous.’

          ‘Robert Humphreys – a leading litigation lawyer; astute, imaginative and highly commercial. He is fearless and unafraid to take on the biggest opponents whilst being rooted firmly in commercial reality. Very impressive.’

          ‘Good litigation team.’

          ‘Robert Humphries is very detailed and carefully considers all work.’

          ‘Humphreys has a tight-knit commercial disputes team, and they work closely with counsel from the earliest stages of a dispute to deliver timely and practical advice to clients. The team always keeps a close eye on costs to ensure that clients get the best value for money.’

          ‘Robert Humphreys (senior counsel) is a pleasure to work with – a great communicator who has a unique, no-nonsense style. He combines robust pragmatism with a strategic mind, and he always has his clients’ best interests at heart.’

          Key clients

          Cleanthis Georgiades and GE.Law

          Work highlights