Firms To Watch: Commercial litigation: Bristol

James Pheasant, who handles a broad range of corporate and commercial disputes, from breach of warranty claims and shareholder litigation to security enforcement and supplier disputes, is the key name in Bristol at gunnercooke LLP, supported by senior associate James Tithecott.
Shakespeare Martineau LLP expanded its footprint in the South West following its merger with Bristol-based firm GL Law in October 2022. Praised as ‘technically sharp with an astute sense of commercial acumen’, Richard Gore leads the team and handles contractual disputes, shareholder litigation and commercial landlord and tenant issues.  

Commercial litigation: Bristol in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

The ‘competent, diligent and dedicated’ team at Burges Salmon LLP provides ‘a standout offering of magic circle quality’ to its roster of high-profile clients, including multinational corporations, entrepreneurial businesses and high-net-worth individuals. David Hall, who has experience in financial services litigation, jointly leads the practice alongside Ann Metherall, while Andrew Burnette handles contractual disputes and professional negligence claims. Other key contacts in the group include transport and procurement specialist Chris Jackson, solicitor advocate Ian Tucker, Michael Ward, who focuses on shareholder disputes, and Brian Wong, who advises on procurement cases and was promoted to partner in May 2022. Matthew Walker has ‘excellent judgment’ and director Caroline Brown is commended as ‘responsive and knowledgeable’. Sian Edmunds left for an in-house role in January 2023.

Practice head(s):

David Hall; Ann Metherall

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Burnette; Chris Jackson; Michael Ward; Ian Tucker; Matthew Walker; Brian Wong; Caroline Brown; Richard Binns


‘A standout offering of magic circle quality without the equivalent billing.’

‘Matthew Walker is fabulous on the law and excellent judgment.’

‘The team is really dedicated, competent, reassuring and responsive.’

‘Burges Salmon have an outstanding litigation practice, particularly, in my experience, in construction and insurance. They are excellent lawyers, commercial, pragmatic, down to earth and very approachable and easy to work with.’

‘Matthew Walker is an outstanding lawyer. He is very bright, extremely commercially astute, an excellent strategist and fantastic with clients.’

‘Caroline Brown is responsive and knowledgeable.’

‘The team is extremely competent, diligent and dedicated. They are also extremely attentive to potential cross-border issues and very capable to lead foreign counsels effectively. They put client priorities first, professionally manage files and meet highest standards in terms of communication both between lawyers involved and clients. The best experience for my team so far when working with UK counsels.’

‘Excellent team who took time to understand the core issues behind the situation that required advice and action. Worked with us closely to develop practical solutions. Worked in a timely manner with appropriate urgency.’

Key clients

Cobb Europe Limited and the Trustees of the Cobb Pension Scheme

PNE AG and Orsted Onshore UK Limited

URE Energy Limited

PSGS Trust Corporation Ltd, the Trustees to the Robert Horne Group Pension Scheme, appointed by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF)

Astrel 1 UK Loan S.A.R.L & Others

Atos IT Services UK Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting for Atos IT Services UK in a high-profile procurement challenge against the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy and the Meteorological Office, relating to the Met Office’s 2020 procurement of its new weather and climate forecasting supercomputer.
  • Acting for Astrel 1 UK Loan S.A.R.L & Others regarding a surveyor negligence claim against Cushman & Wakefield for significantly over-valuing two neighbouring mansions in St James’ Park, London, which stood as security for a £30 million bridge-to-sell loan to a developer.
  • Representing URE Energy in its dispute with Notting Hill Genesis (UK housing association), over the termination of a long-term electricity supply agreement.

Osborne Clarke LLP

Noted for its stellar expertise in data protection litigation, Osborne Clarke LLP handles high-end shareholder disputes, contractual claims, financial services litigation and boardroom proceedings, with demonstrable capability in cross-border cases. Catherine Wolfenden leads the team and Clare Robinson acts for clients across the technology and business sectors, while Peter Clough standouts for his experience in cross-border disputes across the energy, technology and financial services industries. Charlie Wedin handles cyber and data-related claims and Charles Crowne focuses on financial services disputes, including pensions litigation. Tom Ellis, who acts for corporates in commercial disputes, investigations and fraud-related mandates, remains a key contact in the group.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Wolfenden

Other key lawyers:

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

Key clients

Administrators of Wirecard

City of Venice

City of Milan


Hargreaves Lansdown

Siemens Mobility

Turner Broadcasting

Sellers of Anvil Holdings

Western Power Distribution


Work highlights

  • Advising the administrator of Wirecard Technologies GmbH and WDB Abwicklungs AG (formally Wirecard Bank AG) in their claim against Greybull Capital LLP and its co-founder Marc Meyohas.
  • Acting for the City of Venice in a €125m+ claim against Dexia Bank and Bank Intesa Sanpaolo, concerning derivatives transactions (interest rate swaps) between the City of Venice and the two banks.
  • Acting for the City of Milan in a €60m derivatives dispute with Merrill Lynch/Bank of America.

Clarke Willmott LLP

The commercial litigation team at Clarke Willmott LLP ‘offers the highest level of commitment and expertise’ to clients in financial services disputes, procurement proceedings, intellectual property cases, shareholder claims, energy litigation and regulatory mandates. Praised as ‘determined, intelligent and a shrewd operator’, Alex Jakubowski leads the team and stands out for his experience in contractual disputes, financial services litigation and banking professional negligence claims, in addition to energy cases. Richard Moore specialises in intellectual property litigation and Philippa Hann focuses on all aspects of financial services disputes, while senior associate David Stedman is commended as ‘imaginative and hard-working’.

Practice head(s):

Alex Jakubowski

Other key lawyers:

Philippa Hann; Richard Moore; Martin Askew; Bonita Walters; Laura Robinson; David Stedman; Ed Halden; James Marshall


‘Alex Jakubowski is a seasoned litigator. He has sound judgement and fights hard for his clients. Ed Halden is very thorough and meticulous. David Stedman is imaginative and hard-working.’

‘Richard Moore was extremely effective in a mediation this year and was able to communicate well and understand our needs.’

‘Clarke Willmott is a well-regarded firm with immense commercial experience, both legally and generally.’

‘Ed Halden has a calmness that is both soothing to the client and a skill that allows him to remain unflappable. He is diligent, efficient and gets the job done.’

‘Clarke Willmott’s commercial litigation practice in Bristol offers the highest level of commitment and expertise, with clients getting city-style service at moderate cost.’

‘Alex Jakubowski stands out as having laser-like client focus. He is determined, very intelligent and a shrewd operator. I have complete confidence in him and his abilities.’

‘Real litigation expertise combined with sensitivity to costs.’

‘David Stedman is a very good senior associate. He is a safe pair of hands to run an important piece of litigation. He very much understands the client’s needs. Richard Moore is a highly experienced litigator who knows when to really turn up the heat on the other side.’

Key clients

Amicrest Holdings Plc

Oscar Mayer Ltd

Chartwell Mastercare

Jabil Inc

Ontario Management Ltd

Mears Group Plc

CNG Energy Ltd

St Joseph’s Independent Hospital Ltd

Verde Recreo Ltd

Grant Thornton LLP

Mears Group plc

London & Quadrant Housing Association

D&B Facades Limited

Maxen Power Supply Ltd


Restore Plc

Burford Capital UK Plc

Lloyds Bank Plc

Ovo Energy

TrustQuay (UK) Ltd

Decathlon UK

Hepco Slide Systems Ltd

Arbuthnot Latham and Co Ltd

Microgen Wealth Management Systems 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

West Tower Management Ltd

CCL Label Ltd

Control Energy Costs Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting for Amicrest Plc, in a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against two former directors.
  • Acting for the administrators of CNG Energy (in administration) in an energy dispute against the restaurant chain Prezzo.
  • Acting for D&B Facades Ltd in a £70 million procurement challenge over post Grenfell cladding contract.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

Housing a premier financial services litigation practice, DAC Beachcroft LLP has demonstrable capability in handling professional negligence claims, pensions and trusts disputes, cybersecurity and data claims, in addition to contentious regulatory mandates. Ben Daniels, who specialises in fraud and urgent injunction matters, jointly leads the team alongside Daniel Preddy, who focuses on financial services and insurance disputes, including regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings. Simon Thomas advises on fraud and asset recovery disputes, while legal director Martin Langley handles financial services and technology litigation, and Rebecca Smithbrings a wealth of experience and superlative judgment to the heaviest and most complex cases’ concerning pensions and trusts.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Preddy; Ben Daniels

Other key lawyers:

Simon Thomas; Martin Langley; Rebecca Smith; Justin Tivey; Lindsay Elliott


‘Very experienced team dealing with high value and complex financial services work.’

‘Martin Langley is technically excellent and also a master strategist. Dan Preddy is a pleasure to work with and has sound litigation judgment. Lindsay Elliot is incredibly diligent and dedicated to obtaining the best result for her clients.’

‘Excellent defendant litigation service, expertise in data breach claims.’

Key clients

Zurich Insurance plc

AXA UK plc

St James’s Place Group


Arthur J Gallagher



Western Union



Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of the Isle of Man and Ireland based life assurance companies (Quilter International Isle of Man Limited and Quilter International Ireland dac) in a £30m+ claim brought in the Commercial Court against Swiss based Leonteq Securities AG and others (the issuers of structured note investment products).
  • Representing three defendants in a cross-border shareholder dispute, in which six claimants alleged fraudulent conduct in litigation brought against nine defendants based in various jurisdictions.
  • Defending a leading network of financial advisers and one of its former appointed representative firms of financial advisers against a claim, issued against over 30 defendants, for damages concerning some unsuccessful cross-border tax planning and corporate restructuring.

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP is commended for its ‘compendious knowledge of issues arising in the construction and real estate sectors’, with additional expertise in agriculture claims, financial services and pension litigation, intellectual property and data protection cases, and shareholder disputes. Alastair Govier, who handles financial services litigation and pension disputes, jointly leads the team alongside Mark Cullingford, who advises on insolvency mandates and financial distress issues. Russell Reeves has experience in agriculture litigation, while Megan Jefferies focuses on intellectual property and data protection cases. Praised as ‘the emperor of estoppel’, Robert James is another key contact in the group.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Govier; Mark Cullingford

Other key lawyers:

Russell Reeves; Megan Jefferies; Rob James


‘A great commercial litigation team with encyclopedic legal knowledge and a strongly client centred approach.’

‘Alistair Govier is one of the best pensions solicitors in the UK. Brain the size of a planet and very keen litigation brain.’

‘Robert James is the emperor of estoppel, having been involved in most of the successful estoppel claims in recent years. A brilliant strategist who sees through both the trees and the wood to the clear uplands beyond.’

‘The firm has an excellent client base that compares favourably with any competitor and operate over a broad area. Its size and resourcing enables it to go toe-to-toe with national and London firms. It has compendious knowledge of issues arising in the construction and real estate sectors, gets to grips with cases quickly and is extremely pro-active.’

Key clients

Stonebridge Colleges (Publishing) Limited


Learn Direct

AirTanker Services Ltd

The Government of Romania

Newland Homes Limited

Sinewave Energy Solutions Ltd

Queensberry Promotions Limited

Truespeed Communications Limited

Teleperformance Contact Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing the Government of Romania in relation to proceedings in the Supreme Court concerning the enforcement of an international arbitration award.
  • Representing a farming family in the Supreme Court proceedings known as Guest v Guest, which has become a leading authority on promissory estoppel claims.


With demonstrable capability in handling cross-border claims, TLT acts for clients across the retail, financial services, digital and energy industries in high-end litigation, and has seen an increase in cases arising out of the public sector. Head of the commercial dispute resolution practice Chris Owen represents household brands across a range of mandates, from contractual disputes and shareholder claims to IT litigation and cross-border claims. Jonathan Hoey spearheads the banking and financial services litigation group, while Ed Fiddick has experience in handling corporate claims and Victoria Mabbett focuses on IT litigation. Senior associate Kate Ward is another key contact in the group. Nicola Mead-Batten joined from Capital Law Limited in December 2022.

Practice head(s):

Chris Owen; Jonathan Hoey

Other key lawyers:

Ed Fiddick; Victoria Mabbett; Kate Ward; Nicola Mead-Batten


‘A strong and experienced commercial litigation team, who give good, practical advice to clients and who can handle commercial litigation at all levels.’

‘Chris Owen is a capable and experienced litigator.’

‘Good professional approach.’

Key clients

WH Smith PLC

Viavi Solutions Pension Trustee UK Limited

Pulmaflex UK Limited

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners

Hutchison 3G

Culina Logistics/Great Bear Distribution

Work highlights

  • Acted for the corporate trustee (Viavi Solutions Pension Trustee UK) in rectification proceedings of a large pension scheme.
  • Acted for WH Smith in relation to the successful resolution of claims brought by a supplier of gift experiences in relation to allegations of breach of contract regarding the sale of products in WH Smith stores and WH Smith’s high value counterclaim.
  • Acting for Pulmaflex UK Limited and the trustees of its pension scheme (The Leggett and Platt UK Pension Scheme) in relation to breach of contract and professional negligence claims against former advisors Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, Mercer Limited and Wragge & Co LLP (now Gowling WLG (UK) LLP).

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Counting national corporations and FTSE companies among its key roster of clients, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP houses a ‘group of battle-hardened litigation experts who are willing to go the extra mile’ and handle a broad range of disputes arising out of the energy, insurance, financial services, transport, retail and consumer sectors. The Bristol-based team includes practice head Stephen Dilley, who has experience in contractual and corporate litigation, and managing associate Victoria Brooks, who focuses on contractual disputes, supplier cases and shareholders’ claims. Key clients include Wizz Air, DGI PLC and Quilter, among others.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Dilley; Gareth Kagan

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Brooks


‘The team has a real expertise in commercial matters of high worth. The communication and integration between branches is extremely useful and means that they are able to service clients the length and breadth of the country.’

‘Stephen Dilley is a cool and personable operator. He is able to work under pressure to devise and deploy a litigation strategy which best fits client instructions. He is an able negotiator and can defend his client’s corner to produce a win.’

‘Strong team in all areas.’

Key clients

Quilter Group Plc


Liverpool Victoria

Plymouth University

British Gas Trading Limited

Friends Life (now part of Aviva)


The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation plc

Wizz Air


Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP handles a broad range of disputes across the IT and technology, waste, retail, sport and financial services sectors, with demonstrable experience in regulatory and risk-related litigation. Rory Mac Neice leads the Bristol-based practice and acts for clients in the financial and technology arenas in litigation, in addition to acting for retail and manufacturing clients on product recall cases. Ian Manners has experience in serious incident representation and crisis management mandates, while Andrew Perkins, who operates from the firm’s Exeter office, is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Rory Mac Neice; Andrew Perkins

Other key lawyers:

Ian Manners; Joanne Saye


‘Rory Mac Neice and Joanne Saye have the depth of understanding of working with local authorities and specifically within the waste collection and disposal service sector, to be able to give honest and clear advice as to the likelihood of the success of the arguments we constructed in relation to our dispute.’

‘Strengths and capabilities demonstrated through a collaborative, informed and skilled handling of work.’

‘Joanne Saye richly deserves accolade not only for her legal adeptness but also for her robust and tenacious litigation skills and client handling. Having quickly assessed and understood the issues at stake, Jo delivered the legal expertise required providing support and guidance throughout negotiations to successfully conclude the matter.’

‘Very open to discussion and the sharing of ideas. Great insight and commercial judgement. Responsive and client-focussed. The practice has a lot of talented individuals with different experience and expertise. We’ve used several lawyers at the firm and have been impressed by all of them.’

‘Rory Mac Niece handled our matter. When he took on our case he listened carefully and rapidly identified the key issues at the heart of our situation and developed appropriate arguments to tackle them. He was insightful, professional and very easy to work with.’

Key clients

The National Trainers Federation

Axminster Group

Holland & Barrett International Ltd

Lloyds Bank Plc

Bank of Scotland Plc

Amo Racing Ltd

Dan Skelton Racing Ltd

British Show Horse Association Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for a waste services company in a dispute with a local authority, regarding the renegotiation and termination of a waste services contract (the contract value is over £12m).
  • Acted for a technical ceramics manufacturer in a dispute with a supplier of bespoke manufacturing equipment, worth approximately £4m.
  • Acted for a UK-based producer of health and wellness products in a dispute regarding an issue with a number of its health supplements which had been produced by a supplier based in Germany.

Bevan Brittan LLP

Noted for its expertise in public procurement litigation, Bevan Brittan LLP is well-versed in handling contract disputes, professional negligence claims, financial services litigation and shareholder disputes, with demonstrable experience in the High Court. Practice head Emily Heard has a strong track record in procurement litigation and judicial reviews, while Laura Brealey provides a ‘seamless service’ to clients across the defence, local government, healthcare and waste sectors. Other key contacts in the group include Fran Mussellwhite.

Practice head(s):

Emily Heard

Other key lawyers:

Laura Brealey; Fran Mussellwhite


‘The team have a focus on public and third sector clients who are often targets for more speculative litigation. The quality of the instructions is very high, and most legal and factual issues have been thoroughly explored and analysed prior to my involvement. Excellent advice and responses to claimants has already been provided. They are an excellent team to work with as instructing solicitors.’

‘The firm has the ability to support us in taking on local authorities to deal with poor procurement practise. They have teeth and I trust their judgement.’

‘We have used the Bevan Brittan team for the first time this year, following a strong recommendation from another company. We have been impressed by the depth of subject knowledge, the ability to identify the nub of an issue, willingness to give well structured advice, and the clear and effective way in which business is conducted.’

‘Laura Brealey has stood out as she has ensured seamless service delivery. All individuals we have dealt with have been engaged, knowledgeable and efficient.’

Key clients

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Bromcom Computers Plc

London Fire Brigade

Cooneen Group

Work highlights

  • Representing Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council in a High Court challenge by Medequip Assistive Technology Limited to the Councils’ procurement of a £360M community equipment services framework agreement for use by 21 London.
  • Acting for a leading provider of schools management information systems in a High Court claim challenging the award of a contract under a central government framework by one of the largest multi-academy trusts in England.

Foot Anstey

With demonstrable experience across the energy and infrastructure, media and entertainment, financial services and retail sectors, Foot Anstey focuses on commercial disputes and banking litigation, in addition to charity and trust proceedings. Noted for its capability in handling multi-jurisdictional claims, the team is led by Mark Rhys-Jones, who focuses on financial disputes, as well as intellectual property and brand protection cases. James Gliddon advises mis-selling, fraud and SME-related disputes, while legal director Terence Dickens focuses on financial services disputes. Managing associate Catherine Haugh is another key contact in the group.

Practice head(s):

Mark Rhys-Jones

Other key lawyers:

James Gliddon; Terence Dickens; Catherine Haugh

Key clients

Dwr Cymru Cyf (Welsh Water)

Mitsubishi HC Capital UK Plc T/A Novuna Business Finance

Bank of Ireland

Skew Base Investments SCA RAIF (a fund) and Skew Base s.a.r.l

Ahli United Bank (UK) Plc

FRP Advisory Trading Limited

Raymond McKeeve

Anthony McClean

Dr Jake Veasey

Mr PM Beckwith

Becton Dickinson UK Ltd

Holland & Barrett Retail Ltd

Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

Humphreys & Co.

Humphreys & Co. counts litigation arising out of commercial transactions, intellectual property disputes and construction proceedings in its caseload, in addition to shareholders’ disputes, fraud claims and gambling and betting litigation. The team is ‘led by astute and commercially-focused’ Robert Humphreys, who is praised as a ‘formidable lawyer’ and ‘experienced litigator’. Tristan Morse focuses on contentious trade mark, design and copyright mandates, as well as professional negligence claims.

Practice head(s):

Robert Humphreys

Other key lawyers:

Tristan Morse


‘When working with Humphreys, they always keep you informed as to the development of the matter.’

‘Humphreys & Co is a small firm, but it punches well above its weight. In the cases I have worked with them on, they have gone up against (and beaten) much bigger firms. The individual lawyers all work extremely hard for their clients; they are tenacious negotiators; and have the ability to see both the legal complexities of a case and the client’s commercial objectives, and to blend those two in a way which is surprisingly rare among commercial lawyers.’

‘Robert Humphreys is extremely hard-working; he is an experienced litigator with an ability to cut to the core of any case in an instant. He negotiates incredibly hard for his clients. He is a pleasure to work with.’

‘I have worked with this exceptional niche practice for many years. Led by the astute and commercially-focused Robert Humphreys, this firm specialises in heavyweight commercial litigation and has always punched well above its weight. It has particular expertise in construction, IP and insurance-related claims as well as significant experience in international litigation.’

‘Humphreys & Co provide a high quality service which is comparable to London firms which would probably have significantly higher charge-out rates.’

‘Robert Humphreys is a standout lawyer at the firm. As an adviser, he gives clear and straightforward advice to his clients. As a litigator, he is unafraid of dealing with complicated or difficult cases, and will fight hard for his clients’ interests.’

‘I have worked with Robert Humphreys who is clearly a formidable lawyer. He is easy to work with. He is very responsive and retains an intimate knowledge of his cases. As a partner I would describe him as red hot.’

‘Quick responses and wise counsel particularly when you are embroiled in a tricky dispute and emotions are high. The lawyers who work go out of their way to explain the knotty issues clearly in language you can understand. As a business run by people of colour it does mean a lot to us that the team including the barristers introduced by the firm are diverse.’