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Commercial litigation: Dorset, Devon and Cornwall in South West

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP counts property, banking and finance, insolvency, IP and defamation disputes among its areas of specialism. Lauren Day handles a range of commercial disputes and heads up the team with William Fox Bregman, who has a 'wealth of commercial litigation experience' and a focus on banking and finance disputes. The group also has niche experience in bringing claims against betting companies, for which Paul Kanolik (who also handles financial services sector and IP litigation) is a key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Lauren Day; William Fox Bregman

Other key lawyers:

Paul Kanolik


Ellis Jones has a substantial presence on the south coast. Their size and reputation allow them to attract highly qualified and competent staff who present with a wealth of local knowledge that is made conveniently available through their various offices. They cater well to some of the sizeable small and medium-sized businesses in the area.

William Fox Bregman gives his clients the full benefit of his wealth of commercial litigation experience. Ellis Jones offer a highly streamlined and cost-effective approach to commercial dispute resolution.

The commercial litigation team at Ellis Jones are among the best I work with. They are diligent in their preparation, robust in negotiation and extremely client-focused. Their research is always meticulous leaving barristers and lay-clients assured that every issue has been comprehensively explored before advice is given. I also find them to be friendly and approachable. They are experts in their field but have not lost the common touch.

William Fox Bregman is determined, capable and a pleasure to work with.

Lauren Day is excellent at managing teams and cases, and very good at resolving difficult situations.

Key clients

Westcoast (Bristol) Limited

Vistra Trustees (Jersey)

Work highlights

  • Acting for an individual in a dispute relating to a string of fraudulent transactions initiated at the behest of her now ex-husband over a decade.
  • Representing a group of clients who were directly affecting by the HBOS Reading Fraud.
  • Acting for an individual claimant in a breach of contract, nuisance and aggravated damages claim concerning a property development in Sandbanks, Poole.

Lester Aldridge LLP

The dispute resolution team at Lester Aldridge LLP has experience across a range of litigation and arbitration proceedings and counts marine, defence and financial services among its sector specialisms. The group acts for prominent corporates in the region and is adept at handling disputes with cross-border elements, particularly across Europe and the US. The group is led by property litigator Kate Stewart and includes Michael Veal, who is also dual-qualified in England and Wales and Ireland; Veal has particular expertise in commercial and employee fraud disputes. Chris Evans has a broad practice including financial and contractual disputes, professional negligence claims and IP litigation.

Practice head(s):

Kate Stewart

Other key lawyers:

Michael Veal; Chris Evans; Ben Kerley


Professionalism, good overall knowledge and of their particular area.

Good lawyers with well-rounded expertise – very commercial, thorough and available.

Michael Veal is mature, considered judgement, well-balanced advice, good commercial sense.

Chris Evans is commercial and pragmatic.

Associate Ben Kerley seems to punch above his weight in terms of not sitting on the fence.’

Michelmores LLP

The commercial and regulatory disputes practice at Exeter-based Michelmores LLP has an impressive national and international reach and counts insurance, financial services and IP litigation and international arbitration among its areas of specialism. 'Superb litigator' Jonathan Kitchin has particular financial services sector expertise and leads the team, which includes Sara Chisholm-Batten and dual-qualified barrister and Californian lawyer Charles Courtenay, who are highlighted for international enforcement work and IP disputes respectively. The group also benefits from Andrew Oldland QC's expertise in regulatory and criminal investigations, and senior associate Jayne Clemens' experience in reputation management disputes including defamation, harassment and privacy matters.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Kitchin


The team combines excellent technical knowledge of the law with astute commercial strategy. They are extremely pleasant to work with, and have great strength in depth.

Longstanding relationship; no-nonsense, practical approach.

The leading all-service firm in the South-West, Michelmores litigation expands far beyond its HQ both in terms of geography and jurisdiction, but also in terms of prestige and value. In reality, Michelmores is an international firm which happens to be based in the South-West. It is able to tackle litigation problems of any size and in any field. The team are responsive, highly tactical, friendly and provide a first-class service.

Jonathan Kitchin is an excellent lawyer and great strategist. He is always engaged and on the ball, and yet extremely personable and down to earth. He is effective in mediation situations and WP discussions.

Jonathan Kitchin is a superb litigator, with excellent strategic skills and a calm and collected manner with clients.

Sara Chisholm-Batten is very experienced and has many high-profile clients.

Key clients


Peter Jones Group

The Legal Aid Agency

Clydesdale Bank Group Action

CRUX Asset Management

LEBC Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Intelsat in a dispute for the recovery of a portfolio of aged debts totalling $65m from over 25 jurisdictions worldwide.
  • Acted for The Legal Aid Agency in obtaining a worldwide freezing orders and a £25m judgment to recover legal aid paid to a collapsed firm of solicitors.
  • Acting for two former LIBOR submitters in a civil claim against their bank employer to recover £10m in loss of earnings and legal fees expended and successfully defending a criminal prosecution in the US.

Steele Raymond LLP

Steele Raymond LLP attracts praise for its ability to 'come up with practical, pragmatic and cost-effective solutions to clients' disputes'. It is a popular choice for companies in Dorset and is particularly active in property and construction litigation, shareholder and director disputes, and professional negligence claims. With a niche in professional negligence work, experienced commercial litigator and mediator Peter Rolph leads the team, which includes senior associates Hannah Dare and Amelia Williams, who recently joined from Lester Aldridge LLP and are particularly strong for property litigation.

Practice head(s):

Peter Rolph

Other key lawyers:

Hannah Dare; Amelia Williams


The team listen to the problem and are not afraid to let you know whether it is cost effective to take court action. They are happy to write letters on your behalf.

Peter Rolph is an excellent litigator with excellent experience.

Responsive approach to client needs. Coming up with practical, pragmatic and cost effective solutions to the client’s disputes.’

Peter Rolph is very easy to get on with and he makes you relax even though you are putting across a problem that is troubling you.

Key clients

Selwood Ltd

Stephens Scown LLP

Stephens Scown LLP handles a range of litigation and alternative dispute resolution for its impressive roster of regional, national and international clients. The group has a number of key specialisms including expertise in reputational disputes and contentious company issues, for which practice heads Catherine Mathews  and Toby Claridge are the respective contacts to note; other key areas of strength include IP, IT and healthcare disputes. Recently promoted partner Richard Slater handles a range of contractual disputes, often with an international element; he and Claridge are also trained mediators.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Mathews; Toby Claridge

Other key lawyers:

Richard Slater; Laura Britton


The dispute resolution team has a breadth and depth of experience that is unrivalled. The key strength of the team is their commercial sense and absolute focus on the best interests of their clients.

Individuals in the dispute resolution team are conscientious, thorough and dedicated.  Each are approachable and efficient in their responses to queries raised and always on hand to discuss a matter. Richard Slater and Laura Britton stand out as particularly hardworking and efficient.’

I found Toby Claridge and the rest of the team working on my behalf extremely committed to my case. The advice I received was always appropriate and they worked hard to achieve a satisfactory outcome. Personally they were reassuring and sensitive to my concerns.

It was always possible to contact someone, and if that person was unavailable, I received a call back as promised. They met deadlines and I felt confident that they were handling my case with the utmost professionalism.

Key clients

Thatchers Cider Company Ltd

Cedar Homes Limited

IMERYS Minerals Ltd (formerly English China Clays)

Portland Stone Firms Limited

St Austell Brewery Company Ltd

Stormfront Retail Ltd

Viridor Waste Management

Work highlights

  • Represented Cedar Homes in a breach of contract dispute relating to the purported sale of numerous orchestral instruments bought for £150,000, which did not materialise.

Ashfords LLP

For corporate and contractual disputes, professional negligence claims and contentious reputation management work, Ashfords LLP's commercial litigation group is a popular choice among regional, national and international private and public sector clients. Practice head Andrew Perkins focuses on shareholder and contractual disputes, while Jason Squire has particular experience in farming and construction partnership disputes and medical professional negligence claims. The group also has an expanding data breach practice, for which associate Elizabeth Johnson is highlighted.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Perkins

Other key lawyers:

Jason Squire; Elizabeth Johnson


Andrew and Liam are both great communicators, clear, concise and very committed to what they do.

Andrew Perkins and Liam Tolen have total integrity.


Key clients

Post Office Limited

Ultimate Finance Group Plc

Biffa Municipal Limited

Notaro Group

Teignbridge Council

Bath and North east Somerset Council

The Pension Drawdown Company Ltd

Work highlights

  • Representing a company and shareholder in an attempt to set aside a complicated corporate demerger transaction and addressing allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and professional negligence.
  • Representing a national franchisor in a threatened claim for misrepresentation by a franchisee following the termination of the franchise agreement by the franchisor.
  • Representing the sellers of a regional firm of accountants in a restrictive covenant claim threatened by a national firm of accountants in which the buyer is seeking damages of £1.7m.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey's dispute resolution group acts for an impressive roster of leading companies in the financial services, media and entertainment, retail and energy sectors. Bristol-based Mark Rhys-Jones leads the wider South West practice, while the Exeter office includes Steven Richards, who handles corporate disputes, banking and financial sector litigation and contentious insolvency matters; and IP and brand protection expert Peter Singfield.

Practice head(s):

Mark Rhys-Jones

Other key lawyers:

Steven Richards; Peter Singfield

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group

Admiral Group Plc


Signet Jewellers Limited (owner of H.Samuel and Ernest Jones)

Adam Smith International Limited

Welsh Water

OVO Energy

Bank of Ireland

Hitachi Capital

Kawasaki Precision Machinery

Work highlights

  • Acting for Adam Smith International in a procurement dispute against the Department for International Development following the award of a tender to another party.
  • Acting for Sky UK in content protection and TV anti-piracy matters and represented the client in broadcast copyright infringement claims.
  • Successfully acted for a Qatari company an ICC arbitration claim for breach of contract.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP's contentious expertise spans from commercial litigation, insurance claims and property litigation to Court of Protection issues and inquests. The group has notable expertise in the aerospace sector, for which Kathryn Insall is a key contact. Install, who also counts manufacturing and technology among her other sector specialisms, heads up the group alongside Paul Keeling, who is experienced in professional negligence claims and mediation. Senior associates Emily Agget and Maria Dunn are highlighted for data protection issues and health and social care sector disputes respectively.

Practice head(s):

Kathryn Insall; Paul Keeling

Other key lawyers:

Maria Dunn; Emily Agget


Tenacious litigators, providing good quality litigation services at competitive prices.

They were always very courteous and listened to my point of view. They responded quickly even when one was not in the office. They recognised when there were points of law that they didn’t know and found out the answers. The two people I dealt with were Kathryn Insall and Maria Dunn.

Work highlights

  • Acted for a German manufacturer in a multi‑million pound dispute concerning a partnership supply agreement and successfully recovered in excess of €1m at mediation.
  • Represented a leading provider of security, construction logistics and aviation services in statutory and contractual liability issues relating to the provision of passenger support and security services at various major UK airports.
  • Acting for a national provider of care and accommodation in complex Court of Protection proceedings concerning the care package of a vulnerable adult and related deprivation of liberty issues.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's dispute resolution team group leverages in-house barristers, in-house cost lawyers and a strong national network when acting for an impressive roster of regional, national and international clients. Practice head Gareth Kagan has particular experience in multi-jurisdictional fraud cases, while managing associate Luke Holmes handles a range of commercial disputes including energy, banking and financial services sector claims, and shareholder and insolvency litigation.

Practice head(s):

Gareth Kagan

Other key lawyers:

Luke Holmes


Whilst the physical team in the SW has reduced over the years they are still a strong firm in relation to Insolvency and Commercial litigation.

Stephen Dilley is a great lawyer and can move quickly. Craig Moore has deep experience.

Key clients

Renewable Energy Assurance Limited (REAL)


Liverpool Victoria (LV=)

Plymouth University

British Gas Trading Limited

Friends Life (now part of Aviva)



The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation plc

Blanchards Bailey LLP

Blanchards Bailey LLP's dispute resolution practice is a popular choice for owner-managed and family-owned businesses in Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire, particularly for construction, manufacturing and residential property disputes. Practice head Paul Dunlop specialises in commercial agricultural and partnership claims.

Practice head(s):

Paul Dunlop


The team is managed by one of the senior partners Paul Dunlop. Fortunately we have not had reason to call on their services very often but when we do we get a timely response, valued advice and swift action as appropriate. We also receive the close attention of Paul Dunlop irrespective of who in his team is dealing with the particular matter.

Blanchards Bailey have been our solicitors for the last 2 years. They are very professional, courteous, friendly, and are always on hand to assist with simple queries all the way through to large scale legal support.

Paul Dunlop – senior partner – is highly experienced and definitive in his advice and guidance.  We benefit from his personal contact and management of the case.

Everyone we speak to at the business is fully knowledgeable on all aspects of their chosen field of legal expertise. All enquiries are dealt with very swiftly and we are always confident that they will provide us with the answers to any questions we may have in a very short space of time.

Key clients

Surplus Trade Supplies Limited

Druce & Co

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented a partner of a commercial farming partnership in a partnership dispute relating to breach partners duties, removal of option agreement and incurring of liabilities to third-party lenders.
  • Represented a local catering enterprise in a complex claim relating to the purchase of vehicles resulting in part 20 misrepresentation proceedings.
  • Acted for a peer-to-peer crowdfunding platform in the recovery of a bridging loan secured in conjunction with a £93m fund.

Frettens LLP

Frettens LLP is particularly strong for corporate, commercial and property disputes. Practice head Michelle Hayter counts insolvency litigation and directors duties disputes among her area of focus and has notable experience in acting for social housing providers.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Hayter

Key clients

Primetower Properties Ltd

Pivotal Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Represented Primetower Properties in a dispute with leaseholders over alleged defective premises and serving dilapidations on a leaseholder.
  • Acted for an individual in a dispute over a parking area involving residential and commercial premises, which included issues of prescriptive easement, trespass and unlawful ticketing of vehicles.

Kitsons LLP

Kitsons LLP's dispute resolution group is split across Torquay, Exeter and Plymouth and counts property, leisure, financial services and insurance sector litigation among its areas of expertise. Exeter-based David Turner focuses on financial services litigation, insurance disputes and misselling claims, and jointly leads the practice with James Cross in Torquay, whose experience ranges from multiparty disputes to debt recovery and real estate litigation. For professional negligence claims, Nicholas Johnson in Exeter is a key contact.

Practice head(s):

James Cross; David Turner

Other key lawyers:

Nicholas Johnson


Kitsons stands out from its competitors for the superb efficiency with which it conducts complicated litigation. Its client relationship management is first-rate.

The professional but caring and friendly attitude emanated from the reception staff throughout the whole of the department that I was to get to know as the ‘A Team’. At no time in the next two years did I question or lose faith in the fact that everyone at Kitsons was doing their level best to try and contain the opposition and make sense of the situation.

Kitsons is a modern, forward thinking firm, which delivers excellent legal services to its region at a reasonable cost. Kitsons is unique, in my experience, in being a firm which is focused on making litigation work financially for its clients, rather than allowing its clients to risk economic disaster. The team of litigators, headed by James Cross, are capable and focused on their client’s objectives.

Kitsons never fail to delight their clients with robust advice and sensible achievable litigation objectives.

David Turner’s dispute resolution practice is outstanding. He and his team have a wealth of experience spanning many years and sectors. His team know how to manage a dispute, to budget, and never present you with any surprises. They are dedicated, committed and often come up with sensible, practical solutions. David is particularly expert at negotiation, be it via ADR or simply when talking to the other side.

David Turner has exceptional skills and abilities in getting to the heart of disputes very quickly and instantly seeing how to solve what other practitioners find intractable problems. Savvy, pragmatic and tenacious, David is one of the South West’s premier lawyers.

David Turner is the stand out partner. He is approachable, clever and commercially minded. I would not go anywhere else for dispute related advice.

James Cross is my principle contract. He is an accomplished and experienced litigator, having taken several cases to the Court of Appeal (successfully). He forges a close relationship with his clients on the one hand, whilst being uncompromising in the pursuit of his clients’ interests. Nevertheless, he is often able to construct negotiated or mediated solutions for his clients.

Key clients

The Blue Coat Church of England Academy Limited

ADMP UK Administration Limited

Churston Golf Club Limited

Ashley Law Limited

W A Consultants

Work highlights

  • Representing The Blue Coat Church of England Academy (an academy school based in Coventry) in a restitution claim against Prowood Limited.
  • Acting for an individual in a claim against Lloyds Bank following a review into the conduct and activities of Lloyds Bank’s Reading Branch.
  • Acting for W A Consultants in a dispute regarding the terms of a franchise agreement with Motorola in Norway.

Laceys Solicitors LLP

Laceys Solicitors LLP counts property, employment and IP litigation among its areas of expertise. Practice head Mark Timberlake and Brendan Herbert are noted for landlord and tenant disputes and contentious IP work respectively.

Practice head(s):

Mark Timberlake

Other key lawyers:

Brendan Herbert


Laceys are a genuinely friendly and realistic law firm.’

Although I have not had much previous experience of litigation, Laceys made me feel that they were in control of matters at all times, particularly in providing the very best available person to assist us.

Brendan Herbert is hands down the best partner we have dealt with. Results over just fees every time. He is someone you would go back to because you trust him and he gets the job done to budget.

Brendan Herbert is a friendly and reassuring lawyer to have on your side. He inspires confidence when things get stressful and has a very approachable manner.

Work highlights

  • Acted for 77M in a major landmark IP dispute against the Ordnance Survey relating to the database rights in seven principal data sets.