Commercial litigation: Dorset, Devon and Cornwall in South West

Ashfords LLP

According to clients, ‘reassurance, promptness and clarity are the main traits’ associated with Ashfords LLP, which is a key name in the market for shareholder and corporate disputes and professional negligence claims, where the team regularly acts for financial institutions. The Exeter-based practice is also developing its expertise in defamation and reputation management work and contractual disputes. Rory Mac Neice heads up the regional department from Bristol, and Andrew Perkins is the go-to name in Exeter; Perkins is particularly adept in shareholder litigation. Senior associate Anusheh Burcher is also singled out for energy sector claims.

Practice head(s):

Rory Mac Neice

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Perkins; Anusheh Burcher; Liam Tolen; Claire Boucher; Stephen Walker


‘Andrew Perkins is very knowledgeable and commercial in his approach to all matters. Leads the matter and communicates well.’

‘Anusheh Burcher helped us get a satisfactory resolution in a dispute against a major company. She guided us through the process with meticulous attention to detail. Nothing was too much trouble. Her communications were pitched perfectly and she was able to bring home a satisfactory conclusion for us after a long 18 month battle. We would have no hesitation in recommending Anusheh to anyone – we could not have got through the process without her.’

‘Personalised service providing excellent client focused legal advice for SMEs and individuals in relation to commercial matters and disputes.’

‘In the years that I have worked with my company, I have had several lead contacts at Ashfords who have been superbly communicative and helpful. Ashfords work in a communicative way to ensure they understand our legal concerns, anxieties and considerations so that they can give the best advice.’

‘Reassurance, promptness and clarity are the main traits I associate with the service we receive. We have found Ashfords to be good value for money in terms of quality of advice and pricing.

‘The practice has a holistic approach to the dilemmas faced by the client; they extract all information, put the pieces of the jigsaw together and map out a planned approach. You are left under no illusion as to the best way forward.’

‘The main person dealing with our case has been Stephen Walker, whose pragmatic, thorough approach to all aspects has been refreshing. He has kept us continually informed and has been diligent in getting timely responses.’

‘Clearly competent, focused on the client, commercial and realistic.’

Key clients

Shift Group Limited

Brand Architekts Plc

Adult Home Care Limited

S. Notaro Group Ltd

Kent Council

Pennon Group PLC

Bath and North East Somerset Council

Progressive Systems Ltd

PKF Francis Clark

Interact Group

Padstow Gin

Work highlights

  • Acted for a group of senior board level employees/shareholders, in proceedings brought against a PLC, with £64m in dispute.
  • Acted for Adult Home Care Limited and its director in relation to a restraint of trade interim injunction pursued by an adult care franchisor.
  • Acted for a client in a cross-border dispute in the Court of Appeal, successfully overturning a £8.4m summary judgment resulting in the proceedings being dismissed.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP

Singled out by clients as ‘one of the leading firms for commercial litigation in the South West’, Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP’s ‘client-led, efficient and user-friendly team’ is ‘tenacious, agile and effective in resolving commercial disputes for mid-tier clients’. The team’s areas of expertise span a broad range of specialties including property litigation, banking litigation, gambling claims, regulatory disputes, injunction applications and healthcare issues. Lauren Day and William Fox Bregman jointly lead the practice; Day handles claims with property elements and probate litigation, while Bergman is active in the finance sector. Other key names include Paul Kanolik, who leads the betting and gaming disputes team; Victoria Riddleston, who handles contentious probate matters and senior associate Caroline Palacio, who leads the insolvency group.

Practice head(s):

Lauren Day; William Fox Bregman

Other key lawyers:

Paul Kanolik; Victoria Riddleston; Caroline Palacio


‘Ellis Jones is one of the leading firms for Commercial litigation in the South-West. They are well-placed geographically (with 5 offices in the region, and 1 in London) and have some real experts in their field. The junior fee earners are excellently trained.’

‘Lauren Day has vast experience in commercial litigation, and is always calm and unflappable. She handles complex litigation with ease. Victoria Riddleston is very good, particularly in properly litigation where her technical knowledge is impressive.’

‘The team is hands-on and proactive in devising strategies to resolve disputes.’

‘Ellis Jones are the premium firm for commercial litigation in the South of England. They are tenacious, agile and effective in resolving commercial disputes for mid-tier clients.’

‘Lauren Day has an outstanding reputation for driving high value disputes.’

‘Will Bregman is always clear about the strategy that will achieve the best result for his clients. His communication with clients is excellent. He works very effectively alongside Counsel to deliver a seamless service.’

‘Paul Kanolik, in-depth knowledge and approach to gambling cases on top of his game.’

‘This firm has a uniquely strong claimant practice in the gambling sector and is adept at working with vulnerable lay clients to understand their situations and give timely advice. The firm offer a flexible approach that can take into account the budget and strengths of the dispute and have achieved fantastic results for many of their clients.’

Work highlights

    Lester Aldridge LLP

    Lester Aldridge LLP has ‘a realistic commercial approach coupled with careful legal analysis’ and is ‘always working towards practical solutions’. The practice excels in the marine, defence and financial sectors and is also active in regulatory issues and insolvency procedures. The team is also regularly involved in claims with an international aspect, particularly proceedings involving Europe or the US. Bournemouth-based department head Chris Evans is often instructed in Part 8 Companies Act claims and insolvency mandates, while Michael Veal, who is also qualified in the Republic of Ireland, specialises in fraud issues and emergency relief applications; and Edward Foster handles asset recovery and commercial lending issues.

    Practice head(s):

    Chris Evans

    Other key lawyers:

    Michael Veal; Edward Foster


    ‘Realistic commercial approach coupled with careful legal analysis.’

    ‘Michael Veale – engaging, sensible, carefully considered advice.’

    ‘Solid team. Genuinely partner led. Good value for a premium service.’

    ‘Chris Evans was excellent, balancing technical detail with a realistic commercial view.’

    ‘No nonsense, keeping it simple for me. Always working towards practical solutions and helping me understand my options.’

    ‘Chris Evans (partner) – potentially the most helpful lawyer I have ever met. His advice is so clear, helping simplify and explain and therefore he has my complete trust.’

    Work highlights

      Michelmores LLP

      Michelmores LLP ‘goes toe to toe with the London firms’ and ‘has great strength and depth, delivering sound, measured and well-structured pragmatic commercial advice’. Jonathan Kitchin heads up the team and is ‘a very tactically astute litigator’, specialising in the financial services sector, while Sara Chisholm-Batten leads the private wealth disputes practice, and Andrew Oldland KC focuses on regulatory and criminal investigations. For IP work, Charles Courtenay and Tim Richards are the key contacts, and Jayne Clemens and Alice Daniels were recently promoted to the partnership; Clemens leads the reputation management expertise, and Daniels handles trust disputes and fraud matters.

      Practice head(s):

      Jonathan Kitchin

      Other key lawyers:

      Sara Chisholm-Batten; Andrew Oldland KC; Charles Courtenay; Tim Richards; Jayne Clemens; Alice Daniels; Emily Aggett; Charlie Temperley


      ‘Highly knowledgeable and proactive with the skill base to deal with complex issues. The individuals combine effectively and are attuned to all relevant issues in advance.’

      ‘The understanding of the importance of the litigation from all perspectives and great (daily) client contact as a result of being completely cognisant of litigation developments as they are correctly predicted to unfold. Jonathan Kitchin and Charlie Temperley are excellent.’

      ‘Excellent value for money – go toe to toe with the London firms, with the added benefit of great partner engagement.’

      ‘Jayne Clemens – Massively hands on, and gets to grips with the detail. Jonathan Kitchin – A very tactically astute litigator.’

      ‘Top quality advice and premium service at regional fee levels.’

      ‘Jonathan Kitchin (JK) His approach, style and ability to take a complex area and provide clear, simple pragmatic advice is unrivalled. JK is approachable, fun to work with, proactive, efficient and clear. He responds quickly, keeps you updated and is fair on fees and estimates. Exactly how an external lawyer should be.’

      ‘An ability to provide unemotional objective robust advice but then work with the client to best achieve the client’s end goal. Jonathan Kitchin has supported us and has become a trusted adviser to the group and our go-to solicitor for all commercial disputes work. Jonathan is very cool under fire, measured and viewed by all internally as a very safe pair of hands.’

      ‘Sara Chisholm-Batten is a standout partner: extremely capable, but also very user-friendly, Sara is steely, responsive and measured – just what you want in a litigator.’

      Key clients

      Centek / Madison Group (US)

      CRUX Asset Management Limited

      Daily Mail & General Trust plc

      Downing LLP

      The Forestry Commission

      Frobishers Juices



      Octopus Investments

      Peter Jones Investment Group

      Succession Group

      Schools Company Trust


      Work highlights

      • Managing commercial, insurance coverage and regulatory disputes for national businesses based in and out of region in the sports and travel, entertainment, hospitality and property development sectors arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
      • Acting for a FTSE 250 plc in pursuing a £40m fees and profit claim relating to a nationally significant infrastructure project.

      Steele Raymond LLP

      Steele Raymond LLP’s practice ‘works together in a seamless and cohesive way’ under the leadership of Peter Rolph, who has ‘unfailing patience and kindness while maintaining professionalism at all times’ and is a go-to name for complex disputes and professional negligence claims involving accountants and solicitors. Senior associate Amelia Williams is active in construction property and contractual claims, while clients praise associate Alice Toop as ‘highly professional at all times’ and able to ‘maintain a cool and knowledgeable head in difficult times, with advice that is quick, clear and easy to follow’.

      Practice head(s):

      Peter Rolph

      Other key lawyers:

      Amelia Williams; Alice Toop


      ‘Steele Raymond have a wide range of experts in various aspects of commercial litigation who work very closely together to ensure that the most cost effective and expert service are provided in both simple and complex cases. Their feedback and prompt and honest responses enable clients to make the best decisions in difficult circumstances even when they are not themselves experts in the commercial field.’

      ‘The Steele Raymond team stand head and shoulders above my experience of other competitors. In terms of value for money, peace of mind, kindness and generosity, they win hands down.’

      ‘Peter Rolph, partner and leader of the dispute regulation team took my case on personally and has put many hours in on my behalf with unfailing patience and kindness whilst maintaining his professionalism at all times, no matter how his patience has been tried. He has guided his team and directed them to help us in all the aspects of our complex case.’

      ‘Alice Toop – Dispute Resolution Team, provided a cool and knowledgeable head in a very difficult time and her advice was quick, clear and easy to follow. She was able to explain situations I was unfamiliar with to me in a way I could understand and allowed me to act appropriately. Alice was particularly kind in sympathising with me with the difficulties I unexpectedly found myself facing and whilst standing in for Peter whilst he was unable to attend to our case. She gave me confidence.’

      ‘Peter Rolph (Partner) is an expert negotiator and shrewd lawyer.’

      ‘A great regional firm. Knowledgeable, committed and very easy to deal with.’

      ‘Peter Rolph is a leader in his field. Always calm under pressure and with his experience has the capability to lead difficult clients through challenging processes to achieve outcomes that would not have been possible without his involvement.’

      ‘Alice Toop – Associate, incredibly hard working, diligent, efficient and knowledgeable. She was able to keep a complex and fluid situation under control and manage her time and mine very well to achieve what we needed to.’

      Work highlights

        Stephens Scown LLP

        Stephens Scown LLP attracts praise for ‘the personal approach of the entire team’ and ‘key strengths of affective, clear and informative communication’. Fielding a range of practitioners across its Exeter and Truro offices, the team counts noteworthy South West clients on its roster and excels in corporate disputes including partnership litigation, director disputes and shareholder claims. The group is also growing its data protection expertise and is increasingly active in cross-border work and alternative dispute resolution. Catherine Mathews leads the group in Exeter and Toby Claridge heads up the team in Truro; other key names include Richard Slater in Exeter, who is ‘the epitome of professional’ and Stephen Wray in Taunton.

        Practice head(s):

        Catherine Mathews; Toby Claridge

        Other key lawyers:

        Richard Slater; Stephen Wray


        ‘I have been dealing with Stephen Wray for a couple of years. Stephen has always been very sensible and direct in his approach and I have always taken on board his advice which I have found very helpful.’

        ‘Richard Slater was the epitome of professional whilst remaining personable and understanding.’

        ‘The personal approach of the entire team we feel makes this practice unique, their key strengths being affective, clear, informative communication which even a non-legal mind can understand. The whole team has a hand on each others cases and have stood in for their colleagues on our cases at last minute especially throughout the Covid pandemic period showing complete professionalism in ensuring they and we fully understand the latest stage of the case.’

        ‘Very good legal team.’

        ‘Stand out lawyers: Toby Claridge and Stephen Wray.’

        Key clients

        Atom Insurance Limited

        IMERYS Minerals Ltd (formerly English China Clays)

        Thatchers Cider Company Ltd

        St Austell Brewery Company Ltd

        Work highlights

          Foot Anstey

          Foot Anstey’s ‘strong partner involvement’ allows the group to handle multi-jurisdictional claims and litigation in the fraud and data theft, banking and financial services, professional negligence and trust and estate arenas. Working closely with the firm’s Bristol practice, led by Mark Rhys-Jones, key names in Exeter include Peter Singfield, who acts in commercial and financial disputes and IP and media litigation, and Steven Richards, who leads the fraud and white-collar crime practice.

          Practice head(s):

          Mark Rhys-Jones

          Other key lawyers:

          Peter Singfield; Steven Richards


          ‘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.’

          ‘Steven Richards always brings a hands-on, commercial approach with a keen eye on strategy.’

          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

            Trowers & Hamlins LLP

            The Exeter-based practice at Trowers & Hamlins LLP recently expanded its expertise with the recruitment of Charisse Crawford, who joined from Stephens Scown LLP in 2021 and now leads the practice; Crawford attracts praise for her expertise in contentious trusts and probate work. The team also benefits from the firm’s wider network when acting in national and international claims, particularly in relation to insurance and commercial disputes and matters involving the Middle East. Senior associate Alexander Sharples is active in cross-border disputes and has knowledge of the energy, IT and defence sectors.

            Practice head(s):

            Charisse Crawford

            Other key lawyers:

            Alexander Sharples; Maria Dunn


            ‘Excellent team from partner to legal exec – comprehensive and user friendly approach to client. Also commercially minded.’

            ‘Alex Sharples is a stand-out Senior Associate with a great track record. He gives clear, practical advice and brings a big-ticket litigation ethos to his matters. He will clearly be one to watch in Exeter.’

            Key clients

            Project Abacus (450 Claimants in major group action)

            Work highlights

            • Instructed on behalf of circa 450 investors who suffered losses as a result of a potentially fraudulent property scheme operated by the Alpha and Green Parks group of companies.

            Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

            From its Plymouth office, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s team works closely with other offices in the firm’s network to act for regional and national clients in a broad range of contentious mandates spanning the energy, insurance, financial services, transport, pensions, retail and consumer sectors. Gareth Kagan has notable experience in fraud injunctive relief and anti-avoidance work and heads up the practice. Managing associates Andrew Wilson and Luke Holmes also contribute with expertise in insolvency claims and contractual litigation respectively.

            Practice head(s):

            Gareth Kagan

            Other key lawyers:

            Andrew Wilson; Luke Holmes

            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

              Blanchards Bailey LLP

              Blanchards Bailey LLP is ‘an excellent firm to work with’ and takes a ‘knowledgeable, flexible and personal approach’ to regional litigation. The team particularly stands out for its knowledge of the farming and agriculture sectors and experience in private client mandates and property litigation. Paul Dunlop and Ben Jones jointly lead the practice.

              Practice head(s):

              Paul Dunlop; Ben Jones


              ‘Special mention to Ben Jones who picked up the ball running and scored us a goal!’

              ‘Blanchards is a stable long term partnership with a wide breadth of skills to cover all of the bases.’

              ‘For litigation matters we have used the services of senior partner Paul Dunlop and associate Ben Jones. Their timely dealing with the matter at hand and the level of personal customer service is excellent. We always know we have given the matter the required attention.’

              ‘The team, led by Paul Dunlop, are always a pleasure to deal with and provide us with quality instructions on a range of topics under the commercial litigation umbrella. I’d have no hesitation in recommending them and would say they are my go-to firm for commercial litigation in Dorset.’

              ‘Paul Dunlop and Ben Jones are the individuals I’ve dealt with and they all seem very knowledgeable and efficient.’

              ‘Blanchards Bailey are an excellent firm to work with. They provide quality work and are very personable.’

              ‘I mainly deal with Paul Dunlop and Ben Jones. Both are fantastic lawyers and always a pleasure to speak and deal with.’

              Key clients

              Ibeautyhero Limited

              J Cossins & Sons Limited

              Work highlights

              • Represented an individual in a contract dispute and a professional negligence claim.

              Frettens LLP

              Frettens LLP ‘provides a balanced and unbiased view of the situation’ and ‘takes a business-minded approach when assessing the core issues at hand’. Michelle Hayter leads the team and handles negligence claims, contractual issues and property litigation; she is also active in social housing mandates, working with registered providers. Malcolm Niekirk acts in insolvency litigation and Will Bartley leads on property litigation.

              Practice head(s):

              Michelle Hayter

              Other key lawyers:

              Malcolm Niekirk; Will Bartley; Kerri Hunter; Anna Curtis


              ‘Frettens provide a balanced and unbiased view of the situation from an early point in the discussions and take a business minded approach when assessing the core issues at hand. Once they have considered the core issue, they will always present an honest opinion of the dispute, the chances and various opportunities to secure a resolution and a balanced view of the chances and costs of proceeding.’

              ‘Michelle Hayter – diligent, invested, committed, responsive and honest.’

              ‘Very diligent. Have been very helpful when dealing with my delicate situations.’

              ‘Michelle Hayter is extremely knowledgeable and has never failed to ease my concerns whenever I have contacted her.’

              ‘The litigation team at Frettens have always and continue to be a very engaging and proactive team. I have found their advice to be invaluable and very much solution based.’

              ‘In particular Will Bartley at Frettens has for me been someone I can always tap into for straight forward, sensible and practical advice, often at short notice with minimum fuss.’

              ‘The customer service is fantastic. When we need urgent advice, Frettens is always our number one go to. Their knowledge is vital to our business. Their assistance to us and our own clients is invaluable, efficient and highly recommended.’

              ‘Michelle Hayter, always quick to respond and help, even out of hours, she has a wonderful attitude and has an enviable knack of making everything legal sound very straightforward.’

              Key clients

              Contemplation Homes Ltd

              Proprietary Management Ltd

              Primetower Properties Ltd

              Pivotal Housing Association

              Parasol Homes Limited

              Mtech Communications Ltd

              MC Plan & Site Services Ltd

              Victoria Drill Hall

              The Boat Development Company Ltd

              Slades Estate Agents

              Churchfields Estate Agents

              St George’s Hospital Ltd

              Quantuma Advisory Limited

              Wharncliffe Court (Highcliffe) Ltd

              Faber Artifex Ltd

              Work highlights

              • Acting for Mtech Communications in a dispute with a former consultant for breach of contract and misappropriation of company property.
              • Instructed by the shareholders of Sunseeker (London) Ltd in a claim against the directors for unfair prejudice and breach of fiduciary duties.
              • Acting in a claim by a director and shareholder for unfair prejudice and attempting to negotiate a fair exit from the company.


              Fielding ‘a comprehensive team of legal experts able to advise and advocate across a broad range of subjects’, Laceys is particularly well-regarded for its expertise in commercial claims, landlord and tenant matters and contentious probate work. The group has recently seen a change of leadership with ‘excellent lawyerBrendan Herbert taking over the role from Mark Timberlake, who still contributes to the practice.

              Practice head(s):

              Brendan Herbert

              Other key lawyers:

              Mark Timberlake; Alana Penkethman


              ‘Brendan Herbert (Partner) and Alana Penkethman (Associate). They exuded a quiet confidence that, as a client, was very reassuring. They had a thorough grasp of their areas of expertise and provided regular and easily comprehensible advice and guidance to me during a very traumatic period of my life. I was particularly impressed by the empathetic way in which they dealt with me, and would not hesitate to recommend them and their practice to others who might find themselves in need of legal services.’

              ‘I found Brenden Herbert to be an excellent lawyer, he has a good grasp of the law and is able to come up with solutions, to various problems that have confronted us. He is a good listener and pays attention to the small details that can make a difference in the outcome.’

              ‘Brendan Herbert has been my only contact with the firm. He has been extremely helpful guiding me through problems beyond my initial understanding. Keeping me well informed via email.’

              ‘Laceys seems to have every kind of expertise in-house, which means that over more than 30 years, we have always known that we were dealing with the best person, within a firm that knows us, our ethos and our priorities, and looks after our interests.’

              ‘Laceys are a much more personable company than other solicitors used, they are enabled to think about the situations over following a blueprint.’

              ‘The team consists of highly competent yet personable individuals. They easily clarify complex topics and are always very friendly as they do so. Their expertise across a range of subjects that we encounter through business/personal dealings and their responsiveness and approachability makes them available when you need them.’

              Work highlights

              • Advised a telecoms company in defending a multi-million pound claim for negligent misstatement.
              • Acting for a manufacturing company to enforce a supply chain clause.
              • Acting to enforce a share lien of a £1m director’s loan.

              Paddle & Cocks LLP

              From its base in Truro, Paddle & Cocks LLP’s recent work has encompassed shareholder litigation, employment disputes, contractual claims and professional negligence mandates, among others. Managing partner Verona Cocks heads up the commercial dispute resolution practice, which acts for clients in the Midlands, London and the South West.

              Practice head(s):

              Verona Cocks


              ‘Very efficient and experienced team yet with the ability to engage directly and listen to the client.’

              ‘Key strengths are without doubt the people and the versatility of services.’

              ‘I deal with Verona Cocks and I find her professional at all times when it comes to her work, knowledgable and goes above and beyond to help me. She works all hours to ensure I am getting the right service and results and always with a smile.’

              ‘A USP is the breadth of skill base and when combined with a very client centric approach. Verona & the team are right at the top of the list of those I recommend in this sector.’

              ‘Verona Cocks, one of the founding members, is exemplary in her delivery of litigation legal services and positively portraying her profile in the sector. Ms Cocks clearly has an evident passion for the work she undertakes, dealing with compliance matters and builds strong relationships with her clients and professional contacts.’

              ‘Paddle and Cocks are a brilliant firm of solicitors who really value their clients. They are exceptional in what they do and have assisted many times with sometimes tricky cases.’

              ‘Paddle & Cocks is everything that clients would hope for in commercial disputes: partner-led, streamlined, and with deep experience of litigation of high-value and complex matters. Cases are treated with care and energy, and there is a real determination to see matters through successfully.’

              ‘You will be so grateful to have Verona Cocks on your side in litigation. She is perceptive, meticulous, strategic and endlessly determined – as well as being a great “people person”. When this is coupled with her huge experience of commercial matters, she is one of the stars of the sector.’

              Key clients

              Elite Wealth Management UK Ltd

              Redleaf Limited

              Logical Choice Group Ltd

              Marlbrook Auto Centre Limited

              Elklan Training Ltd

              Cornwall Care Limited

              Cornwall Care Services Limited

              Zia Doodle LLC

              Work highlights