Firms To Watch: Commercial litigation: Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire

Led by Ellen Yeates, the team at Porter Dodson LLP handles supply chain disputes, intellectual property proceedings, reputation management cases, insolvency litigation and commercial contract disputes.

Commercial litigation: Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire in South West

BPE Solicitors LLP

Based in Cheltenham, BPE Solicitors LLP ‘delivers a high quality of service’ to clients on a broad range of mandates, including contractual disputes, professional negligence claims, intellectual property cases and shareholder litigation, among others. Riyaz Jariwalla, ‘who is as robust with opponents as he is sensible with his clients’, leads the practice and specialises in commercial litigation, with a strong focus in handling intellectual property disputes. John Carter is noted for his expertise in property litigation and professional negligence work, while Peter Knibbs handles commercial and residential property litigation. Philip Radford, who has demonstrable experience advising on professional negligence claims, is another key contact in the group.

Practice head(s):

Riyaz Jariwalla

Other key lawyers:

John Carter; Peter Knibbs; Philip Radford


‘An approachable team who are focused on results for their client. They attract a very high quality of work and deliver a high quality of service.’

‘I mostly work with John Carter and Peter Knibbs. I value their honest and hard-working approach.’

‘They have always been calm, helpful and professional.’

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Praised for its ‘meticulous attention to detail and desire to provide a first-class service’, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP houses a team of ‘master tacticians’ and stands out for its experience in contentious insurance disputes, shareholder litigation, product liability and recall cases, and financial services litigation. Manoj Vaghela leads the Cheltenham-based team and specialises in contentious insurance mandates, often involving a cross-border element, while ‘unflappable’ legal director Claudine Morgan handles contractual disputes, breach of fiduciary duties, shareholder litigation and breach of warranty issues. Commended as ‘indefatigable’, senior associate Ben Moore is another key contact in the group.

Practice head(s):

Manoj Vaghela

Other key lawyers:

Claudine Morgan; Ben Moore


‘Commerciality and willingness to get stuck in. Definitely one of the friendliest firms I’ve worked with.’

‘Manoj Vaghela is commercially astute, particularly in the field of pensions, and has a great sense of the commercial realities of a dispute.’

‘CRS is a smart, dynamic team. Great knowledge of the law, and master tacticians. I am always struck by their ability to work as an effective and efficient team, with clearly defined roles.’

‘Claudine Morgan is unflappable, spots the big picture quickly, responsive and extremely good at putting clients and everyone in the team at ease.’

‘The team stands above others due to their commercially focused approach.’

‘Ben Moore is indefatigable, able to get on top of masses of documents and detail, and calm and collected at all times.’

‘Meticulous attention to detail and their desire to provide a first-class service.’

Key clients

Greggs plc

Keith Smith

Tsokkos Hotels Public Limited

Argo Real Estate Opportunities Fund Limited

Ian Stannard

Oxford Plastic Systems Limited

Trustees of the Harrowby’s Discretionary Will Trust

The Trustees of the Earl Bathurst 1963 Settlement

Riverstone Insurance/Argo Insurance

Zenium Technology Partners

Argo Insurance


Lord Wemyss

Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for Greggs in a claim issued in the High Court, winning a landmark ruling in Greggs’ battle over a £150m insurance claim triggered by the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Successfully obtained an Anti-Suit Injunction for the benefit of our clients, based in Ghana and Mauritius, restraining the defendant from pursuing its claims in respect of various alleged breaches of a shareholders’ agreement.

Croft Solicitors

With demonstrable experience in cross-border litigation, boutique firm Croft Solicitors stands out for its capability in handling high-value disputes before the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Practice leader Rupert Croft, who splits his time between the firm’s Cheltenham and London offices, is noted for his expertise in commercial litigation, financial services disputes, civil fraud proceedings, anti-trust cases and property claims. Director Laura Nelson handles professional negligence claims, financial mis-selling disputes and contentious employment matters, while consultant Tom Blackburn specialises in costs and funding cases. Associate director Edward Hazzan is another key contact in the group.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Croft

Other key lawyers:

Laura Nelson; Tom Blackburn; Edward Hazzan

Key clients

Dairy Partners 7

Freebrights (trading as Huffkins Limited)

International Group Limited

Marmalade of London

Viorel Micula

Clarke Willmott LLP

Praised for its capability to ‘inspire unparalleled trust and respect’ among its roster of clients, Clarke Willmott LLP has stellar experience in the agriculture sector, advising on a broad range of disputes concerning agri-technology, agri-commerce and agri-finance. Other key areas of expertise include professional negligence claims, shareholder litigation and contract claims. ‘Technically excellent’ Esther Woolford leads the team and handles agricultural disputes, property litigation and proprietary estoppel claims, while senior associate Laura Mackain-Bremner ‘continues to impress in commercial litigation, especially in the agricultural sphere’. Woolford and Mackain-Bremner form a ‘formidable team’.

Practice head(s):

Esther Woolford

Other key lawyers:

Laura Mackain-Bremner


‘They are uniquely placed to provide clients with an excellent service. They are commercial, have good judgment and expertise. They are particularly strong on agricultural matters.’

‘Esther Woolford is very impressive and a responsive partner. She is great to work with, committed to achieving a great outcome for clients and hard-working.’

‘Laura Mackain-Bremner has good judgment and analysis of the case, is commercially minded and focussed on achieving the client’s objectives.’

‘Laura Mackain-Bremner has been outstanding to work with. She is so approachable and easy to talk to which has made our case far easier to deal with. She has a total can-do-attitude which just leaves you feeling confident and motivated. Esther Woolford has also been a great help and really easy to deal with. Her understanding of our case has been second to none with both Laura and Esther making a formidable team who I would recommend to anyone.’

‘Clarke Willmott inspire unparalleled trust and respect among the business community in the South West. They bridge the gap between regional and national, with capacity to advise businesses on everything from local planning issues to high-stakes commercial litigation in London.’

‘Laura Mackain-Bremner continues to impress in commercial litigation, especially in the agricultural sphere. It is always impressive to see how flexible she is, tackling a wide variety of different areas of law and always prioritising her clients’ needs.’

‘One of the strongest commercial litigation teams in the South West.’

‘Esther Woolford is technically excellent and has sound commercial judgment. A real star.’

Key clients

Andrew Guest


Work highlights

  • Acted on a class action against four finance companies relating to the mis-selling of finance (NFU v Nationwide).
  • Acting for Andrew Guest in a proprietary estoppel claim.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Praised for its ‘first-class service’, Harrison Clark Rickerbys has demonstrable experience in handling technology and intellectual property disputes, financial services litigation, business protection cases and real estate disputes, in addition to contentious trust and probate mandates. Adam Finch leads the Cheltenham-based team and focuses on financial services litigation, while Steven Murray spearheads the firm’s contentious intellectual property offering and Andrew Walker heads the real estate disputes practice. ‘OutstandingJenny Raymond is noted for her expertise in cases involving the misappropriation of confidential information and breaches of post-termination restrictions, and ‘meticulous’ legal director Cris Manuel-Hughes is another key contact in the group. Fiona Hayles left to Hyperian Law Limited in October 2022.

Practice head(s):

Adam Finch; Steven Murray; Andrew Walker

Other key lawyers:

Jenny Raymond; Cris Manuel-Hughes


‘I must mention Jenny Raymond who was outstanding, very much felt that we were in safe hands and her knowledge was exceptional.’

‘They make the whole process smooth and stress free, they communicated very effectively at every step. They were honest and candid.’

‘First-class service and advice from a first-class team.’

‘Jenny Raymond and Samantha Bushell are both knowledgeable and proficient.’

‘The firm offers excellent service and shows specialism in their field whilst being cost effective. They put the client’s needs at the forefront of their work. The team embrace and support diversity and equality and that is shown in the partnership and team as a whole.’

‘Special mention to both Adam Finch and Jenny Raymond who are amazing to work with. They go above and beyond for their clients and do not shy away from offering good and bad news to clients as required.’

‘The approachability and friendliness of the staff, their ability to make you feel that they have all the time in the world for you and that you are the only client that they have.’

‘Cris Manuel-Hughes’ work is meticulous, yet she is approachable, friendly and above makes all the time in the world for you. With her in your corner you will be kept fully informed, up to date and most importantly, you are working with a tenacious litigator.’

Key clients

CGI Automotive Consulting Limited

Christopher Golding

Matthew Nicholas Tom

Suzanne and Vincent Bootes

Quantum Advisory Limited

Craig Cohoon (CC), Scott Cohoon (SC) and Jane Cohoon (JC) (collectively the Cohoons) and Craig Cohoon Watersports

Mr Gary Jones

Work highlights

  • Advised Quantum Advisory Limited in the High Court involving trade marking, which dealt with a number of issues arising out of a contract with Quantum Actuarial LLP.
  • Filed a detailed unfair prejudice petition under section 994 of the Companies Act 2006 against a boutique law firm and its members.
  • Obtained the first summary judgment in a crypto case from the High Court which secured the return of fraudulently obtained bitcoin, with £1.85 million recovered.

RWK Goodman

Counting regional and international companies among its key roster of clients, RWK Goodman focuses on financial services litigation, technology disputes, contractual claims and contentious data protection mandates, in addition to professional negligence claims. In the firm’s Bath office, health and social care expert Mei-Ling Huang jointly leads the team alongside Swindon-based senior associate Marianne Johns, who ‘leaves no stone unturned’ when handling contractual and tortious claims. The Bath office is also home to senior associate Nicola Radcliffe and associate Fran Tremeer, while Tom Llewellyn left the firm in March 2023.

Practice head(s):

Mei-Ling Huang; Marianne Johns

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Radcliffe; Fran Tremeer


‘Marianne Johns is super thorough and will leave no stone unturned.’

Key clients

Helena Shen

Highfield Motors Limited

Markey Building Services Limited

Work highlights

  • Instructed by Markey Building Services, part of Markey Group, to issue urgent injunctive proceedings against two (now ex-) employees, a rival business, Situ, and a number of other individuals.
  • Acting on a long-standing matter concerning a claim brought by Ralph Lauren against Mr Chris Butcher, the former partner of Ms Shen, worth £4m.
  • Acting for Highfield Motors Limited to enforce a disputed £4.7m loan provided by way of funding for a business acquisition.

Stone King LLP

The ‘commercially focused and pragmatic team’ at Stone King LLP is noted for its ‘expertise in property and commercial litigation, with a roster of institutional clients, particularly in the charity and education sectors’. Also noted for its experience across the retail, engineering and construction, IT and transport industries, the practice’s caseload includes contractual disputes, negligence claims, procurement proceedings and defamation mandates. Praised as ‘calm and level-headed in the midst of fast-moving litigation’, team leader Tony Pidgeon focuses on real estate disputes, including dilapidations claims, forfeiture issues, possession of land and trespasser claims, among others.

Practice head(s):

Tony Pidgeon

Other key lawyers:

Dan Carter


‘Established expertise in property and general commercial litigation, with a roster of institutional clients, in particular in the charitable and educational sectors.’

‘Tony Pidgeon is personable with clients, calm and level-headed in the midst of fast-moving litigation and able to quickly assemble a team of solicitors and counsel to deal with disputes.’

‘Small but commercially focused and pragmatic team of specialists.’

Key clients

National Heritage Memorial Fund

Work highlights

  • Defended a claim brought against a client for breach of contract arising out of a ‘hire agreement’ for a modular building.

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP ‘punches above its weight’ and maintains a ‘robust approach’ to financial services litigation, shareholder disputes, professional negligence claims and debt recovery mandates, in addition to trusts litigation. Based in Swindon, ‘superb litigatorRamona Derbyshire leads the team and handles shareholder disputes and breach of warranty claims, financial services litigation, claimant and defendant professional negligence claims. Head of the inheritance and trusts disputes group Emily Prout ‘fights the client’s corner whilst having good technical ability and an eye to what is achievable in the circumstances’.

Practice head(s):

Ramona Derbyshire

Other key lawyers:

Emily Prout; Annahita Roohi; Joanna Barr


‘Thrings LLP punches above its weight, easily matching large London-based firms in commercial litigation.’

‘Ramona Darbyshire is a superb litigator, who underpins her work with a deep understanding of client objectives.’

‘Joanna Barr is an experienced litigator, with a keen eye for detail who nonetheless keeps the overall strategy and objectives in sight.’

‘The team is very good and can handle big and small litigation, both general commercial litigation and also specialist financial services work.’

‘Ramona Derbyshire is very able, focussed on achieving client’s objectives and delivers exceptional results.’

‘Emily Prout has good knowledge of financial services law and Annahita Roohi is a rising star.’

‘Excellent at what they do, with a robust approach which is not abrasive.’

‘Emily Prout is excellent. She fights the client’s corner whilst having good technical ability and an eye to what is achievable in the circumstances.’

Key clients

Ultrafine Aluminium Global Limited

Windhager UK Limited

Randek AB

MAN Truck & Bus UK Limited

Bar Council

Openwork Limited

UTAX (UK) Limited

Citipost Limited

Alvan Blanch Development Company Limited

Free Train Sports Limited

DPDS Limited

Sanlam Life & Pensions UK Limited

Extrudakerb (Maltby Engineering) Limited

Stanley Security Solutions Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised a founding shareholder of an LLP on bringing a claim for entitlement of profit allocation under an LLP agreement and a proprietary interest claim for a percentage of profits, amounting to c.£12m.
  • Advised a construction company worth a £30m+ on a director/shareholder dispute.
  • Advised two NFU clients in separate proceedings for enforcement of bridging finance involving arguments under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, unfair relationships, hidden commissions and successfully challenging default interest rates of the underlying facility with a declaration as unenforceable penalty clauses.

Willans LLP

Key areas of expertise for Willans LLP include contract litigation, partnership disputes, intellectual property cases, inheritance and trust disputes, property litigation, specialist vehicle mandates and professional negligence claims. Practice head Paul Gordon and Nick Southwell offer ‘robust and sensible advice’ in High Court actions and property disputes respectively, while associate James Melvin-Bath handles contentious probate mandates, landlord and tenant issues and commercial claims. Consultant solicitor Nick Cox remains a key contact in the group.

Practice head(s):

Paul Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Nick Southwell; Nick Cox; James Melvin-Bath


‘Experts in the fields that we require and easy to do business with.’

‘From the beginning they were very clear, with no hidden agendas or costs. They were extremely helpful and nothing was too much trouble for them. Any question asked was always responded to with great knowledge, and you could see experience is what makes this firm who they are.’

‘James Melvin Bath was who we had the pleasure of working with, and I couldn’t of asked for a better solicitor. He was considerate of our issue but also very clear on our boundaries and who the issue at hand had to be dealt with. His knowledge was outstanding and thanks to him, he resolved our concern with ease.’

Key clients

Excelerate Technology Limited

Stichd Sportsmerchandising BV (part of the PUMA Group)

Trade Exhibitions Limited

Kohler Mira Limited

P14 Medical Limited

Darby & Darby

IM Medical Limited

Peshavaria Exports PVT Ltd

Sue Ryder

Trade Mark Wizards Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for the claimant/applicant in proceedings, who are creditors of the insolvent company of a F1 team to appeal decision of the liquidator who refused proof of debt.
  • Acting in a High Court case for the claimant, a market leading satellite telecoms company, in a procurement claim against two NHS organisations.
  • Acting for household name and longstanding client, Kohler Mira Limited, in a claim for damages arising from the breach of an overage agreement.

Maitland Walker LLP

Praised for its ‘exceptional depth of knowledge in competition litigation’, as well as multi-party proceedings, Maitland Walker LLP also counts intellectual property disputes, professional negligence claims and property litigation in its caseload. In the firm’s Minehead office, Julian Maitland-Walker handles contentious competition law mandates and jointly leads the team alongside Taunton-based Sheree-Ann Virgin, who acts for corporate clients in the pharmaceutical, transport, leisure and public sectors.

Practice head(s):

Julian Maitland-Walker; Sheree-Ann Virgin

Other key lawyers:

Adrian Render


‘This is a South West country practice with good commercial knowledge. They are user friendly and effective at reasonable cost.’

‘Julian Maitland-Walker’s competition law expertise is second to none, and he combines it with a real talent for teasing out the best strategy for cases. Adrian Render is an outstanding competition law practitioner who is particularly skilled at applying his consummate knowledge in a creative way.’

‘I have worked with Julian Maitland-Walker and Sheree-Ann Virgin. They are both charming and highly competent, as well as hard-working. They are extremely good at understanding a client’s needs and addressing them.’

Key clients

David Boyle and Edward Vermeer

Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club Limited

Luxury Leisure Limited / RAL Limited

Rest & Play Footwear Limited

British Association of European Pharmaceutical Distributors

Lexon UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of rail passengers who bought overpriced rail tickets from Govia Thameslink Railway on the Brighton mainline.
  • Acting for Royal Berkshire Polo Club Limited in defending a trade mark infringement action bought by the owners of Beverly Hills Polo Club.

Mogers Drewett LLP

Housing a team of ‘experienced and client-focused experts’, Mogers Drewett LLP counts property litigation, contentious trust and probate mandates, insurance disputes and professional negligence claims in its caseload. In the firm’s Bath office, Maeve England leads the practice and is praised for her ‘impressive understanding of property litigation’, in addition to company and partnership disputes. Wells-based senior associate John Osman is ‘a safe pair of hands’ when acting on contentious probate matters, landlord and tenant cases and commercial claims.

Practice head(s):

Maeve England

Other key lawyers:

John Osman


‘The strongest dispute resolution team in the North Somerset area.’

‘John Osman is a very safe pair of hands and leads the dispute resolution offering. He is experienced with sound judgment and great client care skills.’

‘Mogers Drewett has the advantage of offices in Bath and also in Wells, Sherborne and Frome. It is therefore extremely well-placed to give a breadth of advice to rural clients, whilst still be involved with the bigger commercial matters that arise in a city.’

Simon Burn Solicitors

Litigation boutique Simon Burn Solicitors focuses on insolvency litigation, directors’ disqualification mandates, commercial claims and privacy-related disputes, including defamation, breach of privacy and blackmail cases, among others. Named partner Simon Burn leads the team and ‘combines in-depth knowledge of relevant case law with tactical insight gained over many years’. Other key contacts in the group include David Magill, who has experience in handling defamation and reputation management disputes, and solicitor Mark Ingram, who is praised as ‘responsive and proactive’.

Practice head(s):

Simon Burn

Other key lawyers:

David Magill; Mark Ingram


‘Simon Burn combines in-depth knowledge of relevant case law with tactical insight gained over many years. He has had real success in defending contested claims and pursuing applications for leave to act following disqualification.’

‘Mark Ingram is demonstrating some of the same traits as his principal and is responsive and proactive.’

‘A boutique firm in which the named partner is very hands-on and has a highly commercial but approachable feel that is lost in larger London-centric firms.’

Work highlights

  • Defended a case for the disqualification brought by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy against Mr James Keeble as a company director, with Mr Keeble avoiding a threatened disqualification period of 10 years.
  • Defended Messrs Kewley and Spence, as former directors of A1 Alpha Properties (Leicester) Limited, in relation to a director’s disqualification investigation and ongoing £200 million claims.
  • Defending claims brought by AIM listed insolvency litigation funders Manolete Partners PLC.


Based in Salisbury, the commercial litigation team at Wilsons counts contractual claims, shareholder litigation and post-termination restrictive covenant disputes in its caseload, in addition to defamation, privacy and data protection claims. Ben Thornton leads the practice and handles property litigation, agricultural-related disputes and product liability proceedings, while Jenifer Martindale focuses on commercial contractual disputes. Debbie Ashenhurst, who is praised as ‘hard-working, wedded to detail and proactive in finding commercial outcomes’, is a key contact for reputation management cases.

Practice head(s):

Ben Thornton

Other key lawyers:

Jenifer Martindale; Debbie Ashenhurst


‘We found Wilsons Solicitors (Salisbury) extremely professional from the very first contact that was made. Everyone was prompt with their responses, which was important to us as we had a very tight court deadline to fulfil.’

‘Debbie Ashenhurst got on top of the brief very swiftly and was punctilious in responding to all of our queries.’

‘Jenifer Martindale was very professional at all times. Jenifer read in and grasped our case quickly and immediately gave us sound legal advice. Jenifer ensured we understood the options going forward and that we were realistic about the possible outcomes and the associated costs. We found Jenifer reassuring and calm at a time of great stress.’

Key clients

Wallgate Limited