Employment: Dorset, Devon and Cornwall in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP's employment practice offers a broad array of support to private and public sector employers. The team has particular experience with energy, retail and health companies. Its notable strengths include contentious work, defending clients in complex employment tribunal cases and representing directors and other executives in disputes over restrictive covenants. On the non-contentious side, it advises companies on matters including TUPE , immigration, redundancies, and other HR support issue. Charles Pallot leads the team in Exeter, working with well-regarded legal director Su Apps .

Practice head(s):

Stephen Moore; Charles Pallot

Other key lawyers:

Su Apps

Testimonials

‘Ashfords have a great breadth of experience, relevant to what we need and support our solutions with practical and commercially pertinent advice.’

‘Charles Pallot provides excellent advice and guidance, ensuring there are no surprises, the extent of risk is known and that all documents are drafted without ambiguity and are fully transparent.’

‘Highly professional team. Approachable, knowledgeable and experts in their field.’

‘I’ve worked with the team for a number of years now and they are all superb. Su Apps provided expert legal advice when my business had to undergo a restructure. Su delivers in a clear and calm way. She offers just the right level of professionalism, is down to earth and has a great sense of humour. ’

Key clients

Patron Capital Advisers LLP

Havana West Ltd

The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

CDS Superstores International Limited (The Range)

Wandsworth Borough Council

Brick by Brick Croydon Ltd

Whitetower Energy Limited (part of the Rockland Group)

Work highlights

  • Advised Patron Capital Advisers on a variety of employment law and HR issues.
  • Advised the The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust on complex contentious and non-contentious employment law matters.
  • Advising CDS Superstores in the defence of a number of tribunal claims, including multi-day disability and sex discrimination claims.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey's employment team offers significant expertise from its offices in Exeter, Truro and Plymouth. Its provides strong support to retail, media and technology companies, including high-profile clients such as Screwfix. Private equity is another major specialism for the firm, with Claire Holland advising on multiple strategically important transactions for the team's financial services clientele. It has also advised on a significant amount of Covid-19 related work, including lockdown restrictions, furlough, and remote working arrangements. Karen Bates leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Karen Bates

Other key lawyers:

Claire Holland; James Collings

Testimonials

‘The team know our business well, they respond to our needs and the wider team are knowledgeable on the issue if the main contact is unavailable. ’

‘James Collings is always on hand for clear and concise advice and guidance.’

Key clients

Welcome Break

W C Rowe (Falmouth) Ltd

City Electrical Factors

Happy Days Nursery Group

Screwfix

Ensono Limited

Gregory Distribution

Management Team of Barbon Group Limited

Holroyd Howe

Princess Yachts

Work highlights

  • Advising Screwfix on complex disciplinary and grievance cases, poor performance and long-term ill health/absence management issues, TUPE, amendments to policies and procedures and tribunal litigation.
  • Advising Baron Insurance’s management team on their acquisition by PIB Group.
  • Providing City Electrical Factors with in depth support on COVID related challenges, including furlough, redundancy and business streamlining.

Lester Aldridge LLP

Working with a range of both local and national employers, Lester Aldridge LLP offers its clients a full set of employment-related services. Its strengths lie in matters relating to corporate transactions, such as TUPE, as well as restructuring, insolvency and business immigration, including visa and sponsorship applications. Furthermore, the team is well regarded for its specialist advice provided to care sector employers and has a growing practice with public sector employers. The 'dogged and determined' Kevin Barnett heads up the team from Bournemouth. Catharine Geddes moved to an in-house position with BMW.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Barnett

Other key lawyers:

Edward O’Brien

Testimonials

‘Kevin Barnett has always been very professional in his advice given to me at all times. I found him very easy to talk with – nothing is ever too much. Over the years I have developed a very good working relationship with him; he is the person I turn to whenever I need advice on employment law and he never fails me.’

‘Excellent strength in depth, with good trainees coming through’

‘Kevin Barnett leads by example. He is a dogged and determined solicitor who ensures that the client receives the very best attention at all times.’

Key clients

Curtiss Wright Corporation

Ceuta Holdings Limited

Osprey Europe Limited

FRP Advisory LLP

Lush Limited

Dorset Wildlife Trust

Durable (UK) Limited

Care South

Poole Lighting Limited

Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners

Work highlights

  • Advising and assisting the UK arm of a large international company with approximately 8,000 employees nationally on contentious and non-contentious employment matters.
  • Advising and assisting a global manufacturing company in relation to furlough, redundancy processes, disciplinary and grievance issues and employment tribunal matters.
  • Advising a fast food chain franchisee on the employment aspects of the sale of multiple stores, including on TUPE aspects and claims exposure.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP's employment team has seen significant internal change, with the arrivals of education specialist Kate Gardner and new immigration practice head Philip Barth offsetting the retirement of Nikki Duncan and the departure of Tom Stenner-Evans to Thrive Law. The team has particular strengths working with employers in the education, health and retail sectors, and has a growing public sector and law enforcement focus, led by Rachael Lloyd. James Baker leads the team from Exeter, focusing on complex investigations and tribunal cases involving whistleblowing and discrimination. Former team head Andrew Tobey is also well regarded for his health sector work.

Practice head(s):

James Baker

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Tobey; Kate Gardner; Rachael Lloyd

Testimonials

‘Rachael Lloyd is responsive, friendly and knowledgeable. She provides pragmatic and nuanced expertise that is tailored to our company culture and values. She goes out of her way to be available when we need her, by email, phone or video. She is non-judgmental and helps to upskill our team as well as providing professional advice.’

‘James Baker is proactive in making contact with you to ensure things are going smoothly. Always responds irrespective of how busy or the time. Looks to find a solution that meets your needs.’

‘The support is quick, efficient and straightforward – a variety of approaches for different levels of employment law expertise in the organisation. Being able to openly discuss cases is useful, and response times are reliable.’

‘James Baker is efficient and easy to work with on a variety of issues.’

Key clients

Marylebone Cricket Club (Lords)

AXA PPP

Burrington Estates

St Austell Brewery

J Chandler & Company

Hawksmoor Investments

Bandvulc Tyres

Wilton Bradley Retail Group

LiveScore Group

First Databank

Photo-Me International plc

Macdoch Group

British Beer & Pub Association

Otter Brewery Limited

Wild Planet Trust (Group of Zoological Parks)

Jurassic Fibre Limited

Haynes Publishing Group plc

Relyon Beds Limited

Mint Velvet Fashions

Seasalt fashion

Mole Valley Farmers

Devon Doctors Group

Landmark Information Group

Metropolitan Police

Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust

NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group

The Met Office

Dorset Council

Thatcher’s Cider Company Limited

Forthglade Foods Limited

British Limousin Cattle Society Limited

South West Ambulance NHS Trust

Succession Group

CDS (Superstores International) Limited

Tokyo Electron Limited

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

The Beckmead Trust

Work highlights

  • Acting for the shareholders of Relyon Beds Limited in the purchase of the business from the administrators.
  • Advised Succession Group in obtaining an injunction against a departing financial advisor to enforce his non-competition and non-solicitation/non-dealing restrictive covenants.
  • Acting for St Austell Brewery to harmonise its employment contracts for the entire workforce, across its hospitality, Beer & Brands, and group support divisions.

Stephens Scown LLP

The employment team at Stephens Scown LLP is known for its work for high-end corporate clients, as well as exceptional litigation services in complex employment tribunal cases. Furthermore, it has sector specialities working with engineering, hospitality, charities, healthcare and sports employers. Noteworthy clients include Age UK, which Ellie Hibberd has been advising on HR matters. The firm also offers a bespoke HR consultancy service for SME clients. Terry Falcão leads the practice from Exeter, primarily advocating for clients in contentious matters. Verity Slater is also well regarded for her expertise in working with marine sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Terry Falcão

Other key lawyers:

Ellie Hibberd; Verity Slater

Testimonials

‘The real strength of the team was its desire to go the extra mile to get a good result and the very experienced and knowledgeable team leader. I felt confident at all times that I had the best advice and was very well supported.’

‘The standout partner was Terry Falcão. From the outset, he was efficient and yet sensitive. His experience was evident in his drilling down to all the salient points and exploring all aspects with rigour. Throughout he was proactive and exercised good judgement in dealing with lawyers on the other side which led to a very good outcome. I would recommend Terry without hesitation for his strong employment law knowledge and experience and determination to see the very best outcome for his clients. ’

‘I have found the employment team at Stephens Scown absolutely unique. I believe the way they operate and work together comes from the top. Terry Falcão is exceptional in the way he works and collaborative with his team, valuing everybody.’

‘We have developed our relationship with the team and they understand our organisation very well. The advice is pragmatic and helpful. They are local to us and we feel we get the personal touch in the service. ’

‘The practice has adapted well to online working and it was still possible to speak to a solicitor ‘in person’ via online communication. The practice also makes good use of other forms of communication to expedite matters.’

‘Ellie Hibberd is always on hand to guide you through the more difficult queries. Ellie delivered a great service – she is also very good at making herself available at short notice on sensitive issues.’

‘Very commercial and responsive – during the challenges of the early stages of the pandemic they supported us well and carved out time for us despite the volume of other client work at that time. Have taken time to understand our business and our approach to risk – and give us commercial and practical advice as a result.’

‘Verity Slater is calm, practical, commercial and straight-talking – leads the team well and you know she has your back when you need it.’

Key clients

Age UK

Stericycle

Exeter City Football Club

Roddas

Trago Mills

BPA Quality

Falmouth University

Cornwall College

Seasalt Ltd

St Austell Brewery Co Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising the claimants in a whistleblowing, race and disability discrimination claim involving a major university and contentious issues such as animal experimentation.
  • Representing Park School, now in liquidation, in a multi-party employment tribunal claim brought by 22 former employees.

Browne Jacobson LLP

A 'very busy team with some real superstars', Browne Jacobson LLP offers employment law support to clients across sectors including education, insurance and local government. It also has a notable practice acting for healthcare providers, led by team head Bridget Prosser from Exeter, which offers tailored advice on strategic projects for primary carers. This includes working on digital integration for various NHS practices. With the hiring of partner Bettina Rigg in April 2020, it has also expanded its offering to higher education institutions.

Practice head(s):

Bridget Prosser; Bettina Rigg

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Billen

Testimonials

‘Browne Jacobson is an exceptional firm with a depth of employment law experience, particularly in the fields of education and healthcare. A very busy team with some real superstars.

‘Bridget is astute and can identify the strengths and weaknesses in complex cases quickly and efficiently. Bridget is an outstanding and tactical practitioner who is able to position her clients like a Chessmaster to achieve great results time after time. She is head and shoulders above a very good rest at the firm.’

‘The team have made it their business to develop a close relationship with us and their support has been invaluable.’

‘Rachel Billen has been a fantastic support during a difficult legal challenge and having understood our clear instructions she delivered that precise outcome. Exceptional work.’

‘A knowledgable team that provides clear, concise advice.’

‘Flexible and approachable. Responsive to a range of needs. A range of expertise to deal with the matter in hand.’

‘The team at Browne Jacobson are excellent. They provide a first-rate service. On all aspects of HR or legal, they provide prompt and straight forward advice. They support inexperienced leaders by guiding them through procedures without patronising them. They challenge experienced leaders if they do not think their intended actions are the right ones using a coaching and supportive style. ’

‘The partners have significant experience and good knowledge in their areas of expertise. Clients trust them because they understand how things work in healthcare.’

Key clients

Farmor’s School

Redstart Learning Partnership

The Castle Partnership Trust

South West University of Brighton Academies Trust

Hiscox Underwriting Limited

Worcestershire Children First

Healthcare organisation – Integrated Care Provider

NHS Kernow CCG

NHS England (national client)

The Thinking Schools Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Defended an Academy Trust in a complex and challenging Employment Tribunal claim involving homophobic content and religious belief.
  • Working with a NHS Trust in relation to complex, numerous and multi-faceted Tribunal claims arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Dealing with a complex and high-value Employment Tribunal claim concerning unfair dismissal and whistleblowing for an educational client.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP offers a solid blend of HR and traditional employment law services and is particularly regarded for its work involving education and charity employers. The team provides ongoing support on matters including restrictive covenant disputes, union arrangements and recruitment procedures, and advises both employers and employees on issues in the workplace including LGBT discrimination. Kate Brooks leads the team from its Bournemouth office, advising on TUPE transfers and crafting HR strategies, working alongside the wider firm's corporate law team.

Practice head(s):

Kate Brooks

Testimonials

‘The team at Ellis Jones are always fantastic whoever you speak to. Very helpful, extremely knowledgeable and immediately know you can trust them with their ethics & morals in right place.’

‘Kate Brooks is absolutely fantastic at providing support both for businesses requiring support and guidance whilst being realistic how the true business world works and also, helping personal clients.’

‘Ellis Jones has been my go-to solicitors relating to all HR-related concerns.’

‘Kate Brooks is outstanding. She is very knowledgeable and is an asset to the company. Very approachable and always has the most up to date accurate HR information ’

Key clients

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Rubicon People

The Bishop of Winchester Academy Trust

Old Dairy Farm Nursery

Landmarc Estates

Work highlights

  • Providing employment law and HR services for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
  • Providing Rubicon People with ongoing HR advice.
  • Providing specialist HR advice for The Bishop of Winchester Academy Trust.

Kitsons LLP

Kitsons LLP's employment team 'operates to large firm standards while retaining a very personal approach.’ The practice handles work surrounding transactions, offering expertise on employment status, TUPE transfers and restrictive covenants. The practice has also seen growth in its litigation offering, handling multiple employment tribunal and appeal cases. Practice head Jayme Nicholson advises a range of local companies in the security, construction and sales sectors. Managing partner Rhodri Davey delivers employment advice 'in a pragmatic, commercial way', while Rory Wakeling has expertise in in advising on GDPR and confidentiality matters.

Practice head(s):

Jayme Nicholson

Other key lawyers:

Rhodry Davey; Rory Wakeling

Testimonials

‘Their advice is very to the point and with great understanding of how the client operates its business. Risks are explained but the advice and solutions are very pragmatic and explained in such a way that people unfamiliar with the law can clearly understand.’

‘They speak to you as friends would. They are very personable and have empathy. In particular, I would like to praise Jayme Nicholson for outstanding service this last year or so, together with Rhodri Davey in support. We could not ask any more from either of them. Jayme in particular has steered us through this difficult period with proactive and reactive advice that took massive pressure off our directors through one of the most turbulent periods in our history.’

‘Very approachable, use of language that all could understand but very knowledgeable.’

‘Rhodri Davey was a standout for me – he was always there when we needed him. He built a relationship with us over the course of our work together. That helped to give us confidence that the path we were pursuing was the right one.’

‘Kitsons is a top regional firm which operates to large firm standards while retaining a very personal approach.’

‘Approachable, reliable, and committed to supporting their clients arrive at the best possible outcome’

‘Rhodri Davey is a leading employment lawyer with a business focus. We always pick up the phone to Rhodri for specialist employment law input delivered in a pragmatic, commercial way.’

Key clients

Employees of Plymouth City Council

Paramount 21 Limited

Trucksmith Limited

Kilnbridge Construction Services Limited

The Guild of Construction Workers Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for a large employee-owned business in a complex whistle blowing and unfair dismissal defence.
  • Providing specialist advice to The Guild of Construction Workers Limited in relation to employment status.
  • Providing advice to a client in the financial insurance sector regarding the enforceability of contractual restrictions.

Steele Raymond LLP

Steele Raymond LLP's employment team works with both employers and high-level individuals, often advising senior executives on company entrances and exits, with a growing focus on international hires. The team also has a significant contentious practice, led by managing partner Peter Rolph, with expertise in post-termination restriction enforcement and restructuring matters. The team recently hired partner Deborah West to head up its employment team from Bournemouth. West primarily advises on corporate entries and exits.

Practice head(s):

Deborah West

Other key lawyers:

Peter Rolph

Testimonials

‘Wide range of experience and knowledge across the team, with subject experts available to give advice and guidance.’

‘Deborah West offers commercially pragmatic advice, balanced within the constraints of employment legislation. She has always taken the time to explain both her reasoning for a particular decision path and clearly explains the options available to us particularly when the situations are complex and/or contentious.’

‘Very knowledgeable on subject areas, able to clearly explain issues and concepts in layman’s terms, give great guidance on issues, both in legal and commercial terms. This gives me great confidence in the advice given by the practice. ’

‘The team provide exceptional client service and commercially focused advice to their clients. They understand their client requirements and work hard to find the best solution all around.’

‘Peter Rolph has outstanding experience in the employment and commercial field, enabling him to provide excellent client service. His calm and assuring way with clients provides confidence.’

Tozers Solicitors LLP

Tozers Solicitors LLP has strong experience working with clients in the housing, hospitality, and charity sectors, and also garners work from local authorities. The team's strength lies in its contentious work, particularly in tribunal matters, performing its own advocacy for the majority of its tribunal cases. It also offers an advisory practice that covers transactions and redundancies. Stephen Jennings leads the practice from Exeter, with particular strength in TUPE matters.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Jennings

Other key lawyers:

Jill Headford

Testimonials

‘They get it, and they get us as clients. That empathy means they provide what we need when we need it.’

‘Stephen Jennings has a brilliant mind – he responds with alacrity and the clarity we need.’

‘We have found Tozers’ service to be extremely good value, helping us with everything from basic HR processes to avoiding getting mired in potentially expensive and time-consuming cases. Tozers are very understanding of our particular needs. ’

‘The team at Tozers are able to support our managers through sometimes complex situations. This is always done in a supportive way that our people are able to understand and learn from.’

‘The team are very responsive and capable of stepping in for each other when required – they have a wide range of experience relevant to our needs including employment tribunal support, TUPE and contractual obligations. During the last year, they have been providing quick updates on critical matters regarding for example the job retention schemes, furlough. ’

‘Stephen Jennings is highly responsive, very pragmatic, open to debate to agree on possible solutions, will summarise conversations into writing which is very helpful. He has a no-nonsense, down to earth style with clear and succinct communication. A great sense of humour also helps!’

‘The practice delivers a continuous level of exceptional client service. The team are excellent at pre-empting the requirements of their clients and continually offer sound advice and guidance. Their level of service is exceptionally delivered through colleague monitoring workloads in times of absence, to ensure that levels of customer service delivery are maintained at all times. The service delivery is always extremely professional in nature, but with a warm and friendly touch. You are always made to feel as though nothing is too much trouble and any questions are always welcomed.’

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Part of a large national employment team, Trowers & Hamlins LLP's Exeter office is known for its strengths advising housing and charities clients. The team's workload primarily comprises tribunal cases and advising on workplace change. John Turnbull leads the South West practice and is known for advising on unfair dismissal cases and TUPE matters for commercial clients.

Practice head(s):

John Turnbull

Testimonials

‘Practical, commercially focused legal guidance, delivered in a personable and friendly manner. Always responsive. Give clear guidance that helps us understand the levels of risk associated with decisions, rather than simply just reciting the law. ’

‘Highly responsive, understand client requirements and our business.’

‘They provide quick responses with good legal advice.’

‘John Turnbull has provided excellent advice over a number of years and helped deal with some difficult employment issues.’

‘Dedicated team of people who always call you back promptly in response to questions and matters.’

‘John Turnbull is concise, to the point and gives excellent support for us to manage our HR matters within the company.’

Key clients

Smiths (Gloucester) Limited

Otter Nurseries Limited

Dimensions UK Limited

Devonshire Homes Limited

LiveWest Homes Limited

Richmond Housing Partnership

Ampacet (UK) Limited

Inter-line Building Supplies Limited

CCS Media Ltd

1848 Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised the Hyde Group on all of its employment and pensions issues, including complex ET claims, equality issues, and changes to terms and conditions.
  • Advising RNID on a wide range of employment issues including disciplinary and grievance investigations; DSARs and TUPE.
  • Advising Currie & Brown on a wide range of employment law issues such as ET claims, TUPE and issues arising from the pandemic.

Blanchards Bailey LLP

The HR and employment team at Blanchards Bailey LLP offers services tailored to the needs of its local small business clientele. This is led by team head Paul Dunlop, who has strong litigation experience as well as an understanding of agricultural employers.  Jane Eldridge oversees the practice's HR consultancy arm. In addition to strengths with religious and educational clients, the team has gained new work from consultancy clients.

Practice head(s):

Paul Dunlop

Other key lawyers:

Jane Eldridge

Testimonials

‘This is a local practice to our company and whenever we have a legal query which we have forwarded to them they have always responded promptly and pertinently to our questions.’

‘Jane Eldridge is very professional, up-to-date with all legislation, communicates well and is always very efficient in responding to e-mails and phone calls and her advice has always been greatly appreciated. Whilst always busy, she never gives the impression that she doesn’t have time for you and will always spend as much time as necessary answering our questions.’

Key clients

Matrod Frampton Limited

Sarum College

Portsmouth Cathedral

The RSCM

The Business Phone Limited

South Western Scaffolding

IT365

National Dental

Portsmouth Diocese

Inkspace Limited

Frettens LLP

Well-regarded in Dorset and Hampshire, Frettens LLP is known for its offerings to care and education sector clients. The team provides a variety of advice to SMEs,  including this year a large number of matters involving redundancies. It has also been building a base of manufacturing sector clients. Paul Burton leads the team from its Christchurch office.  Kate Fretten left the practice in December 2020.

Practice head(s):

Paul Burton

Testimonials

‘There is a team specialising in this area of law – the team members work solely in employment and HR work so are highly specialised. They offer an insurance backed retainer-based fee structure, giving certainty and the opportunity to clearly budget for employment issues. They are particularly experienced working for employers, including in highly regulated sectors.’

‘Paul Burton offers comprehensive and practical advice in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. He has legal knowledge but explains it in a client-friendly way. ’

‘Very personal touch feels like a family practice – always have time to help.’

Key clients

Jewish Care

Affinity Care

AL Younger

Sandown Mercedes-Benz

Bond-Williams

United Taxis

Bookends

Mtech Communications

Work highlights

  • Provides day-to-day human resources advice, guidance on special projects and advice on dealing with tribunals to Jewish Care.
  • Advising Mtech as to employment aspects arising from an ongoing dispute with a former employee.
  • Representing United Taxis in defending a complicated tribunal matter involving employment status.

GA Solicitors

Primarily acting for employers, GA Solicitors provides advice on TUPE transfers, HR matters and tribunal cases. The team is known for advising GP practices in Cornwall and Devon and has expanded its local commercial client base. Robert Zacal, who leads the Plymouth based team, has focused his practice on providing support on redundancies, furlough and other Covid-19 related matters.

Practice head(s):

Rob Zacal

Key clients

The PH Group Limited

Brittany Ferries (BAI (UK) Limited)

The Angel Foundation (God TV)

Morris Engineering Limited

Wolseley Community and Economic Development Trust

Peninsula Finance PLC

Lapmaster Wolters Limited

Wycliffe Surgery

Goodmans Financial Planners Limited

Thomas Westcott Chartered Accountants

Paddle & Cocks LLP

Locally based but nationally focused, Paddle & Cocks LLP offers an agile employment service to a growing South West client base. In addition to standard HR support and advice to local businesses and tech companies, it has a growing practice representing senior executives in company exits. Verona Cocks leads the practice from Truro, focusing on the firm's commercial client base.

Practice head(s):

Verona Cocks

Other key lawyers:

Hannah Strawbridge

Key clients

Nova Pangaea Technologies (UK) Ltd

The Piece Hall Trust

Town Hall Dental Group

Yonder Consulting

AJ Glassfibre

Carol Joy London

MedSolve

Unique Fundraising Ltd

Denholme Velvets

3-V Tech

After Dinner Speakers and Comedians Ltd