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Employment: Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire in South West

BPE Solicitors LLP

BPE Solicitors LLP handles both contentious and non-contentious matters across the entire ambit of employment law. Its team regularly undertakes advisory work for commercial clients, and on the contentious side, it leverages its extensive experience at Employment Tribunal and High Court level. A key development in April 2019 saw former group head Lisa Gettins depart for an in-house role at Virgin Media. The practice is now jointly led by Heyma Holmes and Sarah Lee. Holmes has expertise in corporate transactions and strategic employment advice, while Lee has specialist experience of litigation concerning restrictive covenants. Senior associate Chris Aldridge defends clients in complex employment tribunal cases.

Practice head(s):

Heyma Holmes; Sarah Lee

Other key lawyers:

Chris Aldridge

Testimonials

They really seek to understand our business needs and provide pragmatic and tailored legal advice. Response times are also extremely good; they flex to urgent requirements and manage our expectations well with meeting those demands.

Heyma Holmes is tenacious and pragmatic, providing sound legal advice – exactly who you need in your corner for any employment litigation.

BPE offer a personal approach to the business, we have partnered with them for many years, they understand the intricacies of the business and the people whilst never compromising on legal advice. They are extremely understanding of the complexities around each case and supportive throughout.

Heyma Holmes is extremely straight talking and gives the most sound advice. I can always trust Heyma will give me the facts and I can always trust her judgement in ensuring we proceed with the best interest of the business. She is extremely hard-working and someone the business can truly rely on during some challenging times. Not only has she given me plenty of legal advice and supported some difficult cases, she always provides moral support throughout. She is a brilliant role model, I have learnt so much from Heyma and I look forward to a long working relationship in the future.

The team really know our organisation and business inside and out. They provide us with a practical viewpoint and one which is tailored to our organisation and needs. Some firms will always just provide the legal standpoint and then avoid giving any practical advice in terms of what our options are. BPE do not just wait for our instructions, they help us to think through the different options and the potential outcomes of each. They also allocate individuals to cases, but are a close knit team, so other members of the team are able to help if a query is urgent and your point of contact unavailable.

As described above, all the team take time to understand the business and our unique requirements and challenges. They are always available, friendly, professional and easy to work with. They feel like an extension of our internal team. In particular, I have worked extensively with Heyma Holmes and cannot fault her knowledge, commitment and expertise. She works tirelessly for our business and has always delivered results.’

I have always felt that they are an absolute safe pair of hands and would always use them by default. They are always totally responsive and seem to understand your requirements quickly, I also like the transparency around fees which can not be said for other practices I have used previously. Each touch point of this practice has been exceptional.

Heyma Holmes is a very skilled employment lawyer, fantastic at client engagement and able to achieve with charm what others fail to achieve through hardline tactics. Sarah Lee is a very good technical lawyer with great attention to detail. Chris Aldridge is a real fighter who always goes the extra mile for his clients.

Key clients

Mears PLC

Gloucester Rugby

Interserve PLC

Rail Delivery Group

Weird Fish

Howard Tenens

The Helping Hand Company (Ledbury) Limited

Just Go Limited

The Smallpeice Trust

Gillmans Electrical

Haydon Mechanical and Electrical

Community Foster Care

All Star Lanes

EPIC CIC

Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company Limited

Smart Systems Ltd

Redseal Networks Ltd

Alpha Development Limited

Royal Academy of Engineering

Roots HR

Nephos Ltd

Creed Foodservices

Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust

Work highlights

  • Providing strategic employment advice on the Online Journey Planner service contract for Network Rail.
  • Successfully representing Interserve against claims in the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and High Court seeking losses of over £1m.
  • Advising All Star Lanes by undertaking a large-scale collective consultation exercise with All Star Lanes’ employees following a restructuring and transfer of its bowling alleys in the UK (five in total).

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP advises clients ranging from SMEs to multinational companies, and its practice benefits from the firm's international network of offices and high-profile client base. The employment team, which is based in Cheltenham, is noted for its strengths in the retail, leisure, charity and rural business/landed estate sectors. In addition to providing HR and corporate restructuring advice, the team frequently undertakes TUPE and business transfer work. It also leverages its litigation experience at employment tribunal and High Court level. Legal director and practice head Sara Wilson is known for her healthcare sector experience, while associate Syma Spanjers maintains an active practice.

Practice head(s):

Sara Wilson

Other key lawyers:

Syma Spanjers

Testimonials

The team is always helpful without prejudging the client’s actions that may have happened before contact. Advice is given with understanding and in a way that is fully understandable to the layman. Give confidence to us to deal with the situation and put the correct processes in place.

Incredibly knowledgeable in the area of expertise I required (employment law). Fresh, active attitude to the problem. Did not have a standard policy, dealt with the situation itself. Very accurate in estimation of services and billing.

Syma Spanjers was very supportive during an extremely stressful time, always available to give advice. She gave me confidence in our approach to the problem and consulted with her colleagues to make sure no aspects were missed. She went above and beyond when the situation started to move very quickly including contacting me on a Sunday and working late into the night as replies to the “other side” were required. Sara Wilson handled the case while Syma was away. Again she was excellent, calm, with a personal, knowledgeable approach. Having spoken to numerous other people since this incident occurred these solicitors seem to stand out a mile above the service others have received and I feel incredibly lucky they were recommended to me. I had fantastic service at a very difficult time for me.

Each individual is always highly responsive and understanding. I feel that, considering they already have a caseload and work assigned, the quickness in which they respond to me is highly appreciated and always have felt they have been an extension of my team in some ways, working with us rather than 3rd party with no feeling of value in the working relationship, there is definitely a personal touch in how they interact and assist us.

Clear concise knowledge that matches the law with the challenges and complexities of dealing with people.

Sara Wilson is straight to the point, unlike so many lawyers. She is able to articulate clearly and interpret the law and yet talk in plain English. She is commercial and knows when to get a deal done without drawing it out and driving up legal costs. It is so refreshing to find a lawyer who is client driven rather than driven by just client billing maximisation.

We value the expert pragmatic employment law advice combined with the understanding the team have of our business and the way we work. Their team feels like an extension of ours and they are without fail timely in their responses and available when we need support.

Sara Wilson is our main point of contact and we thoroughly enjoy working with her and the rest of the team. They listen fully and give practical, considered responses and we have a real rapport which makes it a pleasure to deal with Sara and the team.

Key clients

Sotheby’s

Neal’s Yard Remedies

Cats Protection

Pennant International Plc

Trifast Plc

1E Limited

Ambrell Corporation

Reynolds Catering Supplies

The Garland Company

Executive Jet Charter

B&M Babbage & Co

SourceBreaker

Dunkerton Properties LLP

The Lucky Onion LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP's Taunton-based employment team has an excellent reputation in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors, with practice head Kate Gardner maintaining strong links with the local business community. Other areas of strength include advising clients on corporate restructurings and redundancies, as well as senior executive exits. On the contentious side, the team is frequently called on to handle complex and high-risk employment tribunal cases. Paula Squire, who provides advice on both contentious and non-contentious employment law matters, made partner in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Kate Gardner

Other key lawyers:

Paula Squire

Testimonials

The team has a very diverse regional client base and they punch above their weight in terms of the quality of their work within the employment law market. I have worked with the team on a wide range of substantial Employment Tribunal matters over the years and I have been very impressed by the professionalism and expertise of the team.

Kate Gardner is outstanding. She is very knowledgeable about employment law but also a wide variety of industry sectors. She has a terrific bedside manner with clients. She is empathetic but also authoritative in expressing innovative solutions to tricky situations.

‘A very knowledgeable team that works together to provide you with the correct best advice possible and always takes into account the commercial side of your requirements.’

Kate Gardner is a very experienced solicitor who has got to know the business to ensure we get tailored advice appropriate to our business.

The team is down to earth, very approachable and knows its stuff. Also easy to deal with and very quick to react.

Kate Gardner presents case law (which can be turgid at times) in a humorous manner making it easy to digest and retain. Her depth of law and ability to get to the issue and understand it is fantastic. I always feel confident I will get the best advice in a clear commercial way and will recommend her to others without hesitation. She is quite simply the first person I think of when an employment issue arises.

The Clarke Willmott Employment Law and HR team in Taunton fills all the gaps that inevitably exist internally within our company, like most other similar SMEs, when it comes to navigating the legal minefield that employing anyone all too often represents. Crucially for us, they offer practical advice that is commercially implementable.

In Kate Gardner, the team is led by a strong lawyer, who is always friendly and approachable, gives sensible, pragmatic and commercial advice which she is willing to follow through to a conclusion.

Key clients

Amica Care Trust

Summerfield Developments SW

Frogmary Green Farm

Chelston Park Nursing and Residential Home

Cave Veterinary Specialists

St John’s Nurseries

Rainbow Club

Brean Down Caravan Park

Abbey Manor Group

Branston

Plus One (South West)

Milsted Langdon LLP

Refresco Beverages UK

St Margarets Hospice Somerset

Wyke Farms

Castle Quarry

Testbourne Estate

Severn Delta

Chatham Clothing

Shaun Spurrell

Horsley Farm Partnership

ACC Silicone

Isedio

South and West Wiltshire Hunt

Really Comfy Beds t/a Loaf

Sunlife Insurance

Greenslade Taylor Hunt

Xeiad

Ben Bowering

Warren Farms Holiday Centre

Northam Farms

National Farmers Union

J & K Aquatics

ACC Silicones

Ocean Estate Agents

Evergreen Garden Care

Management Consultancies Association

Chick Master UK

Focus Design Partnership

BioCare

Roland DG (UK)

Ashville Asset Management

Precise Management Services

Homes in Sedgemoor

Powersystems UK

Extra MSA Property (UK)

Bridgwater College Trust

Mademoiselle Desserts Taunton

Cardstream

Acheson Constructions

R.J. Heathman (Contractors) Ltd t/a Country Contractors

Thames Card Technology

UTAC

Harmonic

Solar Communications

Sunlife

Plantforce Rentals

Eastleigh Care Homes

BMR Solutions

Aethelbert

YMCA Somerset Coast

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Cooper Associates Group

Hooke Court

Tweenhills Farm & Stud

Gordon Ramsay Holdings

Cardiff and Vale College

Teddy Mountains (UK)

J Gale & Sons

Atom Insurance Brokers

Mead Realisations

SPEAKR Technologies

Stay Original Company

Mark Caines

Hestercombe Gardens

Wink

Alton Pancrase Estate

Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club

JSS (Taunton)

Work highlights

  • Successfully defending Amica Care against an unfair dismissal employment tribunal claim.
  • Advising Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club on a restructuring and redundancy matter.
  • Advising Milsted Langdon on the breach of restrictive covenants by a senior employee.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

At Harrison Clark Rickerbys, there have been a number of developments in relation to the Cheltenham team. Practice head Rachel Roberts was promoted to partner and Rachel Parkin made partner in October 2019. The arrival of associate Rowena Kay bolstered the firm's offering to SME clients, particularly those in the tech sector. In addition to undertaking advisory work, the team has expertise in complex employment tribunal matters; discipline, grievances and dismissals; and post-termination restrictions. The firm generates employment work with a nexus to sectors such as health, social care and defence.

Practice head(s):

Rachel Roberts

Testimonials

HCR recognise that each business is unique and make every effort to understand the culture, people and products/services of the business so that the advice provided is tailored to the client they are working with. My main use of HCR is within their employment team however our wider business has also worked successfully with the Commercial and Property Law teams. HCR regularly provides seminars/electronic updates on topics of interest which supports our HR teams CPD for minimal cost. They offer flexibility over the service they provide which gives our company a sound commercially acceptable provision of legal support. Since originally working with HCR they have grown substantially in size but to their credit this has not changed the service they are able to provide. A proportion of this success must be credited to how they seem to successfully promote from within their teams which allows professional relationships to be maintained.

Rachel Roberts offers constant pragmatic advice on employment law and also a trusted sounding board for strategic elements of HR. More recently I have worked with Rachel Parkin and Rowena Key who seem to have benefited from Rachel’s leadership and mirror the qualities I have become used to working with the HCR team. Working in a relatively small HR department their practical, reliable support and advice is invaluable and can be trusted to be free of legal jargon.

Key clients

British Airways

Willans LLP

The employment team at Willans LLP is best known for its work for clients in the professional and financial services markets and in the charity sector. In addition, the tech and high-end engineering industries are also areas of strength. The team has a particular specialism advising on non-compete restrictions and protection of confidential business information. It also frequently handles complex redundancy and restructuring exercises, as well as TUPE transfers, for corporate clients. Practice head Matthew Clayton is based in Cheltenham. Associate Jenny Hawrot is another active practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Clayton

Other key lawyers:

Jenny Hawrot

Key clients

IRESS UK Limited

Cheltenham Festivals

Moog Aircraft Group

Abercrombie & Kent Limited

Commercial Group

ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute

Tecnicas Reunidas

The Higher Education Statistics Agency

MP Filtri Limited

The Cheltenham Trust

Stephen Betts & Sons Limited

Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Association & Cheltenham Animal Shelter

Carers Gloucestershire

Work highlights

  • Advising the Chartered Governance Institute on a staff restructuring exercise, including the successful resolution of various issues to come out of it.
  • Advised the Cheltenham Trust on TUPE issues arising from the insourcing of its contract with catering providers for the various cultural, sports and tourist venues it operates around Cheltenham.
  • Representing a leading financial services firm in the successful defence of disability discrimination and harassment claims brought by a former employee, worth in excess of £500,000.

Porter Dodson LLP

Porter Dodson LLP has a specialism in providing employment advice to clients in the care and manufacturing sectors. This expertise in care spans primary care, for which the team is particularly well-known in the region. It has also become increasingly active in residential and domiciliary care. Elsewhere, the group works closely with the firm's corporate practice to manage large-scale TUPE processes and redundancy situations arising from restructurings. Adrian Poole heads up the team from the Yeovil office.

Practice head(s):

Adrian Poole

Testimonials

The practice is local with a good understanding of our employees and client base.

The service we have received is efficient and timely – billing is very precise and easy.

Strong specialist knowledge base allied with excellent team ethos. Flexible and creative approach to problem-solving and an emphasis on realistic, practical solutions for clients.

All matters were addressed very professionally and promptly. The engagement of all of the team at Porter Dodson was excellent and, where appropriate, additional resource was brought in. All matters were brought to a satisfactory conclusion and support throughout the various processes was good with comprehensive explanations of options and recommendations as to how we might proceed. I would like to add that the level of service was uniformly good from the reception team to the senior partners.

Adrian Poole – very experienced and provided considered, pragmatic and well thought-out advice, excellent analysis of complex scenarios, an incisive mind and logical approach. A very considerate individual.

Medium-size team but expert in ability, that holds its own with the Bristol and other regional firms that might seek to encroach upon its territory in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It is a mixed practice, with both employer and employee based work. They give an impression of really caring about their clients and go the extra mile to achieve the best possible outcome.

They provide sound and timely advice, very reliable and trustworthy.

Adrian Poole is a strong technical lawyer, who is willing to innovate to achieve results. He is passionate about his clients.

Key clients

Group Silverline / Toolstream

Aviation Requirements

Koller Engineering

Garador

Talon Engineering

Taunton Fabrications

Westbury Packaging

3AB Care Group

Fusion Fostering

Somerset Local Medical Committee

North Petherton Surgery

Altogether Care

Wyvern Health Partnership

Everycare (Wessex)

A J Wakely & Sons Funeral Directors

Roberts Foodservice

Crystal Classics

A Senior Design Engineer for a manufacturer

A Consultant Gynaecologist

A Consultant Ophthalmologist

The Managing Director of a utilities company

A Bournemouth care provider

Sheppy’s Cider

Allen (Hanford) Limited

Inro Drinks

Minimal Risk Consultancy

Keyte Ltd

Glastonbury Health Centre

Ilminster Wellbeing LLP

Noisy Little Monkey

Vivalis Beauty

Work highlights

  • Advising a multinational manufacturer on a restructuring of key departments and a site closure involving approximately 30 redundancies following a TUPE transfer.
  • Managing for a care organisation the TUPE of workers from numerous individual providers following a regulatory determination dictating a change in operational structure.
  • Managing a complicated whistle-blowing situation for an independent school including potential grievance and regulatory referrals as well as third party complaints.  

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP's employment department works closely with the firm's nationally-recognised education practice, as well as regularly advising clients in the charities sector. The team handles a wide variety of complex industry-specific matters, including teachers' pensions and TUPE-related issues. Elsewhere, the group also has strong links in the transport sector and a growing client base in the hospitality industry. Peter Woodhouse, who is an expert in the logistics sector, heads up the team. John McMullen is a recognised authority on TUPE.

Practice head(s):

Peter Woodhouse

Other key lawyers:

John McMullen; Jean Boyle

Work highlights

  • Advising an SME employer in the commercial sector which is facing employment tribunal proceedings for constructive unfair dismissal, sex, disability and pregnancy-related discrimination and allegations of breach of the GDPR.
  • Advising an SME client in the commercial sector on the termination of a director’s contract.
  • Advising a small professional services firm, which had a variety of performance and conduct issues in relation to a member of staff.

Wilsons

Wilsons is well-placed to serve clients, with its practice being spread between the Salisbury and London offices. It generates mandates from commercial businesses, as well as entities operating in the charity and education sectors. The team has carved out a niche in a number of areas, including safeguarding, landed estates and work for senior directors. In addition, the group is increasingly sought out to advise on the Teachers' Pensions Scheme. Experienced litigator Anthony Edwards, who is a trusted adviser to executives, heads up the practice.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Edwards

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Oxley

Key clients

IntelliQ Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising IntelliQ on a restructuring of the senior management team.

Pardoes Solicitors LLP

Pardoes Solicitors LLP handles contentious and non-contentious work for a mix of employers and employees. Its team advises clients on matters such as acquisitions and disposals involving TUPE transfers, restructures and business reorganisations (including redundancy processes), among others. The group has particular expertise in the transport, insurance and aerospace engineering sectors. Maeve Vickery, who is the head of the practice, works in all three of the Somerset offices. She has specialist experience of TUPE matters, and on the employee side, is sought out for her expertise in securing exit packages for individuals.

Practice head(s):

Maeve Vickery

Testimonials

Their staff are incredibly knowledgeable and try and assist you to achieve the result you want.

Very professional and welcoming. Helpful and efficient and a great range of advice given.

Key clients

Taylors Coaches

Monmouth Scientific Ltd

Green Machine SW Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Monmouth Scientific on an internal TUPE transfer.
  • Assisting Green Machine SW with employment disputes.
  • Advising Taylors Coach Travel on all aspects of HR and employment law including change of location.