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.
Employment: Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire in South West
BPE Solicitors LLP
Other key lawyers:
‘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.‘
Rail Delivery Group
The Helping Hand Company (Ledbury) Limited
Just Go Limited
The Smallpeice Trust
Haydon Mechanical and Electrical
Community Foster Care
All Star Lanes
Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company Limited
Smart Systems Ltd
Redseal Networks Ltd
Alpha Development Limited
Royal Academy of Engineering
Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust
- 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 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.
Other key lawyers:
‘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.‘
Neal’s Yard Remedies
Pennant International Plc
Reynolds Catering Supplies
The Garland Company
Executive Jet Charter
B&M Babbage & Co
Dunkerton Properties LLP
The Lucky Onion 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.
Other key lawyers:
‘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.‘
Amica Care Trust
Summerfield Developments SW
Frogmary Green Farm
Chelston Park Nursing and Residential Home
Cave Veterinary Specialists
St John’s Nurseries
Brean Down Caravan Park
Abbey Manor Group
Plus One (South West)
Milsted Langdon LLP
Refresco Beverages UK
St Margarets Hospice Somerset
Horsley Farm Partnership
South and West Wiltshire Hunt
Really Comfy Beds t/a Loaf
Greenslade Taylor Hunt
Warren Farms Holiday Centre
National Farmers Union
J & K Aquatics
Ocean Estate Agents
Evergreen Garden Care
Management Consultancies Association
Chick Master UK
Focus Design Partnership
Roland DG (UK)
Ashville Asset Management
Precise Management Services
Homes in Sedgemoor
Extra MSA Property (UK)
Bridgwater College Trust
Mademoiselle Desserts Taunton
R.J. Heathman (Contractors) Ltd t/a Country Contractors
Thames Card Technology
Eastleigh Care Homes
YMCA Somerset Coast
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
Cooper Associates Group
Tweenhills Farm & Stud
Gordon Ramsay Holdings
Cardiff and Vale College
Teddy Mountains (UK)
J Gale & Sons
Atom Insurance Brokers
Stay Original Company
Alton Pancrase Estate
Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club
- 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.
‘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.‘
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.
Other key lawyers:
IRESS UK Limited
Moog Aircraft Group
Abercrombie & Kent Limited
ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute
The Higher Education Statistics Agency
MP Filtri Limited
The Cheltenham Trust
Stephen Betts & Sons Limited
Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Association & Cheltenham Animal Shelter
- 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.
‘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.‘
Group Silverline / Toolstream
3AB Care Group
Somerset Local Medical Committee
North Petherton Surgery
Wyvern Health Partnership
A J Wakely & Sons Funeral Directors
A Senior Design Engineer for a manufacturer
A Consultant Gynaecologist
A Consultant Ophthalmologist
The Managing Director of a utilities company
A Bournemouth care provider
Allen (Hanford) Limited
Minimal Risk Consultancy
Glastonbury Health Centre
Ilminster Wellbeing LLP
Noisy Little Monkey
- 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'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.
- 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 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.
Other key lawyers:
- 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.
‘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.‘
Monmouth Scientific Ltd
Green Machine SW Ltd
- 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.