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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South West > Human resources > Employment: The West Country > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Other

Index of tables

  1. Employment: The West Country
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Matt Huddleson - OTB Eveling
    • Jayme Nicholson - Kitsons LLP

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Ellie Hibberd - Stephens Scown LLP

Rising stars

  1. 1

Ashfords LLP regularly represents clients in complex Employment Tribunal cases and High Court litigation. On the advisory side, its work includes assisting clients with collective redundancy consultations, employment terminations and TUPE management issues. The healthcare sector is a notable strong suit of the practice; the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust provides a significant stream of employment mandates. The firm also acts for clients in areas such as retail, energy and the public sector. Stephen Moore heads up the team, which includes senior associate Kirsty Cooke.

Practice head(s):Stephen Moore

Other key lawyers:Charles Pallot; Kirsty Cooke

Testimonials

'We predominantly use Ashfords for employment law, however in reality, our requirement for advice goes much wider than this and on each occasion they respond in an efficient manner, allocating each matter to the relevant subject expert. They offer an excellent all-round service which puts the customer first'

'Charles Pallot is a highly experienced partner who's advice is robust and pragmatic'

'Kirsty Cooke is a highly skilled professional who offers great advice'

 

Key Clients

The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

London Borough of Haringey

Ultimate Finance Limited

Wates Construction Limited

Creditcall Limited

Patron Capital Advisers LLP

Steenen Varming Limited

West Country Milk Consortium Limited

The Roald Dahl Story Company Limited

Luke Furse Earthmoving Limited

Work highlights

  • Ongoing employment advice to the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust; recently concluded a whistle-blowing case involving a consultant who remained employed by the client.
  • Instructed to act for London Borough of Haringey on employment tribunal claims, including discrimination and whistle-blowing cases and negotiating on behalf of the Council in cases of Early Conciliation.
  • Sole employment adviser to Ultimate Finance Group Limited, advising on non-contentious issues including review, preparation and application of contractual documentation, managing sickness absence and dealing with grievance and disciplinary issues.
  • Instructed by the London Borough of Lambeth to rewrite its entire suite of template employment contracts and HR Policies, Procedures and Toolkits, as part of an overall review of their suite of employment documents.

Foot Anstey has a strong track record defending clients in employment litigation, including equal pay claims. In addition, it is highly regarded for non-contentious matters, which includes assisting local governments with nationally negotiated pay deals and large-scale TUPE matters. Also notable is that the firm has a strong pedigree in the retail, media and technology sectors. The firm's standing in the market is evidenced by it featuring on the panels of clients such as Lloyds Bank and Flybe. Exeter-based Karen Bates leads the department.

Practice head(s):Karen Bates

Other key lawyers:James Collings; Patrick Howarth

Testimonials

'Karen Bates is my key trusted advisor that I know I can rely on her to provide sound advice to the business, and help guide them in a commercial manner clearly setting out the risk versus reward'

'Their tact, courtesy, identification with our aims and objectives and ability to express reservation or offer advice diplomatically but with an ineluctable logic. James Collings and his associates, Lynda Mcdonnell, Kathryn Evens, Claire Marks and Charlie Maples, provided a seamless service from the gathering of evidence through the formulation of argument to the explanation and presentation of estimates and invoices. We could not have hoped for a more professional, charming or effective team'

Key Clients

Screwfix

T Clarke Contracting Ltd

Becton Dickinson UK Ltd

Odeon Cinemas Ltd

Halfords

Monster

Flybe

Livewell Southwest CIC

Ropes & Gray LLP

Reed & Mackay Travel Ltd

Work highlights

  • Provide full external employment advice to Screwfix, including disciplinary and grievance cases, poor performance and long term ill health/absence management issues, senior exits, TUPE and amendments to policies and procedures.
  • The team advise and support T Clarke Contracting Limited on a wide range of employment related matters, including disciplinary and grievance cases, and tribunal litigation.
  • Ongoing employment law support covering advice to Odeon Cinemas Ltd on European works council obligations and structuring through to complex employee relations cases, in addition to employment tribunal representation.
  • Advise the Met Office on all employment matters, including tribunal representation when required.
  • Provide employment advice to Flybe, which recently included assisting with the employment aspects of a dispute with Monarch Airlines Engineering Ltd.

Michelmores LLP serves public and private sector clients from sectors such as education, healthcare and retail, among others. The team has a strong focus on the regional market; one of its key clients is Torbay & South Devon NHS Trust. Team head Andrew Tobey, who is experienced in both contentious and non-contentious employment matters, has expertise in senior executive termination procedures, breach of covenant injunctions, TUPE outsourcing issues and employee misconduct claims.

Practice head(s):Andrew Tobey

Other key lawyers:Nikki Duncan; Tom Stenner-Evans

Testimonials

'Michelmores has a small but strong employment team which enables them to provide their clients with excellent advice, both legal and commercial'

'This team is very knowledgeable and very flexible. They have a huge amount of experience in dealing with complex and highly sensitive situations'

'They are highly responsive with a good understanding of our business'

'There is a real feeling from me as a client that my needs are being taken seriously. I also feel that the service is personalised'

'The team understand local government work and are able to adapt practices to the particular area and processes they are dealing with'

'I have worked mainly with Nikki Duncan. She has exceptionally good knowledge of TUPE cases and is able to give clear practical advice to her clients'

'James Baker is a fantastic legal partner to have in your corner when faced with any employment related issues. His knowledge for the area and strategic advice has helped us deal with some very sensitive situations'

'Nikki Duncan an absolute pleasure to work with'

'They are very personable and able to relate to the concerns and issues that the customer is dealing with. They are able to provide options and highlight the risks with each of those'

Key Clients

Carey Group Plc

Formula E Operations

Enotria Limited

Mitchellson Formwork

ComRes

Haynes Publishing Group P.L.C.

Steinhoff Manufacturing Group

Mint Velvet

Mole Valley Farmers

Devon Doctors Group

Greenland Group

3Group

Kew Green Hotels Group

Seasalt

Gro Group

Landmark Information Group

Metropolitan Police

Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

Northern Devo9n Healthcare Trust

Devon Clinical Commissioning Group

Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

The Met Office

Dorset County Council

Somerset County Council

Work highlights

  • Defended Dorset County Council as principal shareholder of its waste management company against claims relating to TUPE-related terms and conditions changes, unlawful deduction of wages and breach of statutory obligations.
  • Instructed to defend Ramsbury Estates Limited in employment tribunal proceedings for unfair dismissal issued by the manager of one of its high profile restaurants following a summary dismissal in relation to multiple claims of harassment and bullying.
  • Advised a London-based charity on the contentious dismissal of their HR manager and the management of a whistle-blowing investigation.
  • Advised Devon Doctors Group on TUPE issues.
  • Assisted a large international charity with a complex and contentious restructuring of its operations team

Stephens Scown LLP has a strong track record in employment litigation, where department head Terry Falcão is the key figure in the practice. Recent highlights included whistleblowing and discrimination claims, and representation at regulatory body hearings. The firm also has a strong corporate support practice, where it acts on TUPE matters and reorganisations. Areas of activity include the education, marine, food and beverages, hotel and leisure, charities and healthcare sectors. Falcão, who has previously worked as in-house legal counsel at Exeter City FC, is a sports law expert. Ellie Hibberd, who made partner in 2018, heads the HRExpress team which provides ongoing legal advice to the firm's clients.

Practice head(s):Terry Falcão

Other key lawyers:Verity Slater; Ellie Hibberd; Laura McFadyen

Testimonials

'The depth and breadth of skills and capabilities means we are able to satisfy all our requirements in one place. Staff are friendly, efficient and respond in a timely manner. Costs are reasonable and represent good value for money'

'They always deal with everything comprehensively and explain the reasoning behind the advice - their communication skills are exceptional'

'Totally professional service from start to finish. Rapid response and immediate contact established'

Key Clients

Luscombe Drinks Ltd

Age UK

Sutton Consumer Products

Thomas Westcott

Exeter City Football Club

Cornwall College

Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust

St Austell Brewery Co Ltd

Seasalt Limited

The Delivery Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Luscombe Drinks Limited in a case brought by the dismissed managing director for whistle-blowing and unfair dismissal.
  • Defended Age UK Plymouth against complicated claims for unfair dismissal and whistle-blowing, which were brought by the chief executive officer, who was dismissed for gross misconduct.
  • Defended a client against claims brought by a senior manager including allegations of race discrimination and whistleblowing.
  • Advised The Delivery Group on various employment issues, including detailed negotiation of the restrictive covenants in the new employment documents and a Share Purchase Agreement.

Clarke Willmott LLP advises business clients on restructurings and redundancies and trade union relations. In addition, it assists clients with all aspects of contentious cases; recent highlights included unfair dismissal claims, and cases involving discrimination allegations and whistleblowing. Taunton-based Kate Gardner is particularly knowledgeable about the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Practice head(s):Kate Gardner

Other key lawyers:Juliette Staunton

Testimonials

'From the moment I went to Kate Gardner and her Team at Clarke Wilmott I was able to switch off and Kate sorted the employment issue I was experiencing. I wholeheartedly recommend Clarke Willmott'

'Extremely strong, very hands-on and terrific'

'The team is very flexible and understands the world of business. Solutions in the world of employment law need to be practical and commercial as well as complying with legislation. Clarke Willmott is very good at getting the balance right'

'They help you find options and solutions that are practical business options'

'The service is friendly, understanding and of the highest professional standard'

'Emma Hamnett is very professional, cost-effective and smart'

'Kate Gardner always makes the time to talk with me. I like the personal touch; seems more like a friend than a solicitor. She always keeps me well informed and up to date with the matter in hand'

Key Clients

ACC Silicones Limited

Isedio Limited

South and West Wiltshire Hunt

Amica Care Trust

Really Comfy Beds t/a Loaf

Sun Life Insurance

Summerfield Developments South West Ltd

Frogmary Green Farm Limited

Chelston Park Nursing and Residential Home Ltd

Bowering Animal Feeds Limited

Cave Veterinary Specialist Limited

St Johns Nurseries Limited

Greenslade Taylor Hunt

Rainbow Club Limited

Brean Down Caravan Park Limited

Sun Life Limited

Krystal Hosting Limited

Plantforce Rentals Limited

Azronet Limited

Abbey Manor Group Limited

Branston Limited

Plus One

Milsted Langdon LLP

Refresco Beverages UK Limited

Queens College

St Margaret's Hospice Somerset Limited

Xeiad Limited

Wyke Farms Limited

Castle Hill Quarry Limited

Testbourne Estate

Horseley Farm Partnership

Work highlights

  • Advised a client on restructuring and the dismissal of a senior manager.
  • Achieved a favourable settlement for a client in an unfair dismissal case brought by an ex-employee.
  • Advised a client on bullying and harassment complaints, and achieved favourable settlement agreements for the senior sales negotiator and the director.
  • Advised a client on all employment and TUPE issues relating to the sale of the business.
  • Advised a client on post-transfer employment issues.

The employment team at Kitsons LLP is best known for its advisory work, which includes handling TUPE transfers, employment status matters and assisting with the enforcement of post-termination restrictions. The group also works closely with the corporate practice to provide employment support on corporate transactions. Practice head Jayme Nicholson primarily acts for employers in the construction and retail sectors, and also leads the corporate support arm of the practice.

Practice head(s):Jayme Nicholson

Other key lawyers:Rhodri Davey; Rory Wakeling

Testimonials

'Specialist knowledge and client friendly approach. Good team work and communication abilities. Professional attitude'

'The team is small and approachable, able to stand in for each other'

'I have been very impressed with both the service and performance offered by Kitsons, they offer a timely, responsive and high quality service characterised by insightful and practical advice'

'They invest time and effort in developing a relationship with and understanding of their clients so that their advice is contextually relevant and supports clients in risk-based decision making'

'Their willingness to go above and beyond to achieve the best outcomes for their client is a very evident feature of the team, and the result is that the relationship feels more akin to a partnership'

'I find the advice given to be accurate pragmatic and immediately usable'

'They are easy to reach, friendly yet professional and offer good, clear advice'

'There was a very high level of ownership and engagement on the part of the Kitsons team. Generally good communication and responsiveness'

'They make things easy to understand for you'

'Jayme Nicholson is extremely approachable and is always able to provide the advice I am looking for. She is also very good at spotting an opportunity to bring my skill-set into the mix'

'Rory Wakeling has a good knowledge base and very strong client skills'

'Rhodri Davey offers excellent and tailored advice and support and goes out of his way not only to ensure he offers exactly what is required but that this achieves best value for money for the client'

'Jayme Nicholson has a strong knowledge base and good commercial appreciation'

'Rosie Evans has a good specialist knowledge, strong team ethic and good judgement'

'Jayme Nicholson is the stand-out lawyer for me; she is approachable, pragmatic and engaging and able to get to the crux of the issue quickly and provide an understandable solution'

'I consider Jayme to be more approachable than other comparable lawyers I have met'

'Jayme Nicholson takes time to understand business needs and desired outcomes. She looks at the business and our sector as a whole when giving advice'

'I trust Jayme in a way that I've not trusted a solicitor before and am happy to have her associated with our business'

'Rhodri Davey is switched on, pragmatic, responsive and excellent value for money'

'Rory Wakeling is detailed, pragmatic and knowledgeable'

'Rory has been amazing support to me and my business ensuring the correct people are engaged at every step of the process to ensure the best outcomes'

Key Clients

The Guild of Construction Workers

Trucksmith Limited

Nash & Co specialises predominantly in contentious employment disputes, representing nationwide clients in tribunal litigation. Clients range from established corporations with a national presence to local SMEs, primarily in the retail and leisure industries. Department head Ian Grimshaw has extensive experience in defending multi-party claimant cases in the employment tribunal.

Practice head(s):Ian Grimshaw

Testimonials

'The team at Nash & Co are organised, efficient and able to convey the most complex positions/arguments to the layman in an accessible and easy to understand manner'

'The Employment department function as a team, taking ownership of anything which may come across their way and striving to deliver the best service to customer and client. They are receptive to costs assessment - which is rarely required due to their reasonableness in billing'

'Ultimately, their ability to represent commercial interests alongside that of the client - striking this balance incredibly well - is what makes them such a fantastic asset to the schemes we instruct them for. They go above and beyond, from providing legal advice and speaking at conferences, down to being willing to assist on any and every query presented to them'

Key Clients

The HR Dept

Mars Wrigley Confectionary UK Ltd

ICON plc

Premier Coffee Ltd

ARAG plc

Black & White Hospitality Ltd

M3 Consulting Ltd

Pearsalls Ltd

WH Bond & Sons Ltd

Holiday Inn London – Kensington High Street

Work highlights

  • Defended a claim and subsequent appeal regarding an alleged unfair dismissal.
  • Defended the client in a whistle-blowing claim brought by a former employee.
  • Defended the client in the employment tribunal in multiple claims.
  • Defended a claim for discrimination and constructive dismissal involving multiple persons.
  • Defended the client in claims for discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, unfair dismissal and holiday pay discrepancies.

Porter Dodson LLP's practice has a particular emphasis in bringing and defending employment claims, and corporate support work. Its litigation experience includes whistleblowing and discrimination cases, which is most evident in the firm's key sectors of healthcare and social care. Adrian Poole is the practice head.

Practice head(s):Adrian Poole

Testimonials

'Porter Dodson is in the front rank of employment law practices in the SW region outside of Bristol'

'They have a specialist knowledge of employment and discrimination law combined with strong practical emphasis on achieving positive outcomes for clients. Good sense of strategy and with it a boldness of conviction to see things through. Strong team ethic and support'

'They have taken the time to understand our business and it helps them enormously as they land into any situation running'

'They are approachable and friendly, offering sensible advice that you can work with'

'They have an ability to work at all levels depending on the needs of the client. Whether working on a complex issue or day to day query you get the same level of service and attention'

'They are able to apply an understanding and sympathy to a very difficult and emotional subject, mental health in the workplace. They demonstrate an excellent knowledge and interpretation of the law. In our view they are industry leaders in this field'

'Adrian Poole has a strong technical employment background and really fights for his clients'

'Sarah Young is very pragmatic and picks the points worth fighting'

'Laura Roper is an excellent practitioner who is definitely one to watch'

'Robert Titcombe has a nice manner with clients and is a safe pair of hands'

'Adrian Poole is approachable and easy to talk to. Very strong knowledge base on all employment matters. He leads the team with humour and purpose'

'Laura Roper has a strong knowledge base, with clear communication and sound judgment. She is approachable and flexible'

'Sara Young in particular is brilliant, she has spent time understanding our business and culture and adapts quickly to the pace of the decision making we normally run to'

'Adrian Poole and Sarah Young are both excellent - very pragmatic, easy to work with and realistic about dealing with the practicalities of employment situations'

'Sarah Young makes the most complex of situations understandable and solutions provided in a clear and no nonsense fashion. Approachable and dedicated, constantly goes the extra mile'

'The person I rate the most is Laura Roper: her legal acumen is second to none. She is extremely personable and acts with the competence and confidence of a partner'

Key Clients

Group Silverline

GP surgeries across Somerset

Aviation Requirements

Westbury Packaging

Fusion Fostering

AJ Wakely & Sons

CC Moore

Adanac

Hunts Foodservice

Mastergen

Work highlights

  • Represented a claimant in a discrimination case valued at over £1m.
  • Assisted a client with settling a claim for sex, pregnancy and maternity discrimination and harassment, automatic unfair dismissal, breach of contract and ‘failure to be accompanied’, at an early stage in the litigation.
  • Advising a client on the successful consultation of change of contracts and their subsequent implementation, affecting Higher Level Teaching Assistants.
  • Advised and successfully defended a large regional care company in relation to a specific and discrete element of national minimum wage legislation.
  • Advising a large regional firm of financial advisers in relation to contractual terms and conditions for senior staff.

OTB Eveling, which solely advises employers (in particular SMEs), demonstrates strong capabilities in corporate support matters. The practice is also highlighted for its strengths in TUPE exercises, outsourcing, staff transfers and litigation. Matt Huddleson is experienced in all aspects of advisory employment work, and also supports clients in tribunal cases; associate Sarah Luxmoore joined from Beers LLP.

Practice head(s):Matt Huddleson

Testimonials

'OTB Eveling is a large firm that retains that personal touch; we may only be one client out of many, but it feels as though we are the only client'

'OTB serves our size and type of business extremely well. We have used them across commercial, transactional, property and HR matters and as a small team they are able to brief each other and work seamlessly'

'They are very easy to work and discuss matters with. Practical and pragmatic, but at the same time excellent from a technical perspective. They are good negotiators and cost effective'

Key Clients

Blackmore Richotech

Cannings (I J Cannings & Son Limited)

Epwin Group Plc

Enigma CCTV

Enigma Security Solutions

Enigma Group

Enigma Industrial Services

Finbourne Technology

Hanover Search Group

HT Gardner Transport

Latimer Trend & Company

Plymouth Citybus

Work highlights

  • Advising Epwin Group Plc on minimum wage matters and employment tribunal claims.
  • Represented Enigma CCTV in an employment tribunal claim.
  • Supported Plymouth Citybus on a range of matters, including agreed exits, policy reviews and contracts.
  • Assisted Synergix Health with drafting and negotiating contracts for atypical working arrangements.
  • Providing general employment support to Trinity Fire and Security, including a number of employee termination cases.

Pardoes Solicitors LLP, which handles a mix of employer and employee work, is equally strong in contentious and non-contentious employment matters. It  covers acquisitions and disposals (involving TUPE transfers) and business reorganisations (involving redundancy processes). In addition, employment tribunal work is another mainstay of the practice. Maeve Vickery is the key name in the practice; having originally qualified as a barrister, she has a strong success rate in employment tribunal cases.

Practice head(s):Maeve Vickery

Key Clients

Taylors Coaches

Hickleys Limited

Sapphiratech Ltd

Kings Square Dental Clinic

Work highlights

  • Advised a senior manager on his exit package.
  • Provide general employment law advice and HR support to Taylors Coaches Ltd.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP's employment department is particularly active in TUPE matters, where it advises clients on creating TUPE strategies and post-transfer restructuring. The team is also knowledgeable about changing terms of employment, corporate support work and exit strategies. On the contentious side, the firm has represented clients in unfair dismissal, discrimination and gender pay disputes. John Turnbull is the key name in the Exeter office. The firm is a first port of call among registered providers in the social housing sector. Other clients include charities and social enterprises.

Practice head(s):John Turnbull

Testimonials

'Trowers and Hamlins are always fast to respond and offer great advice, understanding the issues we face'

'They have an exceptional ability to respond quickly in what are invariably time-sensitive matters, and in doing so are able to quickly assess the extent of the challenge faced, assess legal ramifications and advice accordingly'

'They are incredibly supportive in terms of translating what can often by complex legal matters'

'The team is personable, responsive, thorough and understanding of the commercial context of challenges faced, not to mention great fun'

Key Clients

Smiths (Gloucester)Limited

ITS Western Limited

Otter Nurseries Limited

FWS Carter & Sons Limited

All Fleet Services Limited

Ninian Solutions Limited

London & Devonshire Trust Limited

LiveWest Homes Limited

Inter-Line Building Supplies Limited

Avid LLP

Richmond Housing Partnership

Exeter City Living

Ampacet (UK) Limited

Work highlights

  • Defended Smiths (Gloucester) Limited in a discrimination case involving a serious allegation relating to health and safety and transport legislation

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