Burges Salmon LLP predominantly acts for claimants, with particular expertise in claims brought by lenders, including an impressive roster of banking clients, against solicitors and surveyors. The group also has 'significant and growing experience' in pensions professional negligence claims for pension schemes and their trustees. Private wealth is another area where the group stands out in relation to contentious trusts and tax work. 'Brilliant' department head Andrew Burnette leads on lender-side work. Justin Briggs is a specialist in pension-related claims, often working alongside Suzanne Padmore. Senior associate Caroline Brown is building a solid reputation for complex negligence and fraud claims.
Professional negligence in South West
Other key lawyers:
Justin Briggs; Suzanne Padmore; Caroline Brown
‘The team specialises in providing an excellent service at prices that are lower and more competitive than the big London firms but without any compromise on quality. They have significant and growing experience in professional negligence claims concerning advisers to pension schemes.‘
‘Justin Briggs has both excellent technical pensions knowledge and the ability to manage high-value and complex commercial litigation and achieve excellent results.’
‘Burges Salmon has a unrivalled profile (nationally and regionally) in acting in professional negligence claims, often in a pensions and/or financial services context. They have in-depth technical knowledge of the underlying relevant statutory/regulatory regime and market landscape, as well as the litigation expertise and nous to run the professional negligence claim.’
‘The team at Burges Salmon is first rate and I have been particularly impressed at the ability to break down a hugely complicated matter and identify the numerous issues involved, which were then individually analysed. Their ability to recollect small details in documents reviewed months earlier which took on a new significance as the matter developed was simply astonishing.’
‘They are far better set up to handle significant pieces of litigation than most (if not all) other regional firms due to their size and structure and the technological recourses at their disposal.‘
‘Andrew Burnette is a brilliant lawyer with a big brain. He is someone I would feel comfortable going to for advice. He’s also very commercially astute and gives pragmatic advice. A well-respected leader good at managing the team that work under him.‘
Financial Services Compensation Scheme Ltd
- Represented the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in a significant recovery action concerning the collapse of a development company offering off-plan timeshares in a hotel development in St Lucia. The claim relates to advances worth at least $38.5m.
- Acting on a high-value claim for HR Trustees against a leading pensions consultancy and a leading international law firm, stemming from errors committed in the closure of a defined benefit scheme to future accrual, as well as in implementing other scheme changes.
A 'well-known national brand with a strong local presence', Clarke Willmott LLP is instructed by corporate and private clients, as well as trustees in professional negligence matters across the professions. In addition to traditional claims, the group has experience in bringing multi-party actions. The 'practical and bright' Alex Jakubowski heads the group, with particular expertise in claims arising from commercial and development lending involving an element of fraud and ensuing insurance coverage issues. Philippa Hann heads the litigation department, and has expertise in representing claimants who have been misadvised on investments. Stephen Searle specialises in claims relating to pensions and financial services, while Esther Woolford, who leads on agricultural and rural property litigation, has experience in claims involving trusts and surveyors.
Alex Jakubowski; Philippa Hann
Other key lawyers:
Stephen Searle; Chris Taylor; Esther Woolford
‘Bristol continues to attract some of the best insurance lawyers in the jurisdiction, the majority then end up at Clarke Willmott. This team is just head and shoulders above the rest.’
‘Alex Jakubowski just knows what needs to be done and gets on with it. No time is wasted on incidental or bad points.’
‘A big, well-known national brand with a strong local presence.’
‘Alex Jakubowski is very practical and bright, with excellent client management skills.’
‘This was my first experience needing a solicitor and I found the practice very helpful in explaining the process. They offered an initial package to help understand if my case was viable. This was reviewed very quickly with the possible options laid out clearly. All billing was very clear and very prompt.’
‘Alex Jakubowski was always quick to provide updates and was always chasing the other solicitors when the updates were not forthcoming. His advice and experience gave a good level of confidence to the claim and it was very reassuring, with him securing an excellent outcome. I am extremely grateful for the professional nature of his conduct and dealing with many stupid questions from myself. I would recommend him to anyone who required representation for a similar claim.’
Wellesley Finance Ltd
Lloyds Bank Plc
Medina Capital Investments (Partnership) Limited
Gynn Construction Ltd
- Acting for Arum Capital in a claim for circa £2.5m against Colliers for the negligent overvaluation of a care home development site in connection with a bridging loan.
- Advising Molson Group on a claim against TLT arising from drafting error in a share acquisition agreement
- Handling a multi-party action on behalf of over 600 steelworkers who received negligent financial advice to transfer out of the British Steel Pension Scheme.
Clyde & Co's Bristol base has been significantly boosted by the addition of the market-leading team formerly based in Oxford. The 'exceptional' department is now led by the hugely experienced Tony Nurse-Marsh, whose practice extends to emerging markets cases and coverage disputes. The practice also benefits from firm-wide insurance sector clients and strong knowledge in professional indemnity issues. The group is instructed by insurers and insured parties, predominantly defending claims against construction, financial and legal professionals and involving pensions, fintech and coverage issues. Jim Taylor is particularly noted for traditional claims against solicitors and barristers, but also handles emerging professions work. Philip Evans, promoted to partner in 2020, has experience defending claims against legal professionals, engineers and IT consultants.
Other key lawyers:
Jim Taylor; Philip Evans
‘An exceptional professional indemnity team, mainly offering insurers high-quality work at competitive rates.’
‘Phil Evans, Tony Nurse-Marsh and Jim Taylor are highly skilled and experienced, particularly in solicitors’ negligence cases. They all have good judgement and can tell which points to take and which to leave.’
‘A good team building up in Bristol.’
‘Tony Nurse-Marsh is pragmatic and commercial.’
‘Jim Taylor stands out as excellent.’
‘They are always well prepared, on top of the facts and law, and constructive in their approach to mediation.’
‘Tony Nurse-Marsh is a very sound and commercial insurance litigator. Philip Evans is also very good at directing settlement negotiations in the interests of clients.’
The 'responsive' and 'pragmatic' team at CMS is well integrated into the firm's national professional indemnity group, with experience in claims in the insurance, legal, financial services, construction and property sectors. The group sits in the insurance department under the leadership of London-based Ed Foss. In Bristol, Cheryl Gibson has significant experience defending claims against insurance brokers and construction professionals. Zoe Burge specialises in defending claims against solicitors and insurance professionals, as well as acting in directors and officers coverage disputes. Robert Jones is recommended for defending surveyors and insurance brokers.
Other key lawyers:
Cheryl Gibson; Zoe Burge; Robert Jones; John Enoch; Caroline Hall
‘The firm has very strong experience in dealing with chartered surveyors’ professional negligence issues. The expertise extends to all professional areas that we work in, so I am confident that they could handle any issue that might arise.’
‘The firm’s partners and staff are always very responsive and replies to queries are received quickly. A pragmatic approach is taken to complex issues so that effective ways forward can always be found.‘
Acapella Syndicate 2014
AEGIS Managing Agency Limited
W R Berkley Insurance (Europe) Limited
- Defending an international engineer and its insurers in a £20m complex litigation involving multiple parties concerning the construction of a large-scale abattoir.
- Defending a firm of solicitors and its insurers in a multimillion-pound claim relating to inheritance tax advice.
- Defending a major broker against a claim concerning the placement of run-off cover relating to a $5m dispute.
DAC Beachcroft LLP
The team at DAC Beachcroft LLP is most noted for acting for professional and financial risks insurers and professional services firms, representing surveyors, solicitors and insurance brokers, and is praised for its 'excellent understanding of insurance requirements'. The group has significant expertise in coverage issues, particularly in relation to directors and officers (D&O) insurance. Marcus Campbell heads the professional risk team, with experience defending claims against insurance brokers. Caroline Cherry leads the claims handling service, which is utilised by major insurers. Charlie Bending is an expert in defending claims against surveyors. Helen Staines is instructed on solicitors' negligence and title indemnity claims. Kylie Poyner is recommended for defending claims against schools, colleges and universities.
Marcus Campbell; Caroline Cherry
Other key lawyers:
Charlie Bending; Helen Staines; Phillip Roberts; Marcus Thomson; Kylie Poyner
‘The team are always approachable and have an excellent understanding of insurance requirements. Additionally, they understand their clients’ needs and work well with them.’
‘Kylie Poyner is very approachable and innovative in the services she offers to clients, recognising pinch points with the offer of assistance from her team.’
‘I have been pleased with the work they have done in terms of their costs on cases and realistic strategies bearing in mind commerciality and TCF obligations. Their understanding of insurers as well as their costs management is very good compared to other firms.’
‘Kylie Poyner is professional but also an individual that claimants and other parties can relate to and respect. Kylie also understands the viewpoint of insurers and has a good grasp of cases and insurers’ requirements.’
Aviva Insurance (Corporate & Specialty Risks)
Zurich Financial Services
Markel International Insurance Company
DWF leverages its strong insurance sector connections to assist insurers, brokers and insured professionals in the defence of professional negligence claims and disciplinary complaints. The group made some significant hires in 2020, taking on veteran professional negligence lawyer Ian Welland from Reynolds Colman Bradley LLP and experienced insurance lawyer John Eastlake from Clyde & Co. The 'excellent' Simon Mason leads the practice, with 'a wealth of knowledge and experience' in defence-side matters. Director Alexandra Cartwright is another standout lawyer with experience in claims across the professional services.
Other key lawyers:
Ian Welland; John Eastlake; Alexandra Cartwright; Lucy Evans
‘The team are strong litigators who provide expert advice. They are also very commercially minded.‘
‘They are constantly considering new innovation and ways they can offer additional services to supplement, or in some cases avoid the need for full-scale legal disputes.’
‘Simon Mason is an excellent leader at DWF. He delivers cutting-edge dispute resolution services with a particular focus on financial and property professionals. His knowledge in his field is second to none, and he is always happy to share his wealth of knowledge and experience. Outside of disputes he is appointed on, he regularly provides us with advice notes and CPD sessions to keep us appraised of relevant events.’
- Defending professional indemnity insurers and their insured solicitor against allegations of professional negligence in respect of three separate instructions.
- Acting for an insurer and the insured solicitor in a multi-party action in the Business and Property Courts brought by the executrix of the estate of a deceased victim of fraud perpetrated by solicitors instructed in the conveyance of his property.
- Acted on a claim brought by a developer against an insured quantity surveyor and contract administrator – one of six defendants – and eventually reached a settlement, after proceedings were issued but before significant steps were taken.
RPC's Bristol-based professional negligence team focuses on acting for insurers and insured professionals. The group has 'a vast amount of experience' across professions, with a solid offering for solicitors, accountants, and financial and pensions professionals, as well as construction industry clients. Regulatory and disciplinary work is another key area for the group, which is regularly instructed in investigations by professional bodies. It also advises on coverage issues. The 'entirely switched on' Rhian Howell specialises in claims against lawyers, particularly in fraud and dishonesty cases. Will Sefton represents solicitors, in addition to directors facing claims from liquidators and administrators, and those involved in unfair prejudice proceedings. In 2020, the group was bolstered by the 'excellent addition' of Scott Ashby from Beale & Co, who provides additional expertise in solicitors' and conveyancers' negligence claims, as well as experience in coverage issues. Rachael Healey is praised for her 'ability to quickly interpret a problem, see how it may unfold and explain in clear language the legal process and options to a lay person'. The team sits within the insurance department led by Simon Laird.
Other key lawyers:
Rhian Howell; Will Sefton; Robert Morris; Scott Ashby; Rachael Healey; Simran Khanna
‘RPC’s Bristol team has great knowledge of regulated financial services, including pension transfer matters. Their insight has, quite literally, saved our company millions of pounds.’
‘Rachael Healey has the ability to quickly interpret a problem, see how it may unfold and explain in clear language the legal process and options to a lay person, and is a strong lead to her team. ’
‘They have a vast amount of experience across the board. They have lawyers suitable to all types of claims and professions and provide an excellent service.’
‘Scott Ashby has been an excellent addition to the team in Bristol and has led to an increased instruction on my part for solicitors’ negligence claims. He is always there to assist and nothing is too much trouble – his advice is commercial and cuts through to the key issues in a way which is easy to understand and also cost effective.’
‘Rachael Healey has been an absolute force in terms of us managing a large volume of claims which require some careful thought on strategy across the board rather than on an individual basis. She really is a fantastic partner to work with.’
‘Strength in depth and competitive pricing on all aspects of UK professional indemnity insurance. Credible regional D&O presence too. If you have a book/career-breaking claim and need lawyers who will throw themselves under a train for you then this is the team to pick. Its UK offering, despite being large, feels increasingly like a boutique firm delivering a white-glove, best-in-class service.’
‘Rhian Howell is formidable and entirely switched on. Listens to feedback carefully and delivers exactly what the client wants.‘
- Defending a claim of £46m against solicitors’ firm Higgs & Sons pursued by James Brearley and others.
- Successfully struck out a claim against BDO LLP in which it was alleged that it had acted as part of an unlawful means conspiracy with Barclays Bank plc.
Beale & Co's professional negligence practice is best known for defending clients in the construction sector, but it also has a strong offering for legal and financial services professionals. Heading the department, the 'very knowledgeable' Joe Eizenberg is experienced in claims against accountants arising from film finance and tax avoidance schemes, as well as representing professionals facing disciplinary action. The 'commercially and legally astute' Giles Tagg is an insurance litigator, with expertise representing construction professionals and handling coverage issues. Joe Bryant is noted for high-stakes claims involving legal professionals.
Other key lawyers:
Giles Tagg; Joe Bryant; David McArdle
‘Giles Tagg is a fantastic partner to work with. His advice is prompt and accurate and never sugar coated.’
‘The firm is predominantly a construction specialist and has very good partners and associates to assist with the defence of claims against construction professionals. In my opinion, Beale & Co is the leading firm for the defence of construction claims in the South West of England.’
‘Giles Tagg is both commercially and legally astute and understands the needs of clients, which makes dealing with him effortless. He is able to diffuse situations with his calm presence, wit and razor-sharp legal mind.’
‘They are specialists in the field of insurance and construction; this combination is invaluable at this point in time.’
‘They have an excellent knowledge of the law coupled with detailed understanding of construction contracts. We have received excellent advice about our weaknesses and opportunities. In a mediation they proved to be skilled and hard-nosed negotiators.’
‘The team is strong across the professional indemnity sector and knowledgeable on a range of professions.’
‘Joe Eizenberg is very knowledgeable on accountants and general coverage queries. David McArdle deals mostly with construction and is tenacious and responsive. Giles Tagg is also a construction specialist, and is both very knowledgeable and excellent at providing entertaining and informative training (and weekly music recommendations).’
‘Joe Bryant is extremely responsive and puts you at ease. He fully understands clients’ needs and will consider innovative ways in which to offer them the best possible support and guidance, especially during this challenging period, which has been very much appreciated and valued.‘
Arthur J Gallagher
- Acting for a firm of accountants in a dispute arising from allegations of professional negligence after circa £4m was stolen from a trust which was subject to an email hacking fraud.
- Advising an international speciality insurance group in relation to whether a claim arising from issues with the design and construction of a high-value commercial unit fell for cover.
- Advising a multi-award-winning house builder on a multi-party dispute relating to fire safety issues arising from the construction of three tower blocks comprising residential and social housing units.
The practice at Michelmores LLP consists of claims arising from agriculture, financial services, construction, and trust and probate. The group predominantly acts for claimants, drawing on expertise in insurance coverage issues, and is increasingly involved in broker claims. Fiona Pearson heads the team, and is valued by clients for her background on the defence side, bringing 'a wealth of experience' to bear in her claimant work. Ben Sharples, a member of the agricultural law group, is instructed on surveyor and solicitors' negligence claims. Jonathan Kitchin is the name to note for financial services claims.
Other key lawyers:
Ben Sharples; Jonathan Kitchin; Rachel O’Connor; Jayne Clemens; Alice Daniels
‘The firm gives clients sound, commercial advice at a good price.’
‘Fiona Pearson has good technical knowledge and is a pleasure to work with.’
‘Jonathan Kitchen has good client care skills.’
‘Regional approachability with national quality.’
‘Fiona Pearson is hardworking, with a deep knowledge of professional negligence.’
‘Michelmores mainly acts for claimants in their professional negligence practice. They have a number of strengths, including their knowledge of the insurance industry generally.’
‘With a defendant/insurer background in professional liability work, Fiona Pearson brings a wealth of experience to professional negligence claims where she now acts for claimants. She gets on very well with clients and is focused on giving cost-effective and commercial advice.’
Cancer Research UK
Landmark Information Group
- Acted for Cancer Research UK in a professional negligence claim against the administrators of an estate.
- Advising a provider of environmental and data planning services on an ongoing basis in relation to claims over reports in respect of planning permissions.
Osborne Clarke LLP has an exceptional presence representing accountancy and financial services firms in professional negligence litigation. It also has significant experience defending pensions professionals, as well as clients in construction and property-related claims. The 'expert' Tom Ellis leads the group and has expertise in representing accountants, as well as a niche in the arts sector, assisting with claims relating to negligent authentication of art. Clare Robinson is a seasoned litigator often acting for claimants against solicitors, accountants and surveyors. Charles Crowne is an experienced pensions litigator focusing on claims against scheme advisers. Promoted to associate director in 2020, 'excellent litigator' Katherine King also handles pensions work.
Other key lawyers:
Clare Robinson; Charles Crowne; Katherine King
‘Tom Ellis is an expert in the field with a huge amount of experience. Katherine King is an excellent litigator – she is on top of the detail and cuts through issues.’
‘Clare Robinson and her very personable team combine first-rate technical skills with a keen focus on the practical and commercial, making them a pleasure to deal with. ’
‘Knowing that Clare Robinson is not on the other side is what allows me to sleep at night.’
- Representing PwC in a complex derivative claim brought by the beneficiaries of an investment trust.
- Advising PwC in respect of a claim brought by the settlor of a remuneration planning arrangement.
- Representing Sotheby’s in a long-running and complex professional negligence dispute concerning the standard of care owed to buyers at auctions when assessing the authenticity of items for sale.
The 'highly experienced' professional negligence practice at TLT has a particularly strong offering for financial services clients, which it defends in a range of negligence cases. The group works closely with the firm's banking litigation practice, enabling it to handle matters involving fraud, title rectification and banking recovery claims. Regulatory work is another area of expertise augmenting the core practice. The 'insightful' Neil Franklin heads the group, which includes litigator Victoria Mabbett, who is regularly instructed by pensions professionals. Legal director Sam McCollum has experience in disputes involving valuers, solicitors and project monitors.
Other key lawyers:
Victoria Mabbett; Sam McCollum; Katie Hill
‘Client care and advice is really considered and at an excellent level. They are always thinking commercially.’
‘Neil Franklin is very experienced at dealing with lender claims by banks, having previously acted for defendant professionals and now for claimants. He therefore has good knowledge of both sides of the fence, is astute, and has good tactical instincts.’
‘A highly experienced team dealing with lender claims and other finance-related professional negligence, with very good industry contacts on the claimant side.’
‘Neil Franklin is insightful and has excellent judgement.’
National Westminster Bank plc
Fitness First Ltd
Avon Rubber plc
Ashfords LLP defends claims against financial services, construction and legal professionals, but it stands out for its specialism in bloodstock, with a strong veterinary clientele. The team is led by commercial litigator and veterinary sector specialist Rory Mac Neice. Stephen Homer takes the lead on construction-related negligence claims. Senior associate Chris Freeman, who splits his time between London and Bristol, focuses on claims involving solicitors, valuers and project monitors.
Rory Mac Neice
Other key lawyers:
Stephen Homer; Chris Freeman
‘A very good professional negligence outfit in the South West with a wealth of talent.’
Lloyds Bank plc
Exeter City Council
- Advising the owner of household-name manufacturing site in respect of a multimillion-pound claim against its former solicitors in relation to security granted by the claimant for the liabilities of a related trading company.
- Advising the owner of a valuable racehorse in respect of a claim against a veterinary hospital in connection with the death of the horse, whilst under the care of the vets.
- Acting for Cricket St Thomas Golf Club Limited at trial in respect of its professional negligence claim against its accountants for failing to submit an opt to tax on its behalf arising out of the purchase of a golf club in 2014.
At Kennedys, the team assists insurance and direct clients with defending claims brought against professional services providers. 'Diligent, hardworking and constantly capable of excellence', the group is led by Helen Ager in Taunton and works alongside Vittorio Cinque's claim-handling team. Senior associate Michelle Johnston has a strong track record of defending legal and financial services professionals. Senior associate Michael Smale focuses on representing construction industry clients.
Other key lawyers:
Vittorio Cinque; Michelle Johnston; Michael Smale; Danielle De Val
‘There is a wealth of experience in the team, with many having worked in various offices/locations previously. I also like that secondments are encouraged so there is a further insight into what insurers need to know, which helps reports be refined.’
‘Their reputation precedes them. I have worked with them over the last 30 years and have always found them diligent, hardworking and constantly capable of excellence. I have never seen them knowingly take a bad point. In acting for defendants, they are assiduous and determined, but with a keen commercial mind. Overall, they are consistently rewarding to work with, and I value my link to them very highly.’
‘Kennedys has its reputation – that reputation is based on its people, and I am constantly encouraged by meeting over the years with more and more new lawyers recruited to the firm who go on to be become excellent lawyers within the overall ethos of the firm. You know absolutely what you are going to get when you deal with Kennedys – they are formidably good at what they do. That they manage to deliver those standards consistently, and maintain an overall attitude of civility and dignity in their relationships with those they are working with, is very much to their credit. They are always challenging (in a good way) and great fun to work with. The overall quality and consistency all the way through the ranks is what marks this firm out.’
Dual Corporate Risks
- Advising on a significant volume of claims against solicitors exceeding £20m and arising from alleged failed collective investment schemes.
- Advising insurers on policy coverage in relation to claims against accountants (in the region of £19m) and arising from deficits of credit union accounts.
- Instructed to act in the defence of claims (exceeding £7m) against a developer and in respect of design and construction issues relating to a development of luxury apartments.
Lester Aldridge LLP's professional negligence team predominantly represents claimants in cases against solicitors, accountants, independent financial advisers and property surveyors. The group has particular expertise in relation to tax schemes. The group is led by 'experienced' disputes lawyer Chris Evans and includes the 'bright and very pragmatic' Michael Veal and property sector-focused Kate Stewart.
Other key lawyers:
Michael Veal; Kate Stewart; Rachel Gimson; Benjamin Kerley
‘Michael Veal is very bright, very pragmatic, and a delight to deal with.’
‘Good attention to detail, realistic approach, good commercial sense.’
‘Chris Evans is an experienced professional negligence lawyer who is really good with, and trusted by, clients.’
Stephens Scown LLP
The team at Stephens Scown LLP focuses on representing claimants, combining litigation experience with expertise in areas including real estate, wills, estate planning and family law. The group has also developed a niche in cases involving cyber fraud, an area that has been particularly active during the pandemic. Providing additional support to the group is debt recovery lawyer Toby Claridge. The department is led by the ‘excellent‘ Catherine Mathews, whose practice involves claims against former legal and financial advisers. The ‘outstanding‘ Richard Slater is an expert in claims against solicitors and barristers.
Other key lawyers:
Toby Claridge; Richard Slater; Laura Britton
‘ Stephens Scown has clearly exceeded our expectations. It has been exemplary in its verbal and written advice. Both Richard Slater and Laura Britton have been prompt in answering queries. We are impressed with the care and professionalism of their conduct. Billing has been regular, fair and very simple to understand.’
‘Richard Slater and Laura Britton have been head and shoulders above the previous firm we used, quite simply by being honest and not giving the paying clients false hopes or promises as to the outcome of our litigation. The case was won by their collation of the evidence and presentation of the facts.’
‘We have found Richard Slater and Laura Britton to be outstanding solicitors with in-depth knowledge of how to approach difficult cases.’
‘Richard Slater and Laura Britton are totally dedicated to their chosen line of litigation.’
‘Particular mention must be made of Catherine Mathews, who at all times has given us very wise advice. We were particularly impressed with her ability to assimilate, at such short notice, a huge amount of background information concerning our case. She has guided us very wisely to the best possible outcome that we could have expected, under difficult circumstances. We would not hesitate to recommend her as an excellent solicitor who is very good at her job.’
Other key lawyers:
Ben Holt; Nick Martindale
Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's 'vastly experienced' professional risks group is instructed by insurers on behalf of their policyholders, with a particular focus on legal professionals. Associate Susan Periselneris is a name to note for defending professional liability claims.
Other key lawyers:
Zoe Lettieri; Susan Periselneris
‘A vastly experienced professional liability practice, focusing on defence work.’
‘WBD are a class act. Strength in depth and buckets of experience defending professionals and advising insurers.’
‘Susan Periselneris is a force of nature at associate level. Incredibly hardworking and conscientious.’
‘A good small firm in a large market.’