Active across a wide range of criminal cases, although perhaps best-known out of its Cardiff office for its ‘exceptional knowledge of and experience in fraud and regulatory law’, Blackfords LLP is a market leading criminal defence outfit in Wales and also regularly forms a key part of cross-office offering in cases throughout the UK. Team head Philip Williams has ‘exceptional tactical nous‘, which he brings to private prosecutions, as well as in cases brought by prosecuting authorities and is recognised for his aptitude at being able to ‘ruthlessly exploit‘ any weakness in the opponent’s case. Nicola Mitchard provides ‘joined up support to counsel’ and is thereby able to facilitate a fluid and holistic service to defendants in fraud and money laundering offences, among other broader criminal cases.
General crime and fraud in Wales
Other key lawyers:
‘Excellent client service, with dedicated fee earners across a range of specialism within criminal practice. Good use of technology to support clients and counsel. Real strength in depth within regulatory crime.’
‘Exceptional knowledge of and experience in fraud and regulatory law. They really are market leading in this field.’
‘Philip Williams has impeccable strategic judgement.’
‘Philip Williams has exceptional tactical nous; if there’s a weakness in a case against a client Phil will see it and exploit it ruthlessly to his client’s benefit.’
‘Philip Williams is quite simply one of the finest lawyers at the moment in the country in this area of white collar crime and serious crime. His experience in large complicated frauds and Serious crime is unsurpassed. He combines a mental dexterity in the law with an effortless ability to communicate with clients of all backgrounds.’
‘Nicola Mitchard is excellent. Providing joined up support to counsel and to faciliate a truly joined up professional service for clients.’
‘Nicola Mitchard is a perfect fraud defence solicitor, with an exceptionally soothing client manner backed up by an enormous capacity for detail work.’
- Acting for an individual in relation to a major fraud investigation by HMRC concerning a recycling / plant hire business.
- Representing an individual alleged to have been part of an OCG involved in the operation of “drugs lines” in order to supply large quantities of class A and B drugs.
- Acting in various cases involving allegations of sexual offences in care settings.
Bowden Jones Solicitors
The ‘extremely competent and personable‘ team at Bowden Jones Solicitors has wide-ranging experience, which not only encompasses the traditional areas of criminal law (including high-value fraud cases and drug conspiracies) but also more esoteric areas often involving international elements. Indeed, the ‘exceptional‘ Huw Bowden, who leads the team ‘with a combination of expert client care and expert technical advice’, has developed niche expertise representing defendants and witnesses subject to an investigation by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutors’ Office regarding alleged war crimes committed during the Kosovo conflict. Stephen Jones is another key member of the team and as well as having significant experience at handling serious fraud and white collar crimes, is also regarded as a leading lawyer in relation to cyber law. At an associate level, Abhinav Mohindru has expertise at handling fraud cases, as well as regulatory and professional discipline work.
Other key lawyers:
‘Dedicated and knowledgeable team with a can do attitude The utmost respect and honesty is shown in everything they do.’
‘The team has wide-ranging experience which encompasses not only the usual areas of criminal practice but also, e.g., work at international level.’
‘Huw Bowden leads the team with a combination of expert client care and expert technical advice and assistance.’
‘Huw Bowden is both the figurehead and the captain of the ship, taking a hands-on approach to delivering the best outcome for the lay client. Huw is extremely hardworking and talented, demonstrating time and again the ability to explore imaginative solutions for the client, based upon having undertaken the less glamorous groundwork first.’
- Continued involvement in a longstanding investigation into an organised crime gang operating in South Wales. The latest aspect of it concerning a drug conspiracy throughout the UK and into Colombia and Costa Rica.
- Acting for the defendant in a private prosecution regarding Bitcoin frauds allegedly committed by the defendnt against over 30 complainants from various worldwide jurisdictions.
- Continuing to represent various defendants as suspects of war crimes, allegedly committed during the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, in cases heard before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague.
de Maids Solicitors & Advocates
Led by the 'outstanding' Matthew de Maid , de Maids Solicitors & Advocates 'give a Rolls Royce service to clients irrespective of the seriousness of the charge', handling cases ranging from mortgage fraud, drug conspiracies and money laundering through to murder. Able 'to quickly identify and rationalise the issues in a case', De Maid truly leads from the front and is recognised by one barrister as 'the go-to solicitor in South Wales for large-scale conspiracies, frauds and VHCC'. Other recommended practitioners include Stephen Jones, who is noted for his assiduous and meticulous preparation of cases and Sarah De Maid, whose role as prison law head sees her regularly handle complex parole applications and Judicial Review applications. The firm is also very tech savvy and is 'skilled at exploiting innovative technology to achieve success on behalf of the client'.
Other key lawyers:
‘This firm may be small but it is a “Pocket Rocket” of a firm with good, old fashioned values. The client comes first and, to ensure the best possible outcome, trial counsel are properly serviced.’
‘The firm give a Rolls Royce service to clients irrespective of the seriousness of the charge.’
‘The firm is skilled at exploiting innovative technology to achieve success on behalf of the client.’
‘Matthew De Maid is able to quickly identify and rationalise the issues in a case.’
‘Matthew De Maid is the go-to solicitor in South Wales for large-scale conspiracies, frauds and VHCC.’
‘Stephen Jones is dedicated and relentless in his quest to find legal precedents to support his case.’
‘Stephen Jones provides practical, detailed, clear and coherent advice to all clients at all levels of functioning.’
‘Sarah de Maid is especially good with client support and is also an excellent lawyer – she devotes considerable time to her clients and cases and gives very substantial client support.’
M & M Solicitors
M & M Solicitors has a strong reputation both locally and nationally as a result of its aptitude at handling cases of the utmost complexity and seriousness, including high value fraud and financial crime cases, murder, drugs conspiracy and serious sexual offence. Senior partner Nadeem Majid is regularly at the forefront of the most serious cases handled by the firm, including recently representing defendants in a number of complex drugs conspiracy cases, including one ongoing matter which involves significant cross-border dimensions. Majid also excels in handling white collar criminal cases and brings defendants an added dimension by virtue of his previous role as a prosecutor for the Financial Services Authority (now the FCA), ensuring that he has an excellent understanding of the prosecuting mindset. Mike Prosser is also pivotal to the firm’s success on complex and serious matters, particularly as it relates to major fraud cases. Catherine Davey heads up the Magistrates Court department.
Other key lawyers:
- Representing a client charged as part of a large scale conspiracy to import Class “A” Drugs.
- Represented a client charged with conspiracy to supply Class “A” Drugs as a result of the NCA operation Venetica and the Encrochat cases.
- Representing one of the defendants in a multi-handed indictment in which it is alleged that £34m was laundered through a number of money exchange bureaus and the monies sent to Pakistan and Dubai.
One of the leading criminal law practices in North Wales, Wrexham-based firm GHP Legal has extensive experience defending clients across the full spectrum of criminal matters from road traffic offences, white collar crime, fraud, drug offences, assault to more serious crime such as murder and sexual offences. Although it is more than willing to instruct counsel, particularly on the more serious cases, the team's preponderance of lawyers with higher rights of audience enables it to keep costs down and also ensures that it is able to provide a holistic service to clients throughout cases; from the Police Station to Magistrates Court, Crown Court and the Court of Appeal. Stephen Edwards and Euros Jones are two of the most experienced Solicitor advocates within the team and can also represent defendants through the medium of Welsh should the need arise. Emma Simoes heads up the firm's prison law team and receives a regular flow of work from inmates in the nearby HMP Berwyn, including on internal matters and parole reviews.
Emma Simoes; Euros Jones; Stephen Edwards
Other key lawyers:
- Represented a very vulnerable female for offences of arson with intent to endanger life. The client had complex mental health issues and a psychiatrist was instructed to prepare a report.
While it differs from many of the other ranked firms, in that it does not operate a traditional crime/fraud practice, under the umbrella of its regulatory practice, which is led by Martin Jones , Hugh James handles a considerable volume of regulatory and business crime matters, as well as professional regulatory mandates. Although it does handle some defence matters for a number of the firm's larger commercial clients, much of the work is on the prosecution side. In this context, senior associate Justin Davies has a particular specialism in fire safety law and regularly handles the advocacy himself by dint of his higher rights of audience qualifications. Davies has also developed niche expertise in prosecutions brought by the Welsh government relating to breaches of UK, Welsh and European fisheries legislation.
Other key lawyers:
‘They are an exemplar of how to manage a complex and difficult criminal case. The first class level they offer to their clients sets them out from the rest.’
‘Justin Davies has many years of experience in criminal law. This shows. He is an excellent criminal solicitor. He knows his area inside out. He has an excellent manner with clients. He is an astute tactician when it comes to the nuances and complexities of the criminal law. He is also a highly effective higher court advocate.’
Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Mid & West Wales Fire Rescue Service
Independent Office for Police Conduct
- Continuing to handle a considerable amount of work for Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency, including a significant number of fraud cases prosecuted by the Agency, having previously trained its new-entrant Counter-Fraud Investigators.
- Instructed by the Counsel General for Wales (the Welsh Government’s chief legal adviser) to prosecute all cases of alleged breaches of UK, Welsh and European fisheries legislation.
- Continue to represent The South Wales Fire & Rescue Service on all prosecutions brought by it under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, as well as representing it in appeals brought against Enforcement Notice and Prohibition Notices issued by the Service.
Martyn Prowel Solicitors
Led by the 'fastidious and intellectual' Aled Watkins out of Cardiff and also benefiting from offices in Bridgend and Newport, Martyn Prowel Solicitors has 'an unrivalled level of dealing with criminal clients' throughout South Wales. The scope of the work is broad and includes legally aided matters as well as instrutions from public bodies and privately paying individuals. Watkins is one of several lawyers with high rights of audience and is appreciated for his 'masterful eye for detail' and consideration of 'every aspect of a case with forensic precision'. Associate James Harris often works closely with Watkins and 'fights every corner for his clients with an eagle eye for detail'.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team there, from partner to case-workers have an unrivalled level of dealing with criminal clients and well deserve their prestigious reputation.’
‘They all have an intelligent and considered approach to the preparation of their clients’ cases.’
‘Aled Watkins has a statesmanlike presence and an air of calm, considered authority that judges and clients find compelling.’
‘Aled Watkins is a hugely fastidious and intellectual solicitor.’
‘Aled Watkins has a masterful eye for detail and considers every aspect of a case with forensic precision.’
‘James Harris fights every corner for his clients with an eagle eye for detail.’
While it does not handle much in the way of traditional crime matters (apart from a niche offering in financial crime-related private prosecution defence), under the guidance of Andrew Manners, Morgan LaRoche has a market-leading reputation (throughout Wales and England) as a result of its regulatory compliance and enforcement-related defence work for independent early years and adult social care providers. In this regard, Manners also excels in assisting defendants manage any negative press and in terms of overall crisis management.
Gomer Williams & Co
Led by Llanelli-based Laura Sherwood, the ‘exceptionally strong’ team at Gomer Williams & Co has an excellent reputation across South West Wales as a result of its ‘excellent knowledge‘ and ‘very attentive approach‘ on behalf of defendants throughout a broad spectrum of criminal cases, ranging from motoring offences through to those of the utmost severity. Sherwood has ‘an excellent rapport with clients’ with a hands-on approach that regularly see her directly involved for the client at the police station and Magistrates Court. Fluent Welsh speaker Gareth Jones is popular among clients and is one of the first choice solicitor advocates across South Wales for defendants wishing their cases to be conducted in either Welsh or English.
Other key lawyers:
Gareth Jones; Richard Morgan ; Andrew Isaac ; Matthew Ridler
‘They have a good structure so there is always a firm representative on hand to assist. They undertake a very high quality of work.’
‘It is an exceptionally strong team that has excellent knowledge and is very attentive to detail.’
‘Andrew Isaac and Laura Sherwood are seasoned solicitors with their fingers on the pulse.’
‘Laura Sherwood has an excellent rapport with clients putting them at ease and instilling confidence.’
‘Matthew Ridler goes the extra mile for clients.’