Public sector in Wales

Blake Morgan LLP

Headed by Eve PiffarettiBlake Morgan LLP's multi-disciplinary team provides an 'incredibly knowledgeable' service to public sector entities spread across local/central government, health, social housing and education. Piffaretti is one of numerous lawyers at the firm who is steeped in pure public law knowledge, in her case, particularly as it relates to the health and social care sectors. It is this overarching understanding of the political and administrative environment within which public bodies in Wales work, as well as a specific grasp of Welsh devolved powers (both in terms of advice to Welsh bodies but also helping English entities navigate the complexities of interaction with the all-pervasive public sector in Wales) that truly distinguishes the firm in the area. Public procurement-related advice is also a major strength and the 'knowledgeable and approachableSimon McCann and Penri Desscan regularly help guide public sector clients through the process of tendering for services. Praised for his 'willingness to take time to understand the issue from every perspective', Graham Miles is a cornerstone of the team by dint of his regulatory and public law-related advice within the healthcare/medical sector, in particular. Miles continues to advise the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority across a range of matters, including judicial review litigation and in the context of guidance to licensed clinics relating to the cessation of fertility treatment at the height of the pandemic in order to prevent transmission of the virus. Joanne Thompson 'has very sound commercial and legal judgement', which she imparts on behalf of private sector entities bringing claims, as well as public sector clients defending procurement processes. At an associate level, Sarah Whittle  is developing an excellent reputation defending public bodies (particularly within the healthcare sector) against judicial review challenges.

Practice head(s):

Eve Piffaretti

Other key lawyers:

Simon McCann; Penri Desscan; Graham Miles; Claire Rawle; Joanne Thompson; Siân Jones; Sarah Whittle; Joanna Corbett-Simmons; Tomos Lewis

Testimonials

‘The practice is an exemplar of professionalism.’

The team is incredibly knowledgeable about our sector and is particularly sensitive at handling difficult, contentious issues that the client is having difficulty dealing with.’

‘Simon McCann is knowledgeable and approachable.’

‘Graham Miles is a cornerstone of the team and brings his vast knowledge and experience to bear. Graham is one of those lawyers who takes time to understand the issue from every perspective, including the human angle, so that he can tailor his advice and deliver it sensitively and with consideration.’

Joanne Thompson has very sound commercial and legal judgement.’

Key clients

Welsh Government & The Welsh Ministers

NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (all seven Local Health Boards and all three NHS Trusts in Wales, including the Welsh Blood Service and the NHS Wales Informatics Service

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

NHS England & Improvement

Natural Resources Wales

Transport for Wales

Welsh Language Commissioner

Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament

Children’s Commissioner for Wales

Equality and Human Rights Commission (in Wales)

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales

Social Care Wales

Education Workforce Council

Development Bank for Wales

Human Tissue Authority

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Work highlights

  • Provided the Welsh Government with a broad range of legal support across a variety of legal specialisms including advice on IT infrastructure and Welsh Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Provided legal support to NHS England and Improvement throughout the pandemic.
  • Advising a range of public sector clients including regulators such as Social Care Wales, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority. The firm has provided expert and critical advice to these organisations in response to the pandemic and in readiness for Brexit.

Geldards LLP

Benefiting from longstanding and well-established ties with Wales-based local and central government entities, Geldards LLP 'understands the difference between acting for the public and the private sector and how that may affect factors to be considered and decisions to be made'. Praised for her 'excellent client care', Bethan Lloyd heads up the multi-disciplinary team and benefits from 'excellent legal knowledge', particularly as it pertains to state aid/subsidies matters. In that context, Lloyd recently provided the necessary guidance to Development Bank of Wales in relation to its launch of a £100m fund to support businesses in Wales affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Experienced litigator Jonathan Griffiths has a core public law focus to his practice, and is particularly adept at representing both claimants and defendants in judicial review proceedings, as well as in procurement disputes. Other key members of the team include construction lawyer Tony Norris, who has significant public sector-side experience advising on major Welsh infrastructure projects, and 'strategic thinkerCharles Felgate, who regularly provides contentious and non-contentious planning expertise to both the central Welsh government, as well as local authorities.

Practice head(s):

Bethan Lloyd

Other key lawyers:

Charles Felgate; Tony Norris; Jonathan Griffiths; Kim Howell

Testimonials

‘Geldards go the extra mile to ensure that they understand what we need and deliver it to a very high standard.’

‘Geldards cares about and values public sector work. Individuals are responsive, always meets deadlines and never has to be chased for advice.’

‘This practice is large enough to provide expert help as required, but you still receive a good service. There is a consistency of personnel dealing with your case and you do feel that your matter is important to the firm.’

The team is accessible, knowledgeable, commercially astute and flexible. They understand the difference between acting for the public and the private sector and how that may affect factors to be considered and decisions to be made.

‘Bethan Lloyd has excellent legal knowledge and provides comprehensive and practical advice. She has excellent client care and has provided advice at very short notice, and has been gracious in doing so.’

‘Bethan Lloyd and Chris Williams deserve particular mention for their flexibility and speed of service.’

Charles Felgate is a strategic thinker.’

Key clients

South Ribble District Council

National Assembly for Wales Commission (now the Senedd Commission)

Snowdonia National Park Authority

South Derbyshire District Council

The Welsh Ministers

Swansea City and County Council

Development Bank of Wales

The Natural Resources Body for Wales (Natural Resources Wales)

The Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Estyn (the education and training inspectorate for Wales)

Torfaen County Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Supported the Development Bank of Wales with a range of State aid advice in relation to the launch of a £100m fund to support businesses in Wales affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • Assisted Torfaen County Borough in relation to an ambitious longstanding project to create a post 16 learning centre in Cwmbran.
  • Assisted Snowdonia National Park Authority in defending an application by a developer for a declaration that a planning permission from 1967 remains capable of further implementation.

Capital Law Limited

Under the guidance of the 'energetic, productive and solutions-focusedNicola Mead-BattenCapital Law Limited is 'building a very good team of public and regulatory lawyers', which consistently picks up high quality work for central/local government entities, as well as those in heavily regulated sectors, including healthcare. Indeed, it is Mead-Batten's continued public law-related work for the BMA (including a recent high-profile challenge by the medical trade union relating to the government's controversial proposed Exit Payment Regulations) which has really raised the profile of the firm's offering in the space, prompting one market commentator to refer to her as 'one of the strongest practitioners outside of the established London teams'. Herself benefiting from invaluable in-house experience garnered during an 18-month secondment as specialist legal adviser to the Counsel General and Brexit Minister of the Welsh Government, senior associate Rhiannon Holtham has an excellent perspective of public sector-related work and continues to drive the firm's public procurement and state aid-related offering. Senior associate Trish D’Souza is also a key member of the team and has niche expertise in the education sector, including on behalf of both Wales and England-based higher education institutes. The arrival in March 2021 of senior associate Simon Ramsden from the Pensions Regulator also strengthens the team.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Mead-Batten

Other key lawyers:

Rhiannon Holtham; Trish D’Souza; Simon Ramsden

Testimonials

‘The team is dynamic, client-focused and efficient.’

‘The team is very customer-focused and friendly. Very approachable and supportive.’

‘Nicola Mead-Batten is building a very good team of public and regulatory lawyers. Nicola is instrumental to the success of the department and sets the tone for the firms’ enthusiasm for our work and an absolutely anything can do attitude – both of which result in unfailingly excellent customer service at a great price ’

‘Nicola Mead-Batten is energetic, productive and solution-focused.’

‘Nicola Mead-Batten has a great understanding of the regulated professions.’

‘Nicola Mead-Batten is sensible and talented and one of the strongest practitioners outside of the established London teams.’

Key clients

Welsh Government

Gambling Commission

UK Anti-Doping

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council

Development Bank of Wales

Bridgend College

Future Generations Commissioner

Welsh Language Commissioner

University of South Wales

Bridgend County Borough Council

Caerphilly County Borough Council

Solicitors Regulation Authority

British Medical Association

Natural Resources Wales

Work highlights

  • Representing the BMA in a challenge brought against the Chancellor in connection with his bringing into force the Restriction of Public Sector Exit Payment Regulations 2020.
  • Sole legal adviser to a pan-Wales innovative project led by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council in collaboration with the Welsh Government and at least 17 Welsh local authorities, to deliver a long-term treatment/recycling solution for absorbent hygiene product waste across Wales.
  • Supported the Welsh Government to deliver its Apprenticeship and Youth Employability Programmes providing expert procurement and public law advice on the proposals for implementing the two programmes.

Hugh James

Public sector-related work has been central to Hugh James' strategy since the firm formed over 25 years ago and it has consequently gained an excellent insight into the requirements of a myriad central/local authorities, as well as third sector entities. The team, which is overseen by Ioan Prydderch and Martin Jones, deploys a multi-disciplinary approach to work in the space and effectively leverages the expertise of lawyers from across the firm's full service capabilities. In addition, the firm has a deep understanding of the increasing divergence in policy and legislation in the myriad devolved areas where Welsh government, and not Westminster, has legislative competence. Senior associate Justin Davies forms a key part of the firm's regulatory offering and has attained a market leading reputation for fire safety work as a result of his representation of South Wales Fire & Rescue Service on enforcement matters.

Practice head(s):

Ioan Prydderch; Martin Jones

Other key lawyers:

Caroline O’Flaherty; Emily Powell; Justin Davies

Testimonials

‘The firm has very extensive knowledge of procedure and practice.’

‘Hugh James is recognised in Wales for its prosecution practice. It is well-known nationally for the enforcement work it carries out for Central and Local Governments, and for the wider public sector.’

‘Justin Davies has an enviable track record in fire safety cases. He has a detailed knowledge of fire safety law and enforcement, is calm under pressure, and provides timely and pragmatic advice.’

Key clients

Social Care Wales

Welsh Government

Natural Resources Wales

Denbighshire County Council

Cardiff Council

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Torfaen County Borough Council

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)

Coleg Gwent

Cardiff University

Swansea Council

Gwynedd Council

Flintshire Council

Work highlights

  • Sole providers of advisory, enforcement and prosecution services to South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, under a five-year appointment.
  • Sole providers of legal advisors to Social Care Wales’s Regulatory Committees.
  • Represented the DVSA (and its predecessor organisations) for over 20 years, and are instructed in a range of matters.

Harding Evans LLP

Benefiting from a 'wide range of experience in actions against public bodies', Newport-based firm Harding Evans LLP has a 'very impressive' reputation representing claimants, including those lacking the necessary financial means (through Legal Aid funding), in civil liberties/human rights-related public law actions. 'Outstanding' senior associate Craig Court is 'committed to getting results' and excels at representing vulnerable clients in judicial review challenges, including in matters that have been devolved to Wales.

Practice head(s):

Craig Court

Other key lawyers:

Siobhan Downes

Testimonials

‘What makes them unique in my opinion is their open-mindedness. The fact that they take the time to truly understand the situation and to find the best way to support you.’

‘They are very knowledgeable and experienced in the area of law.’

‘A very impressive team of young people who, despite their youth, have impressive experience.  Probably the leading firm for claimant public-sector work in Wales – certainly the most imaginative.’

‘Craig Court has vast experience and this gave me great confidence in his services; he has exceeded my expectations.’

‘Craig Court leads the team, and is outstanding. Very knowledgeable, very committed to getting results for his client, has a healthy determination to win but remains realistic. Good to work with, as are the whole team.’

Work highlights

  • Representing three claimants in a challenge to the UK Government’s introduction of the Loans for Mortgage Interest Regulations 2017 which changed the previous Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme into a repayable loan secured by way of a charge on the property.
  • Representing the claimant in a challenge against a local police force’s decision to unlawfully issue a caution to the claimant and their subsequent decision not to remove the caution from his record.
  • Representing the claimant in a challenge to a Welsh police force’s decision not to prosecute her former partner, following her reporting that she had been coercively controlled and raped and their subsequent decision to dismiss the claimant’s request under the Victim’s Right to Review on the basis that the evidential test had not been met.

Watkins & Gunn Limited

Led by 'strategic thinkerMichael Imperato, the 'excellent, courteous and efficient' public law team at Watkins & Gunn Limited has established a market-leading claimant-side practice, which 'not only looks to serve their clients individually but also how to support organisations in making change happen'. Imperato is 'very knowledgeable about judicial review', and alongside associate Lucy O’Brien has 'a wealth of knowledge of Welsh public law in relation to challenges to the decisions of public authorities in Wales'.

Practice head(s):

 Michael Imperato  

Other key lawyers:

Lucy O’Brien

Testimonials

‘Watkins & Gunn has a highly motivated team of dedicated staff offering a first-class service.’

‘The firm not only looks to serve their clients individually but also how to support organisations in making change happen.’

‘Michael Imperato stands out as a public law solicitor in Wales and is a strategic thinker.’

‘Michael Imperato is very knowledgeable about judicial review, and was able to quickly identify the arguments which were relevant in law to achieve success.’

‘Michael Imperato and Lucy O’Brien have a wealth of knowledge of Welsh public law in relation to challenges to the decisions of public authorities in Wales.’

Key clients

Haemophilia Wales

Haemophilia Northern Ireland

Coleg Elidyr

Travelling Ahead – Gypsy Roma & Traveller Advice & Advocacy Service

Work highlights

  • Acting for campaigners aiming to save five libraries in Croydon from closure.
  • Acting for campaigners in a judicial review action to attempt to save several secondary schools, Welsh speaking primary schools and 6th forms in the Rhondda Cynon Taff  area. This case raised issues about the Welsh language and statutory interpretation; it has been called the most important legal challenge post devolution.
  • Acting in several Welsh traveller cases involving planning and Human Rights.