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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 > West Midlands > Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Birmingham > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Commercial litigation: Birmingham
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial litigation: Birmingham clients in West Midlands using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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DLA Piper UK LLP is ‘an excellent firm that provides a first-rate service' and which is 'very good at managing expectations’. The practice ‘has a reach far beyond Birmingham itself’, handling a number of cases with international element. Neil Bowker, who heads the firm’s national litigation and regulatory practice, is ‘a dynamic litigator who always goes the extra mile for clients’. He continues to represent Accident Exchange in a long-running multi-faceted case against expert witness company Autofocus, which allegedly ran a campaign of perjury concerning the cost of providing courtesy cars for car accident claimants; part of this included successful contempt proceedings brought by Accident Exchange against several former Autofocus employees. Nick Bamford (‘an astute litigator and excellent reader of legal runes’) heads the Birmingham team - he and senior associate Amanda Rowley represented Ngali Holdings, a Rwandan publicly-owned company, in defending several claims brought by a financial adviser concerning fees regarding advice on funding of hydroelectric projects. New partner and ‘intellectual powerhouse’ Philip Kelly is also working with the firm’s Edinburgh office as external advisers to the Magnox inquiry, which concerns a bungled procurement exercise by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority concerning the clean-up of several nuclear power stations including Wylfa in Angelsey and Sizewell A. In addition, he and Bowker successfully defended David Wilson Homes from a claim brought by another property developer. Senior associate Adam Johnson ‘is a superb associate who manages his clients very well’.

Fieldfisher LLP's ‘advice is spot on and the partners are razor-sharp’. The practice handles a range of work, with international commercial arbitrations concerning established markets a particular strength. Jonathan Hofstetter is ‘a straight talker, and unlike many in the profession, really understands litigation funding – he also has a good sense of humour and is good to work with’. He represented Swedish Match in a Judicial Review case. Director Stephen May ‘has a great relationship with his clients and is a trusted adviser to them’. Ann Benzimra, whose work includes IT-related disputes, is ‘very experienced in commercial litigation – she can quickly grasp what is required’. Larry Coltman handles commercial agency work, while Jim Sharkey’s workload includes disputes concerning directors’ duties. Freezing injunctions are another area of expertise.

Gowling WLG is highly active in cases involving heavyweight allegations of fraud. ‘Brilliant all-round litigator’ Andrew Smith and Samantha Holland successfully defended CPC Group, a company connected to the Candy brothers, in a high-profile case brought by a real estate investor and his investment vehicle Hotblack, which alleged a conspiracy to take control of a property development company via, inter alia, fraud, blackmail and duress; the claimant was found have lied to the court. Clark Sargent and director Emma Carr acted for the London Legacy Development Corporation in a dispute with West Ham United concerning, among other issues, the number of seats it is permitted to use in the London Stadium. Andrew Nugent Smith and senior associate Sean Adams represented a high-net-worth individual in defending proceedings concerning the ownership of a Ferrari 250 GTO and a McLaren F1, in which the claimants alleged that the cars worth were purchased using proceeds of fraud; he also defended JD Classics and the company’s founder against claims of fraud and mis-selling of classic cars. Andrew Manning-Cox, who handles partnership disputes, and senior associate Elsie Blackshaw represented Amec Foster Wheeler in litigation brought by various construction workers included in The Consulting Association’s blacklist. Tom Price, who heads the firm’s CEE and CIS desk, handles joint venture disputes subject to arbitration, while Patrick Arben  also handles data risk matters.

DWF’s litigation team in Birmingham is comprised of ‘very professional, top-notch lawyers’. Andrew Leach, who has a track record of CIS-related litigation, is ‘an exceptional lawyer who handles complex heavyweight commercial litigation with relative ease – he ensures all his clients’ needs are met while striving for the best result for them inside or outside the courtroom’. Darren Kenny is ‘driven and client-focused, taking an inventive and proactive approach to litigation to try to and get the best outcomes’. Senior associate Ben Griffin is noted for his expertise in commercial agency disputes, and he has ‘a deep knowledge and understanding of the case law in this field’.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is ‘excellent in commercial litigation’. Adam Fisher is ‘particularly impressive – he is smart, full of sense and particularly good at boiling down complex legal points into a language lay clients understand, helping them understand their options accurately and simply’ – he represented 18 Week Support in various breach of confidence claims against a competitor seeking to enter the NHS insourcing market. Rich Lloyd is ‘particularly good – he is very strong on law, and excellent on the detail while retaining a really good macro view of the matter being litigated’. He acted alongside senior associate Victoria Callicott for Sims Group in the defense of a £5m claim brought by one of its suppliers. Principal associate Ridah Iqbal is also a name of note, as is senior associate Helen Amison. In an illustration of its ‘excellence in the public sector arena’, Sarah Jones and principal associate Isabelle Mitchell, working alongside the firm’s office in Cardiff, acted for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office and the Independent Schools Inspectorate as core participants in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which follows on from the team’s involvement as solicitors to the Independent Jersey Care inquiry.

Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘a match for any other regional firm – the team has a good level of business knowledge and provides very balanced and practical advice that allows clients’ to brief stakeholders and make an informed decision’. Steve Allen represented ALFA Bank in securing a default judgment against a Russian loan guarantor who did not respond to the claim. Allen acted alongside principal associate Clare O’Brien for Jaguar Land Rover in an intellectual property dispute with Bombardier, which sold an off-road vehicle named the “Defender”. Principal associate Anthony Minnis acted for NHS South Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group in a dispute with its trust provider, which was resolved by an expert determination. Sport is another sector focus: associate Phil Hutchinson (‘who is emerging as a confident and capable litigator’) represented football agent Fernando Felicevic, who represents several footballers from Latin America, in bringing a counterclaim for unpaid commission in a case brought by Cardiff City Football Club regarding alleged fraud and conspiracy. The firm also handles outsourcing, major IT disputes and manufacturing-related matters.

Pinsent Masons LLP provides ‘pragmatic, timely advice’ on a range of cases, many of which involve public law or civil fraud elements. Practice head Jim Richards and senior associate Andrew Herring advised MLS (Overseas) in a successful procurement challenge against the Ministry of Defence concerning a £390m port agency services dispute; the client had the highest-scoring bid and the lowest price, but was bypassed in favour of the second-highest scorer due to a binary pass-or-fail question. Herring is ‘very responsive and quick to grasp the pertinent issues’ – he worked with the firm’s employment team for IMS World Publications and its parent company in litigation against former employees. Jonathan Fortnam and senior associate Faye Moore represented ISS UK in litigation arising from its purchase of GSH Group; her other cases include professional negligence actions against solicitors. Legal director Jason Kirwin represented E.ON in defending a claim linked to a bankruptcy in Louisiana with numerous disclosure issues and allegations of fraud; the claim settled at the door of the court.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP's ‘excellent' team is praised for its 'tough approach to litigation’. Mark Beesley (‘always at the top of his game’) and recently promoted partner James Woolstenhulme (‘very good and experienced’) acted for Alliance Surgical in a dispute with Pancentric concerning allegedly incorrect projected figures for leads and sales concerning a contract for digital marketing services; the matter involved complex issues concerning metadata of documents already disclosed. Beesley and Woolstenhulme are also defending Personal Touch Financial Services against claims from Simplysure, which alleged a breach of an appointed representative agreement – the matter involved  questions over what constitutes a “regulated activity” in the financial services context. Beesley also handles arbitration work. Barry Jervis acted for Henkel in a dispute against one of its suppliers, which allegedly provided defective equipment triggering a product recall and subsequent shortages. He also represented Birmingham City Council in High Court litigation concerning the months-long strike by refuse collectors during the summer of 2017. Other clients include Intercity Technology, for which Beesley secured a short-notice injunction regarding a copy of a customer database taken by a departing employee.

Squire Patton Boggs fields a ‘capable team that always resolves disputes to clients’ satisfaction’. Key figures include Simon Garbett, who handles shareholder disputes, M&A-related litigation, cross-border contractual disputes and disputes involving the Hague Convention; and the ‘very pragmatic and clear-thinking’ Garon Anthony, who also leads heavyweight disputes work, is ‘very supportive of clients’ businesses and understands the complexities of their companies – he is very capable and quick to respond’. Senior associate Ian Skinner, who joined from Dentons in Milton Keynes, is another key contact. Clients include GSH Group and Dalata Hotel Group. Associate Ben Tompkins is now at Higgs & Sons.

Bell Lax Limited is a ‘strong boutique litigation firm’ that provides ‘a very good level of service and provides very honest advice that takes into consideration clients’ objectives, putting clients’ interest above its own’. Associate director Liam Owen and associate Natalie Bradshaw  acted for RGB Group in a number of cases, including one regarding an alleged failure to pay for construction works done to a hotel in Leicester Square, and another case concerning its purchase of defective lifts. Owen also deals with reputation management matters; he advised a victim of the contaminated blood factor products scandal concerning a statement in Ken Clarke QC MP’s autobiography concerning the ex gratia payments to victims, which were initially inaccurately described as compensation. Consultant Peter Lax (‘very good with complex matters’) handles a variety of insolvency disputes and shareholder litigation. Solicitor-advocate Qarrar Somji is ‘an impressive and industrious litigator’. Director Richard Kerry , whose work includes shareholder disputes 'is very agreeable and doesn’t get ruffled; he looks after his clients’.

Gateley Plc is ‘an outstanding commercial litigation firm that combines sound legal advice with tactical astuteness and an understanding of commercial sensitivities’. The ‘extremely switched-on and responsive’ team handles a range of work, from shareholder disputes through to contractual matters and civil fraud cases. Partner Stephen Goodrham is ‘an inspirational leader who has developed the team into a real powerhouse’. ‘Master tactician’ legal director Neil Warner is ‘an excellent lawyer who approaches matters from a commercial point of view – he has the ability to get to the root of a problem quickly'. He is active in a number of high-profile disputes, with an emphasis on football and public procurement matters. Senior associate Karen Levesley ‘has meticulous knowledge of her cases, keeping clients ahead of the curve’. Associate Rebecca Thomas (‘sensible but steely’) has a wide-ranging caseload, including civil fraud cases, while associate Kate Canning (‘absolutely committed to her cases and always willing to go the extra mile for clients’) is active in contentious insolvency matters, recently acting for Smile Stylist in a winding-up petition against a company which was contracted to provide service, but deposited the cash into the directors’ bank account. Associate Safeea Shafiq handles manufacturing-related disputes.

Shoosmiths LLP provides ‘an excellent level of service – the firm has very good response times and business acumen, providing well-rounded advice that communicates all the options available to clients through a narrative of the risks associated with each option’. The firm handles a diverse range of cases, from civil fraud and regulatory matters through to more esoteric litigation. Mark Elder and associate Rebekah Finch represented former Manchester United midfielder Lee Sharpe in a phone hacking claim brought against Mirror Group Newspapers, securing a settlement including an undertaking not to hack Sharpe’s phone in future. Elder also acts for Allpay in a judicial review of HMRC concerning the VAT rating of payment services. Alex Bishop  is ‘fantastic – she puts clients at ease in stressful situations, and brings a commercial and pragmatic approach that ensures clients are always fully advised and supported’. She represented a defendant to a multi-party Commercial Court case involving allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation concerning the extension of the repayment date of loan notes, as well as an indemnity regarding losses made by a company which is subject to a Serious Fraud Office investigation. She also represented a recruitment company in a dispute with a former director who left the company but commenced to contact clients of his old employer. Other disputes concern customs, IT services procurement, manufacturing disputes and unpaid invoice matters. The firm also acts for Accident Exchange on matters unrelated to the Autofocus case, and The White Company.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP is ‘very focused and commercial in its approach’; ‘it has an outstanding level of knowledge and it provides valuable advice’. The team’s practice has a strong leaning towards civil fraud cases, but handles more broader-based disputes as well. Helen Briant and consultant Keith Mills (who has ‘excellent strategic judgement and commercial sense’) represented Rotam Agrochemical Company in bringing a claim against another agrochemical company concerning an alleged breach of a distribution agreement, which had complex issues of choice of law, with the defendant company claiming that Austrian law applied to some but not all elements of the contract. Mark Kenkre represented the Swimming Teachers’ Association in a dispute with its former CEO, who allegedly defrauded the charity of £3.6m over twenty years. Kenkre is also acting for a private individual in a £10m professional negligence claim, connected to the RBS Global Restructuring Group scandal, against a firm of surveyors. Other clients include Bank Sohar, which Kenkre represented in civil fraud matters, and Archus, a start-up created by several Capita alumni, which Kenkre successfully defended in an action brought by Capita against the company and several of its employees seeking access to emails sent in the directors’ personal email accounts.

Bevan Brittan LLP’s dispute work includes a range of matters for the firm’s traditional public sector clientele. Adam Kendall’s practice includes various public procurement disputes, many of which concerning IT. Separately, he represents Flintshire County Council in an indemnity claim brought by solicitors who acted for a councillor who was suspended after bullying a civil servant. Private sector work includes various contractual disputes, some of which with intellectual property elements. Clients include a range of local authorities, NHS bodies and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

BLM ‘works hard to grasp the complexities of the situation in each individual matter’. Julian Smart, who ‘works tirelessly on clients’ cases from the beginning, staying on top of things’, continues to act for Towergate Financial in a piece of M&A litigation. Other work includes cartel follow-on damages claims and heavyweight civil fraud matters, often concerning insurance – Caroline Kane is a significant contact for this; she ‘has brilliant knowledge of ever case: she is like a walking dictionary and gets to the core points in ways she makes everyone understand’. Jagdeep Hayre handles a variety of cases for Birmingham City Council. The firm also acts for Fujitsu and European Risk Insurance Company.

Emms Gilmore Liberson ‘definitely punches above its weight’ –  ‘it is making significant inroads in to business to business disputes in the region using its flexibility to real advantage in how it meets client needs’. Director Richard Cooper is ‘brilliant – he is there when clients need him, and the way he manages cases in court is both professional and extremely clever; his attention to detail and client care are both first-class’ has a practice which includes such varied matters as shareholder disputes, restrictive covenant litigation and unjust enrichment claims. Peter Adkins, another director, has aviation expertise. Director Gurmeet Jakhu joined on January 2018 from Knights Professional Services Limited, while associate director Fabienne McAllister joined from Lanyon Bowdler.

Freeths LLP represents a mixture of individuals, SMEs and better-known corporate in a range of litigation. Richard Coates has a diverse practice, including warranties disputes, civil fraud cases involving company leadership. Louse Wilson is another partner of note – her work also includes cases with corporate governance challenges, and disputes concerning supply of goods. Associate James Modley  joined from Shoosmiths LLP.

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘very strong’, and for some ‘probably the best in central Birmingham outside the large national and international firms’. The practice handles a range of matters, many of which with fraud elements, with clients ranging from international businesses, trade bodies, regional businesses and individual executives. Dean Parnell, whose expertise includes acting as a supervising solicitor for court-ordered searches, on top of being ‘very experienced and sensible: he is calm and reassuring, firm but not aggressive, and a tactically astute negotiator who secures good deals for his clients’, is ‘particularly strong on shareholder disputes and claims relating to directors’ – he represented a foreign company on recovery of losses from director-level frauds. Kamal Majevadia acted for an engineering company concerning unpaid invoices for engine components – he also handles cases concerning alleged fraud.

Weightmans LLP’s Mark Surguy handles work such as civil fraud and bribery cases, directors’ duties matters, contractual disputes and various other civil litigation, many of which with cross-border elements. Some other cases include advising businesses and public sector organisations on harassment injunctions.

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