Corporate and commercial: Sheffield, South Yorkshire in Yorkshire And The Humber


At CMS, the corporate practice handles multi-billion-pound cross-jurisdictional M&A deals and transactions for PE-backed clients and businesses. Practice head Ben Hendry is singled out by clients for his 'great deal of commercial awareness', and has a number of blue-chip companies as key clients. Gareth Saynor specialises in the full range of private company transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, restructurings and governance issues. The team is able to leverage the firm's Manchester office to provide a Northern offering and has experienced lawyers at the associate level including Nick Hopper and Caroline Walker, who advise on both private equity and venture capital work.

Practice head(s):

Ben Hendry

Other key lawyers:

Nick Hopper; Gareth Saynor; Caroline Walker; Luke Chapman


‘I believe the relationships that the team has with its clients are at a different level to other firms I work with. This closeness and depth of relationship means that they are rarely just brought in at the latter stages to document the M&A deals I work on with them, rather they are there from the outset helping shape and guide transactions.’

‘I have most frequently worked with Ben Hendry (Partner) in the team. I always appreciate his highly driven and pro-active approach to the projects we work on, I have complete confidence when working with Ben that deal timetables will be met. Ben also brings with him a great deal of commercial awareness and without ever overstepping the mark, knowledge and input on a breadth of areas that go well beyond the traditional domain of a lawyer. Ben is also an excellent mentor for his team members, born out by the consistently high quality of work that associates in his team produce.’

‘The team has strength in its breadth and depth of resource. It is able to staff deals with the appropriate level of resource. Team members are responsive and readily available when required. The team has a flexible approach to billing and fee arrangements which is much appreciated. The technical skill is of course a given.’

‘Gareth Saynor and Nick Hopper stand out both in this team, and across the firm as a whole. They each know our business almost as well as we do. Both are willing to go the extra mile, “above and beyond”. Advice is pragmatic and succinct. Each of them are unfailingly good-humoured and professional at all times.’

Key clients

NG Bailey

Civitas Social Housing PLC

GRI Group

Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME)

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Select Property Group

City Taxis

British Steel


Surgical Innovations

CCL Stressing Systems

Feld Entertainment

Holland & Barrett

Galliford Try


Westfield Health



Hendy Group

Hard Rock Cafe


Welltower Inc.

Stellar Asset Management

Work highlights

  • Advised Manchester Airports Group on the £400m disposal of non-core assets to Columbia Threadneedle Investments.
  • Acted for Civitas and Envivo on the acquisition of the Heathcotes Group care home business via a consortium bid.
  • Advised Hendy Group on the £20m business and assets acquisition of the state of the art Jaguar Land Rover dealership in Southampton from Inchcape Retail.

DLA Piper

Housed in Sheffield, DLA Piper‘s corporate practice has an excellent track record in acting on cross-border acquisitions and mid-market equity capital market transactions. Now jointly managed by practice heads Rob McKie and Amanda Pilkington, the team handles an assortment of deals across the technology, IT, and energy space, with Richard May being a key name for domestic and international matters. David Beech handles corporate transactions, complex restructurings, and equity investment work, and regularly leads a multijurisdictional team on M&A mandates. On the commercial side, consultant Roger Gough remains active within the team and is noted for contracts and supply agreements work across the retail, food and drink, and manufacturing sectors.

Practice head(s):

Rob McKie; Amanda Pilkington

Other key lawyers:

Richard May; David Beech; Roger Gough


‘The team act as an integrated part of DLA Piper and are able to draw on the expertise of the firm not only the skills in the immediate team practice area. They are easy to work with and the size of the team make them available when time pressing work is needed.’

‘At all levels of seniority the team work with calm professional skill and care. As most of the work is transaction related they are flexible and can work at any hour of the day when the deal timetable gets tight. As they are experienced their advice and guidance in tense situations is delivered in a professional and personal way.’

‘David Beech is an excellent technical lawyer, as well as being personable and a pleasure to work with. He understands and highlights the key commercial issues and proposes sensible solutions. David is also extremely reliable, readily available to join calls on short notice and provide any support required.’

‘Our DLA Piper Team are excellent at picking up the matters we need them for and leaving us to deal with the matters we can handle in-house. They have worked with us on two fundraises and have been excellent in highlighting the key matters to focus on while working with our project team.’

‘Rob McKie is readily accessible when we need him and is excellent at getting to the heart of complex matters so they can be dealt with swiftly.’

Key clients

Arconic Corporation

Howmet Aerospace

Unlimited Group

Iconic Labs plc

Formula E

Avanti Gas Ltd

Reckitt Benckiser


THE World Universities Insights

University of Sheffield

Work highlights

  • Advising Arconic Inc (NYSE listed) on its multi-jurisdictional group reorganisation and spin-off into two separate NYSE-listed companies, Howmet Aerospace Inc. and Arconic Corporation.
  • Advised on the £15.6m sale of Qualsys Limited to AIM listed Ideagen plc.
  • Advised Align Bidco Limited in relation to its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Builders Profile (UK) Ltd (trading as Builder’s Profile) from its individual shareholders.

Freeths LLP

Freeths LLP’s corporate and commercial practice has experience in handling acquisitions, high-value buyouts, and disposals for large corporates. Overseen by Peter Crawford, the group advises a range of clients operating across the technology, manufacturing and life sciences sectors. The core group also includes director Lisa Wallis, who is the main contact for restructurings, investment arrangements and joint ventures, as well as commercial matters including distribution agreements.

Practice head(s):

Peter Crawford

Other key lawyers:

Lisa Wallis


‘They are like part of the team, they truly invested an amount of time into our business at the beginning and looked at the longer term relationship.’

‘They invested the time into us at the early stage and we have been with them over 5 years now.’

‘Freeths provided exceptional service in the following dimensions: Legal skills; Communication; Focus on the case; Responsiveness; Flexibility.’

‘The Freeths team were capable, available and effective in materially assisting us in achieving our objectives.’

‘Peter Crawford was the senior most person involved in our case and he impressed with his intelligence, experience and focus on achieving the best outcome.’

‘Claire Wallis was the person with whom we had the most contact with and her communication skills, in particular the ability to communicate legal issues clearly to the layman were most helpful.’

Key clients

The Floow

Practice Evolve UK

InfoTrack Group

Additive Manufacturing Technologies Limited

Careport Group


Advanced Alloy Services


Unihomes and Bills

Plus X

Work highlights

  • Advised Practice Evolve UK on its dual acquisitions of the LineTime and Solicitors Own Software businesses.
  • Advised the shareholders of leading diagnostic instrument developer and manufacturer IT-IS International on their exit to the Novacyt Group.
  • Advised Foresight on its £4m investment in Sheffield machine knife manufacturer, MR Machine Knives.

Lupton Fawcett

Based in Sheffield, Lupton Fawcett’s office is led by Michele Phillips, who also leads the firm-wide education practice, and has a focus on the healthcare sector, advising GP's, pharmacies, and care teams on corporate advisory work, including acquisitions, purchases and buyouts. Sarah Illidge, who heads up the tax team, handles financing work and is recommended for tax-related corporate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Michele Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Illidge


‘They have worked with us for many years and understand both the business and the personalities extremely well. The team are commercial and will always tell us if something is not right – even if we do not want to hear it!’

‘Lead Partner is Michele Phillips who has worked with us for 15 years. She has a deep knowledge of our business and how we work.’

Key clients

STAY Properties AS

Work highlights

  • Advised on the sale of a pharmacy operated by current and former doctors in a practice in West Yorkshire.
  • Advised Stay Properties AS on the purchase of three care homes from Four Seasons Healthcare Limited.

Wake Smith Solicitors Limited

At Wake Smith Solicitors Limited, the corporate and commercial practice has a strong offering advising SME's and manufacturing sector clients in the South Yorkshire region on the full range of corporate transactions. Duncan Shepherd oversees the group and handles acquisitions, buyouts and commercial agreements, while John Baddeley is supported by Rebecca Robinson on internal restructuring matters, sales and purchases. Clients include charities, healthcare sector clients and education institutions.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Shepherd

Other key lawyers:

John Baddeley; Rebecca Robinson; Neil Salter


‘As a client who mainly deals with the Company Commercial team at Wake Smith, I feel that they understand my business and are able to converse and explain legal matters in a way that is understandable to myself who isn’t legally trained.’

‘I have built up a working relationship with Duncan Shepherd, who heads up the Company Commercial team, for approaching 20 years. This continuity has been invaluable to me personally. Duncan understands our business and has advised on many transactions.’

‘Duncan’s advice is honest and practical. He speaks common sense.’

‘Wake Smith are a high quality firm that we are happy to refer clients to as we know they will be well looked after. They have a particular strength in supporting sizeable owner-managed businesses in the local region, and have a personal touch.’

‘The individuals that I have worked with have responded quickly to enquiries, taken a keen interest in their clients, and have come up with innovative solutions. Key partners who I have worked with recently and have these traits are Duncan Shepherd and Neil Salter.’

‘I found the culture open, accessible and collaborative. We felt well supported and that the practice cared about us and what we were trying to achieve.’

Key clients

Castings Technology Holdings Limited

Sunnybarn Investments Ltd

Red Industries Ltd

HSBC UK Bank plc

Yorkshire Bank

Exol Lubricants Ltd

Moody Direct Ltd

Granville Oil & Chemicals Ltd

PBS Group Ltd

Evolution Power Tools Ltd

Swann Morton


Work highlights

  • Advised a client on the disposal of the entire issued share capital of Transdek UK Limited for an initial consideration of £4m.
  • Advised Castings Technology Holdings Limited on an MBO and £2m fundraising, backed by Mercia Asset Management, via the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Nucleus Commercial Finance.

Bell & Buxton

Bell & Buxton’s corporate and commercial offering is led by Alex Ross, and advises businesses on partnership matters, shareholder agreements, and corporate finance work. The group also advises across M&A and management buy-outs. Charlotte Higgins handles healthcare-related corporate work.

Practice head(s):

Alex Ross

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Higgins

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell’s corporate and commercial practice handles mid-cap acquisitions and sales for a large roster of clients made up of local corporates, SMEs, and third-sector organisations. The team also offers a holistic service across commercial litigation and competition law matters.

Taylor & Emmet LLP

Taylor & Emmet LLP's corporate practice group predominantly acts for owner-managed businesses in the South Yorkshire region, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Led by Rob Moore, the team advises on shareholder disputes, company sales, and franchising matters, and is able to leverage the expertise of the IP and construction practice groups at the firm.

Practice head(s):

Rob Moore