Field Seymour Parkes LLP > Reading, England > Firm Profile

Field Seymour Parkes LLP

Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 1

Highly experienced private client lawyer Rob Crowther heads the team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, which  has a demonstrably strong track record across the entire spectrum of lifetime advisory and tax issues. Crowther focuses his own practice on providing specialist asset protection and intricate tax planning advice. Tax comprises a core pillar of the group’s work – specifically inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning. Partner Ben Oliver is a go-to name for such matters, as a member of both the Association of Taxation Technicians, and the Chartered Institute of Taxation. Sue Vandersteen also comes highly recommended, known for guiding clients through complicated lifetime planning and advising in relation to wealth preservation and inheritance tax mitigation.

Practice head(s):

Rob Crowther

Other key lawyers:

Sue Vandersteen; Ben Oliver; Mandy Clarke; Olly Davidson


‘They are a small and nimble team with real expertise and strategic vision. They work together well and offer excellent client service.’

‘Rob Crowther and Ben Oliver work very well together. They are a strong team – two very good private client lawyers with a sense of humour and a true passion for the clients.’

‘The team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP is an efficient and extremely knowledgeable department. They are a safe pair of hands for any standard matters but can equally find pragmatic and valid solutions to more complex issues including at an international level.’

‘The wills, tax and trusts team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP has an in-built human dimension with, at the helm of this exceptional quality, Rob Crowther and Ben Oliver always treating their clients with respect and kindness.’

‘Very caring and professional team with wide range of experience able to deal with complex estates.’

‘Always on top of their game with very broad and deep knowledge of matters and clients.’

Work highlights

Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 2

Field Seymour Parkes LLP represents entrepreneurs, owner-managed small and medium enterprises, and VCs on trade sale M&A mandates, in addition to fostering a fast-growing private equity practice that advises on investments and private equity backed buy-outs. Rachael Maunder leads the Reading-based team, advising on M&A and disposals. Penelope Garden continues to focus her practice on private equity and venture capital investments.

Practice head(s):

Rachael Maunder

Other key lawyers:

Penelope Garden; Jeremy Parkes; Ian Wood-Smith


‘Friendly, accessible and experienced team. They provide excellent service, good communication and commercial advice in negotiations.’

‘Penelope Garden is fantastic to work with. She’s clear and concise in her communication and provides clear commercial advice. She works incredibly hard to deliver deals.’

‘Flexible, great value for money, wide industry knowledge and expertise in VC-based transactions.’

‘Quick and decisive advice, good quality advice and ability to flex workloads.’

‘The team at FSP have a deep knowledge and understanding of both structuring well drafted legal documents for Venture Capital Investments and expediting a process to timescales. Their breadth of knowledge across multiple areas of the process of making an early stage investment are the key to why we use FSP.’

‘The team has a stand-out capacity to deliver continuity, bringing to bear relevant items from a long history of shared projects. Uniquely they tie in all of the other disciplines in the firm to offer consolidated and broad advice, whereas elsewhere you all too often find disjoint between a firm’s different teams.’

‘Penelope Garden delivers practical advice through a uniquely engaging style. She blends content accessibility with leading and growing a team of enthusiastic associates.’

Key clients

Window Ware Limited


Euro Car Parts (part of NASDAQ listed LKQ Corporation group)

Codan Limited (listed on Australian stock exchange)

Honda Motor Europe Limited

WAKMoor (Assets) Limited

Bewley Homes PLC

Whistl UK Limited

Mentor Group Limited

Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG)

Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of Operational Solutions Limited and the purchaser of 51% of the issued share capital of Rinicom Intelligent Solutions Limited.
  • Acted for the sellers in respect of the sale of the entire share capital of EUDRAC UK Limited to Belgian buyer, Quality For you BV.
  • Assisted the shareholders of Alfa Energy on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to Edison Energy.

Corporate and commercial > Corporate tax Tier 2

Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 2

Field Seymour Parkes LLP's dispute resolution and litigation team acts on high-value mandates from large corporate clients, particularly those from within the automative sector. Practice head Tom Maple continues to lead on much of the firm’s premium work in the space. Seasoned litigator Bill Dixon is notable for his robust track record in commercial litigation, and is praised as ‘an asset to the profession’.

Practice head(s):

Tom Maple

Other key lawyers:

Bill Dixon; James Palmer


‘What strikes me is the cooperative atmosphere amongst the team. For clients it gives a trustworthy impression when you know that team members work well together.’

‘Bill Dixon is an asset to the profession.’

‘The team is small but well organised in terms of being able to assist or cover for each other. Strong commercial skills and the abbility to keep an eye on costs at all times.’

‘Bill Dixon is a very experienced and intelligent litigator.’

‘The team works very hard for their clients and brings substantial experience and good legal and strategic judgement to assist clients with their legal issues. They have expertise across a number of practice areas, which assists significantly when multiple issues are raised in a case.’

‘Bill Dixon is a standout partner. Approachable, very bright and makes complex issues simpler to understand.’

‘In my experience, FSP gives clients access to top-class litigators with decades of experience. Bill Dixon and Tom Maple particularly stand out as experienced litigators who really provide sensible commercial advice to clients.’

Key clients




Crown Agents

Work highlights

  • Advised a number of different individual clients on claims against professional advisers in relation to failed film finance or tax schemes.

Employment > Employment: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 2

The ‘customer-focused, efficient and responsive’ employment team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP has the bandwidth to handle the entire spectrum of strategic employment law matters. Team leader Katie Burley specialises in defending employment tribunal claims, senior executive appointment, dismissal management and advising upon restrictive covenants. She works alongside key employment partner Ian Machray, who is praised as 'knowledgeable and proactive'.

Practice head(s):

Katie Burley

Other key lawyers:

Ian Machray; David Clay


‘FSP is very much focused on individualised support, where you get to know the member of the team who is helping you. They have a range of colleaguse they can then refer to as needed. I have found all members of FSP to be knowledgable, approachable, and professional.’

‘Ian Machray always responds quickly, and is incredibly knowledgable and approachable. He gives excellent advice.’

‘Strong team with a strong and varied client list. Supportive of each other. For matters outside of employment (yet which are linked) they are always ready to bring in other departments/individuals to provide an inclusive and rounded response.’

‘Always ready to listen to perspectives from the HR community and provide “grounded” advice in simple terms, not legalese.’

‘Ian Machray is my go to, he has been exceptional in the advice he has provided, not least walking us through the issues of covid, returning to work but also some tricky individuals.’

‘Ian Machray keeps a very level head, not only using his huge technical ability, but also advises with a human touch. He is very pragmatic and the solutions/assistance he has offered us when it comes to personnel matters has been second to none.’

‘The Team at FSP are customer focused, efficient, and responsive. They have all the resources and innovations that you would expect from a successful law firm, but it is the people that make the difference. Having worked with a number of employment lawyers over the years, I have found the advice, support and service from FSP exceptional.’

‘The relationship, team are responsive, balanced and pragmatic. Willing to listen and adapt as necessary based on our requirements but always within the legal framework. Provide training sessions for the HR management team to ensure we are up to date with employment legislation or a specific topic that we have identified.’

Key clients


HR Wallingford

TP Group Plc

Superbowl UK


Operational Solutions Limited

M S Macbeth Limited

Hansford Sensors

Business Moves Group

Planit Software Testing Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the Whistl UK Limited HR team to resolve all of their internal HR and employment issues.
  • Advised Operational Solutions Limited on the employment elements of a multi-million-pound investment from BGF.
  • Advised Hansford Sensors with a key change to their shift pattern structure, including the necessary contractual amendments and dealing with general legal implications.

Finance > Banking and finance Tier 2

Alex Illingworth leads the ‘highly competent‘ Reading-based team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, which often acts for small developers and solar farms in matters concerning bridging and project financings. Illingworth advises a number of private lenders, borrowers and banks on the refinancing of debt facilities and revolving credit facility agreements, and ‘excellent banking lawyerJohn Barker often dispenses advice on asset finance backed deals.

Practice head(s):

Alex Illingworth

Other key lawyers:


‘John Barker is an excellent banking lawyer providing robust yet balanced advice to his banking clients.’

‘John Barker’s focus is on facilitating transactions whilst protecting the interests of his clients.’

‘The go-to legal practice in the Thames Valley. Highly competent lawyers who deliver a quality service at a sensible price.’

‘They’re outward looking, always looking for opportunities to make useful business connections.’

Key clients

Santander UK plc

Honda Finance Europe PLC


WAKMoor (Assets) Limited

OakNorth Bank PLC

Bewley Homes PLC

Secure Trust Bank PLC

BGF Investments LP

National Westminster Bank Plc

On Direct Business Services Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Santander UK Plc on c£17.5m facility secured on residential properties in London.
  • Advised BGF Investments LP on c£23m facility for Invenio.
  • Advised Honda Finance Europe Plc on a review and update of its wholesale financing documentation suite.

Private client > Contentious trusts and probate Tier 2

Field Seymour Parkes LLP helms the full array of private wealth issues including breach of fiduciary duty claims, claims under the Inheritance Act, and disputes concerning executors and trustees. The ‘talented and tenacious’ Katharine Riley leads the team and is often engaged in contested Court of Protection matters. Rob Crowther assists clients with capital gains, inheritance and stamp duty land tax pertaining to the settlements of probate claims, with Sarah Sharpin noted for her expertise in alternative dispute resolution. All of the individuals that have been mentioned are located in Reading.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Riley

Other key lawyers:

Rob Crowther; Sarah Sharpin; Lindsay Davies


‘The team is personable, client focused and knowledgeable. They collaborate with other law firms and deliver good results for their clients.’

‘What is unique is their ability to assimilate the emotional importance of the case as well as the practical.’

‘The contentious probate team works in close collaboration with their well-respected private client department. The effect of this cross teamwork enhances the skills of both teams and makes for a formidable combination in their field of succession law.’

‘The FSP team members have real expertise in the field and are very familiar with the process of taking a case to trial.’

‘Katharine Riley is a very strong and robust advocate for our defence. She is a very good lawyer with great technical skill and advances her client’s case forcefully.

‘Katharine Riley is a pleasure to work with. She is very good at cutting through material and working with the details in complicated matters, all while keeping her client’s priorities at the forefront of her mind.’

Sarah Sharpin is extremely good; she is an excellent communicator, has a great manner with clients, and spots the real issues in a matter with ease.’

‘Robert Crowther is a tremendous private client lawyer.’

Work highlights

Private client > Family: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 2

Children act disputes, matrimonial finance and complex financial remedy proceedings are the core specialisms of the Thames Valley-based family team fielded by Field Seymour Parkes LLP. Head of team Bethan Thomas advises on all aspects of relationship breakdowns, whilst Sue Baker handles critical mandates pertaining to mid and high-value financial disputes. The group is also continuing to grow its offering in relation to super injunction proceedings in the High Court.

Practice head(s):

Bethan Thomas

Other key lawyers:

Sue Baker; Lindsay Davies; Hannah Sims


‘The team stands out for its people, knowledge, application of knowledge and retaining humanity through the process.’

‘The service I am receiving is first class. The communication and availability is quick, understandable and easy to manage. The people are friendly, efficient, effective and professional. Highly recommendable.’

‘It is a very strong team lead by Bethan Thomas and Sue Baker, very ably supported by Lindsey Davies and Hannah Sims.’

‘The person that I use and her team are outstanding. They respond to all communication instantly. They are knowledgable and act in my best interests. I enjoy being with this team and my personal solicitor is exceptional with clear instruction on moving forward.’

‘The team at FSP are always proactive in helping their clients. They look at the big picture.’

‘I have worked with Bethan Thomas and she goes the extra mile for her clients in exploring all options for them.’

‘Sue Baker is vastly experienced and has great common sense. She is brilliant at getting to the heart of the issue.

‘Lindsay Davies is a brilliant lawyer with a photographic memory. She knows her cases inside and out and is great with figures.’

Work highlights

Real estate > Commercial property: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 2

Marcus Francis chairs the practice group at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, representing blue-chip corporate clients and high-net-worth private real estate investors on the team’s premier matters. ‘Diligent, pragmatic and commercially-minded’ lawyer Dean Bickford is another key point of contact as deputy head of department – he acts for developers, investors and corporate occupiers. James Burgess enjoys a strong reputation in the real estate space throughout the Thames Valley and is the go-to name for strategic land work on the commercial property team.

Practice head(s):

Marcus Francis

Other key lawyers:

James Burgess; Dean Bickford; Michael Higgin; Lauren Walker


‘Dean Bickford is diligent, pragmatic and commercially minded.’

‘The real estate Team at FSP are leaders in Reading and the wider Thames Valley and have been for many years. They can tackle a multitude of client needs and have served us consistently and strongly.’

‘Marcus Francis in particular as leader of the team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his profession. Fast, efficient work and has a detailed eye – which has uncovered issues others have missed. He also takes time to guide less experienced members of our team who need to learn more about the legal side of property lending.’

Key clients

Rank Group (Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo Venues)

Bewley Homes plc

Whistl (National Logistics Business)

Euro Car Parts

Westbury Street Holdings

Shanly Homes

Sorbon Estates

Ascot Racecourse

University of Reading

Grant and Stone

Thames Properties Group

Work highlights

  • Advising a private family investment on the re-structuring of a c. £50m property portfolio company with financing from two lenders.
  • Advised WSH on the acquisition of Notes Coffee.
  • Acting for private investors on s trade counter sale for £18.5m.

Private client > Agriculture and estates Tier 3

With expertise in scale renewable energy projects including battery storage facilities, biomass fuel plants in addition to Solar PV Parks, Field Seymour Parkes LLP is well-placed to handle the sales and acquisitions of agricultural rural property. Hazel Eccles leads the team and is proficient in adverse possession and lost deeds, granting easements, and licenses. James Burgess has over two decades of experience in agricultural and rural development, while Rob Crowther is knowledgeable of lifetime tax planning and asset protection matters, in addition to wills. All of the individuals that have been mentioned are located in Reading.

Practice head(s):

Hazel Eccles

Other key lawyers:


‘What makes them standout is their personal touch, attention to detail and accessibility of staff.’

‘All are accessible, approachable and good at assisting clients in making decisions or identifying key components of decision making for them to review with objectivity.’

Work highlights

Private client > Charities and not-for-profit Tier 3

Real estate > Property litigation Tier 3

Counting clients from across the public, educational, charity, and commercial property industries as part of its roster, Field Seymour Parkes LLP’s property litigation team specialises in handling leasehold enfranchisements and enforcing restrictive covenants. Mark Banham heads the team from Reading, boasting a wealth of experience in commercial landlord and tenant disputes, along with residential lease extensions. Associate Philippa Garrod joined the group from Blandy & Blandy LLP in January 2022, bring expertise in real estate litigation matters to the team. In further team news, Tim Brookes joined as legal director in September 2022 and Alanis Ingham-Cotterell was promoted to solicitor in December 2022.

Practice head(s):

Mark Banham


‘FSP have built a team of quality individuals, all specialists in their field, they offer good sound common sense advice, they are transparent with their scope and charges, and as a client you know exactly where you are. They have a good stream of talent coming through which gives confidence that there is continuity within the firm.’

‘The individuals I have worked with at FSP have provided excellent service, the big difference is the level of communication, it is clear that they are uber-professional and passionate about what they do.’

‘What makes it unique is that it has not lost its personal touch.’

Key clients

Euro Car Parts


University of Reading/Thames Valley Science Park

Ascot Racecourse Limited

WSH Group

Grant & Stone Limited

Searcys 1847 Champagne Bar Limited/Benugo (part of WSH Investments Limited Group)

TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > IT and telecoms Tier 3

Field Seymour Parkes LLP advises healthcare, online marketplace, and telecoms clients with cybersecurity, GDPR, and terms and conditions. Cathrine Ripley leads the team, while Penelope Garden is seasoned in corporate transactions and Francesca Lombardi deals with a breadth of intellectual property matters. All of the individuals that have been mentioned are located in Reading.

Practice head(s):

Cathrine Ripley

Other key lawyers:


‘They have a great understanding of specific aims and challenges, aligning the approach with business strategy.’

‘Catherine Ripley was patient, understanding and very knowledgeable, she was prepared to act as the representative of our business against challenging individuals.’

Key clients


Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund

E2e-Assure Limited


Work highlights

  • Advised EM3 on its investment into agri-tech robotics business.
  • Advised the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund on its £500,000 equity investment into award-winning audiobook platform xigxag.
  • Assisted the e2e-assure team in bringing their joint proposition with iomart Hosting Limited to the market.

Finance > Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 4

Field Seymour Parkes LLP‘s Reading-based group advises a diverse client roster on the full spectrum of insolvency issues, including administrations and asset purchases. Ian Wood-Smith heads up the practice with his longstanding experience in acting for funders, insolvency practitioners and directors on restructuring procedures and corporate insolvencies. Jeremy Parkes has a great deal of knowledge on security validity work, while Bill Dixon frequently handles fraud and asset tracing mandates.

Practice head(s):

Ian Wood-Smith

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

James Cowper LLP

Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG)

Public sector Tier 4

TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > Intellectual property Tier 4

The ‘knowledgeable teamField Seymour Parkes LLP has a wealth of experience across the advertising, construction, fashion, healthcare, and software sectors. The department’s key strengths also include copyright, licensing, and registered designs patents and trademarks. Cathrine Ripley heads the team, while Susan Wells and Charlotte Burroughs are proficient in data protection. All of the individuals that have been mentioned are located in Reading.

Practice head(s):

Cathrine Ripley

Other key lawyers:


‘Wonderful, helpful and a knowledgeable team. They deliver across multiple practices.’

‘They are knowledgable, pleasant to work with, reliable and efficient.’

Key clients

Grant & Stone

Work highlights

Field Seymour Parkes LLP is a leading Thames Valley law firm located in the centre of Reading.

The firm: FSP provides services for clients ranging from multinational companies to small family businesses and has one of the strongest real estate teams in the Thames Valley. FSP also places great emphasis and value on its private clients and is widely recommended as providing a high-quality, comprehensive and cost-effective private client service including a notarial service. FSP is accredited by the Lexcel and IIP professional standards.

Types of work undertaken
Banking and finance: advising financial institutions, private investors and corporate borrowers on transactions such as cash flow and other corporate lending, real estate finance, mezzanine funding, project finance, security, guarantees and debt restructuring.

Corporate: UK and cross-border acquisitions and disposals, private equity, shareholders’ subscription and investment agreements, share investment schemes, tax and advice relating to partnerships and LLPs.

Corporate recovery and insolvency: advising insolvency practitioners as well as directors and funders on all aspects of administrations, liquidations and corporate restructuring.

Commercial and technology/IP: commercial ventures, distribution and agency, escrow agreements, framework agreements, franchising, internet and cloud computing, outsourcing, sponsorship and data protection.

Litigation: UK and cross-border disputes including financial services, construction, contract and agency, corporate investigations, fraud, intellectual property, pensions and property litigation.

Employment: tribunal and court litigation, redundancy, business restructuring, restrictive covenants, employment documentation, employee benefits, and business acquisitions and the TUPE regulations.

Family: divorce and separation to include civil partnerships. Disputes concerning children and financial relief on separation. The team comprises Law Society-accredited specialists.

Charities and not-for-profit: from local to international charities, advising on incorporation, governance, property, tax, data protection, employment contracts and advertising.

Real estate: commercial property, farming and estates, property development and planning, social housing, and residential property including residential leases and enfranchisement. Construction law, advising developers, funders and contractors as well as professional consultants such as architects and surveyors.

Private client: advising in relation to wills, trusts and estates (including multi-jurisdictional and complex estates), inheritance tax, capital gains tax and Court of Protection matters, as well as the full range of contentious probate matters.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing Partner, Corporate Jeremy Parkes
Senior Partner, Head of Restructuring & Insolvency Ian Wood-Smith
Head of Corporate Rachael Maunder
Head of Private Equity & Venture Capital Penelope Garden
Head of Banking & Finance Alex Illingworth
Head of Commercial & Technology/IP Cathrine Ripley
Litigation Bill Dixon
Head of Employment Katie Burley
Head of Immigration Imelda Reddington
Real Estate Marcus Francis
Agriculture & Rural Land Hazel Eccles
Head of Education Katie Burley
Head of Wills, Tax & Trusts Rob Crowther
Head of Family & Matrimonial Bethan Thomas
Head of Will Disputes & Contentious Probate Katharine Riley
Construction James Palmer
Photo Name Position Profile
Susan Baker photo Susan Baker Partner specialising in family law including divorce and separation, disputes regarding children…
Mark Banham photo Mark Banham Mark is a Partner in the Property Litigation team, specialising in commercial…
John Barker photo John Barker Partner specialising in banking and finance advice for banks, other lenders, venture…
Dean Bickford photo Dean Bickford Dean’s specialist areas of practice include: acting for house-builders, land owners and…
James Burgess photo James Burgess Partner in commercial property team specialising in development funding and investment transactions,…
Katie Burley photo Ms Katie Burley Katie is a Partner and Head of the Employment team. She has…
Rob Crowther photo Rob Crowther Partner in wills, trusts and estates department at FSP. Specialising in complex…
Bill Dixon photo Bill Dixon Partner in the dispute resolution and litigation team. Handles a wide variety…
Hazel Eccles photo Hazel Eccles Hazel is a partner and head of our agribusiness team. She handles…
Kelsie Essenhigh photo Kelsie Essenhigh Kelsie is a Legal Director in the Real Estate team. Kelsie has…
Marcus Francis photo Marcus Francis Clients include corporate occupiers, high-street banks, investors, residential and commercial developers, landed…
Penelope Garden photo Penelope Garden Head of Private Equity and Venture Capital and partner in the corporate…
Michael Higgin photo Michael Higgin Partner in the team dealing with corporate and retail occupation, commercial property…
Richard Higgs photo Richard Higgs Richard is a partner in the Real Estate team.  He has worked…
Alex Illingworth photo Alex Illingworth Alex is a member of the Banking and Finance team and has…
Ian Machray photo Ian Machray Ian heads the Field Seymour Parkes employment team and specialises in complex…
Julia Mactear photo Julia Mactear Julia is a Legal Director in the Property Litigation team at FSP.…
Tom Maple photo Tom Maple Tom is a Partner in the Dispute Resolution and Litigation team. Tom…
Rachael Maunder photo Rachael Maunder Partner in the corporate team who has significant experience in advising corporate…
Ben Oliver photo Ben Oliver Ben is a Partner in the Wills, Trusts and Estates team. Ben…
Jeremy Parkes photo Jeremy Parkes Partner specialising in orporate finance work for buyers, sellers or lenders. Acted…
Katharine Riley photo Katharine Riley Katharine Riley is a Partner and head of the Will Disputes and…
Cathrine Ripley photo Cathrine Ripley Advises and negotiates a wide range of commercial contracts for clients in…
Sarah Sharpin photo Sarah Sharpin Sarah is a solicitor in the Will Disputes and Contentious Probate team.…
Philip Stephenson photo Philip Stephenson Partner in the corporate team advising corporates, owners managers and private equity…
Bethan Thomas photo Bethan Thomas Bethan is a Partner and head of the Family & Matrimonial team…
Sue Vandersteen photo Sue Vandersteen Head of wills, trusts and tax planning, probate applications and estates administration,…
Ian Wood-Smith photo Ian Wood-Smith Corporate finance advice to buyers, sellers and lenders, particularly owner-managed businesses. Member…
Number of UK Partners : 25
Number of UK Solicitors (excl. partners) : 45