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

A strong tax offering relation to lifetime advisory work, substantial experience in estate administration, often multi-jurisdictional, and close cooperation of the contentious and non-contentious team characterize the practice at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, led by Rob Crowther. Crowther advises on the full range of private client issues, but has particular expertise in asset protection and tax planning. Corporate clients are a focus point of Sue Vandersteen who advises on wealth preservation and inheritance tax mitigation. Recommended especially for his proficiency in lifetime tax planning comes Ben Oliver.

Practice head(s):

Rob Crowther

Other key lawyers:

Sue Vandersteen; Ben Oliver; Mandy Clarke; Olly Davidson


‘Rob Crowther is an extremely talented lawyer with a lightness of touch that belies his expertise. Very good with clients. Ben Oliver is a super technical trusts and tax lawyer who offers great service to clients.’

‘The team demonstrates real strength and depth. They give excellent client service and are very supportive to professional colleagues, including counsel. The quality of work is outstanding.’

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

Home to an established M&A practice, Field Seymour Parkes LLP is growing its venture capital and private equity work. In this respect Penelope Garden is taking an active lead within the team, she recently advised founder of Playful Promises Emma Parker on an investment by Bestport Private Equity. Rachael Maunder heads up the department and coordinates various teams on M&A transactions and disposals.

Practice head(s):

Rachael Maunder

Other key lawyers:

Penelope Garden; Jeremy Parkes; Sian Daly


‘We do a fairly high volume of corporate transactions and the team is always able to cope with our workload.’

‘Penelope Garden and Rachael Maunder understand our typical deal structures and know when to take pragmatic views and when to be tough.’

‘Great team to work with and takes the time to understand your needs as a client, your aims with respect to the deal and how you like to work.’

‘Penelope Garden is an absolutely fantastic addition to our deal team. She is quick to respond, understands the problem and takes a pragmatic and sensible approach to overcoming any issues and getting the deal done. She works well with members of our team at all levels and is never too busy to help when we have a problem.’

‘The team was always available and acutely aware that it was a complicated and challenging transaction and therefore provided much needed reassurance, guidance and encouragement.’

‘Both Jeremy Parkes and Rachael Maunder broke everything down into bite size pieces and guided us through some challenging decisions. They complement each other and I don’t think we would have got the deal over the line if it wasn’t for their diligence and encouragement.’

‘Penelope Garden and Jeremy Parkes are consistently exceptional. Jeremy was wonderful. Penny always gives coherent and holistic advice which considers all facets of a problem; obtaining her advice is so much more valuable because of it.’

‘Sian Daly is an exceptional associate with a bright future.’

Key clients

Ethos Partner Holdings Limited


Euro Car Parts

Codan Limited

Honda Motor Europe Limited

NCAM Technologies Limited

On Direct Business Services Limited

Whistl UK Limited

Mentor Group Limited

Independent Builders Merchant Group

Work highlights

  • Advised We Are Kin on a £50m investment by Moorfield Group into a joint venture vehicle.
  • Advised the shareholders of E2E on a £10.5m investment by BGF.
  • Advised Ethos Partner Holdings on the acquisition of Schofield Insurance Brokers.

Corporate and commercial > Corporate tax Tier 2

As well as advising on tax planning issues and employee remuneration schemes, Field Seymour Parkes LLP advises on domestic corporate group restructurings and the subsequent transaction clearance applications to HMRC.

Practice head(s):

Rob Crowther; Sue Vandersteen

Other key lawyers:

Ben Oliver

Crime, fraud and licensing > Licensing Tier 2

The practice at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, based in Reading, lies within the firm’s property litigation team and the wider property department, meaning the main focus on licensing issues is in relation to premises and property litigation. This enables the team to deal seamlessly with any issues that might arise with development schemes. Practice head Mark Banham assists with a range of transactions relating to licensed premises.

Practice head(s):

Mark Banham

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

Field Seymour Parkes LLP stands out for its industry expertise in fishery as well as the food and automotive sectors where in the latter it represents clients such as Volvo and Honda. One such expert is practice head Tom Maple who additionally has notable experience in advising on legal issues arising out of supply chains. Bill Dixon 's practice spans litigation, arbitration, corporate, and regulatory investigations.

Practice head(s):

Tom Maple

Other key lawyers:

Bill Dixon; Robert Woodhouse


‘The team is strong in general and commercial litigation, having personable and approachable litigators that are able to clearly explain complex matters.’

‘Bill Dixon is the standout fee earner. He has a huge amount of experience and expertise in high value, complex international litigation. He has an excellent bedside manner and grasps difficult issues quickly and effectively.’

‘Combination of broad (different fields of commercial law) and specialized (litigation) legal knowledge and experience. Partners with prior magic circle experience, but not London prices. Practical approach with a focus on settling out of court.’

‘Bill Dixon has many years of experience as a litigator in a wide range of different fields of law. Combination of legal knowledge and business common sense. Bill provides clear and practical advice. Moreover he is a likeable person and easy to deal with.’

Key clients


Whistl (formerly TNT)

Crown Agents

Work highlights

  • Acting for World Wise Foods Limited in an adjudication reviewing certification of a fishery under Marine Stewardship Council Rules.

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

Jackie Denham and Katie Burley jointly head the employment team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP and work closely with other departments to provide employment advice in support of large corporate projects. ‘Simply an outstanding lawyer‘, Ian Machray is a key figure in growing the firm’s client base. Under his leadership, the three have recently advised TP Group on a variety of employment issues, including strategic matters.

Practice head(s):

Jackie Denham; Katie Burley

Other key lawyers:

Ian Machray; David Clay


‘FSP provides a multi-disciplinary team, which makes them an excellent “one-stop shop” where support is required on matters which may be multi-faceted. The team shares information with colleagues internally rather than a client having to explain a problem multiple times, and the single point of contact co-ordinates and manages the flow of information and communications.’

‘Billing arrangements are clear. Quotes are available if requested, and the breakdowns of costs provided with invoices are clear. Usefully, the team provides information in advance of an invoice on accrued time and confirms with a client the amount of time to be invoiced in any given period.’

‘Very friendly, open-minded to various options, willing to discuss and debate options, rather than offer a single option. Communications with clients is detailed, but presented in a clear, non-legal way.  Stand-out individuals: Ian Machray and Jackie Denham.’

‘All our needs running an SME have been met by the team at FSP. We have dealt with them on employment-related issues during the unique COVID 19 crisis. Highlighting their attention to detail that was appreciated by us having little or no experience of the process.’

‘Ian Machray is a cool, calm head, and takes a very sensible approach.’

‘They have a depth of talent, are highly knowledge and are very approachable. Proactive is a description that is appropriate. They keep clients informed as legislation unfolds, through seminars ,regular online briefings and with individual advice. Their use of technology is excellent.’

‘Ian Machray is simply an outstanding Lawyer who combines excellent technical ability with practical, common sense advice. He looks and delivers not just legal opinions, but the solution to any personnel issue or problem that I as a client may encounter.’

‘Ian is a calm, even-tempered leader who makes himself available as required. His team also has an approach which is empathetic but they remain focused on delivering a solution and offering advice in a balanced way, ensuring we are aware when we are taking greater risks than ‘normal’ so we can adjust our stance as necessary.’

Key clients


HR Wallingford

TP Group Plc

Business Moves Group

Superbowl UK


Planit Software Testing

Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC)


Static Control

Work highlights

  • Advising Whistl on all its internal HR and employment issues and their recent business acquisitions.
  • Advising North on a roll-out of new contractual documentation across their entire corporate group.
  • Advising a property investment company on all TUPE matters arising from a number of acquisitions.

Finance > Banking and finance Tier 2

Field Seymour Parkes LLP advises lenders and borrowers on a wide range of transactions such as acquisition finance, real estate investment, motor manufacturer investment and project finance. The practice continues to be on the panel for a number of banks and financial institutions such as Santander, HSBC, Clydesdale and NatWest. Experienced lawyer John Barker heads the team and advises on a number of real estate finance transactions. Associate Alex Illingworth regularly works with borrowers, banks and private lenders on finance matters.

Practice head(s):

John Barker

Other key lawyers:


‘A proactive firm that feel like having our own internal legal team.’

‘Alex Illingworth is an exceptional lawyer. You just know your ‘back is covered’.’

‘FSP’s banking & finance term provide consistently high quality advice. Response times are excellent. Advice is always clear, protective of our  interests whilst maintaining a commerciality that characterises the firm.’

‘John Barker is an excellent banking lawyer. John’s advice is sound, his responses times swift and communication with all parties consistently clear.’

‘Marcus Francis is an excellent property lawyer and head of the real estate team at FSP. His advice is highly regarded and communication skills strong. He maintains a broad business network and consistently looks for opportunities to collaborate and make mutually beneficial introductions.’

‘Excellent, friendly and exceptionally competent team.’

‘Joe Preisner is excellent, as is Alex Illingworth. All of the people there are.’

Key clients

Santander UK PLC


Honda Finance Europe PLC

National Westminster Bank Plc

Secure Trust Bank PLC

We Are Kin (Students) Limited

Bewley Homes PLC

On Direct Limited

Quadriga Systems Limited

Lloyds Bank plc

BGF Investments LP

Work highlights

  • Advised Santander UK plc on a total of 26 different matters.
  • Advised We Are Kin/WAKmoor Limited on a series of substantial facilities secured on portfolios of student accommodation.

Private client > Contentious trusts and probate Tier 2

Field Seymour Parkes LLP provides advice to charities, insurers and high-net-worth individuals, handling very high-value work including cross-border cases. The practice ,which has a ‘strong reputation for good and efficient service to clients‘, is led by Reading-based Katharine Riley, an expert on matters concerning mutual wills and executor-trustee disputes, including professional negligence claims concerning wills, trusts and probate. She ‘fights really hard for her clients, combining tenacity and soft skills to good effect‘. In 2021, Sarah Sharpin joined the team as solicitor from Gardner Leader LLP.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Riley

Other key lawyers:


‘Very strong private client team that is well integrated with the contentious probate team. This makes for a deep reservoir of expertise, offering good value specialist service outside London’

‘They are a regional firm with a strong reputation for good and efficient service to clients. Their staff are always helpful and friendly.’

‘Katharine Riley is approachable and very capable and finds practical solutions for clients’ issues.’

‘Excellent team with an outstanding leader.’

‘Katharine Riley has a vast array of experience which allows her to think creatively to find ADR solutions.’

‘Katharine Riley is a talented lawyer – a real asset to her firm, and going from strength to strength.’

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

Field Seymour Parkes LLP‘ family lawyers ‘are a match for any London firm‘ and have a particular expertise in matrimonial finance alongside private Children Act work and pre- and postnuptial agreements. Out of Reading, Bethan Thomas leads the team and focuses her expertise on issues arising out of relationship breakdowns. Sue Baker is a specialist in financial cases and comes particularly recommended for her knowledge in Armed Forces pensions.

Practice head(s):

Bethan Thomas

Other key lawyers:

Sue Baker; Lindsay Davies; Hannah Sims


‘Sue Baker was outstanding. She had the ability digest all facets of the information given, and act on it in a straightforward and effective manner.’

‘This strong team was further strengthened by the arrival of Bethan Thomas. They now have really able people at all levels. As a consequence they have the ability to provide a first class service for all types of family work.’

‘Hannah Sims is organized, efficient, hands-on and approachable- a brilliant combination!’

‘Lindsay Davies is wonderful. She is bright and very conscientious and is a safe pair of hands.’

‘There was plenty of time for discussion and a fair degree of flexibility to have calls and discussions at a time that suited me. There was lots of clear explanation of the process.’

‘Thorough and experienced matrimonial finance lawyers who are a match for any London firm. FSP are tenacious when they need to be, but also keen to reach a resolution provided it is in the best interests of the client.’

‘Lindsay Davies has a photographic memory and knows all of her cases inside and out. In addition she is very analytical and able to dissect the most complicated expert reports to the benefit of her clients. She is an excellent lawyer. Sue Baker is hugely experienced and clients find her very reassuring. She is able to analyse a case and drill down to the relevant factors and shape the progress of the case.’

‘I felt FSP were a cohesive and well-integrated series of specialist teams who worked well together for my case.’

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

Field Seymour Parkes LLP is home to a specialist strategic land team as well as an experienced real estate financing practice and advises among others blue-chip companies and high-net-worth individuals, a specialism of practice head Marcus Francis. Dean Bickford is Francis’ second in command and focuses on corporate occupiers, charities, and educational institutions. James Burgess is renowned in the Reading real estate market.

Practice head(s):

Marcus Francis

Other key lawyers:

Dean Bickford; Michael Higgin; Richard Higgs; Joe Preisner; Anna Zatouroff; James Burgess


‘I think the most important thing for me is the availability of the team. Their fees are fair and reasonable and transactions are dealt with in a timely manner.’

‘Michael Higgin is thorough, patient, and a pleasure to know and work with.’

‘Joe Preisner is excellent. All of the people there are.’

‘Excellent, friendly, and exceptionally competent team.’

Key clients

Thames Property Group

Grant and Stone

University of Reading

Ascot Racecourse


Bewley Homes

Shanly Homes

Rank Group

Westbury Street Holdings (Benugo, Searcys, BaxterStorey)

Euro Car Parts

Formal Investments

Work highlights

  • Advised Astroscale Limited on their letting of space at Harwell Science Centre.
  • Advised Whistl UK on the acquisition of a 300,000 square foot fulfilment centre at Magna Park, Lutterworth.
  • Advised Bewley Homes plc on a £17m acquisition of consented development land.

Private client > Agriculture and estates Tier 3

Field Seymour Parkes LLP‘s Reading based team deals with wide range of legal issues facing rural clients, including sales and acquisitions, diversification, land development and succession planning, as well as tax and estate planning, wills and asset protection. Agriculture and rural land head Hazel Eccles was promoted to partner in April 2022; she works with experienced real estate specialist James Burgess and legal director Kelsie Essenhigh.

Practice head(s):

Hazel Eccles

Other key lawyers:


‘Modern, corporate approach but with friendly and personable delivery.’

Hazel Eccles – great understanding of what clients want and need and how to delivery the relevant solution in a practical and timely manner.’

‘Excellent interpretation and analysis of the matter and advice. The solicitors that I deal with are very personable and good to work with.’

‘Kelsie Essenhigh – super operator, concise and to the point. Advises clients in a no fuss way that everyone benefits from.’

‘Excellent working relationship, knowledgeable, friendly, engaging and very helpful.’

‘Kelsie Essenhigh and Hazel Eccles, who I work with regularly, are exceptional.’

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

Field Seymour Parkes LLP‘s charity and not-for profit practice is led by associate Ruo Wu; she advises clients on a wide range of matters and is also a member of the Charity Law Association. She regularly works in tandem with real estate partner Richard Higgs and corporate partner Rachel Maunder.

Practice head(s):

Ruo Wu

Other key lawyers:


‘The solicitors have been exceptional in all aspects, from understanding the needs of our charity, guiding us through the process, as well as responding to the multiple questions that we had along the way. They also worked at our speed of need, which was really important for us.’

‘The company has a policy of responding efficiently to communications. The partners were always responsive during the week, within 48 hours of receiving an email (at the most). More importantly, the individuals tried to understand our needs and what our charity does. Finally, it was really good value for money.’

‘The team that we have dealt with have been extremely helpful and personable. Providing explanations where required and directing us to relevant podcasts they have produced. Pricing has been clear and transparent in advance of work being started.’

‘We have worked with Ruo Wu, who has been so helpful and patient when we have required further explanation.’

Key clients

International Pole and Line Foundation

UK Forum For International Education And Training

Wax Chandler’s Charitable Trust

Ash Vale Evangelical Church

British Association For International & Comparative

James Cowper LLP

Oaks Childcare Clubs Community Interest Company

The Panasonic Trust for the Further Education and Training of Engineers

DSA Prospect Limited

Spurgeon Oaklands Charitable Trust

Work highlights

  • Assisted the UK Forum For International Education And Training in modernising documents in order to better reflect its current charitable aims, operations and practices.
  • Assisted the British Association for International & Comparative Education in registering as a charitable company at Companies House, drafting bespoke articles of association and registering this charitable company at the Charity Commission of England and Wales.
  • Assisted with setting up James Cowper Kreston Foundation, a charitable incorporated organisation registered at the Charity Commission of England and Wales.

Public sector Tier 3

Practitioners at Field Seymour Parkes LLP in Reading assist with the full range of legal issues faced by public sector clients and educational bodies. Senior associate Katie Burley heads up the team, which counts universities and borough councils as its clients. Employment specialist Louise Smyth is also a key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Katie Burley

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Berkshire College of Agriculture

University of Reading

University College of Estate Management

Berkshire Youth

Streatley Parish Council

Wokingham Borough Council

British Association for International & Comparative Education

Oaks Childcare Clubs Community Interest Company

Panasonic Trust for Further Education and Training of Engineers

Cranford House School

Real estate > Property litigation Tier 3

Field Seymour Parkes LLP‘s property litigation team is headed up by Mark Banham, who took over after the departure of Paul Dench to Glovers Solicitors LLP, and was promoted to partner in April 2022. The team has experience across the full spectrum of property matters, including leasehold enfranchisements, restrictive covenant enforcement work, tenant insolvencies and construction disputes, and acts for clients in the education and charity sectors as well as well-known companies and developers. Legal director Julia Mactear is also recommended. All named lawyers are based in Reading.

Practice head(s):

Mark Banham

Other key lawyers:


‘In-depth specialist knowledge of the practice area. Commercial and pragmatic advice.’

‘Julia Mactear – straightforward and a brilliant communicator. Gets to the heart of what the client really needs to achieve and focuses on getting there as swiftly and effectively as possible. Mark Banham – calm and organised strategist.’

‘The Field Seymour Parkes property litigation team have incredible strength in depth; they have good commercial know-how and deliver a really great product at a very reasonable price.’

‘Julia Mactear: very bright, diligent and experienced. I have worked with her on a number of cases, from beneficial co-ownership cases to drainage and riparian rights cases, and she has always impressed me with her tactical acuity and easy manner with clients. Mark Banham: recently made up to partner and well-deserved. He is a very streetwise and commercially minded litigator.’

Key clients

Euro Car Parts



University of Reading/Thames Valley Science Park

Ascot Racecourse Limited

WSH Group

Superbowl UK

Finance > Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 4

Field Seymour Parkes LLP is a notable corporate insolvency and restructuring practice which is instructed by national firms of insolvency practitioners and international accountancy firms. Ian Wood-Smith  leads the practice with vast experience in advising practitioners, funders and directors on corporate insolvencies and restructurings. Jeremy Parkes  advises on complex security validity while Bill Dixon  specialises in complex asset tracing.

Practice head(s):

Ian Wood-Smith

Other key lawyers:

Jeremy Parkes; Bill Dixon

Key clients

KRE Corporate Recovery Limited

TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > IT and telecoms Tier 4

Cathrine Ripley leads the team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, a former litigator turned commercial contract lawyer with a particular specialism in acting for clients in construction. Under her leadership the team handles hardware and software agreements, cloud computing solutions, outsourcing, and data licensing. Additionally, clients may benefit from expertise in IP and data protection.

Practice head(s):

Cathrine Ripley

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.

Managing Partner, Corporate Jeremy
Senior Partner, Head of Restructuring & Insolvency Ian
Head of Corporate Rachael
Head of Private Equity & Venture Capital Penelope
Head of Banking & Finance Alex
Head of Commercial & Technology/IP Cathrine
Litigation Bill
Joint Head of Employment Jackie
Joint Head of Employment Katie
Head of Immigration Imelda
Real Estate Marcus
Agriculture & Rural Land Hazel
Head of Education Katie
Head of Charities & not-for-profit Ruo
Head of Wills, Tax & Trusts Rob
Head of Family & Matrimonial Bethan
Notary public Michelle
Head of Will Disputes & Contentious Probate Katharine
Susan Baker photo Susan BakerPartner specialising in family law including divorce and separation, disputes regarding children…
John Barker photo John BarkerPartner specialising in banking and finance advice for banks, other lenders, venture…
Dean Bickford photo Dean BickfordDean’s specialist areas of practice include: acting for house-builders, land owners and…
James Burgess photo James BurgessPartner in commercial property team specialising in development funding and investment transactions,…
Rob Crowther photo Rob CrowtherPartner in wills, trusts and estates department at FSP. Specialising in complex…
Bill Dixon photo Bill DixonPartner in the dispute resolution and litigation team. Handles a wide variety…
Marcus Francis photo Marcus FrancisClients include corporate occupiers, high-street banks, investors, residential and commercial developers, landed…
Penelope Garden photo Penelope GardenHead of Private Equity and Venture Capital and partner in the corporate…
Michael Higgin photo Michael HigginPartner in the team dealing with corporate and retail occupation, commercial property…
Ian Machray photo Ian MachrayIan heads the Field Seymour Parkes employment team and specialises in complex…
Rachael Maunder photo Rachael MaunderPartner in the corporate team who has significant experience in advising corporate…
Jeremy Parkes photo Jeremy ParkesPartner specialising in orporate finance work for buyers, sellers or lenders. Acted…
Cathrine Ripley photo Cathrine RipleyAdvises and negotiates a wide range of commercial contracts for clients in…
Philip Stephenson photo Philip StephensonPartner in the corporate team advising corporates, owners managers and private equity…
Sue Vandersteen photo Sue VandersteenHead of wills, trusts and tax planning, probate applications and estates administration,…
Ian Wood-Smith photo Ian Wood-SmithCorporate finance advice to buyers, sellers and lenders, particularly owner-managed businesses. Member…
Number of UK Partners : 24
Number of UK Solicitors (excl. partners) : 41