Firm Profile > Hewitsons > Cambridge, England


Agriculture and estates Tier 1

One client recommends Hewitsons for its 'breath of knowledge and ability to provide the right person with the correct skill set for the task in hand'. The firm has a large cross-office team led from Cambridge by the 'extremely trustworthyDenise Wilkinson , who handles complex property and family issues in the rural sector, whether for smaller farmers, landed estates or major institutions. Legal director James Frankland and consultant Charles Hewitson also have excellent reputations for handling agricultural property transactions.


“Charles Hewitson is involved at all levels on a personal and business level. He is an excellent leader and ambassador for the firm.”

“Denise Wilkinson exhibits great knowledge and attention to detail.”

“I work regularly with Denise Wilkinson who is exceptional in every way.”

“Hewitsons has high professional standards. They are well informed, cover all of our necessary disciplines and cover them well. They are always available at short notice when required.”

Denise Wilkinson specifically gives advice on charity issues; agricultural and commercial. Her great strength is to be able to see an issue from all angles, thinking on her feet. She has experience in contractual arrangement that are not conventional, and always give very sound advice.”

“A dynamic yet pragmatic approach to getting the job done.”

“Denise Wilkinson provides excellent advice on a range of property matters in a concise and clear way which is readily understood.”

Key clients

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Philpot Family and Associated Companies

National Farmers Union (NFU)

Contentious trusts and probate Tier 1

Hewitsons is 'a very well-established private client firm, and a leading regional firm, particularly for the resolution of trusts and probate disputes'. Practice head Lucinda Brown is a full member of ACTAPS and solicitor Kate Harris is an associate member. They frequently handle high-value cases involving the validity of wills, breach of trust claims, Inheritance Act claims, rectification of wills and trust documents, contentious Court of Protection matters and financial abuse of vulnerable adults. The firm's strong private client, charity and agriculture practices are also brought to bear on contentious matters for high-net-worth individuals.


‘Lucinda Brown is an extremely able lawyer and has a level of expertise and the sort of sound judgement one would expect to find in someone far more senior.’

‘Kate Harris is outstanding.’

Environment & planning Tier 1

Hewitsons in Cambridge handles large-scale development projects, including residential and mixed-use urban expansions, and acts for Homes England in substantial regeneration projects. The firm regularly undertakes work in connection with judicial reviews and other legal challenges in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal, and it undertakes its own advocacy at public inquiries, hearings and in Magistrates Courts. Leading light Deborah Sharples is the key partner and has a large client base of landowners, farmers, investment owners and landed estates across the UK. Associate Gemma Dudley has more than 15 years' experience in planning and compulsory purchase matters.


“Hewitsons is an impressive practice – client-focused, efficient and effective. The firm punches well above its weight.”

“Deborah Sharples is a pleasure to work with – quick to respond, diligent, reliable and meticulous in her attention to detail.”

“The firm is excellent all round. The work is always to a very high standard and within deadlines. The lawyers understand developers’ needs and perspective and give well researched, practical, clear and insightful legal advice.”

“Excellent value for money – market-leading advice without market-leading rates.”

“Excellent in-depth knowledge of planning law and practice from a highly commercial firm.”

“Fantastic value for money – the firm provides first-class advice at a fraction of the cost of London and bigger firms.”

“Gemma Dudley provides excellent advice on all matters. She is an exceptional planning lawyer with impressive knowledge of legislation, case law and its implications.”

“Clear, thoughtful advice which delivers practical solutions to often complex issues. The advice is always presented logically and clearly.”

“Gemma Dudley is quick to grasp the issues and always sees the bigger picture. First-class and always first choice. The best planning advice in Cambridge.”

“Emma Bowman is very bright and capable and is flourishing under Gemma Dudley’s guidance.”

“My experiences of Hewitsons is of an engaging and welcoming law firm that is always happy to assist. The planning team is highly professional and consistently provides prompt and well-considered advice. The advice provided is rarely ambiguous.”

“Gemma Dudley and Deborah Sharples are highly competent and, of equal importance, friendly and approachable.”

“Gemma Dudley has established working experience and relationships with equivalent local authority practitioners and the value of this cannot be under estimated when seeking to expedite a legal agreement with such parties.”

“The firm provides a very high level of client care and great attention to detail.”

“Deborah Sharples is friendly and a good team player with high professional standards and in-depth knowledge.”

“The practice has a broad yet comprehensive range of expertise, and I appreciate Deborah Sharples’ dedication and commitment, communicating openly and honestly and working in partnership with the client.”

Key clients

Homes England

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Greensand Trust

Andersons Assets Ltd

Beyond Storage Leicester Limited

Dene Homes Ltd

Duxford Developments Ltd

Girton College, Cambridge

Downing College, Cambridge

Pembroke College, Cambridge

Fitzwilliam College Cambridge

Henry Fairley and Sons Limited

JCAM Commercial Real Estate Property VII Limited

Gibson Developments Ltd

Great Oakley Farms Ltd

Galliers Homes Limited

Campbell Melhuish and Buchanan Ltd

James Davenport

Bedstone Growers

Bedfordia Farms Limited

GCR Camprop Eight Ltd

Hill Residential Limited

Howard Group Limited

Oastlodge Limited

Arndale Properties Limited

Flogas Britain Limited

Foster Property Developments Limited

Hay Farms Ltd

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Cambridge Tier 1

Hewitsons has a highly experienced practice for estate planning, complex wills and powers of attorney, trust administration and reorganisation, the administration of high-value estates, and advice on foreign assets. The firm's strong rural practice sees it handle the affairs of many clients in the farming industry, as well as large landed estates. Practice head Daniel Curtis and key partners Bernadette O’Reilly and Elizabeth Davies are all leading lights in the market, and associate Kelly Wardell is a rising star. The firm's clients include a number of estates with a net worth in excess of £100m.


‘Friendly, approachable and professional.’

‘Bernadette O’Reilly knows her subject and explains things so they are easy to understand.’

‘The practice offers a broad range of skills and expertise – together with a “can-do” attitude and a supportive outlook.’

‘The firm is responsive and offers a good range of skills and expertise within the landed estates and farming sector.’

“Hewistons is a good firm – they are specialists in what they do – and they deliver a good, reliable service.”

“The firm has a client-focused approach. It explains legal issues in a way that makes sense to the client and has a good understanding of the emotions that clients are feeling when discussing family circumstances and challenges.”

“Bernadette O’Reilly is particularly empathetic with clients dealing with emotional circumstances.”

“All members of Hewitsons have been unfailingly professional and helpful.”

“Katherine Hague has been consistently thorough, organised, helpful and knowledgeable. At a difficult time for our family, she has been sensitive and professional in all of our interactions. She has great communication skills, along with a relaxed manner, and we could not give her a higher recommendation.”

“An exceptionally dedicated team with good clear communication between specialists and excellent clear responses, advice and billing.”

“A good clear legal and human response combined with unwavering legal expertise.”

“The solicitors were efficient, responded quickly, knew their stuff, and were practical. I would enthusiastically Elizabeth Davies for private trust and probate work.”

Property litigation Tier 1

Hewitsons in Cambridge has 'a very strong regional team providing London quality work without having to pay for the overheads of a City firm'. One client notes that practice head Natalie Minott 'has City grade experience and skills'. The firm handles both commercial and residential property disputes, including matters for high-net-worth individuals, corporates and rural landowners. In 2018, the firm saw a growing caseload disputes arising from leasehold enfranchisement, collective enfranchisement and the right of first refusal, and in work for corporate clients relating to the Landlord and Tenant 1954 Act. Kate Church and Kate Harris are noted as Rising Stars.


“Natalie Minott is the stand out individual at the firm in this area. As well as possessing great legal skills, she is exceptionally good with difficult clients.”

“The firm has broad and deep experience of all types of real estate litigation. It is proactive and responsive.”

“Natalie Minott has excellent client handling skills, and is very collaborative and firm in her views.”

“The technical legal knowledge seems second to none and is allied with the knowhow to maximise this expertise to the client’s benefit.”

“Barbara Judkins was very professional, efficient and thorough in acting for us. She took particular care in understanding the detail of our case. Refreshingly these days, she was ready to recommend a course of action to us and to set out all the matters that required our consideration.”

“Barbara Judkins proved invaluable in fighting my corner for me in a very personable and effective style.”

Key clients

Homes England


Fish ‘n’chick’n

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 2

The charities and education practice at Hewitsons is led from Northampton but calls upon the agriculture, property and planning teams in Cambridge to act for a host of regional and national charities. Rural property and agricultural law expert Denise Wilkinson plays a key role in the practice, as does real estate and finance partner James Simpson. The firm counts several education institutions such as the University of Cambridge and numerous national charities among its clients.

Commercial litigation: Cambridge Tier 2

Hewitsons has a diverse commercial litigation practice in which the key lawyers have developed expertise in specialist areas of law. Lead partner Simon Biggin has been at the firm for nearly 30 years and is highly regarded for contract, product liability and software development disputes, as well as warranty claims, shareholder disputes and judicial review cases. Rising star associate Stewart Morrison has a particular focus on public procurement disputes, EU regulatory matters and public law work. IP specialist Mark Elmslie and real estate litigation partner Natalie Minott also act in general contract disputes.

Commercial property: Cambridge Tier 2

Hewitsons frequently handles large and complex projects, particularly in the leisure and residential sectors. It also advises technology and biotechnology companies on matters such as science park lettings, and has significant expertise in strategic land deals. Practice head James Simpson has a strong reputation for complex development and strategic land transactions and Graeme Sampson handles complex mixed-use development projects for developers, landowners and institutions. Both are supported by rising star senior associate Ceri Riddell. Partner Susanne Hinde manages a separate team that handles landlord and tenant and investment matters.


‘Friendly, efficient, pragmatic, sound, cost effective advice.’

‘A particular pleasure to work with James Simpson and Michael Russell, a steadier and more effective two pairs of hands it would be hard to match. Both have consistently proven their superior experience above their counterparts in acquisitions on our behalf.’

Key clients

Homes England

The Howard Group

Hill Residential Limited

Turnstone Estates Group

The Chesterford Group

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Swiss Laundry Ltd

Anglian Country Inns

HTS Estates Limited

Lloyds Bank Plc


Construction Tier 2

Hewitsons has a highly experienced construction group that works across its London, Milton Keynes and Cambridge offices. In Cambridge, managing partner Colin Jones is the standout practitioner who frequently handles complex and high-value matters for developers, contractors, design and construction professionals, construction product manufacturers, funders and occupiers. He is supported by solicitor Sardeep Gill who handles both contentious and non-contentious matters. The firm has a long-standing reputation for work on UK-wide construction projects, and its recent work includes projects for Oxbridge colleges and Homes England.

Corporate and commercial: Cambridge Tier 2

Hewitsons has a long-established reputation for M&A, corporate finance, private equity, investment and capital markets transactions. It has a broad client base with particular expertise in the technology, charities and education, healthcare, sport and energy sectors. Practice heads James Lawrence and Andrew Priest and key partner Bill Thatcher in Cambridge have a particular focus on the technology sector, in which they frequently handle acquisitions, venture capital investments, MBOs and MBIs. Newly promoted partner Laurence Evans has a strong practice in partnerships and LLPs, particularly for the firm's agricultural client base.


“The level of subject matter expertise, business sense, responsiveness, and cost-effectiveness is unmatched in my experience with law firms around the globe.”

“I would like to call out Bill Thatcher as an absolutely outstanding asset to our business. His responsiveness, commercial expertise, and value is truly remarkable. It has been a true privilege to work with him over the years.”

“Hewitsons provided us with timely legal support adhering to the scope of the service agreed.”

“Great communication, reasonable fees, good value for the money.”

“I particularly liked the approach of Hewitsons in that we worked with the same lawyer from initial discussions and quotation through to completion of the sale. This meant there was good continuity throughout the project.”

“The practice was very accommodating of a change of direction that occurred mid-way through the sale and also the complications of dealing with a foreign buyer.”

“We worked predominantly with Laurence Evans on the sale of our business. He understood the business, our objectives and helped to negotiate a successful outcome.”

“I found Laurence Evans to be professional and very easy to work with. He was also very fast at turning around questions we raised and amendments to the contract.”

“I would have no hesitation in recommending both Laurence Evans and Hewitsons in general.”

“Hewitsons offers a broad spectrum of specialist support for whatever commercial issues you face.”

“Bill Thatcher has proved to be a formidable ally to have onside during tricky commercial negotiations. His ability to make the complex seem simple, and to make arguments which are hard to dispute, is uncanny.”

“Bill Thatcher has an amazing ability to deeply understand our business, despite it being extremely specialised. All in all he is an invaluable part of our team and one we could not recommend highly enough.”

“Excellent all round abilities, with very solid associates and good access to partner expertise.”

“James Lawrence has a first rate legal mind, and his advice is always succinct and completely on the point.”

Key clients

Quartix Holdings Plc (listed)

Homes England

KisanHub (UK and India)

Nuformix Plc (listed)

VKR Group (owner of Velux brand with HQ in Denmark)

Cryptomathic Group (HQ in Denmark)

Spirol Group, Inc (HQ in USA)

Amino Technologies Plc (listed)

Scientific Molding Corporation Ltd

Hill Residential Ltd

Education Tier 2

Hewitsons has a diverse range of clients that includes schools and FE and HE colleges. Head of the charities and education practice Chris Knight now works predominantly from the Northampton office but spends time in Cambridge to advise the firm's university, school and college clients. The firm's services include charity law and governance, data protection advice, dispute resolution, employment, environmental law, pupil issues and M&A. James Simpson and Susanne Hinde frequently work on property matters for clients in the education sector, while Andrew Priest handles commercial matters.


“The particular knowledge of our trust since becoming a foundation school through to a multi-academy trust makes their relationship with us unique. With their specialist education knowledge we find Hewitsons to be an invaluable part of our team.”

“Their strengths, in particular regarding our sometimes quirky approach to running a trust, we find to be very useful. It is this that makes them stand out in our view against others.”

“The firm provides excellent partner expertise at highly competitive rates.”

Key clients

University of Cambridge

The Colleges in the University of Cambridge (31 in number)

Oxford and Cambridge Examination Board

Stephen Perse Foundation

Morris Education Trust

Bush & Bennett charity

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Culford School

Kimbolton School

Sancton Wood School

City of Cambridge Education Foundation

Employment Tier 2

The employment practice at Hewitsons, which is led from the firm's Northampton office, has a strong presence in Cambridge through experienced partners Valerie Lambert and Elizabeth Swinburn. The team increased its capacity in 2018 with the internal transfer of solicitor James Makin from its commercial practice group, in order to handle a growing workload of High Court litigation, business reorganisation, Employment Tribunals, TUPE transfers, disciplinary matters and support for M&A transactions. The practice increasingly handles cases with cross-border elements.

Intellectual property Tier 2

Hewitsons acts for clients ranging from small businesses to multinational corporations, including well-known brands and Cambridge colleges, in IP licensing, development contracts and contentious matters. Clients praise 'the breadth of IP knowledge from accessible partners at keen rates'. Practice head Andrew Priest handles IT, outsourcing, technology transfer and general commercial contracts, while key partner Mark Elmslie's work for national and international clients includes research and development arrangements and technology licensing contracts.


“In intellectual property matters the expertise available via the team is second to none.”

“Mark Elmslie has a unique knowledge of the regulatory framework established by IPReg, the regulator for the IP profession. He is calm and measured in his advice.”

“Andrew Priest is a really valuable addition to the firm’s IP expertise, with deep industry understanding and a sharp legal mind.”

IT and telecoms Tier 2

The IT practice at Hewitsons acts for suppliers to and purchasers of IT services across a broad range of IT businesses, advises on on EU Framework Programme contracts in IT fields, handles data protection compliance issues and data security breaches for IT and technology companies, and deals with matters of software development, licensing, distribution and support. It also has niche expertise in IT and business process outsourcing. Practice head Andrew Priest handles IT outsourcings and technology licensing deals in the public and private sector, and consultant Bill Thatcher has nearly 30 years' experience in IP and IT transactions.

Pensions Tier 2

Head of pensions Christopher Nuttall at Hewitsons works mainly from Northampton but regularly attends the Cambridge office to advise the firm's key clients. The firm acts for employers and trustees of private sector occupational pension schemes throughout the UK and across a wide range of business sectors. It has significant experience in public sector pensions, particularly involving the local government, healthcare and education sectors.


“Chris Nuttall  delivers comprehensive advice in a timely manner and strives to deliver a meaningful and helpful service.”

Key clients

Perrys Group Limited

Trustees of the Superior Pension Fund (Greenery UK Limited)

Trustees of the Velux Co. Ltd Retirement Benefits Scheme

Permastore Limited

Biochrom Limited

Trustees of the Jacques Vert Limited Pension Scheme

United Learning Trust

Trustees of the Sortex Final Salary Scheme (Buhler Sortex Limited)

Visit Cambridge & Beyond

Trustees of the AT Oliver & Sons Ltd Pension and Life Assurance Scheme

Banking and finance Tier 3

The finance practice at Hewitsons is led from Northampton by Neil Harpham but the firm's Cambridge office has corporate, agricultural and real estate partners who handle high-value financings for their clients. James Lawrence handles corporate and acquisition finance, Deborah Sharples handles agricultural finance, James Simpson focuses on real estate finance, and Tim Middleton advises on residential property finance. Much of the firm's work centres on secured lending and bank funding in the education and charity sectors.

Hewitsons is a leading law firm that treats each of its clients on an individual basis, advising businesses, individuals and institutions. Hewitsons operates UK-wide, delivering a broad range of high-quality specialist legal services through its groups of solicitors and via its international network, LawExchange International.

The firm: Hewitsons operates out of locations in Cambridge, London, Milton Keynes and Northampton, from which its teams provide a well-tailored and co-ordinated service to clients. The expertise and professional approach of the firm’s personnel are equal to the quality expected from national practices but with the added advantages that the firm’s strategic locations bring in terms of cost-effectiveness and pertinent local knowledge.

The international dimension of Hewitsons’ service is strengthened through LawExchange International, the association of pre-eminent legal practices, which Hewitsons founded in 1994. Member firms throughout Europe, North and South America, Asia/Pacific and the Middle East provide their clients with informed legal knowledge within each respective national jurisdiction, and excellent service with global reach through the deeply integrated LawExchange network.

Hewitsons has the size and depth of resources, combined with commercially-minded and innovative approaches to client service, to ensure delivery of a high quality service that meets its clients’ legal requirements comprehensively and consistently adds value.

Types of work undertaken: Hewitsons provides a broad spectrum of services for the business community, public sector bodies, private clients and educational and charitable entities, encompassing all aspects of corporate, commercial, property and employment law, from non-contentious negotiations and advice through to dispute resolution and litigation. The firm offers in addition a higher number of specialist services (for example pensions, sport and technology law) than most firms of comparable size.

Hewitsons has multidisciplinary sector-focused groups to target its services, and to meet its clients’ current and future needs. These include dedicated groups focused on agricultural food and rural clients, banking and finance, development, technology and clean-tech, charities, educational institutions, high-net-worth clients, owner managed businesses, real estate portfolio management and sport.

Hewitsons’ corporate and commercial teams are market leaders with extensive expertise in all areas, including M&A, buyouts, start-ups, equity and debt investments, IPO’s, share schemes and corporate reorganisations. The firm is highly regarded for its expertise in the technology field, particularly for intellectual property and ICT law issues, and has a dedicated employment law group and dispute resolution lawyers specialising in commercial and intellectual property matters.

The firm’s property services group has exceptional knowledge of and experience in property and development work, including commercial sales and leasing, options, capital funding, joint venture and consortium agreements and associated construction, public procurement, planning and environmental issues, both contentious and non-contentious. Clients include owners and occupiers, promoters, developers, end-users, investors and portfolio managers.

Hewitsons’ substantial and highly respected private wealth unit provides specialised advice on tax planning, charity and agricultural law, trusts and probate to individuals and trustees whose wealth derives from family companies, listed market and other financial investments, commercial and agricultural property and landed estates.

Department Name Email Telephone
Private Wealth Clare Colacicchi 01604 463317
Construction Colin Jones 01223 532731
Agriculture Denise Wilkinson 01223 532743
Banking and finance Neil Harpham 01604 463301
Charities Chris Knight 01604 463103
Corporate James Lawrence 01223 532716
Commercial Bill Thatcher 01223 532709
Construction Tim Richards 01908 247011
Dispute resolution Dominic Hopkins 01604 233233
Education Chris Knight 01604 463103
Employment Nicholas Hall 01604 463375
Information Technology Andrew Priest 01223 532746
Intellectual property Mark Elmslie 01223 532720
Pensions Christopher Nuttall 01604 463134
Private wealth Daniel Curtis 01223 461155
Public sector Tim Richards 01908 247011
Real Estate Development Claire Howard-Amos 01604 463323
Residential property Tim Middleton 01223 461155
Sport Ben Moorhead 020 7400 6578
Photo Name Position Profile
 Bradley Armorgie  photo Bradley Armorgie
 Rebecca Austin  photo Rebecca Austin
 Sarah Aylward  photo Sarah Aylward
 Sarah Baron  photo Sarah Baron
 Simon Biggin  photo Simon Biggin
 Sue  Birnage   photo Sue  Birnage 
 Emma Bowman  photo Emma Bowman
 Charlotte Bull  photo Charlotte Bull
 Kate Church  photo Kate Church
 Daniel Curtis  photo Daniel Curtis
 Elizabeth Davies  photo Elizabeth Davies
 Gemma Dudley  photo Gemma Dudley
 Mark Elmslie  photo Mark Elmslie
 Laurence Evans  photo Laurence Evans
 James Frankland  photo James Frankland
 Sardeep Gill  photo Sardeep Gill
 Tobias Gleed-Owen  photo Tobias Gleed-Owen
 Katherine Hague  photo Katherine Hague
 Elizabeth Herbert  photo Elizabeth Herbert
 Charles Hewitson  photo Charles Hewitson
 Susanne Hinde  photo Susanne Hinde
 Alexandra Howard  photo Alexandra Howard
 Sarah Humble  photo Sarah Humble
 Colin Jones  photo Colin Jones
 Barbara Judkins  photo Barbara Judkins
 Valerie Lambert  photo Valerie Lambert
 James Lawrence  photo James Lawrence
 Clare Martin  photo Clare Martin
 Tim Middleton  photo Tim Middleton
 Stewart Morrison  photo Stewart Morrison
 Bernadette O’Reilly  photo Bernadette O’Reilly
 Andrew Priest  photo Andrew Priest
 Ceri Riddell  photo Ceri Riddell
 Paul Ross  photo Paul Ross
 Michael Russell  photo Michael Russell
 Graeme Sampson  photo Graeme Sampson
 James Simpson  photo James Simpson
 Elizabeth Swinburn  photo Elizabeth Swinburn
 Alan Taylor  photo Alan Taylor
 Joe Taylor  photo Joe Taylor
 Bill Thatcher  photo Bill Thatcher
 Kelly Wardell  photo Kelly Wardell
 Denise Wilkinson  photo Denise Wilkinson
Number of UK partners : 45
Number of other UK fee-earners : 95
English (fluent)
Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP)