Machins Solicitors LLP > Luton, England > Firm Profile

Machins Solicitors LLP
28 Dunstable Road

Private client > Family: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 1

Machins Solicitors LLP is an established family law practice based in Luton which deals with both public and private matters. The team advises in relation to applications for special guardianship orders including international adoption and represent parents and family friends in care proceedings. The department is specialised in dealing with high net-worth individuals in the banking industry with regard to private children proceedings. Co-head Kathryn Ainsworth handles business and financial arrangements while co-head Sarah  Ashby has expertise in child care matters. The ‘astute and pragmaticRichard Phillips is also a key team member.

Practice head(s):

Kathryn Ainsworth; Sarah Ashby

Other key lawyers:


‘Machins has a strong family team with a wealth of experience in all areas of family law. They are able to provide advice and in-house representation to adults, children and professional clients. They maintain a commitment to legal aid work where many local solicitors have ceased to undertake it.’

‘Excellent team of solicitors who go the extra mile for the clients. Would highly recommend. Always happy to work late and assist drafting documents to ensure everything is fully prepped.’

‘Kathryn Ainsworth is very good on strategy and knows the law inside out.’

‘I’ve worked with Richard Phillips who always strikes me as sensible and proportionate in approach with excellent judgement.’

‘Richard Phillips is great to work with. He’s sensible, astute, pragmatic and always focused on getting the best possible results.’

‘Fantastic firm that upholds the value of truly serving and protecting the most vulnerable in society.’

‘Their team ethic. They are so cohesive, all under the watchful eye of the brilliant Kathryn Ainsworth’

‘Kathryn Ainsworth. Steers the ship better than any captain!’

Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 2

The corporate and commercial department at Machins Solicitors LLP advises on a range of transactions including negotiating complex contracts, reorganisations, restructurings, private equity investment and M&A. The firm is particularly well-versed in the aviation sector and combines this expertise with advice in areas such as GDPR and intellectual property. Mark Pelopida co-heads the practice and regularly advises on M&A matters and complex contractual negotiations. Co-head Max Lesser handles aviation matters while Jon Alvarez assists high net-worth individuals. Sarah Liddiard has expertise on shareholders agreements, joint venture and supply agreements.

Practice head(s):

Mark Pelopida; Jon Alvarez; Max Lesser

Other key lawyers:


‘There are specialists in many different areas of law, so my needs are always met under one roof. I use Machins for all my business and personal legal advice.’

‘I work very closely with Sarah Liddiard for all of my commercial terms and she has always been excellent. Sarah always takes the time to fully understand the exact requirements and then works with me to find the best solution, keeping legal terms in a way that a non-legal person can understand. I always feel reassured knowing that I have Sarah on standby for advice in the fast paced world my business operates in.’

‘The key strength is partner involvement being a partner led service and an ability to communicate legal concepts in simple English.’

‘Unlike larger firms more advice is directly given by partners and senior staff rather than being delegated to more junior members of the team.’

‘The individuals that I work most closely with are Mark Pelopida, Nic Pestell and Jon Alvarez. Mark Pelopida in particular has the ability to give practical commercial advice and communicate in simple English. At the same time he gives realistic legal advice which helps clients make informed decisions.’

‘Mark Pelopida is a very experienced commercial solicitor who was very valuable when I was selling my business. He also has a good team behind him who are on the ball!’

‘The firm has a strong team covering all of the main areas of the law. As well as professional and technical expertise, the team members I have dealt with are all friendly, helpful and approachable. They work well together and have a good knowledge of what colleagues can do to help.’

‘The stand out individual is Mark Pelopida. His advice and execution on M&A deals is always first class. On every deal he builds a unique rapport with the client and with their advisers, eg accountants and bankers. His advice to the client, whilst being first class in terms of the law, is always given from the highest moral and ethical standpoint. The client knows that, if anyone can close a transaction on their behalf, it will be Mark.’

Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 2

The dispute resolution team at Machins Solicitors LLP is experienced in commercial litigation issues with a particular specialism in shareholder and partnership disputes. The practice is also steadily increasing its alternative dispute resolution services having represented clients in several mediations. Practice head Neil O’Callaghan is well regarded for his expertise in contentious insolvency matters such as bankruptcy proceedings. Benedict Smith focuses on probate issues while Holly Baker handles commercial and property disputes.

Practice head(s):

Neil O’Callaghan

Other key lawyers:


‘Machins are a firm who you genuinely feel are committed to providing quality service to their clients.’

‘Benedict Smith inspires confidence in clients and has an ability to put them at ease, in event the most trying of circumstances.’

‘I guess the key strength of Machins is that it is partner-led. And this is reflected in the quality of advice and professional approach consistent with their approach.’

‘They have always treated me very well. I feel they make me at ease when meeting them in very sensitive meetings.’

‘Well informed and quick to respond.’

‘Neil O’Callaghan is always quick to respond and available to answer questions and provide guidance on a wide range of areas.’

‘Machins has a strong team of commercial litigators – with particular expertise in shareholder and partnership disputes. They’re lovely to deal with and get great results for their clients.’

‘Holly Baker is an efficient lawyer who gets things done with no fuss. She is careful, pays attention to the detail, and really seeks to go the extra mile for clients.’

Employment > Employment: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 2

Machins Solicitors LLP ‘s client base encompasses both the private and public sector with strong links to businesses in the transport and manufacturing industries. In addition to business owners, the firm is increasingly acting for individuals such as senior executives and entrepreneurs. The addition of the immigration department has allowed a steady cross-over with the firm’s employment practice as corporate clients take up the service. TUPE and restrictive covenant expert Jackie Cuneen co-heads the firm with David Rushmere who has experience with employment tribunals.

Practice head(s):

Jackie Cuneen; David Rushmere


‘The team has a strong, local employment litigation practice. The quality of the cases they handle is high, as is the quality of work they produce and the instructions I receive from them.’

‘I have been impressed with how quickly and effectively Jackie was able to get on top of a complicated claim that we are working on when one of her team, sadly, fell ill. Jackie has been tremendous help throughout. She has been approachable and responsive and is quick to deal with issues in a sensible and commercial way.’

‘I have worked with Sorcha on a number of tribunal claims and it has been a pleasure. She has a complete handle of all the matters and understands the law well. The work she does is well beyond the standards I would expect of someone of her experience. The cases she manages are well-maintained and properly, commercially pleaded.’

‘In simple terms I think that the team simply bring a practical , friendly and yet highly skilled approach to their work. Always taking time to fully understand and respond appropriately whether a major case or much smaller advice. A truly great professional service.’

‘Jon Alvarez and David Rushmore have been exceptional in terms of their timely and detailed responses , their availability and their willingness to explain all of the options all of the time.’

‘Machins are responsive to our needs, which are not frequent, but when they arise and need resolution at speed Machins provide solid, pragmatic advice at appropriate pace.’

‘The team at Machins is very responsive and cases move forward in a rapid way, with no unnecessary delay. They have a broad skillset and are good at drawing in specific knowledge/talent as it is needed. They deliver a high quality of expertise, and provide exceptionally good value. They are pragmatic and professional, and are not interested in name calling or needless unpleasantness, even if the other side are. That said, they are firm and decisive, and are good at highlighting the pros and cons of each next move, so the client is able to make a well informed decision.’

‘David Rushmere is excellent. He is experienced, has worked at a high level in the sector and can bring that knowledge and understanding to what was, in my case, a relatively minor matter.’

Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 2

The personal tax, trusts and probate team at Machins Solicitors LLP is experienced in advising high-net worth individuals on private client issues such as estate administration and inheritance tax planning.  These clients often include premiership footballers, music artists and high-profile MPs. Nic Pestell co-heads the team with Nicki Denton-Masih and has experience in tax planning and business succession planning in addition to wills and structures.

Practice head(s):

Nic Pestell; Nicki Denton-Masih


‘Always available, skilled supportive staff.’

‘Nic Pestell is the partner whom I trust. Responsive skilled and helpful.’

‘The best thing about Machins is that you get a personal service led by a competent partner expert in the field.’

‘They take personal interest in the case and give you a full rounded service.’

‘The team are all knowledgeable, professional and approachable.’

‘Nic Pestell is approachable and deals with difficult circumstances with care and sensitivity, he responds to clients professionally but with sympathy and understanding.’

‘They are very clear on their website, they are open and friendly. During the pandemic they made it easy to communicate through Zoom. They have a good payment system over the phone partial human and then automated generated for security.’

‘Strong leadership is evident, depth of knowledge, even amongst juniors is impressive. The team obviously and consistently puts the client’s needs at the centre of all discussions. Their client facing staff are very patient, caring and practical with their advice. The meetings feel more like chats than interviews. One feels, they are on your side, and fully prepared to listen to every detail, to ensure they truly understand their clients needs.’

Real estate > Property litigation Tier 3

Located within the firm’s broader dispute resolution team and headed up by Neil O’Callaghan , Machins Solicitors LLP‘s property litigation offering provides services to a wide range of clients including landlords, tenants and developers in the commercial and residential spheres. With over 25 years’ experience, Janice Young handles matters including commercial rent arrears, leasehold enfranchisements and lease extensions, and disputes over restrictive covenants and easements. The ‘responsive and attentiveHolly Baker is well regarded for her breadth of knowledge and experience, and the January 2022 hire of associate Ben Walters further strengthens the team. All named lawyers are based in Luton.

Practice head(s):

Neil O’Callaghan


‘Over the years I have had dealings with 3 different partners/associates due to the complexity and length my dispute has taken. I have found them all most efficient in their work.’

‘Clear concise information provided with regular updates on cases. Staff easy to talk to and personable which is welcomed on difficult cases. Very knowledgeable if they don’t know they will find out and report back.’

‘Machins have more than fulfilled our expectations. They are approachable, responsive and clearly know what they are talking about. As well as their legal support, they have made our lives much easier. We know that we can depend on them and that they are doing the best they can for us. That means a great deal in this area of law.’

‘Although I have worked with several solicitors at Machins, Holly Baker stands out. She is incredibly easy to work with, has a fantastic grasp of tactics and is unflappable. If litigation is war, she is the sort of solicitor that you would want with you in a foxhole.’

‘Holly Baker is very friendly and helpful. All of my experiences with Holly have been incredibly positive, with prompt communication at all times. When I have had to ask Holly for assistance, she has been able to explain the issues that have arisen in an appropriate manner for my level of understanding.’

‘Both Holly Baker and Janice Young are very competent and client focused.’

‘Holly Baker was excellent and handled our case with professionalism and skill. She was very responsive and knowledgeable in her field and resolved our claim as quickly as possible.’

Private client > Contentious trusts and probate Tier 4

Machins Solicitors LLP's Luton-based dispute resolution team has a worthy contentious probate practice, working closely with the firm's family and private client offering. Lawyers have experience before the high court, court of appeal and county courts, as well as handling disputes before the family courts. Neil O’Callaghan is the practice head and brings to bear expertise in commercial litigation. Benedict Smith has a specialism in contentious probate, with commercial law and property knowledge.

Practice head(s):

Neil O’Callaghan

Other key lawyers:


‘I have worked with Benedict Smith for a number of years now and he never fails to impress. He s a talented solicitor with a growing reputation in the industry in contentious probate matters. He is adept at dealing with tricky matters and he has a forensic eye for detail backed up by a commercial mind which is always seeking the most beneficial result for his clients.’

‘In my view Machins Solicitors LLP’s contentious trust and probate practice is particularly client-focussed. Its members treat lay clients with the degree of empathy which is necessary in the often emotional arena of probate proceedings. Equally, however, they are not afraid to make difficult judgment calls and always provide pragmatic, clear and effective legal advice.’

‘I have worked with Benedict Smith of Machins Solicitors LLP on a number of cases. I would describe him as a stand-out instructing associate solicitor who is very much motivated a desire to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients. He has an excellent grasp of the complex law associated with contentious trust and probate work and draws from a deep pool of experience – to the benefit of his clients. Benedict is collegiate in his approach to working with counsel but is also willing to confront challenging aspects of a case where appropriate.’

‘My experience is that their communication with client (myself) is extremely good, not only are they able to clearly in lay mans term explain complicated matters in law promptly when needed, they are also always available to take calls and routinely return calls too. This is extremely important to me as I am someone who suffers anxiety and waiting for clarity and direction is very stressful for me and in this regard Machins LLP have been very good to me.’

‘Over the last two years Benedict Smith impressed us greatly with his knowledge and willingness to help. He is also good at explaining legal points and weighing up alternatives. He has a very friendly manner which makes him very approachable, and understands when informality help build client relations and more importantly gets the points across.’

Real estate > Commercial property: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 4

Machins Solicitors LLP is experienced in advising clients such as investors, charities and banks across the industrial, retail and agricultural sectors. The team frequently undertakes bank securitisation work, portfolio management and acquisitions. Simeon Clipstone specialises in property asset-based business sales and co-heads the practice with Santokh Singh who focuses on development matters. Nick Ginger is also a notable lawyer.

Practice head(s):

Simeon Clipstone; Santokh Singh

Other key lawyers:

Nick Ginger


‘Personal contact. Straight forward, easy to understand advice even when it not what you want to hear.’

‘We have dealt with Machins for in excess of fifty years. During this time we have found them at all times to be most diligent. Partners always ensure that we are treated respectfully and the advice given always reflects the long term relationship.’

‘Throughout our time with Machins we have used Nick Ginger in our dealing with commercial property issues. He has shown to be most thorough and is prepared to go the extra mile when deemed necessary, even to the point of being available on holidays!’

‘A very attentive service with quick responses.’

‘Nick Ginger & his team give good practical advice with speedy & effective solutions. Very happy.’

Machins Solicitors is widely recognised as one of the region’s leading commercial firms. Progressive and well run, it has a reputation for being reliable, cost effective and highly professional.

The firm: Machins Solicitors has carried on business under the name of Machins since 1920 and can trace its roots back to a law firm that had opened for business in the late 1800s.  This year the firm is celebrating its centenary year.

With offices in Luton and Berkhamsted, it has a strong geographic reach, acting for clients not only in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire but also Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, the Thames Valley Corridor, London and internationally.  It has a growing team with expert lawyers offering a full range of business and individual legal services (aside from criminal).

Within the individual services sector, it has specialist niches in family and child care issues, as well as wills, trusts and probate, dispute resolution, employment and immigration. The firm works closely with highly respected counsel, actuaries, accountants, independent financial advisors, mediators and business valuers.

Within the commercial sector, our practice areas cover legal services from company and corporate law, employment law and commercial property law through to dispute resolution, immigration and debt recovery services.

Types of work undertaken
Company commercial: Machins Solicitors has built up a strong commercial team with experts advising across a spectrum of disciplines, providing help to businesses, directors, institutions, societies, owners and managers. Over recent years, the department has seen a sustained growth both in the scope and the value of the work undertaken. Work includes all areas of acquisitions and mergers, joint ventures, contractual and compliance issues and intellectual property acting for a range of clients from sole traders to multinational companies.

Commercial property: The commercial property team continues to grow through its wide range of transactions providing advice to property owners, developers, investors, lenders and tenants. The firm’s reputation is built on sound practical judgement and experience acquired over decades. It acts for large property companies, sole traders, and local, national and international businesses. It is able to help with the full range of commercial property issues including property litigation, enfranchisement and lease extensions, site acquisition development and disposals, and agricultural holdings and farm tenancies as well as landlord and tenant issues and business lease renewals.

Employment:  In addition to advising a growing core employer client base on  business as usual employment matters and high-net-worth individual clients on their exit packages, the team is kept busy both in relation to litigation and corporate transactional matters, business advisory and dispute resolution advising on a number of injunctive disputes, multi-jurisdiction Employment Tribunal claims and TUPE transactions. The team also has particular expertise in relation to discrimination cases, specifically disability discrimination.

Immigration: Our specialist team has expertise across all aspects of UK immigration law and knows all the relevant procedures, policies and criteria assisting individual and business clients from asylum seekers to investors and entrepreneurs from the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Private client: With a team of six lawyers, the private client department continues to attract high-net-worth clients, many of whom are London-based. The department advises on wills, probate, contested probate, establishing trusts and trust management, tax planning and cross-border estates, deputyships and powers of attorney.

Family (private law): Machins has a family (private law) team in Luton and Berkhamsted who are all qualified solicitors performing to a high standard of excellence. Acting for clients throughout the UK and abroad, this growing department specialises in dealing with cases involving private high-net-worth individuals, particularly those with their own businesses, TV executives and bankers as well as work ranging from fixed-fee divorce, cohabitation agreements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements through to helping clients with complex private Children Act proceedings, mediation and collaborative law.

Family (public law): the team, based in Luton, excels in public law children proceedings and holds a legal aid franchise which enables the team to provide legal advice and representation in relation to public family law including applications for special guardianship orders and adoption including international adoption.

Debt recovery: the debt recovery department has 40 years’ experience specifically in the fields of motor finance and property management.

Commercial litigation: Machins’ commercial litigation team is well respected for specialist niches particularly in relation to shareholder disputes, insolvency and property litigation as well as standard contractual litigation of a commercial nature. It is widely recognised as one of the leading litigation firms in the region.


Managing Partner & Head of Company Commercial Department Mark
Company Commercial Jon
Commercial Property Nick
Commercial Property Santokh
Commercial Property Simeon
Civil litigation & Debt Collection Neil O'
Employment Jackie
Employment David
Head of Family Department (Private Law) Kathryn Ainsworth (private family law)
Family Paul Owen (private family)
Public Law Sarah Ashby (public family law)
Private Client Nic
Private Client Nicki
Residential Conveyancing Dipak
Number of UK partners : 14
Number of other UK fee-earners : 40

People are at the heart of our business and core to its future sustainability. We are committed to encouraging workforce diversity and inclusion and aim to be an employer of choice, maintaining a high reputation of employee care and consideration.

Machins Solicitors LLP believes our success is a direct result of the experience and quality of our employees. We are, therefore, committed to focusing our employment procedures and practices on maximising the potential of each individual. We believe this is best achieved by developing our employees’ talents, whilst recognising their differences. By treating people fairly and equally and by accepting and embracing their diversity, we can also improve our market competitiveness, enhance our corporate social responsibility and create an inclusive and positive working environment for all employees.

It is the policy of the Firm that no person acting on our behalf shall discriminate in any situation against another individual or group, directly or indirectly, because of age, sex, disability, gender re‐assignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, paternity, race, religion and belief and sexual orientation. Machins Solicitors LLP also endorses the principle that the workforce at each location should reflect, as far as is reasonably possible, the community within which it operates. These principles apply to recruitment selection, training, promotion, transfer, pay and benefits and performance appraisal procedures, in addition to all terms and conditions of employment.

Our aims are as follows:-

  • To ensure equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and community
  • To offer fair treatment in every aspect of working life in Machins Solicitors LLP, from our written procedures through to every decision made
  • To promote a culture where each employee and colleague is treated with respect and dignity and recognises the value that a diverse workforce can bring

Machins Solicitors LLP also has a growing corporate social responsibility programme within Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. We ensure our local community, charity and pro-bono legal work; as well our environmental practices are a core part of our firm-wide business strategy.

We have strong links with local charities, schools and universities and strive to ensure our partners and staff work in partnership to share their expertise and knowledge. We are proud of the role our people play within the local community. Our ongoing partnerships and community programmes ensure we are dedicated to deploying our skills and experience to provide valuable and vital services which in turn promote more access to justice and social inclusion.