Firm Profile > BDB Pitmans > Southampton, England

BDB Pitmans
Grosvenor House
Grosvenor Square
SO15 2BE

Commercial litigation: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 1

BDB Pitmans advises individual and corporate clients from a wide variety of sectors but has a particular focus on  IT disputes, including supply and software licensing. Tim Clark leads the team and is 'extremely knowledgeable in his field', specialising in company law related claims, partnership, shareholder and unfair prejudice disputes. Phil Smith  specialises in commercial litigation, acting  on a wide range of contractual and tortious claims. David Gwillim  leads the contentious construction and engineering practice.

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Tim Clark is an excellent litigator- calm under fire and extremely knowledgeable in his field, which includes franchising related matters.’

I have found working with the BDB Pitmans team to be a consistent, great pleasure. They are an excellent, responsive team that provides a City of London service.’

Very hands on and excellent attention to detail.

They really care about the lay client.’

Key clients

Zeta Global

Veritas Technologies


Westcoast Limited

Sol-Tec Ltd

Oracle Corporation

XMA Limited No

Karali Group Limited

Symantec Corporation

Clarify Solution Selling Ltd

30 Global Net Limited

Ultima Business Solutions Limited

Global Wealth Management Solutions LLP

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 1

BDB Pitmans' dedicated team of insolvency and restructuring lawyers has extensive experience of a range of insolvency matters. The team receives referrals from insolvency practitioners, banks, private equity and accountants to advise on insolvency matters, including those with cross-border elements. They also directly advise troubled companies on restructuring and insolvency options. The team is led by the 'accomplished' Suzanne Brooker, who also serves as the national head of the insolvency department. Brooker, a licensed insolvency practitioner, has over 25 years' experience in this area. Stacey Jones is another key contact; she acts in all areas of insolvency law and is praised as a 'first-rate lawyer'.

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‘BDB Pitmans is extremely well respected in the insolvency and corporate recovery sector. In litigation, they often come up against much bigger firms, demonstrating how good they are and the confidence that their clients have in them. The team is technically excellent but importantly, they’re also really nice people. It’s a winning combination as far as clients are concerned.’

‘Stacey Jones is fantastic. She is a first rate lawyer but she’s also absolutely great company. Clients absolutely love her. You would always want Stacey on your side; she fights tooth and nail for her clients. Tim Evans, while still junior, is one to watch for the future. He is technically excellent and great with clients.’

‘Suzanne Brooker and her team took a calm and pragmatic approach their engagement. At all times they displayed great competence and a work rate second-to-none. They were a pleasure to work with during what were trying circumstances. I couldn’t have had anyone better in my corner. Suzanne Brooker was the lead partner on the project. She was supportive, calming and reassuring throughout, with a degree of competence that I have found hard to match elsewhere.’

‘Suzanne Brooker has an excellent understanding of the law providing commercial answers to difficult situations.’

‘The team comprises a set of individuals who combine to give a service which is efficient and practical and given in a timely way. The team compares well to other firms.’

‘The individuals in the BDB Pitmans team that I work with are very committed to finding a practical way through the inevitable problems that occur – and their skill is such that they always do succeed in this regard. Partner Stacey Jones is in particular very tenacious and she is very effective at progressing matters in a practical and sensible manner.’

‘Led by the outstanding Suzanne Brooker who as well as being a very capable lawyer is a trusted adviser to her clients. City quality lawyers at a more attractive level of cost. Occupying the middle ground of the market but comfortably competing with the very best in the market.’

‘Suzanne Brooker is an accomplished lawyer and brings strategic analysis to cases that her competitors simply cannot apply.’

Key clients



Grant Thornton UK


CVR Global



UHY Hacker Young

RSM Baker Tilly Creditor Services

Wilkins Kennedy

IT and telecoms Tier 1

A range of major IT and telecoms clients are served by the team at BDB Pitmans. Led by commercial litigation specialist Phil Smith, it has a first-rate reputation for the advice it provides to regional enterprises and tech start-ups. This includes expert assistance on procurement and data protection issues in both cyber and digital spaces. On the non-contentious side, legal director Marie Evrard brings substantive experience as a former in-house lawyer, having worked for telecoms companies in both Spain and the UK, allowing the team to offer a broad perspective on a range of commercial contracts issues.

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Key clients

KAI Computer Services Ltd

Sol-Tec Limited

Oracle Corporation

Cloudsense Inc

Westcoast Ltd

Symantec (t/a Norton Anti-Virus)



Zeta Global

Clarify Solution Selling Limited

Pensions Tier 1

The 'prompt and efficient' team at BDB Pitmans advises trustees on a range of issues including Guaranteed Minimum Pension equalisation, assistance with member complaints (including Ombudsman proceedings) and the corporate restructuring of the sponsoring employer. A recent focus has been working with a number of independent schools in relation to the increasing cost of participating in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. Practice head David Hosford has 'vast knowledge in his field' and advises on all non-contentious pensions issues, predominantly for scheme trustees.  

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They are very “user friendly” and keep everything simple (where possible). I cannot think of any weaknesses.

Got the job done, no procrastination.’


Key clients

Continental Group Pension & Life Assurance Scheme

Danfoss Power Solutions Pension Plan

The Solicitors’ Law Stationery Society Limited Pension Scheme

Stable Employees Pension Plan

Stonegate Farmers (1972) Pension & Life Assurance Scheme

Standard Group (UK) Pension Scheme

Dantec Pension Scheme

Jockey Club Racecourses Pension Scheme

Stoves Executive Pension Scheme

Mitsui UK Retirement Benefits Plan

Rehau Limited Retirement Benefits Scheme

Belfast Harbour Commissioners’ Pension Scheme

ACM Staff Pension Scheme

Chas A Blatchford & Sons Limited Group Pension Scheme

Jacob Beatus Ltd Pension & Life Assurance Scheme

Denley King Partnership (1988) Retirement Benefits Scheme

Thames Valley Eggs Ltd Pension Fund

Swedish Match UK Pension Fund

Bruf Contract Holdings Limited Pension and Life Assurance Fund (1972)

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

Much of BDB Pitmans' work relates to residential developments, advising local and national residential developers and commercial developers for hotel and landmark projects on contracts, promotion agreements, strategic land purchase, conditional agreements subject to planning, collaboration agreements and joint ventures. Sarah Potter, Delphine Mehouas, Marcus McCluggage and Paul Brame are the key Reading-based practitioners. Jonathan Fewster leads the practice from the London office.

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Key clients

Cala Homes

Bewley Homes

Shanly Homes

Ashill Land

Oakford Homes

Millgate Homes

Vanderbilt Homes

Spitfire Bespoke Homes Limited

Palatine Homes Limited

Construction Tier 2

BDB Pitmans' dedicated construction and engineering department works closely with the real estate, insolvency and dispute resolution teams to offer a "cradle to grave" service including contentious and non-contentious work. The practice advises on a full range of construction work and has a niche specialism in marine engineering. David Gwillim heads up the department and specialises in contract drafting, warranties and bonds, insurance and health and safety issues.

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Lots of experience and very committed to their clients.’

David Gwillim is a partner with unmatched experience. Maisie Sigurdsson is an exceptionally hard worker.

This practice has a highly specific insight into commercial solution-finding. It avoids unnecessary legalese, in order to produce workable, practical and commercially responsive answers. Particular capabilities: dedicated service at all levels; individual focus on team goals – in respect of large projects, where aims and goals are numerous and can become unclear or muddled, they have repeatedly shown a talent for identifying and pursuing the most practical way forward.

David Gwillim is extremely practical, straightforward, with particular expertise in commuting the complexities of construction/contract/planning issues, into one streamlined solution. Naturally adept at leading.

Key clients

MTD Contractors

Pro Tar Surfacing

Mildren Construction

Owlsworth IJP

Burnham Parish Council

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

BDB Pitmans has a strong reputation for advising large clients on private company M&A transactions,  along with a developing portfolio of private equity and cross-border work. Oliver Pilkington leads the Reading and Southampton teams,  advising on a range of transactions, with a focus on equity capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions. Stephanie Perry handles management buy-outs and buy-ins, private equity investment, shareholder agreements and joint venture arrangements. John Hutchinson and Philip Weaver are also recommended.

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The quality of the individuals in the team drives an impressive client base and complex transactions.  Combine this reach and experience with a cost-effective practice located outside of London and the result is a compelling client offering that I haven’t found elsewhere.’

From a client’s perspective, Oliver Pilkington is the perfect combination of technical knowledge and commercial pragmatism; he refines and simplifies the decision-making process immeasurably. Oliver’s outcome focused and adaptable approach to dealing with different types of counterparties is rare and sets the tone for transactions to be delivered with great efficiency as well as certainty.’

Key clients

finnCap Limited

Royal Berkshire Shooting Group

MXC Capital

Waylands Automotive

Westcoast Group

CALA Homes

Sipsmith Limited

Novacyt S.A.

Chrysalis VCT plc

Bridges Fund Management Ltd

Environment and planning Tier 2

BDB Pitmans' planning team works closely with its real estate and insolvency departments to handle complex strategic contractual work in this area. The practice has extensive experience of both section 106 agreements and CIL regulations and also leads on judicial review and statutory review proceedings. Christina Daniels leads the team and specialises in residential and mixed-use developments, having a niche specialism in highway rights of way, village green and assets of community value work.

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‘Excellent strength in depth, one of the largest teams but with good people at all levels.’


Key clients

Cala Group Limited/Banner Homes Group

Redrow Homes

Countryside Properties

Highwood Group

Bewley Homes

Millgate Developments

Shanly Homes

Ashill Land

South Northamptonshire District Council

Fairview Homes

Vanderbilt Homes

JPP Land

Historic England

Landacre Developments

Commercial litigation: Hampshire Tier 3

BDB Pitmans’ commercial litigation team primarily focuses on insurance disputes, as well as professional negligence and commercial property cases on both the landlord and tenant side. Practice head Rick Munro  is a qualified mediator and is an expert in insolvency and shareholder disputes. Elsewhere in the practice, Alan Davies  specialises in the defence of claims concerning product liability.The practice also has a dedicated costs assessment team providing outsourced legal costs services to other solicitor practices and to insurers.

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Lots of experience and very committed to their clients.

Very practical, pragmatic and commercial.

This practice has specific insight into commercial solution-finding. It avoids unnecessary legalese, in order to produce workable, practical and commercially responsive answers.

Sylvia Yendall is highly effective on a wide breadth of private client-specific matters with a particular flair for her versatility in formulating and communicating clear strategies to multiple client groups.

Key clients


Covéa Insurance

Red Funnel Group

HCR Limited

Mildren Construction

Mears Group

Daniells Harrison

Premier Marinas Limited

Generali S.P.A.

Corporate and commercial: Hampshire Tier 3

BDB Pitmans acts on a number of private equity and venture capital backed deals and has seen an increase in activity within the marine, IT and tech sectors. Led by Sean Kelly, the team has particular expertise in mergers, acquisitions, disposals, takeovers, joint ventures, capital reorganisations and restructurings. Oliver Kelly has experience advising on insolvency related distressed acquisitions and disposals and has experience of cross border transactions.

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Technically very able and very personable.’

‘Make doing deals with clients efficient and effective.’

‘Ollie Kelly is very strong technically and is a high quality deal-doer’ 

Key clients

Red Funnel


Panoramic Growth Equity

ITS Technology Group

The Appointment Group

Premier Marinas

Maven Capital Partners

Amicus ITS


Gamma Technologies

Debt recovery Tier 3

Southampton-based Rick Munro brings 30 years’ of experience to the debt recovery team at BDB Pitmans. The team provides insolvency, turnaround and transaction advice. In addition, when dealing with in-house credit controllers, financial directors and managers, it assists with demand letters, settlement negotiation and the enforcement of judgments. Litigation executive Grigoria Gkolfinou is another name to note.

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Key clients

TSS Facilities Ltd

Nine Hills Limited

Sheppard & Co Limited

ACT London Limited

Abbey Veterinary Centres Ltd

Prodec Networks Ltd

Enterprise Security Distribution (Southern) Ltd

Venture Marketing Group Limited

Iris Software Limited

Employment: Hampshire Tier 3

BDB Pitmans specialises in contentious employment work on both the claimant and respondent side. The team also works closely with its pensions department and is well placed to advise on employee benefits. Angela Shields takes over from departing head Jonathan Gray who was appointed as an employment judge in April 2019. Her expertise covers employment disputes including unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, discrimination and injunctions relating to restrictive covenants.

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BDB Pitmans give a first class professional and personal service that is second to none, their advice is always clearly given and up to date with current laws in all sectors. Emails and telephone calls are answered promptly and no question is too small or irrelevant, making them the go-to people for all our legal advice. Their prices are transparent and competitive and agreed at the outset, which is important for any business.

Claire Wagstaff always gives clear guidance that is grounded and concise, her assistance is invaluable in allowing us to make sure we follow correct legal process in all areas of employment law.  Claire is always quick to answer both phone calls and emails and is friendly and helpful at all times.

I have come to know the team in the last year or so as I previously acted for BDB in London.  I have been impressed by the consstently high standard across the team and how well they work as a team.  In the absence of any individual the matter is always picked up promptly by a colleague.

Claire Wagstaff is a highly conscientious and meticulous practitioner.  She is popular with clients and has a forensic attention to detail.  You definitely want her checking the terms of your agreement!

Key clients

PMP Forward

Roadlink Logistics

Employment: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 3

BDB Pitmans advises employers from the technology, entertainment, automotive  and pharmaceutical sectors on a broad range of advisory issues. 'Continually exceptional' practice head Angela Shields primarily handles disputes, including unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, discrimination and  injunctions in relation to restrictive covenants. Shield also has specialist experience working for acquisitive car dealerships and manufacturers of car parts. Associate Jenny Huelin is recommended for TUPE and outsourcing matters.

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BDB Pitmans have managed to retain their customer focused approach through a period of growth – they are professional, approachable and friendly.’

Angela Shields has been outstanding in her knowledge and advice to my company.’

I have worked with BDB Pitmans for over 8 years and for me it’s the fact that whatever the issue, whatever the time frame, I will receive a response. As soon as I receive that email that says no problem we can help you with this, I feel in safe hands.

Most of my communication over the years has been with Jenny Huelin – I have been able to meet with her and this time has allowed the firm to get to know the business I work in, which in turn helps them with my cases.

Key clients

Westcoast Group

Toshiba TEC Europe Retail Information Systems

Limited and Toshiba TEC UK Systems Limited

Jonas Group UK (and Constellation Inc.)

Panalux Limited (part of Panavision UK Limited & Inc.)

B & M Europe Limited (subsidiary of Profs4U Limited)

360GlobalNet Limited

Vanderbilt Homes Limited

Novacyt SA

Royal Berkshire Shooting Group

Waylands Automotive Group

Family: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 3

BDB Pitmans' growing family practice advises clients in complex divorce/financial proceedings and private children proceedings. Finance specialist Matt Heyworth leads the practice and provides 'pragmatic and sound advice' to clients including wealthy business owners, politicians, famous musicians and international sportsmen. Associate Claire Burton has developed a broad child law practice since arriving in 2017, handling matters involving domestic violence, sexual abuse and addiction issues.

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‘Matt Heyworth has providing outstanding advice and help . He always reassures me and makes me feel more confident.

‘They have an excellent family department and are a go to firm in the Thames Valley.

‘Claire Burton is the solicitor with whom I work most often. She is exceptionally dedicated and diligent, with a great feel for cases and how to achieve the best outcome. Claire instructs counsel early and there is then a real team feel to the advice given to the client and the management of the running of a case, which is absolutely invaluable for clients.

‘They have a sold stream of good quality work and represent great value for money, providing a first class service without the magic circle price tag.

‘Matthew Heyworth stands as a very astute lawyer and strategist and a partner who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves.

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant Tier 3

At BDB Pitmans, the insurance team is led by Ferhat Choudri and handles professional indemnity and liability claims for corporate clients and insurers. Alan Davies has over three decades of experience in the field and advises on clinical negligence, employer’s liability, public liability, and road traffic accidents.

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Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 3

BDB Pitmans  provides 'accurate, timely and relevant' advice on all structures of trusts, estates, wills and LPAs for high net worth clients. Sheilagh Magee leads the practice and uses her background in property law to advise business owners and clients with landed estates.

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Sheilagh Magee and Alexander Morgan are both first rate private client lawyers, with sound legal knowledge, considerable experience, and the ability to assess quickly and accurately what needs to be done in a given situation. Sheilagh is particularly good at applying common sense and practicality when giving advice and recommending courses of action.’

When I left my meeting with BDB Pitmans I felt I was walking on air.  All my problems had been addressed and dealt with. And, having been recently bereaved, I felt the partner was so genuinely sympathetic and knowledgeable that I couldn’t help but be impressed. Subsequently I have been kept informed at all stages and costs are explained and are reasonable.

Commercial property: Hampshire Tier 4

With expertise in retail property and residential development matters, BDB Pitmans' commercial property team recently added Sue Macpherson to its ranks, adding further depth to its practice. The team is led by Sarah Potter who has experience in a wide variety of work, including acting for institutional investors in relation to acquisitions and disposals, development agreements, conditional pre-lets and all aspects of landlord and tenant work.  

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Key clients

Premier Marinas

Red Funnel Group

Isle of Wight Council

The Foundation for Liver Research

The Appointment Group Limited (TAG)

Westbourne Group

Earlswood Homes

CALA Group

iSmash UK Trading

Property litigation Tier 4

BDB Pitmans specialises in landlord and tenant litigation, high-value insolvency-related disputes as well as structural and construction litigation. Representing a large number of leading developers, the team operates across both the commercial and residential real estate sectors. The department is led by Phil Smith, whose practice has a particular focus on handling a wide range of claims on behalf of businesses, individuals and insolvency practitioners. Associate David Williams is another key name in the practice and specialises in general property disputes including landlord and tenant litigation, dilapidations and lease renewal claims.

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Well organised, well-led and cohesive team – very approachable and responsive – key capability for us is that the team are able to find viable practical solutions to our landlord and tenant issues. They are mindful of the fact that  the relationship with our landlords is often long-term  and needs to be preserved, whilst preserving our rights and entitlements.

David Williams is a very thorough and knowledgeable lawyer. We have been impressed by how tactically astute his advice has proved to be in several recent landlord and tenant matters.

Key clients

CALA Homes

Bewley Homes

Oakford Homes

Hayfield Homes

Shanly Homes

Sorbon Estates

Vanderbilt Homes


Hicks Developments

Okay.Com Property Agency

iSmash UK Trading

Deanfield Homes

Infrastructure (parliamentary) Tier 1

BDB Pitmans is well-regarded for its work on the promotion and opposition to major infrastructure schemes before Parliament, particularly regarding matters related to transportation and energy. Of particular note is the team's niche work as advocates before parliamentary committees and in inquiries. Practice leader Mark Challis is 'quietly confident, friendly, and dedicated', while the team's four active parliamentary agents - Angus Walker, Nick Evans, Nick Brown, and David Mundy - have extensive expertise on a range of matters, including advising on Brexit, British Overseas Territories, and devolved administrations. Sarah Clark focuses primarily on infrastructure planning for both public and private sector clients.

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The team at BDB Pitmans contains a broad wealth of experience; there seems to always be someone with an answer and colleagues are not afraid of deferring to each other where necessary. They stand out for their friendly and approachable manner and attitude, making working alongside them an easy and pleasurable experience.’

Nick Evans is intelligent, thoughtful, and completely unflappable. His knowledge and understanding of public law is unsurpassed. He looks to keep things simple and gives practical but comprehensive advice. He is particularly good at thinking outside the box and applying his vast brain power to novel and unusual problems. The team lead by Mark Challis is reflective of his own demeanour and attitude – quietly confident, friendly and dedicated.’

David Mundy is a wise adviser with an excellent understanding of the client’s needs.’

‘Mark Challis is calm and experienced.’

‘Nick Brown has excellent judgement and is great fun to work with.’

They are always very responsive, thorough, and clear in their advice. Nick Evans is always helpful, responsive, offers sound advice, and provides great client care. He’ll always respond quickly and is keen to know what the outcome is that is needed in any particular case.’

Key clients

National Audit Office (NAO)

HS2 objections, including the Greater Manchester Authorities and Leeds City Council

Transport for London

Riveroak Investments (developers of Manston Airport)

Clean Air Zones Drafting legislation for Leeds Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield , Newcastle under Lyme

Highways England

London Luton Airport Limited

Peel Group

Transport for Wales

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 2

The charities team at BDB Pitmans is ably led by Penny Chapman. The broad practice is skilled at advising on a myriad of issues, from reputation management matters to legal disputes, charity registrations and judicial reviews. Jonathan Brinsden has considerable expertise in a number of specialised areas, including cross-border transactions, social impact investment, charity sector collaborations with the private sector and NHS charity regulation. Nicola Evans is another key figure in the practice.

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Very personable team. Quick responses. Goes above and beyond to ensure deadlines are met

Penny Chapman is very helpful, with a quick turnaround of response and clear communications. She understands issues, shows professional empathy and adapts to client’s needs

Breadth of professional experience and how it is practically applied. Accessibility of the team members. Speed of reply and turnaround of complex work

Professionalism and lateral thinking. Matching values of individual team members. A willingness to work outside of normal working hours

BDB Pitmans LLP has a wide and deep knowledge of the charity and not-for-profit sector and acts for a large number of such organisations

‘Jonathan Brinsden is very knowledgeable and approachable, and a delight to deal with

The lawyers at BDP Pitmans have always made themselves readily available to us at very short notice. Their personal touch and the continuity of the team  has made working with them a real joy

The team continues to serve us brilliantly with all the appropriate advice, as well as always offering additional pointers beyond what we would have necessarily factored in. Penny Chapman has been the constant partner throughout our relationship and her experience and advice has been invaluable

Key clients

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

The HALO Trust

Stroke Association

DKT International Foundation UK

The Royal Opera House

Reading Gaol, Arts, Museum and Theatre Company

The Clergy Support Trust

The Britten-Pears Foundation, Snape Maltings and the Aldeburgh Music Endowment Fund

Barts and the London Charity and Related Charities (Barts Charity)

The KFC Foundation

Commercial property: Cambridge Tier 2

'They are quick to respond and have a sensible level of engagement', says a client of the real estate group at BDB Pitmans. In three years, the Cambridge practice has expanded to serve a growing client base around Cambridge and nationwide. It institutional investment includes acquisitions, disposals and the management of property portfolios. It also advises landowners and developers on commercial and residential developments, as well as assisting corporate occupiers with complex leasehold structures. Partner Simon Burson and senior associate Katy Klingopulos are the names to note.

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They are quick to respond and have a sensible level of engagement.

Key clients

Eskmuir Properties Limited

Kurt Geiger Limited

Cording Real Estate Group

Bioregional Homes Limited

Frasers Riverside Quarter Limited

Turnbull & Asser Limited

Twenty 1 Construction Ltd

Profile Books Limited

Hay House UK Limited


Harrods Limited

Contentious trusts and probate Tier 2

The 'tight-knit and extremely capable' team at BDB Pitmans is regularly instructed in high-value matters that span trusts, probate and divorce. The practice is adept at handling all types of private onshore and offshore wealth disputes, advising on contested wills and trusts, charity legacies and inheritance tax claims. James Freemantle is a key name to note and is also a higher rights solicitor-advocate. The 'absolutely terrificLucinda Brown, who joined the firm from Hewitsons in April 2020, now heads the team. Geoffrey Kertesz left for Stewarts Law LLP in August 2020.

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BDB Pitmans brings a more thoughtful and imaginative approach to contentious litigation than its competitors, carefully weighing up the innovative against the normal to craft the very best approach for its clients’

The BDB team is tight-knit, extremely capable and able to stand up to any competitor’

‘The lawyers are very experienced, with vast knowledge in the practice area’

‘The BDB team is a young and dynamic one which is involved in a number of interesting and high-profile cases. The lawyers take a pragmatic and commercial approach and are good to work with’

Lucinda Brown is absolutely terrific, and one of the best trust and probate litigators in this practice area. Nothing fazes her’

‘Helen Fry is extremely capable and delightful to work with’

Key clients

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Barts Health National Health Service Trust

Corporate and commercial: Cambridge Tier 2

'All team members are technically knowledgeable, proactive and personable,' according to one client of BDB PitmansJames Stephen and Duncan Walker are the lead partners and they handle substantial transactions, frequently involving complex and novel issues, for a diverse portfolio of clients in East Anglia and further afield. Their sector experience includes the full spectrum of technology companies in East Anglia, particularly around Cambridge, with many clients based in the city's science and technology parks and innovation centres. They range from entrepreneurs and SMEs to larger corporates with in-house legal teams.

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The partner is the key contact but delegates parcels of work to his associates where appropriate so that hourly fees are largely based on the degree of complexity for each part of any project. All team members are technically knowledgeable, proactive and personable.

When involved in negotiations on our behalf with third-party lawyers, the partner maintains an appropriate balance between representing our interests both politely and with conviction, whilst minimising potential conflict over key negotiation points which are very important to ourselves and the third-party client. His associates are also exceptional people who provide great service, particularly in co-ordinating the significant majority of a Share Purchase Agreement acting for the sellers.

BDB Pitmans were recommended to me to assist with the one-off contract negotiations for the sale of my business. What impressed me was their “can-do” attitude and their appreciation of my desire to keep the formal legal process as simple and straightforward as possible. This enabled us to deal with the pedantic approach adopted by the other side and come to an agreed resolution. Most helpful was the support and reassurance provided by BDB Pitmans, giving me the confidence to proceed. Previous experiences with solicitors had left me with a jaundiced view of their capabilities but they restored my faith.

My principal contact was James Stephen and also his assistant, Ross Fletcher. James was particularly helpful and excellent at cutting through the legal jargon to explain the contract details and the legal process, and in dealing with the other side’s legal representative. I felt able to have full confidence in James and of his understanding of my concerns and wishes. An excellent person to have on my side.

Key clients

Port of Felixstowe Limited

Owlstone Medical Limited

Local government Tier 2

Following the merger of Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans in December 2018, BDB Pitmans has continued its build on its reputation for advising local authorities on infrastructure planning, covering transport, emissions, and regeneration projects. The team is notable for its niche advice in relation to Clean Air Zones. Department head Mark Challis focuses primarily on planning law, while practice leader David Mundy covers administrative law, public procurement, and matters relating to state aid. Nick Evans and Angus Walker provide expertise in the energy, water, and waste management sectors, while Tom Henderson focuses on infrastructure planning and clean air zones. Senior associate Rahul Bijlani has frequently acted for Transport for London on congestion charge matters and air quality regulations. In 2019, two new hires were brought on the team: James Ross joined from DAC Beachcroft LLP and Richard Marsh joined from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.

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Key clients

Luton Borough Council – London Luton Airport

London Borough of Bexley

Bath & North East Somerset

Birmingham City Council

Nottingham City Council

Greater Manchester Authorities

Leeds City Council

Stoke, Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme Councils

Rushmoor Borough Council

No 3rd Runway Coalition

M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m Tier 2

The bulk of BDB Pitmans' work comes from private M&A deals, joint ventures and investments, while the team also has a growing focus on public companies and public takeovers on the AIM market. Its client base features a broad range of private individuals, start-ups, entrepreneurs, corporates and listed companies. Philip Lamb leads the department and has over 30 years' experience advising companies on acquisitions and disposals, both public and private, debt and equity funding and joint ventures. Nick McCarthy is another name to note within the practice for his work on a broad range of transactions including reverse and hostile takeovers.

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Strong understanding of our industry and the focus points for both due diligence and SPA drafting/negotiation. Pragmatic and practical when sharing and then helping to determine best ways available to address commercial challenges via appropriate deal structure, pricing mechanisms  and documentation.

The team is very practical in their approach and happy to make recommendations and give direction.  Good balance in risk assessment and management with a good commercial perspective on getting deals concluded.’

Enjoy working with the two partners who I have known for a number of years which makes getting things done simple and fast.  Shared experience on previous transactions is valuable.’

They are fundamentally a hard working team that constantly perform to quite difficult timelines. They have not let me down and provide well rounded advice from multiple areas of law. The lead partner usually co-ordinates all the project management so you feel that you are not being tossed around various departments.

Nick McCarthy is strong on client contact and good with detail. He knows the client’s risk appetite and will act commercially.

Always available, pragmatic, quick to respond.

Responsive, practical advice.

Key clients

Harwood Capital

FIH Group plc


Grandir UK

EKF Diagnostics PLC

Bioquell PLC

Candy Ventures

Ten Entertainment Group plc

Health Service Laboratories LLP

Quadrise Fuels International plc

North Atlantic Smaller Companies Investment Trust plc

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 2

BDB Pitmans is recommended for providing high-quality tax advice to UK and international private clients, their trustees and family offices, and covering all aspects of estate planning, succession law, wills and the administration of estates, as well as the holding and transferring of heritage, cultural and trophy assets. The team is also adept at advising on regulatory laws, including compliance with reporting regimes, and is skilled in assisting clients with a diverse range of philanthropic projects. In addition, the tax and trust management practice continues to flourish. Alastair Collett heads the team, which was further strengthened by the recent addition of Lucinda Brown to its ranks from Hewitsons.

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BDP Pitmans has always had strength and depth in its private client personal tax team and that is a diminishing resource in the sector. It has a number of very experienced partners who provide reliable and sensible advice. The fact that it is part of a large firm with a thriving contentious trust and probate department is an advantage as it can offer clients a rounded service’

Technically competent, highly knowledgeable and personable. I have dealt with Alastair Collett, who explains complex matters very well and is on top of his brief. His advice is pretty much bullet proof

Helen Ratcliffe is a true family adviser, always considering issues in the context of overall family dynamics and long-term relationships in addition to providing excellent technical advice on both tax and trust law matters. She teams up very well with other advisers, whether they are lawyers advising on aspects she does not herself cover, trust administrators or investment managers

Strong technical knowledge, good interpersonal skills and always available to respond quickly. Excellent knowledge and really buy in to working together with other professionals for the clients’ best interests

It has a good blend of approachability and a detailed knowledge of the underlying black-letter law. Hugo Smith has a strong technical grip of UK trust law

‘Hugo Smith is a very experienced private client lawyer who knows his stuff.  He takes a practical approach to his clients’ problems and is good at exploring different avenues to solve them

‘The team is technically excellent and very responsive. We have worked with a number of partners but would highlight Judith Millar, Liz Neale and Helen Ratcliffe for their user friendliness and cost effectiveness’

Judith Millar is extremely knowledgeable about private client law and practice and has a wealth of experience to draw on. She has an air of calm assurance that is very reassuring

‘Jonathan Colclough has great in-depth specialist knowledge. He really knows his stuff but is also a lovely person who is willing to go above and beyond for his clients and has humility and warmth – a great combination‘

Planning Tier 2

BDB Pitmans' sizeable planning team is known for advising on major projects, particularly DCOs for nationally significant infrastructure projects; planning consents; orders under the Transport and Works Act; and Harbours Act orders. Current key work includes major transport infrastructure projects for TfL and Highways England, as well as housing regeneration in the London Borough of Lambeth. The team, led by Mark Challis, includes Angus Walker, a noted specialist in DCO applications who has recently been advising on the Manston Airport re-opening, the first DCO application for an airport scheme. Both Sarah Clark and Tom Henderson are names to note, being instructed by Highways England on the upgrade of the M25 Junction 28 and the proposed Lower Thames Crossing respectively.

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Key clients

Highways England

Transport for London


London Borough of Lambeth

London Luton Airport Limited

Historic England

Transport for Greater Manchester

Network Rail

RiverOak Invests Corp LLC

Environment Agency

Residential property Tier 2

BDB Pitmans' residential property team, which spans the firm's numerous UK offices, advises individuals, corporates and investors on sales, acquisitions, refinancing and lease extension matters. In 2019, the firm secured instructions from substantial Middle Eastern banks looking to finance central London transactions. Practice head Hema Anand assists the firm’s most prestigious clients buying or selling properties in the central London market; tax structuring as well as right to manage and right of first refusal matters are particular specialisms. Tristan Ward, who joined from Macfarlanes LLP in 2019, makes use of his first-hand experience in the farming industry to lead the landed estates and agriculture team.

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‘Strength and depth. Brilliant to work with, highly knowledgeable and outstandingly thorough. Particular skill and experience in relation to enfranchisement and high end landlord and tenant work.’

‘Hema Anand has legal acumen, is hugely capable and is the best person I can think of to work with you through the rigours of litigation.’

‘Very friendly, personable, speedy and knowledgeable – they make you feel part of a team.’

Administrative and public law Tier 3

BDB Pitmans’ public and regulatory practice represents government and statutory bodies, coroners and standards boards in judicial review litigation and inquests. Co-head David Mundy’s ongoing instructions concern cutting-edge debates around the government’s climate policy, while commercial litigator Richard Langley successfully defended the Welsh government in a challenge to its cessation of bird shooting rights. Co-head Matthew Smith maintains a high profile in headline public inquiry matters; his portfolio includes appointments by the Chief Coroner to inquests of significant public interest. Brexit-related regulatory advice is another cornerstone of the practice.

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Richard Langley’s tactical nous makes him stand out.

They are an astute, responsive team, who deftly handle the most sensitive of cases.

BDB Pitmans have a very strong team with expertise across a broad range of sectors affected by public law and regulation. They are very down to earth with a strong focus on understanding their clients’ needs.

The team at BDB Pitmans has a broad range of expertise in public law across local government, regulation and healthcare. In addition, they have particular expertise in handling major inquests and public inquiries, including as solicitors to the inquiry.

Matthew Smith is really excellent. He is superb at handling really tricky cases, always taking exceptional care of his clients.

Helen Fry is rising star. She regularly demonstrates a level of insight and ability well beyond her years of PQE.

Natasha Davis is a talented young solicitor who has already built up experience of several major inquiries. Her judgment is impeccable and her capacity for work is very impressive.

Key clients

Committee on Climate Change

Chief Coroner of England and Wales

Natural Resources Wales

Transport for Greater Manchester

The Health and Care Professions Council

Nuffield Health

National Audit Office

Court of protection Tier 3

The Court of Protection team at BDB Pitmans is led by Alastair Collett and handles non-contentious matters and litigation, advising on issues such as care for the elderly and will and trust disputes. The team is recommended for its work with wealthy clients on capacity issues and has substantial experience in Court of Protection cases, as well as advising on bringing and defending objections to lasting powers of attorney. Lucinda Brown recently joined the team from Hewitsons, bringing further expertise to the team in contentious Court of Protection matters and cases involving the financial abuse of vulnerable adults. Geoffrey Kertesz moved to Stewarts Law LLP in August 2020.

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Education: schools Tier 3

At BDB Pitmans, the education and charities practice advises independent schools, charitable organisations and public authorities. The group is led by Penny Chapman, who handles education-related operational issues, governance and M&A. Other key members of the team include senior associate Alice Unwin, who advises independent schools on commercial and constitutional issues.

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Family Tier 3

'The small team allows for more flexibility and ability to use creative solutions,' says a client of BDB Pitmans in Cambridge. 'Level-headed and pragmatic' partner Roopa Ahluwalia, who joined from Birketts LLP 'manages to combine a robust legal knowledge with a caring, empathic approach to her clients'. She is a solicitor and mediator with a particular interest in international cases, especially those involving the relocation of children. David Thompson, who works in both the London and Cambridge offices, predominantly focuses on complex financial and international issues, and he has significant experience in difficult leave-to-remove children cases.

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I have no hesitation in recommending my clients to Roopa Ahluwalia, partner, mediator and collaborative practitioner, if they wish to use the mediation process to resolve their disputes. She has extensive experience and an excellent reputation within Cambridge and further afield for being a practical and sensible mediator. I also have no hesitation in working with Roopa on collaborative cases together. I trust her to comply with Resolution’s Code of Practice and to work with me to find the most appropriate outcome for separating families.

Roopa Ahluwalia often represents clients in very complex family matters and her client service is always exceptional. She really strives to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. Roopa is also well known for being an outstanding mentor to more junior practitioners and is an elected committee member of the Cambridge and West Suffolk Resolution committee, which is a voluntary role.

I think it is excellent that partners promote and encourage dispute resolution outside the court process. I am based in Essex and know that their team has an excellent reputation for their work beyond their office locations.

Both Roopa Ahluwalia and assistant Matthew Hasler are accomplished family lawyers who have a pragmatic and sensible approach to family matters. They are clear in their instructions to experts, provide information in a timely manner and resolve matters expediently. They have strengthened the firm’s presence in Cambridge.

The team work well together and are very supportive of one another. The small team allows for more flexibility and ability to use creative solutions.

Roopa Ahluwalia manages to combine a robust legal knowledge with a caring, empathic approach to her clients. She is level-headed and pragmatic.

The family and matrimonial team has an empathic, bespoke and totally focused approach to achieving the objectives of their lay clients. Where necessary, they can draw on the expertise and knowledge of other teams within the firm, such as trusts and property.

Senior executives Tier 3

BDB Pitmans offers a wide range of employment services to both employers and senior executives. Sector strengths include transport, charities/not-for-profit, professional services and social media. With regards to senior executives, the practice has expertise advising on high-value exits, team moves and restrictive covenant issues, especially for clients in the financial services, travel and retail sectors, as well as the NHS. Jesper Christensen heads up the department; other key team members are Brian Gegg, head of the business services group, and Caroline Yarrow, a specialist in the employability and learning and skills sector.

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Art and cultural property Tier 4

BDB Pitmans is well known for providing tax and structuring advice to the owners of art and cultural property, including assets that are subject to historic conditional exemptions from estate duty and inheritance tax. It also advises on matters such as suitable ownership structures for well-known artists; agency agreements for the promotion of their work; the creation of charities to hold art and cultural property; and the sale and purchase of art. Susan Johnson and Hugo Smith co-head the team.

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Key clients

Royal Opera House

Handel House Trust Limited

Historic England

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

The Crossrail Art Foundation

The Landmark Trust

Reading Gaol, Arts, Museum and Theatre Company

The Britten-Pears Foundation, Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh Music Festival

Commercial property: corporate occupiers Tier 4

BDB Pitmans , which has continued to build on the 2018 merger of Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans, has a strong track record of handling leases at key London locations as well as managing leasehold property portfolios. It is also adept in relation to the integration and rationalisation of operational land. 'Acknowledged industry expert' Jonathan Fewster leads both the investment and corporate occupier offerings, regularly acting for property companies, corporations and institutional investors on day-to-day portfolio management and investment-related acquisitions and dispositions. Ellen James is the key contact for development work; the team represents both   developers and landowners on mixed-use developments at both the pre and post planning stages. A key differentiator is the group’s expertise in the charities and not-for-profit sector, where the firm ‘covers all aspects of what a charity needs’.

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‘The level of professionalism is amazing. Every team member understands the client on the same level so makes it easier dealing with them.’

‘The team at BDB Pitmans is exceptional and provides good advice and support in all legal matters. The team works very well together. Each member of the team is very dedicated and willing to go that extra mile to get an instruction completed.’

‘Proactive and pragmatic with a good variety of expertise and skills in a professional and balanced team.’

‘Jonathan Fewster is a very creative partner and a good negotiator. He worked extremely well with a team within our organisation and also with real estate agents, other consultants and every representative from the other parties and their lawyers.’

‘Jonathan Fewster is an experienced commercial property lawyer who has a specialism in acting for charities. This gives me great confidence in his advice, which is practical and timely.’

‘Jonathan Fewster took a call with no prior notice and was able to clearly articulate a difficult and complicated issue to a group of people with no legal experience so that they all full understood the problem and were content with the suggested response.’

‘Jonathan Fewster is an acknowledged industry expert in the real estate field and we always benefit from his insightful views, personal touch and commercial acumen.’

‘Bhaminee Sharma is a fantastic lawyer; very professional and diplomatic. She has a very clear understanding and makes everything much simple. She makes life easy.’

Key clients

The Dyers’ Company

The Landmark Trust

The English Heritage Trust

Andrew Martin International Limited

Education International Services Limited

London Women’s Clinic

The Fly Fisher’s Club

Rail Tier 4

BDB Pitmans advises local authorities, government agencies, network owners, train or freight operators, and heritage railways on planning and authorisation of large-scale infrastructure projects in both heavy and light rail. The team also handles employment law and industrial relations for network operators. Practice leader Mark Challis is known for his work in planning law, including on matters such as compulsory purchase issues and environmental law.

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Commercial litigation: mid-market Tier 5

BDB Pitmans fields several disputes specialists in commercial contracts, professional negligence, shareholder, partnership, and joint ventures disputes. The team also acts in complex banking and finance litigation, debt and asset recovery, and IT disputes. Geoffrey Kertesz is litigation head; Sinéad Lester leads the commercial litigation team; and Richard Langley has over 20 years’ commercial litigation experience. Other experienced partners are David Archer, Donna Goldsworthy and James Freemantle. Former partner Neil Emerson left the firm.


‘Thoroughness, diligence and tactical acuity.’

‘This firm has a number of lawyers who are intellectually able, legally knowledgeable and client friendly. It has a strong litigation department, and its charges are reasonable for the quality of service which it provides.’

‘BDB Pitmans offer a real alternative to top-tier firms, delivering a quality dispute resolution service with sensible resourcing and at an attractive overall price.’

‘I’ve always been impressed by BDB Pitmans’ responsiveness and their ability to provide clear, straightforward commercial advice in a timely manner. The communication between the teams at BDB Pitmans is excellent with each department kept up to speed with issues so they can add input if required.’

‘The BDB team are collaborative, friendly (not to the other side) and provide pragmatic advice at key moments in disputes which have the potential to lead to litigation.’

‘Sinéad Lester and Katie Smith have in particular combined very effectively on numerous engagements for us.’

‘Sinéad Lester, the Head of Commercial Litigation, is a very capable litigator: bright, hard-working, knowledgeable legally and tactically astute and a pleasure to work with.  She has a particular expertise in minority shareholder litigation.’

‘I have worked with Richard Langley, Sinéad’s predecessor as Head of Commercial Litigation, on several cases over the last 15 years.  He is intellectually curious but also commercially savvy, with a sharp mind but also an excellent sense of humour.’

‘Sinéad Lester is a stand out partner within the department, running a team with confidence and skill and ably dealing with (to my knowledge) exceptionally challenging clients and their often wholly unreasonable demands. Sinéad is a true commercial litigator with a wide network of valuable contacts in the field.’

‘Sinéad Lester and Katie Smith provide practical advice in a timely manner and never appear to be averse to resolving matters early which is entirely desirable in many of the matters for which we seek advice.’

Key clients

Andreas Dinglis

Master Holdings Group Limited

North Channel Bank GmbH & Co. KG

Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited

Garden Bridge Trust/PwC (as liquidators)

Goals Soccer Centre plc (in administration)

Martin Coward

Smurfit Kappa


Claranet Limited

EFG Bank

Commercial property: development Tier 5

BDB Pitmans , which has continued to build on the 2018 merger of Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans, has a strong track record of handling leases at key London locations as well as managing leasehold property portfolios. It is also adept in relation to the integration and rationalisation of operational land. 'Acknowledged industry expert' Jonathan Fewster leads both the investment and corporate occupier offerings, regularly acting for property companies, corporations and institutional investors on day-to-day portfolio management and investment-related acquisitions and dispositions. Ellen James is the key contact for development work; the team represents both   developers and landowners on mixed-use developments at both the pre and post planning stages. A key differentiator is the group’s expertise in the charities and not-for-profit sector, where the firm ‘covers all aspects of what a charity needs’.

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‘The level of professionalism is amazing. Every team member understands the client on the same level so makes it easier dealing with them.’

‘The team at BDB Pitmans is exceptional and provides good advice and support in all legal matters. The team works very well together. Each member of the team is very dedicated and willing to go that extra mile to get an instruction completed.’

‘Proactive and pragmatic with a good variety of expertise and skills in a professional and balanced team.’

‘Jonathan Fewster is a very creative partner and a good negotiator. He worked extremely well with a team within our organisation and also with real estate agents, other consultants and every representative from the other parties and their lawyers.’

‘Jonathan Fewster is an experienced commercial property lawyer who has a specialism in acting for charities. This gives me great confidence in his advice, which is practical and timely.’

‘Jonathan Fewster took a call with no prior notice and was able to clearly articulate a difficult and complicated issue to a group of people with no legal experience so that they all full understood the problem and were content with the suggested response.’

‘Jonathan Fewster is an acknowledged industry expert in the real estate field and we always benefit from his insightful views, personal touch and commercial acumen.’

‘Bhaminee Sharma is a fantastic lawyer; very professional and diplomatic. She has a very clear understanding and makes everything much simple. She makes life easy.’

Key clients

Healthcare Management Trust

National Grid

City & Country Group

Riveroak MSE Limited

Frasers Riverside Quarter Limited

Ensign House Freehold & Ensign House Management (Waterside) Limited

Pensions (non-contentious) Tier 5

The pensions team at BDB Pitmans advises on the full range of DB and DC pension scheme issues, and has a track record of work on benefit restructuring, The practice, which is spread across the firm's London, Reading and Southampton offices, handles a significant quotient of buy in/buy out projects, GMP equalisation matters and executive arrangements such as SIPPs, SSASs and QROPS, and is increasingly working with public sector schemes on outsourcing, TUPE transfers and member disputes. The team is led by Chris Netiatis and David Hosford , both of who previously worked at Pitmans prior to the 2018 merger with Bircham Dyson Bell.

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A small but growing pensions team. My schemes are relatively small but they give a large-scheme service. Have a broad range of pension skills and able to draw on the wider firm for non-pension related business.

The practice is very approachable and have a good understanding of our requirements. They pitch their advice at a suitable level and provide clear explanations on the more technical issues. They interact well with us and liaise with other legal firms on our behalf in a very professional manner. Their team has been able to support us on a variety of issues in a seamless manner‘.

Chris Netiatis advises us on a very wide variety of issues and is extremely approachable and good humoured. Chris manages his team very well, meets deadlines and is always accessible. Chris explains technical issues in an understandable manner‘.

Chris Netiatis is knowledgeable, personable, able to explain complex issues to lay trustees and approachable‘.

Key clients

Trustees of the Chas A Blatchford & Sons Limited Group Pension Scheme

Trustee of the Claude Lyons Group Pension Scheme

Trustees of Rockspring Property Investment Managers Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Accuride Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Danfoss Power Solutions Pension Plan

The Trustees of the Edwards Wildman Palmer UK LLP Pension Scheme

Trustees of SCB Holdings (Sandy) Limited Pension Scheme

Trustees of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (GB) Limited Pension & Life Assurance Scheme

Trustees of the Pizza Hut (UK) Investment Plan

Trustees of the Red Funnel Staff Pension Scheme

Collegia Partners Limited

Property litigation Tier 5

BDB Pitmans has a strong track record in high-end residential property litigation. It regularly advises high-net-worth individuals and landlords on noise nuisance, enfranchisement claims and lease renewals, among other issues. The team is also experienced in commercial landlord and tenant litigation. Team head Simon Painter handles both segments, including matters involving fraud.

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Responsive to their customer and capable across a wide spectrum of law.

Reliability and proven track record.’

Competent partners with excellent commercial sense.

Simon Painter, litigation partner, has provided first-class advice and careful consideration of both commercial and legal aspects.’

In-depth knowledge of this area, a willingness to work hard for clients and to make themselves available even outside office hours to advise and work on the case, a sound tactical approach to cases (above and beyond the solid legal knowledge) and an ability to explain matters clearly to the client.

Key clients

Clarion Housing Group Limited

The Ministry of Defence

Fred Perry Limited

Centrepoint London

Smurfit Kappa UK Companies in England and Wales

The National Grid

City & Country Group Plc

Bank of Ireland

Peel Holdings Ltd / The Manchester Ship Canal

Company Ltd

The National Landlords Association

Family Tier 6

BDB Pitmans continues to undertake high-quality and high-value financial remedy work with an international dimension. David Thompson handles all areas of family law, with a particular emphasis on complex financial issues. He has significant experience in cross-border financial matters and has acted in several leave to remove children cases. In addition, he is an experienced mediator who handles a large number of difficult children and financial issues.  Matthew Heyworth heads up the team. Lisa Bolgar Smith departed for Streathers.

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Employers Tier 7

BDB Pitmans offers a wide range of employment services to both employers and senior executives. Sector strengths include transport, charities/not-for-profit, professional services and social media. With regards to senior executives, the practice has expertise advising on high-value exits, team moves and restrictive covenant issues, especially for clients in the financial services, travel and retail sectors, as well as the NHS. Jesper Christensen heads up the department; other key team members are Brian Gegg, head of the business services group, and Caroline Yarrow, a specialist in the employability and learning and skills sector.

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‘Highly co-operative and collegiate team which means work is always thoroughly covered and responded to even if the partner/fee earner is not available. Excellent attention to detail and work always thoroughly prepared.’

‘Nicholas Le Riche has extremely good judgement and provides very pragmatic advice.’

‘Caroline Yarrow is extremely popular with clients.’

‘Caroline Yarrow is very professional but also very human and friendly.’

‘Nick Le Riche has a perfect delivery method to support in complex cases and makes those cases easy to manage. His ability to manage the risks and get a commercial outcome is brilliant.’

Key clients

Smurfit Kappa UK Limited

Health and Care Professions Council

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Jones Lang LaSalle


London General Transport Services Limited

Tony’s Chocolonely Limited

ACEVO – providing support to Charity Chief Executives who are themselves members of ACEVO

Champ Cargo Systems

Super Micro Computer BV

Colliers International

Finton House Trust


BDB Pitmans has a corporate immigration niche in its work for professional services firms, particularly for architects, but also for investment management firms and policy advisors. Another strength is in immigration matters requiring a thorough knowledge of employment law. 'Fantastic' legal director Tim Hayes leads the team while Alastair Collett, head of the firm's private wealth practice, lends his expertise to the group's private client work. The team has a particular focus on Tier 1 visa applications, and also assists clients with applications under the EU settlement scheme.

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‘This firm – compared to others I have used – is unique and amazing because each member of the team I have met know their subject inside out and upside down. Any question thrown at them is replied to in great detail. In addition they solve problems. So having told you the law, they then put your problem into the mix and find ways within the legal system to solve it.  One comes away from a meeting with this particular team feeling a lot better, a lot more positive and secure in the knowledge that your team know what they are doing and that they are truly and positively on your side wanting to help you solve your problem.’

‘Overall we have found working with BDB Pitmans to be a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend their team to anyone in my sector. In particular I would recommend Tim Hayes. I have always found his work to be of a consistently high quality and usefulness.’

‘The team that I deal with is exemplary in the advice that they give, they are willing to take the time to explain complicated issues in simple to understand terms so that decisions can be made confidently. They are attentive and approachable, always available to answer even the most trivial of questions.’

‘I have worked closely with Tim Hayes on various immigration matters over the last 2.5 years. Tim has been fantastic to work with. He has always provided an exceptional service and delivered work in a timely and efficient manner. He has always made extra efforts to meet with my staff and provide support where needed.  ‘

‘I worked with Tim Hayes, who is very senior in the firm and not once did I ever feel like my case was minor in comparison too anything else he was doing, he was very quick to respond and also had a solution to any curveball.’

‘Tim Hayes is a joy to work with. I have never struggled to get hold of him when I require assistance at a moments notice, even for the smallest of queries. He always has the latest information at hand to make my job easier. I have happily recommended him to others.’

‘Tim Hayes has been my main point of contact from the outset and he is a delight to work with.. He is extremely approachable, sensitive, which is especially useful when dealing with the anxieties of our staff waiting for visa outcomes. He takes the time to clearly explain the complexities of situations which gives us great confidence.’

Key clients

Morris + Co

Karakusevic Carson



International Water Association

Adam Smith Institute

Gowan Company (Crop Demetra)

Cancom Limited

Victory Advisors

Patel Taylor Architects

Bunker One Group

The Doctors Laboratory

The Asfari Foundation

Buckley Gray Yeoman

David Collins Studio

C40 Climate Leadership UK

BDB Pitmans was established in 2018 following a merger between legacy firms Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) and Pitmans Law.

The firm brings together over 300 years of legal expertise across four locations – London, Cambridge, Reading and Southampton.

Our priority is to achieve outstanding outcomes for our clients. We listen to you and your business objectives or life goals so that we provide not only excellent technical advice, but a complete solution. We work for you to understand the challenges you face, and aim to not just meet expectations, but to exceed them.

Our focus is building longstanding and mutually beneficial client relationships on a foundation of trust and genuine partnership.

Principal areas of work


The firm has a strong practice in acting for individuals and institutions engaged in farming and the ownership of agricultural land and landed estates. The agricultural law team includes over 20 specialists in property, rural planning law, business partnerships, company law, tax and trusts, litigation and family issues. All members of the team have a background related to, or a keen interest in, the countryside and rural issues and have acted on some of the highest value transactions, both for UK individuals and foreign investors.

Charities & Not-for-Profit:

In the third sector, the firm’s award-winning charities and not-for-profit team remains a leader in its field, acting for both UK and international charity clients. The team has vast experience of working both with and within the charities sector. Acting for over 450 national and international charities (and a wide range of other civil society organisations and social enterprises), the team has specialist expertise in particularly complex or unusual matters. In addition to the core team, there are charities and social enterprise specialists across departments including real estate, intellectual property, employment, corporate and commercial, public affairs and dispute resolution.

Contentious Trusts & Estates

As a specialist team dedicated in this area, work is largely international and the team handles a wide range of trustee difficulties from issues with HMRC, beneficiary disputes, investment losses, administrative difficulties, and allegations of corrupt purposes. The team is also renowned for its advice on all types of private onshore and offshore wealth disputes advising on contested wills and trusts, charity legacies and inheritance tax claims. Clients include individuals, families, trustees, beneficiaries and charities.

Corporate & Commercial Services

The corporate team offers advice at every stage of a business’ lifecycle and advise on protecting their assets and achieving their long-term strategy. The core expertise of the team include takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, Main Market and AIM listings, corporate finance and capital reorganisations / restructurings. Clients range from entrepreneurs and SMEs, to larger corporate organisations with an in-house team and both AIM and main market listed companies.

Development Planning

The specialist development planning team at BDB Pitmans are very experienced in acting for house builders and other developers on various projects, including affordable housing schemes. They also deal with judicial review proceedings, as well as village green, highways CIL work, planning appeals and planning prosecutions and advise on dealing with Assets of Community Value. With a strong network, the team also work with the region’s largest developer clients, national housebuilders, landowners, property investors, agents, lenders and funders, and have strong relationships with major Housing Associations.

Restructuring & Insolvency

The firm has a leading restructuring and insolvency team with a comprehensive network of banks, financiers, brokers and insolvency professions dedicated to resolving stressed and distressed situations. In addition to working within the legal regulatory framework, the team also provides a commercial overview and take a trusted advisory role. Services include advice on business contingency and exit planning, business restructuring and turnaround strategy, acquisition of distressed business advice, debt and asset recovery, debt reconstruction and consolidation, directors duties and retained board advisory and disqualification proceedings, insolvency and Company Act offences and regulatory advice, liquidations, receiverships, administrations, voluntary arrangements and bankruptcies and pensions restructuring.

Employment & Immigration

The firm’s specialist employment team acts for employers across a number of sectors, as well as acting for individuals. Work undertaken covers all types of employment advice, with particular expertise in dealing with complex business restructuring, transfers under TUPE and COSOP and defending large value and complex tribunal claims. The team also has a significant practice advising senior executives on high value exit packages, team moves and restrictive covenant issues. Working closely with the firm’s pensions department, the group also advises on employee benefits.

The immigration team at BDB Pitmans advises on a range of matters including assisting UK businesses on filling specialist skill gaps within the UK with non-UK experts / professionals, UK based foreign corporates with their global mobility functions, and providing specialist immigration advice to inwardly investing businesses. The firm’s immigration practice is built upon specialist immigration knowledge firmly anchored by a multi-disciplinary coordination with other teams. Its wide-ranging client sectors include professional services, private medical provers and charities.

Family & Matrimonial

The family and matrimonial team at BDB Pitmans is highly regarded for advising high net worth clients with international assets, often involving associated disputes over jurisdiction for divorce cases or family trusts. They also act in complex cases concerning business interests, children disputes, multiple properties, pre and post separation property and inherited assets. The team includes a number of qualified mediators and trained collaborative lawyers to provide a full service to clients and they are also actively involved with Resolution, the national organisation for family lawyers.

Government & Infrastructure

The market-leading team work on some of the biggest and most important infrastructure and regeneration projects in the UK and advise on a wide range of planning, environmental, compulsory purchase, real estate, regulatory / public law, public affairs and parliamentary issues. Clients include Luton Airport, National Grid, Crown Commercial Service, Transport for London, Peel Group, National Audit Office, London Resort Holdings Company, Transport for Greater Manchester, Health and Care Professions Council and Midlands Connect. The team also includes four Parliamentary Agents.

Intellectual Property

The dedicated IP team has specialist expertise in managing brands for charities, not-for-profits and social enterprises, certification and collective marks for trade and professional associations and regulators, Protected Geographical Indicators (PGIs) and Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs), patents in standards, and designs. The team advises companies and individuals on all levels of the retail, manufacturing, technology, creative, IT and entertainment sectors on intellectual property as well as licensing, commercial agreements, social, employment and business structures. The team also holds a strong network of international legal affiliates.


The firm’s commercial litigation practice ranges from shareholder disputes to financial litigation to complex IT litigation and its client base includes AIM listed companies, with particular specialism in financial product mis-selling. The team also has in-depth experience of litigating for central Government, acting for defendant public bodies that are subject to judicial review. On property litigation, the firm’s work spans a number of sectors and disciplines with a particular strength in the high-end residential property market and in leasehold enfranchisement.


The leading pensions team offers a comprehensive range of services for employers and trustees, advising on due diligence, pensions warranties and agreements, clearance applications, documenting arrangements, contingent assets, de-risking, buy-outs and buy-ins, risk insurance, administration and investment management agreements. The team has also advised on GDPR guidance for pension scheme trustees, governance, legal and regulatory compliance, employer and trustee powers and duties. The experienced team consists of litigators advising on contentious proceedings, pension scheme claims, professional negligence claims and also the specialist area of Unions pensions.

Private Wealth

The private wealth team is one of the largest in the UK, offering a full service to individuals, families and trustees with an expanding global reach. The team is well-known for its expertise in UK and international tax and estate planning, UK and offshore trusts, wills, probate and the administration of estates, heritage and rural estates, mental incapacity and Court of Protection, high value residential property transactions and leasehold enfranchisement, contentious trusts and probates, immigration law and family office services.

Real Estate

The firm’s residential practice is a leader in leasehold enfranchisement, having successfully served the first ever collective enfranchisement claim notice on the day the 1993 Act came into force in 1994. The team is also highly regarded for their expertise in lease extensions, enfranchisement, refinancing and block management. The commercial real estate practice covers all areas including site acquisitions and disposals, portfolio management, tenant advice work, investment, development schemes, construction, obtaining rights over land and security work. The firm’s real estate team consists of over 100 members across its offices.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing partner Andrew Smith
Senior Partner Helen Ratcliffe
Agricultural Law Tristan Ward
Charities Penny Chapman
Contentious Trusts & Estates Lucinda Brown
Development Planning Christina Daniels
Restructuring and Insolvency Suzanne Brooker
Employment Jesper Christensen
Family Matthew Heyworth
Government & Infrastructure Mark Challis
IP Dennis Lee
Litigation Richard Langley
Pensions Chris Netiatis
Private Wealth Alastair Collett
Private Wealth Matthew Heyworth
Real Estate Jonathan Fewster
Number of partners: : 74
Solicitors: : 237

BDB Pitmans are committed to providing outstanding client service by maintaining the highest standards of professional excellence. Creating an environment for all members of staff which is not only free from any form of discrimination, harassment or bullying, but celebrates and values diversity, is key to meeting this objective.

To achieve this, BDB Pitmans strive to create an inclusive working environment within which all individuals, regardless of their personal circumstances, are treated with respect, fairness and courtesy and have the opportunity to give their best and be appropriately recognised, rewarded and developed for their contribution.

BDB Pitmans have also implemented a variety of diversity and inclusion initiatives. The firm has formed internal groups including its ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Group’ (established to review all aspects of diversity and inclusion within the firm), ‘Best Self’ (an LGBTQ+ group open to everyone at the firm to help staff feel supported in their career), ‘SHINE’ (all staff who identifies as BAME are welcome to join, as well as those who may not be, but who share the group’s ethos), and have also appointed ‘Diversity Champions’ who are volunteers representing all areas of BDB Pitmans, from Partners to Paralegals and members of support teams, to provide feedback and opinions, help promote firmwide initiatives and act as role models for inclusive behaviour.

In addition, BDB Pitmans are proud to be a founding member of ‘LeGal BesT’, a network of mid-size law firms with a focus on issues and support for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) staff. It is also a member of ‘Stonewall Diversity Champion’, a charity supporting individuals who are working out how they can make a difference for LGBT people at work, home and in their communities, and an Affiliate Member of ‘Aspiring Solicitors’, an award winning access scheme aimed at improving diversity in the legal profession.

Throughout the year, BDB Pitmans hold internal seminars and provide training sessions with the aim of raising awareness of a variety of diversity and inclusion topics. All new members of the firm are also required to attend a session on Diversity and Inclusion and unconscious bias training.

BDB Pitmans are also a signatory of The Law Society’s Diversity Charter, a public commitment by legal practices to promote the values of diversity, equality and inclusion throughout their firm.

For more information on BDB Pitmans’ diversity and inclusion initiatives, please visit:

The Lex 100 Verdict

BDB Pitmans combines the strengths of a specialist private client and property law firm with the 'variety of work' offered in the network of offices in London, Cambridge, Reading and Southampton. The result attracts trainees looking for a small intake and a firm with 'approachability, reputation, work/life balance and quality of clients' plus 'the quality of work without the negative culture sometimes associated with larger firms'. Typifying the reputation of comparable firms within its circle, BDB Pitmans has a 'friendly and open atmosphere' but what sets it apart, trainees say, is the 'variety of seats available' and the 'client exposure'. Training here is 'much more hands on' as 'you are given much more responsibility than at bigger firms, and exposed to a broad range of issues'. The training is described as 'very good' and trainees are 'given quality work and treated as a trainee rather than just a resource'. According to trainees the merger of Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans has been largely successful, but there are some sticking points, such as commuting between offices, some issues with 'security after qualification' and 'division' between the London and Reading locations 'meaning the two offices have not yet blended in terms of culture'. With the expansion of trainee seats available in Cambridge and a new office in London on the horizon, further changes lie ahead. Trainees highlight the quality of their training, commenting that there is a 'clear structure with how work is distributed within teams' and 'scope to take a lead with tasks'. Others say that 'the lack of a face-time culture and the openness and friendliness of everyone from the facilities staff through to the managing partner' endear them to the firm.