Firm Profile > BDB Pitmans > London, England

BDB Pitmans

Infrastructure (parliamentary) Tier 1

As one of the 'very top planning law practices in the country', BDB Pitmans fields a 'talented group of partners and associates' who have 'huge depth of expertise in this area'. Its four parliamentary agents - Angus Walker, Nick EvansNick Brown and David Mundy - are active in the promotion and opposition of major infrastructure projects in the transport, water, airports and energy areas; legislative drafting; and as advocates in inquiries and before parliamentary committees. Sarah Clark is likewise experienced in infrastructure planning, public inquiry work and securing compulsory purchase powers.

Practice head(s):

Mark Challis, Stuart Thomson


Nick Brown is a sage counsellor with immense experience and a joy to work with, and David Mundy approaches his cases with infinite care and sound judgement‘.

Nick Brown is experienced, canny and able to bring momentum to even the most challenging of projects. A born diplomat with reliable delivery and first-class service.’

Sarah Clark is a superbly safe pair of hands, with a focus and insight that clients appreciate. Impressive, effective, innovative and worth every penny.

BDP Pitmans brings an attention to detail, a wish to support and deliver, and a passion for the subject which helps win over even the hard-nosed members of our client team.’

Key clients

National Audit Office

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

Transport for London

Riveroak Investments

London Resort Company Holdings

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 2

The charities group at BDB Pitmans is led by Penny Chapman and encompasses a core team of charity law specialists who are ably supported by other departments at the firm. The broad practice is adept at dealing with a myriad of complex issues, from reputation management matters, through to philanthropy and legacy disputes. 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, as well as NHS charity regulation. Simon Weil advises on philanthropy and the resolution of potentially contentious issues arising out of wills, trusts and the co-ownership of property for charities and individuals. Nicola Evans is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chapman


The team is young, energetic, intelligent, charming and fun – and also capable and helpful. It really knows its stuff and you feel the team is part of your team rather than legal advisors looking in from the outside‘.

Jonathan Brinsden is personable, knowledgeable, helpful and calm – and he really gets to know your organisation. He inspires trust‘.

Has outstanding all-round knowledge of sector‘.

Key clients

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

The Halo Trust

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

The Mothers’ Union

Welsh National Opera

The Air Ambulance Service

The Landmark Trust

Wembley National Stadium Trust

Nordoff Robbins

The Garden Bridge Trust

Contentious trusts and probate Tier 2

The vast majority of work undertaken by BDB Pitmans is settled before formal court proceedings, however in 2018 it was involved in two reported cases. Dual-qualified Geoffrey Kertesz heads the department and is regularly instructed in high-value matters that involve an interplay between trusts, probate and divorce, and is adept at handling matters that span the Chancery and family divisions. The team handles all types of private onshore and offshore wealth disputes advising on contested wills and trusts, charity legacies and inheritance tax claims. Key clients include individuals, families, trustees, beneficiaries and charities. Legal Director Lorraine Jeffery is one to watch.

Practice head(s):

Geoffrey Kertesz

Other key lawyers:

Lorraine Jeffery; Lavinia Randall; Helen Fry


Geoffrey Kertesz is charming and very bright. He is very articulate, knowledgeable and experienced and has just the right amount of aggression and forcefulness with the other side‘.

Geoffrey Kertesz often comes up with new ways to approach apparently intractable problems and treats both clients and opponents with respect and candour‘.

Geoffrey Kertesz has built a good group of likeable and bright associates and senior associates who are cohesive and work well together. They are at home in big ticket cases as well as dealing with smaller matters’.

Geoffrey Kertesz is a very clever lawyer, good on tactics and eminently sensible. He gives the client excellent balanced advice. Clients love him for his humour and kindness. His background as a Californian attorney makes him incredibly useful in cases with a US aspect’.

The team is first class: it combines real technical expertise with outstanding client management. Geoff Kertesz is wonderful to work with. He is a quite brilliant lawyer, with great commercial instincts. Clients love him‘.

‘Lorraine Jeffery is very good and works hard‘.

Lorraine Jeffery is diligent and charming‘.

‘Lorraine Jeffery has a great deal of experience and takes a calm, constructive approach.

Lavinia Randall is a very able solicitor. Her judgment is spot on and her grasp of the detail of her clients’ cases is impressive. She is someone you want on your team‘.

Helen Fry is supremely knowledgeable‘.

Key clients

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Barts Health NHS Trust

Employment: senior executives Tier 2

BDB Pitmans has a strong offering for both employers and senior executives, and has solid expertise in acting for clients drawn from the charity sector. The team handles a broad range of employment law matters, including TUPE issues, contracts, service agreements, redundancies, constructive dismissals and discrimination claims. Jesper Christensen leads the practice. Caroline Yarrow, Brian Gegg and senior associate Ian Wasserman are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Jesper Christensen

Local government Tier 2

BDB Pitmans (Bircham Dyson Bell merged with Pitmans in late 2018) has an impressive national practice, especially in areas of transport, regeneration projects and clean air/emissions matters. Mark Challis heads the department and David Mundy leads the practice area - he is a Roll A Parliamentary Agent and his expertise spans development schemes, public procurement and state aid and broad administrative law matters. Also a Roll A Parliamentary Agent, Nick Evans advises on major  infrastructure projects in the transport, energy, water and waste sectors. Angus Walker also has a focus on these sectors and 'stand outTom Henderson handles infrastructure planning. Senior associate Rahul Bijlani  is noted; he acted for Transport for London on numerous extensions and variations of London's congestion charging regime.

Practice head(s):

Mark Challis; David Mundy


Very customer focused, practical and always looking for solutions.  Very knowledgeable and clearly experts in their field.’

They have longstanding expert knowledge and experience as lawyers and Parliamentary agents in relation to congestion charging and particularly workplace parking levy schemes and air quality legislation.’

Tom Henderson is a stand-out individual and he is developing team members.  Issues are expedited diligently and professionally with a thoroughness that enables strengths, weaknesses and risks to be identified and properly considered.’

Key clients

Allerdale Borough Council

Bath & North East Somerset Council

Riding of East Yorkshire Council

Birmingham City Council

Blackpool Borough Council

Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority

England’s Economic Heartland Sub-national Transport Body

Nottingham City Council

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council

Trafford Borough Council & Wigan Borough Council

Leeds City Council

M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m Tier 2

Following a merger with legacy Bircham Dyson Bell, the newly formed BDB Pitmans now counts 12 partners in its London corporate/M&A  team. The practice handles both public and private work, predominantly for smaller and mid-market clients, although some much larger clients are noted. The firm retains a strong private wealth team, which collaborates with the corporate M&A team to bring work for private individuals, including entrepreneurs. Nick McCarthy is the key name to note, and his large sector breadth means he acts for private equity firms, large listed clients and private companies, including some high-profile retail businesses.

Practice head(s):

Philip Lamb

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Harwood Capital LLP

FIH Group plc

Claranet Limited

Health Service Laboratories LLP

The Childcare Corporation Limited

EKF Diagnostics PLC

Bioquell PLC

Ten Entertainment Group Plc

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 2

BDB Pitmans is best known for its advice on complex estate planning and succession issues, often involving assets in multiple jurisdictions, as well as for its work on trusts and other wealth-holding vehicles for international families. The team is  well-regarded for its advice to owners of agricultural land and landed estates as well as philanthropists. In addition, the team of trust and tax managers is thriving. Simon Weil heads the department.

Practice head(s):

Simon Weil

Other key lawyers:

Helen Ratcliffe; Judith Millar; Lara Mardell


Has in-depth knowledge that is second to none. The lawyers have a way of getting to the issue quickly, explaining it in straightforward terms and giving clear advice as to how to proceed. An excellent firm’.

The team has a lot of experience and provides a thorough and reasoned style of advice. Helen Ratcliffe is very professional, hardworking and gives practical and technically excellent advice‘.

Helen Ratcliffe is an excellent team player – technically adept, professional yet warm with clients and team members, never competitive but rather focused on getting the best results for the client as efficiently and thoughtfully as possible‘.

Very technically strong friendly team‘.

‘Cool heads all around‘.

The team at BDB is good to work with and has a refreshing habit of putting its clients’ interest first while guiding them carefully through the technical and practical difficulties of personal tax, trusts and probates.

Judith Millar is a really good person to work with. She is empathetic to the scenario and will take time to give her advice which is always relevant and spot on to the situation.

Judith Millar is very good at handling the more aggressive and bullying practitioners that aggregate fractious family situations.

‘Lara Mardell is very easy to work with and brings good offshore experience to the team‘.

Planning Tier 2

BDB Pitmans has a strong reputation as a leading firm in the field of infrastructure planning, and advising on DCO and Transport and Works Act Order applications for major projects across the UK. Particularly noteworthy ongoing work includes the full suite of advice to Transport for London regarding the Crossrail 2 project and the DCO application for the £5.3bn+ Lower Thames Crossing project for Highways England. Angus Walker also advises on NSIPs in the airport and oil and gas sectors. On the development side, practice head Mark Challis advises a number of local authorities on their CPO applications for high-value regeneration programmes, as well as handling contentious issues such as planning objections by way of public inquiry. The sizeable nine-partner team also includes Sarah Clark, who notably is acting alongside Challis on a £3bn+ line extension project for Transport for London.

Practice head(s):

Mark Challis

Other key lawyers:

Angus Walker; Sarak Clark


Not only the leading infrastructure planning practice in the UK, but also a really good mainstream planning practice with all-round expertise.’

There is no one with more experience and expertise in nationally significant infrastructure projects than Angus Walker.’

Sarah Clark is a great lawyer who can guide a case through to a successful conclusion, as well as being able to inspire confidence in clients and the team that she leads.’

Angus Walker is the leading infrastructure lawyer of his generation. There is no one with his experience and expertise in nationally significant infrastructure projects.’

The firm has exceptional associates who are more than capable in their own right, including Lauren Spencer and Joanna Purkis.’

Angus Walker has an encyclopaedic knowledge of infrastructure planning.’

Provides cutting-edge, well-informed. strategic, innovative and thoughtful advice.’

Mark Challis really understands what his clients’ needs are and what they want to achieve.’

Lee Tearle is hardworking, thorough and a safe pair of hands.

Nicholas Brown is a bright, attentive problem solver who can win with both intellect and charm.

The firm has exceptional associates who are more than capable in their own right, such as Lauren Spencer and Joanna Purkis.

Key clients

Transport for London

National Grid

Highways England

London Borough of Lambeth

London Luton Airport Limited

Historic England

Transport for Greater Manchester

Peel Group

RiverOak Invests Corp LLC  (developers of Manston Airport)

Environment Agency

Transport for Wales

Residential property Tier 2

Following its merger in December 2018, BDB Pitmans has increased its historic strength in all types of leasehold matters, including acquisitions and enfranchisements, which are handled alongside a consistent stream of high value residential property transactions, acting for buyers and sellers in prime central London locations such as Chelsea, Belgravia and Knightsbridge. Further expertise is displayed by the practice in property development and estate acquisitions. Practice head Hema Anand frequently acts for high net worth individuals buying and selling residential property in London, providing particular expertise in relation to tax structuring and the complex areas of Right to Manage and Right of First Refusal. Former senior partner John Stephenson leads on leasehold enfranchisement work.

Practice head(s):

Hema Anand; John Stephenson


‘The ability to offer clear steer advice, strategic as well as legal, across the whole range of residential property issues, especially leaseholds’.

‘John Stephenson, the partner in charge of our affairs, provides practical solutions to problems and has the ability to handle and analyse complex contracts swiftly. He is not afraid to voice his opinions where he feels strongly about a particular issue, a sign of confidence in his own knowledge and expertise’.

Administrative and public law Tier 3

The administrative and public law practice at BDB Pitmans has a strong track record for public inquiry work, with Matthew Smith representing a number of individuals involved the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the London Bridge Inquests and the Westminster Bridge Inquests. The team’s client roster recently expanded, bringing in a number of key local councils acting as interested parties in a judicial review concerning local government reform. Other judicial review challenges are regularly acted on in the fields of planning and climate change, with a highlight being an ongoing instruction by the Committee on Climate Change against the central government. Procurement advice is covered by David Mundy, with the landmine clearance charity HALO being a significant client.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Smith; David Mundy


Richard Langley is shrewd, realistic and highly experienced – a good person to have on your side

The team’s organisation and management of major cases is second to none and it consistently shows up-to-date knowledge of the law in the field

Natasha Davis is a rising star in the field and consistently demonstrates a high level of intelligence and rigour in her work

Sian Jones provides outstanding legal expertise, coupled with acute tactical judgement and excellent client management

Key clients

National Audit Office

The Chief Coroner of England and Wales

Mrs Jane Jones and Mr Peter Rice

Committee on Climate Change


The Health and Care Professions Council

The Corporation of Trinity House

Dorset County Council; Purbeck District Council; Bournemouth Borough Council; Poole Borough Council; East Dorset District Council; Dorset Councils Partnership

Court of protection Tier 3

The Court of Protection team at BDB Pitmans is led by Alastair Collett and comprises a mix of non-contentious and litigation lawyers who practise in this area alongside other connected areas, such as care of the elderly and will and trust disputes. The department is best known for managing capacity issues for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. The team has substantial experience in contested Court of Protection cases as well as in bringing and defending objections to enduring/lasting powers of attorney. Simon Weil and Geoffrey Kertesz are the other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Simon Weil; Geoffrey Kertesz

Other key lawyers:

Alastair Collett; Helen Fry; Lorraine Jeffery


BDB Pitmans is immensely capable, with a real focus on doing the best for its clients. The lawyers are sensible litigators, fighting for their clients’ cause but never losing sight of the bigger picture‘.

A strong team with a great depth of litigation experience, which means the team can bring a broader view to COP work than many other firms in this area‘.

Geoffrey Kertesz is technically brilliant and a master tactician. He always seems to see six steps ahead‘.

A strong team with a great deal of litigation and private client experience, particularly good on property and affairs and cross-border (especially US) issues. Geoffrey Kertesz – truly excellent, a master tactician‘.

‘Helen Fry is extremely efficient, pragmatic and capable. She is able to pick up the issues quickly and tackle them sensibly, whilst also being very clever‘.

Lorraine Jeffery is an excellent solicitor and a real star in this area, capable of dealing with even the most difficult situations‘.

Lorraine Jeffery – very strong, a great senior associate with in-depth knowledge of the Court of Protection and a litigator’s brain‘.

Education: schools Tier 3

Penny Chapman oversees the education and charities team at BDB Pitmans, which provides 'consistently good advice' to its national clients on all areas of education law, combined with its charity law expertise. The team has handled mergers and restructurings, regulatory work and real estate matters over the past 12 months and has seen a strengthening of its client base, with several independent schools joining the roster. The practice takes a cross-departmental, with real estate group head Jonathan Fewster advising schools on property matters. Senior associates Alice Unwin and Harriet Ainsworth are also key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chapman

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS)

Eltham College

Grange Park School

Plymouth College (formally known as Plymouth College and Dunstan’s Abbey Schools Charity)

The Mount School (York)

Cripplegate Schools Foundation –Lady Eleanor Holles

Queen’s College London

Connaught House School (prep)

Westminster School

Merchant Taylors School

Rail Tier 3

BDB Pitmans focuses on planning and authorisation work in the rail sector; it advises on the planning aspects of large-scale infrastructure projects in heavy and light rail; and it has 'deep experience in the field'. The firm's Parliamentary Agents advise on the promotion and opposition of railway bills and it has a dedicated public affairs practice. The team continues to act for a wide range of parties affected by HS2 Phases One and Two, including statutory bodies and undertakers, local authorities, utility companies, private organisations, individual landowners and rural businesses.

Practice head(s):

Mark Challis

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Clark; Nicholas Evans; Christina Daniels


Mark Challis is very experienced in railway work and has excellent judgement.


Key clients

HS2 objections, including the CLA, BMW, Aston Villa, Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Airport and NEC.

Transport for Wales

Transport for London

Transport for Greater Manchester

Leeds City Council

Blackpool Borough Council

Art and cultural property Tier 4

BDB Pitmans is best known for providing tax and structuring advice to the owners of art and cultural property. The experienced team frequently advises trustees and individuals who own assets that are subject to historic conditional exemptions from estate duty and inheritance tax. The group has also been busy advising on all the issues that arise from the sale and purchase of art as well as issues of provenance, artefact recovery in addition to agency agreements, contracts and IP issues. Susan Johnson and Hugo Smith co-head the team.

Practice head(s):

Susan Johnson; Hugo Smith

Other key lawyers:

Simon Weil; Jonathan Fewster


Very strong on cultural heritage and landed estates. Susan Johnson – experience in all aspects of cultural assets‘.

‘Susan Johnson has a long history of working on heritage matters‘.

The team is always friendly and efficient. Simon Weil and Jonathan Fewster – both have been excellent’.


Key clients

Royal Opera House

Handel House Trust

Historic England

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

The Crossrail Art Foundation

The Landmark Trust

Commercial property: corporate occupiers Tier 4

Jonathan Fewster’s team at BDB Pitmans is a ‘well-rounded group, offering excellent advice and a hands-on attitude’. The firm, which is a result of the recent merger of Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans Law, is particularly reputed for its corporate occupier work which ranges from asset management to acquisitions and leasing arrangements. Development and investment matters are also a particular focus including day-to-day portfolio management, acquisitions and disposals. Also forming the caseload is landlord and tenant work, construction, property finance, planning and enfranchisement work along with a range of matters in the charities and not-for-profit sector such as leasing and constitutional restructuring.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Fewster

Other key lawyers:

Ellen James


‘A well rounded group offering excellent advice and a hands-on attitude.’

‘Ellen James is always willing to provide off the cuff advice and has time to discuss issues before they arise.’

Bhaminee Sharma impresses with her diplomacy and patience‘.

Key clients

South London & Maudsley Charity

Commercial property: development Tier 4

Jonathan Fewster’s team at BDB Pitmans is a ‘well-rounded group, offering excellent advice and a hands-on attitude’. The firm, which is a result of the recent merger of Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans Law, is particularly reputed for its corporate occupier work which ranges from asset management to acquisitions and leasing arrangements. Development and investment matters are also a particular focus including day-to-day portfolio management, acquisitions and disposals. Also forming the caseload is landlord and tenant work, construction, property finance, planning and enfranchisement work along with a range of matters in the charities and not-for-profit sector such as leasing and constitutional restructuring.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Fewster

Other key lawyers:

Ellen James


‘A well rounded group offering excellent advice and a hands-on attitude.’

‘Ellen James is always willing to provide off the cuff advice and has time to discuss issues before they arise.’

Bhaminee Sharma impresses with her diplomacy and patience‘.

Family Tier 5

Siân Jones heads the team at BDB Pitmans and advises many high-profile international couples on pre-nuptial, cohabitation and pre-civil partnership agreements. The busy team was pleased to add David Thompson to its ranks from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP. It is highly regarded for its work on complex international disputes and works closely with its private wealth team and its agriculture and rural property teams. Lisa Bolgar Smith, David Thompson, John Darnton and Isobel Mundy are all mediators and Mundy is qualified to have direct consultation with children. The team is one to watch.

Practice head(s):

Sian Jones


Highly effective and efficient family law team with a huge amount of professionalism Lisa Bolgar Smith: hugely experienced; an excellent lawyer and superb with clients, also a top-class negotiator‘.

Highly knowledgeable and willing to fight for its clients. Sian Jones is very experienced and a strong litigator who is very committed to securing the best possible outcome for clients‘.

Sian Jones is calm and sensible. She wins the loyalty of her clients by thorough preparation and her wealth of experience of difficult cases. A safe pair of hands‘.

Client focused and problem solving an experienced team. Isobel Mundy has fantastic experience and judgement‘.

BDB Pitmans will be bolstered by the arrival of David Thompson‘.

Pensions (non-contentious) Tier 5

Christopher Netiatis is the primary contact for the pensions offering at BDB Pitmans. His specialisms include scheme reorganisations and mergers, design and benefit changes, scheme closures, derisking exercises and rectification applications.

Property litigation Tier 5

Following the merger between Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans, the firm now operates under the name BDB Pitmans. Its property litigation team is jointly led by the 'approachable and knowledgeableSimon Painter and Neil Emerson and is best known for its high-end residential property work, which frequently involves unlawful alterations and noise nuisance claims as well as enfranchisement disputes but the practice also handles commercial property issues including those involving an insolvency element.

Practice head(s):

Simon Painter; Neil Emerson; Andrew Couch


Very good level of service with very quick response times.

They have a clear, practical approach to resolving disputes, paying close attention to the relevant legal principles and always look for practical solutions.

Their careful analysis is impressive.

Simon Painter gives full and careful attention to the detail of the case as well as the overall picture. He is also a pleasure to work with.

Key clients

Clarion Housing Group

The Ministry of Defence

Fred Perry

Smurfit Kappa UK

The Landmark Trust

City & Country Group

Bank of Ireland

Peel Holdings

The National Landlords Association

Employment: employers Tier 6

BDB Pitmans has a strong offering for both employers and senior executives, and has solid expertise in acting for clients drawn from the charity sector. The team handles a broad range of employment law matters, including TUPE issues, contracts, service agreements, redundancies, constructive dismissals and discrimination claims. Jesper Christensen leads the practice. Caroline Yarrow, Brian Gegg and senior associate Ian Wasserman are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Jesper Christensen

Key clients

Smurfit Kappa UK

The Doctors’ Laboratory


St John Ambulance

The Health and Care Professions Council

London General Transport Services

Commercial litigation Tier 8

In late 2018, Pitmans LLP merged with Bircham Dyson Bell to become BDB Pitmans. The commercial litigation practice covers shareholder disputes, financial litigation and complex IT litigation. Geoffrey Kertesz is litigation head and Sinéad Lester heads the commercial litigation team. Also highly regarded are Richard Langley, Donna Goldsworthy, David Archer and Neil Emerson.

Practice head(s):

Geoffrey Kertesz; Sinéad Lester


Richard Langley is exceptional‘.

Key clients

Dinglis Properties

Smurfit Kappa


Nuffield Health


EFG Bank



BDB Pitmans advises large corporates and SME clients on a broad range of immigration matters, including sponsorship duties, right to work checks and applications. The team also advises entrepreneurs, investors and their families on visas and relocation to the UK. The team is also engaged on immigration work relating to acquisitions, disposals, reorganisations and outsourcing. Its client base spans the professional services, hospitality, medical and charity sectors. The team also acts for individuals and private clients on a broad range of immigration matters and can offer estate and tax planning advice as part of its service.

Practice head(s):

Tim Hayes; Jesper Christensen; Alastair Collett


Reply Group

KPI Bridge Oil

Bunker Trading Group


The Asfari Foundation

Buckley Gray Yeoman

Fletcher Priest LLP

Hassell Studio

Patel Taylor Architects

Great Ormond St Hospital Children’s Charity

Karakusevic Carson

Robert Bird Group

The Doctors Laboratory

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 1

The 'excellent' insolvency team at BDB Pitmans works on important and high value instructions across various industry sectors in relation to formal insolvencies, restructuring and advisory roles and recovery and asset tracing. Some of the team's specialist sectors include IT, telecoms, construction, retail, hospitality, healthcare and automotive and engineering. The team, based in Reading, is led by the Suzanne Brooker who is described by one client as 'absolutely first class'. 'Next Generation Lawyer' Stacey Jones is another key name to note, with one client describing her as 'absolutely charming but client's know that she will fight to the bitter end to advance their interests'.

Practice head(s):

Suzanne Brooker

Other key lawyers:

Stacey Jones; William Angus; Noel Ruddy; Dawn Shadwell


‘BDB Pitmans has an excellent insolvency and corporate recovery offering. In Reading, the firm does great work, which is worthy of much bigger, London-based firms.’

‘What makes them a fantastic firm is the advice, and the fact that I can rely on it implicitly. They are responsive, knowledgeable, creative and value for money. Nice people too’

‘They have a strong reputation in all aspects of corporate and commercial work.’

‘The safest pairs of hands’

‘Stacey Jones is an absolute star. Clients love her. She is absolutely charming but clients know that she will fight to the bitter end to advance their interests.’

‘Suzanne Brooker is absolutely first class – she is an excellent lawyer but where she really excels is as a tactician. She really understands and is able to exploit the pressure points of the other side.’

‘Suzanne Brooker is not only an outstanding lawyer but also a business woman with strong entrepreneurial flair. ‘

Key clients

Wilkins Kennedy LLP (London, Reading, Southampton and Egham offices)

KPMG LLP (Reading, London and Birmingham offices)

PricewaterhouseCoopers (Thames Valley offices)

Grant Thornton UK LLP (Reading and London offices)

BDO LLP (Thames Valley and London offices)

CVR Global LLP (London and Southampton)

Moore Stephens LLP (London and Watford offices)

Quantuma LLP (Marlow, Brighton and Southampton offices)

UHY Hacker Young LLP (London office)

RSM Baker Tilly Creditor Services LLP (London and Southampton offices)

IT and telecoms Tier 1

BDB Pitmans's team is headed by Philip Smith who is especially experienced in handling TMT-related disputes. It is also notable for its skills in relation to licensing, outsourcing and counts established tech companies and start ups among its clients.  Tim Clark has broad expertise in the IT sector acting for software vendors, distributors and systems integrators and has of late,  advised on a number of security breaches. Partner Philip Weaver and associate Marie Evrard focus on the corporate/commercial side, advising on areas such as outsourcing, licensing transactions, channel partner agreements and distribution agreements.

Practice head(s):

Philip Smith

Other key lawyers:


They have strength in depth, commerciality and responsiveness.’

We had an excellent experience – they have a practical approach.’

Key clients

KAI Computer Services Ltd

Sky plc (and numerous subsidiaries and group companies)

Sondrel Ltd (and group)

Westcoast Group

Toshiba TEC UK Imaging Systems Limited

Humax Electronics Co. Ltd

Noble Systems UK Ltd

Gamma Telecom plc (and group)

360Globalnet Ltd

Kymaner – Technologias Energeticas Ida

Vipera plc

Sol-Tec Limited

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

BDB Pitmans acts for a mix of private clients, shareholders and national and international corporations in IT disputes, contentious corporate and shareholder matters, professional negligence claims and complex commercial disputes.  Tim Clark's  practice focuses on company law-related claims, shareholder and unfair prejudice disputes, while Phil Smith and David Gwillim handle commercial and construction sector disputes respectively.

Practice head(s):

Tim Clark

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Sky plc

Langham Homes

Veritas Technologies

Thames Water (and its insurers)

Toshiba Imaging Systems UK Limited

Commercial property: Cambridge Tier 2

BDB Pitmans opened its Cambridge office in 2017, with real estate the core practice; the merger of legacy firms Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans in 2018 gave the office a key role in the firm-wide real estate practice, which has a national focus. Lead partner Simon Burson handles acquisitions, disposals and the day-to-day management of the property portfolios for clients such as Eskmuir Properties and Cording Real Estate Group. Senior associate Katy Klingopulos handles residential and commercial development projects for landowners and developers.

Practice head(s):

Simon Burson

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Eskmuir Securities Limited

Frasers Riverside Quarter Limited

Bioregional Homes Limited


Foundation for Language and Educational Centres (Eurocentres)

Cording Real Estate Group

Kurt Geiger Limited

Guilden Morden Community Pub Limited

Turnbull & Asser Limited

Merrill Corporate Limited

Corporate and commercial: Cambridge Tier 2

BDB Pitmans has a small but highly experienced team in Cambridge with Duncan Walker and James Stephen both highly respected in the region having practised in Cambridge for many years. The firm's clients range from entrepreneurs and SMEs to large corporates. Stephen recently acted for the founders of Cambridge Design Partnership Limited on the transfer of the ownership of the company to an Employee Ownership Trust. Walker's recent work includes advising the shareholders of a manufacturing company in its £57m disposal to an overseas trade buyer.

Practice head(s):

James Stephen; Duncan Walker


“They maintain strong personal relationships, are reliable and their fees are fair. In addition to making it easy for me to deal with them, it also gives me the confidence to recommend them to others knowing that those to whom I recommend them will be satisfied.”

“Duncan Walker is always responsive and happy to help.”

Key clients

Owlstone Medical Limited

Employment: Hampshire Tier 2

With a key specialisation in contentious employment work, BDB Pitmans' team has significant experience of representing both claimants and respondents. Team head Jonathan Gray has a strong track record in employment tribunal advocacy. On the non-contentious side, the group provides day-to-day HR and employment support on corporate transactions. Working closely with the firm's pensions department, the group is also able to advise on employee benefits.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Gray

Other key lawyers:

Claire Anderson


A fantastic commercially-minded approach to any work we have given them. I would highly recommend‘.

Jonathan Gray is always accessible and provides first class advice and support for our business‘.

Key clients


The Highwood Group

The Concorde Club and Hotel

Interesting Hotels

Crittall Windows

London Irish

The Wilton Carpet Factory

The Appointment Group

Delicious Dining Group

Gallowglass Group

Immigration Tier 2

BDB Pitmans' international business immigration service primarily focuses on advising on global mobility issues. Key areas of expertise include Tiers 1, 2 and 5 applications, sponsor licence applications and preparation for Home Office audits. Jonathan Gray heads the practice from the Southampton office.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Gray

Pensions Tier 2

BDB Pitmans demonstrates strong capabilities in relation to benefit restructuring, in addition to niche expertise in SIPPs, SSASs and other executive arrangements, including QROPS. Lead partner David Hosford is also experienced in drafting master trusts, both for group life (and excepted life) cover and defined contribution schemes.

Practice head(s):

David Hosford

Key clients

Chas A Blatchford & Sons Limited Group Pension Scheme

Applied Industrial Materials UK Limited Retirement & Death Benefit Plan

Swedish Match UK Pension Fund

Robert Dyas Limited Pension & Life Assurance Scheme

Banco Santander Totta Staff Security Plan

Planning Tier 2

BDB Pitmans's planning department is led by Christina Daniels, who specialises in the planning aspects of residential and mixed-use developments. Daniels also has expertise in highway rights of way, village green and assets of community value work. The team also negotiates and challenges section 106 agreements, provides strategic planning advice on large sites and advises on CIL. Elsewhere, it supports the firm's real estate practice with the planning aspects of major development contracts.

Practice head(s):

Christina Daniels

Key clients

Cala Group Limited/Banner Homes Group Limited

Redrow Homes Limited

Countryside Properties (UK) Limited

Highwood Group Limited

Bewley Homes PLC

Millgate Developments Limited

Shanly Homes Limited

Ashill Land Limited

Oakford Homes Limited

Fairview Homes Limited

Vanderbilt Homes Limited

Troy Homes Limited

Commercial litigation: Hampshire Tier 3

A cornerstone of BDB Pitmans' practice involves handling insurance litigation; the firm has niche technical expertise in subrogated property damage claims for insurers, and it is also active in fraudulent insurance claims. Elsewhere, the team also regularly works on contentious commercial property matters and professional negligence cases. Insolvency litigation expert Rick Munro is the practice head. Alan Davies has more than 35 years of litigation experience.

Practice head(s):

Rick Munro

Other key lawyers:

Alan Davies; Claire Collings; Sylvia Yendall

Key clients


Covéa Insurance

Red Funnel Group


Mildren Construction

Merlin Accessories

CPJ Field & Co

Mears Group


Premier Marinas


Kubrick Group

Construction Tier 3

BDB Pitmans 'unique' construction and engineering group supports clients at all stages of the construction process, from site acquisition, planning and procurement advice to disputes (including adjudication). Besides residential developers, the team regularly acts for marine engineering and hospitality clients (the firm has key specialisms in the last two sectors). Practice head David Gwillim boasts over 35 years of construction law experience.

Practice head(s):

David Gwillim


The team provides the same excellent service as larger firms but with the additions of a personal approach and reasonable fees‘.

They are willing to spend time ensuring the client understands the issues, so it can make the most well-informed decision‘.

Key clients

Commercial Glass (London) Limited

Oxford Homes Limited

Domus (UK) Limited, timber framing contractors

CALA Homes formerly Banner Homes

Pedersen Group, hotels

Choiceplace Properties

Frazer-Nash Research Limited, automotive, including Bristol Cars and Metrocab

D+D Rail Limited, rail contractors

Space-Q Studio Limited

Element Six Limited part of the DeBeers Group

Corporate and commercial: Hampshire Tier 3

Led by Sean Kelly, the corporate practice at BDB Pitmans demonstrates strong capabilities in private equity transactions; these include management buyouts and deals backed by private equity or venture capital trusts. Oliver Kelly specialises in M&A, buy-ins and buyouts and corporate finance. The firm has been particularly active in matters connected with the travel, marine/transport and IT/technology sectors recently.

Practice head(s):

Sean Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Oliver Kelly; Roger Gregory

Key clients

Clipper Ventures

Red Funnel Ferries


Panoramic Growth Equity

ITS Technology

The Appointment

Premier Marinas

Specialist Journeys

Amicus ITS

AJM Healthcare

Debt recovery Tier 3

BDB Pitmans' debt recovery team specialises in the enforcement of liability orders and the collection of unpaid commercial and residential service charges. Active clients include public sector organisations, sole traders, regulatory bodies, accountants and financial institutions. Rick Munro is the lead partner.

Practice head(s):

Rick Munro

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

Areas of expertise for BDB Pitmans include supporting employers in the employment and HR aspects of business structuring and transactions, diversity, employment disputes and avoidance, equal opportunities, industrial relations, workplace contracts, policies and benefits. Angela Shields is the key figure for non-contentious matters, including on issues related to worker status, disciplinary matters and terminations, as well as representing claimants and defending employers in Employment Tribunal claims.

Practice head(s):

Angela Shield

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

The family law practice of BDB Pitmans  regularly coordinate with the private client practice to offer a one-stop shop for family and child law non-contentious matters, dispute resolution, injunctions and trusts of land claims. Matt Heyworth is the lead practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Matt Heyworth


Personable, friendly manner and a professional approach. The whole team provided comprehensive support and efficient backup.’

I’m very impressed and confident with the advice Matthew Heyworth gave, his breadth of knowledge and ability to convey it in an understandable manner is very reassuring when faced with complex legal definitions and procedures. ‘

Matt Heyworth is an outstanding family lawyer who understands the finances and is very good with the maths. Reassuring yet professional and a lawyer who boosts your confidence.

Personal injury: defendant Tier 3

BDB Pitmans' personal injury defence team handles industrial disease claims and public liability matters. Ferhat Choudri focuses on catastrophic claims and road traffic accidents, and also has experience in significant cross-border claims, having worked across France, Italy, and Mexico.

Commercial property: Hampshire Tier 4

The key names in BDB Pitmans' real estate team are consultants John Newton and Nick Todd. Specialisms of the practice include the acquisition and disposal of farms and agricultural estates, and also the promotion and sale of agricultural and rural land to leading residential developers. The team also has notable expertise in the marine sector, with Newton and Todd acting for a number of regional heavyweight clients, including Premier Marinas, Red Funnel Ferries and Solent & Wight Line Cruises.

Practice head(s):

John Newton

Family Tier 4

BDB Pitmans has one partner who works between the London and Cambridge offices, but David Thompson has a growing client base in East Anglia. The firm, which is in the process of significantly expanding its regional family law offering, has a particular focus on complex financial and international issues including complex  leave-to-remove children cases. Thompson is chair of London Region of Resolution.

Practice head(s):

David Thompson

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 Tier 4

BDB Pitmans added complementary expertise from its recent merger with Bircham Dyson Bell in November 2018. Sheila Magee heads the Reading-based team and is able to draw upon her real estate expertise to advise clients with landed estates on estate management issues, in addition to assisting domestic and international domiciled and elderly clients on a wide range of private client issues. Senior associate Alexander Morgan specialises in wills and lifetime trust drafting, probate applications and elderly client care matters. David Ainslie retired in March 2018.

Practice head(s):

Sheila Magee

Other key lawyers:


Very efficient and effective service, with close attention to detail and clear explanations of what was required and why in the form of regular and comprehensive updates.

Excellent personal service and keenness to help was evident from outset.’

Sheila Magee provided close and expert advice and help from the outset.

Property litigation Tier 4

BDB Pitmans, which undertakes a significant amount of advocacy in-house, is well-known for acting for major real estate developers in complex disputes. In addition, it represents private individuals and companies in landlord and tenant litigation, and it also excels in real estate litigation involving insolvency issues and construction disputes. Practice head Phil Smith is the name to note.

Practice head(s):

Phil Smith

Key clients

CALA Homes (formerly Banner Homes)

Bewley Homes


Thames Water

Toshiba Tec UK Imaging Systems Ltd

Langham Homes

Hibu (UK) Ltd

Vanderbilt Homes

CVR Global LLP

Shanly Homes

Karali Limited

Moor Park (1958) Ltd

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

Bringing together over 300 years of legal expertise across 5 locations – Cambridge, London City, London Westminster, 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
Agriculture: The firm has a strong practice in acting for individuals and institutions engaged in farming and the ownership of agricultural land and landed estates.

Charities and 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 and estates: 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.

Corporate and commercial services: The partner-led corporate team offers advice at every stage of a business’s life-cycle, helping them to protect their assets and achieve their long-term strategy. They have particular expertise in takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, Main Market and AIM listings, corporate finance and capital reorganisations / restructurings.

Development planning: The 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. They also advise on dealing with Assets of Community Value.

Restructuring and insolvency: The team has a comprehensive network of banks, financiers, brokers and insolvency professionals to work quickly and effectively to resolve both stressed and distressed situations. We advise 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: The firm’s large 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.

Family: The family team is recognised for advising high-net-worth clients with international assets, often involving associated disputes over jurisdiction for divorce cases or family trusts. The team also includes a number of qualified mediators and trained collaborative lawyers.

Government and 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 Roll A Parliamentary Agents.

Intellectual property: The 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; designs.

Litigation: Property litigation continues to be a key practice area for the firm and includes large scale construction disputes. The team also has in-depth experience of litigating for central Government, acting for defendant public bodies that are subject to judicial review. In addition, the firm has a dedicated commercial litigation practice specialising in financial product mis-selling.

Pensions: Our pensions team offers a comprehensive range of services for employers and trustees. We advise 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. We also have advised on GDPR guidance for pension scheme trustees, governance: legal and regulatory compliance, employer and trustee powers and duties. The  team also includes 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 work, mental incapacity and Court of Protection work, high value residential property transactions and leasehold enfranchisement, contentious trusts work, immigration law and family office services.

Real estate: The team’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 commercial real estate practice covers all areas including site acquisitions and disposals, portfolio management, tenant advice work, development schemes, construction, obtaining rights over land and security work.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing partner Andrew Smith
Senior Partner Helen Ratcliffe
Agricultural Law Patrick Lynam
Charities Penny Chapman
Contentious Trusts & Estates Geoffrey Kertesz
Development Planning Christina Daniels
Restructuring and Insolvency Suzanne Brooker
Employment Jesper Christensen
Family Siân Jones
Family Matthew Heyworth
Government & Infrastructure Mark Challis
IP Dennis Lee
Litigation Richard Langley
Pensions Chris Netiatis
Private Wealth Simon Weil
Private Wealth Matthew Heyworth
Real Estate Jonathan Fewster
Number of partners: : 80
Solicitors: : 170