Saunders Law > London, England > Firm Profile

Saunders Law
Temple Chambers 3-7
Temple Avenue

The firm: Saunders Law traces its history back to 1974, and specialises in litigation. From offices by the High Court, Saunders Law provides a service without compromise on quality, at a fair price, with an unshakeable commitment to clients.

Types of work undertaken
Civil liberties and police misconduct: Nia Williams leads this department representing clients whose rights have been infringed by the state, particularly by the police, prison and immigration authorities. The team acts in high-profile cases like the Misfeasance in Public Office Class Action against South Yorkshire and West Midlands police for some 500 families and survivors of the Hillsborough disaster affected by the cover up. The firm has a legal aid contract for giving advice and representation on such cases, and for people trafficking issues.

Inquests and inquiries: Nia Williams and James Saunders lead a specialist team representing families in relation to major deaths in custody, such as those relating to police restraint, police shootings and deaths in prisons. The team acts for next of kin in fatal train crashes, advised a multinational construction firm on an alleged health and safety fatality, and Sky News in relation to the death of Brenda Leyland. They review inquests in the UK and abroad, where the verdicts are controversial, and related to crime, and not accepted by families and friends. The firm acts in high-profile public inquiries, advising the media in the Leveson inquiry, and Michael Mansfield KC in the ongoing inquiry into undercover policing.

Public law: the firm regularly challenges unlawful or controversial administrative decisions by public bodies by judicial review in the High Court. The proliferation of public bodies leads to instructions in all manner of decisions, such as in police disciplinary matters, the criminal justice system, the regulation of universities and schools, and against professional regulatory bodies.

Commercial litigation: Matthew Purcell leads a team advising a diverse client group, from small to medium-sized businesses, to global PLCs, individuals and charitable organisations. The team is known for its responsiveness and commercial approach to disputes; last-minute instructions and emergency injunctions are a specialism. The firm is increasingly called to advise on high-value professional negligence matters involving building and construction professionals and has expertise in cross-border debt recovery and breach of contract disputes.

Crime: for some 40 years, James Saunders has led the firm’s renowned criminal defence practice. The firm’s knowledge, experience and commitment find the best way forward, from an unwelcome enquiry by authorities, through to trial, and the appellate courts. Notable cases have included persuading the Court of Appeal to overturn the murder conviction of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin for shooting a burglar, and the Privy Council to clear Isle of Man solicitor Jenny Holt of money laundering. The firm also acts in many miscarriage of justice cases such as for Kevin Nunn at the Supreme Court and Criminal Cases Review Commission, with fresh DNA profiling evidence and arguments on his murder conviction.

Fraud: the firm’s fraud practice deals with allegations of many complexions, from defending bewildered small business owners in trouble with HMRC to legally complex allegations such as in the Wickes Plc trial, and alleged City money laundering, market abuse, and insider trading in the successful Rimmington defence. Advice on Bribery Act concerns is a growth sector. The team’s work often has an international element, including extraditions, European arrest warrants, international evidence collection, and foreign asset forfeiture proceedings.

International arbitration: Subir Karmakar is a leader in the field of substantial international commercial disputes and arbitrations, and for more than two decades has acted in matters as diverse as disputes in metals, commodities, shipping and the setting up of a global information systems project. He is particularly known for bilateral investment treaty claims, such as those within UNCITRAL, against sovereign states, usually involving very large value claims.

Regulation and professional discipline: the firm acts for professionals when they encounter issues in their practices and lives. Solicitor Jon Chapman, the then director of legal affairs at News International, was vindicated by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, after the firm assisted him clearing his name at the CMS Parliamentary Select Committee, and Leveson Enquiry. The firm is a longstanding member of the Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme. In addition to lawyers, it assists doctors and other medical practitioners, accountants, sports personalities and many others in difficulty with their regulators. As a member of the Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme, James Saunders gives initial advice to other solicitors, free of charge.

Commercial litigation Matthew Purcell
Crime James Saunders
Civil liberties, public law, inquests and inquiries Nia Williams
Arbitration Subir Karmakar
Number of UK partners : 4
Number of other UK fee-earners : 10