The Legal 500

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Living Wage
87-91 NEWMAN STREET, LONDON, W1T 3EY, ENGLAND
Tel:
Work 020 3206 2700
Fax:
Fax 020 3206 2800
DX:
87-91 Newman Street W1T 3EY
Email:
Web:
www.smab.co.uk

London: Corporate and commercial

Commercial contracts
Commercial contracts - ranked: tier 5

Simons Muirhead & Burton

The 'extremely friendly, approachable and razor-sharp' Simons Muirhead & Burton specialises in media and entertainment, publishing, and technology, and is particularly well known for its expertise in film and television, music and sports broadcasting. The firm also provides cross-border expertise, with Maninder Gill well regarded as a retail sector specialist in the Far East. 'Superstar' Simon Goldberg leads the team and is an expert commercial contract adviser to the publishing sector. Also notable is James Greenslade, who was promoted to partner in 2019.

Practice head(s):Simon Goldberg

Other key lawyers:Maninder Gill; James Greenslade

Testimonials

'The team has a very strong franchises background in different countries'

'The firm has knowledge in the targeted country, and is cost effective and always very quick in its reactions'

'The firm's knowledge of today's complex media market is second to none'

'Particularly strong in publishing and broadcasting'

'Commercially astute with an ability to solve problems around data and rights issues' 

'Delightful to work with'

'Maninder Gill has many years of business development experience in the retail industry and is very familiar with the international franchisee model'

'Simon Goldberg brings great clarity and is brilliant at running a team involving multiple lawyers where his wealth of experience, problem-solving skills, imaginative ideas and commercial nous set him apart'

'Simon Goldberg makes the whole process utterly painless'

Key Clients

LADBible

Urban Retreat – Luxury Spa

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR)

Unilever

Gruppo Media (publisher of the Rouleur magazine)

LADBible (THREE)

Executors of the Estate of the late Felix Dennis and Dennis IP Ltd

Crossmedia Group (Crossmedia Inc, Crossmedia GmbH, and Crossmedia London Ltd)

Lumos 365

Folding Helmet Technology Limited

Liz Earle

Meters/bonwe

Cage Warriors

Work highlights

  • Advised LADbible on the drafting and negotiation of a landmark digital marketing master services agreement with Diageo.
  • Advised Urban Retreat, the luxury beauty treatment brand with a flagship store in Harrods, on its expansion into the Middle East.
  • Advised on two ground-breaking commercial deals for European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), which operates and promotes the Heineken Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

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M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m
M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m - ranked: tier 2

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton is best known for its activity in the media, technology and events sectors, and has handled significant M&A transactions in these spaces. The team's predominant focus is in the media and publishing sector, and over the past year the team has advised on media content transactions, disposals and strategic acquisitions. Notably, the team has developed its M&A offering in the virtual reality market, working with large domestic clients. Practice head Peter Weiss advises corporates and family-owned businesses on M&A deals in the firm's focus sectors and  also has specialist experience in partnership law, particularly in negotiating investment vehicles through LLPs.

Practice head(s):Peter Weiss

Key Clients

Stagwell Group

Dennis Publishing

Banijay Group

Keshet International UK

Leathwaite

Vito One GmbH

Owners of “Kiddyzuzaa”

Bauer Radio Limited

Masters of Pie Limited

KFilm Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Stagwell Group in its £40m acquisition of Ink Publishing, which provides content for American Airlines and EasyJet.
  • Represented Dennis Publishing in the sale of its group of companies to Exponent Private Equity.
  • Advised Bauer Radio, part of Bauer's subsidiary Bauer Media UK, on its acquisition of UK radio station Jazz FM.
  • Acted for Banijay Group, an independent content creator for television and multimedia platforms, on its acquisition of UK production company 7Wonder Productions.
  • Advised Keshet International, a global production and distribution media group, in a deal with BBC Worldwide, on its acquisition of a majority stake in Greenbird Media.

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London: Crime, fraud and licensing

Crime: general
Crime: general - ranked: tier 1

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton's crime team is jointly led by Anthony Burton CBE and Philip Smith. The firm is well-known for acting for high-net-worth individuals and celebrities across a range of sensitive cases. Recent work for the group includes sexual assault cases, murder, bribery, armed robbery, media-related criminal law, theft and drug offences.

Practice head(s):Anthony Burton CBE; Philip Smith

Work highlights

  • Acted for Arif Ansari, the BBC Asian Network's head of news, who was prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992 for breaching a reporting restriction, after a reporter read out the real name of a victim of the Rotherham grooming scandal instead of a pseudonym on a news bulletin; Ansari was acquitted.
Leading individuals

Anthony Burton CBE - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Philip Smith - Simons Muirhead & Burton

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Fraud: white-collar crime
Fraud: white-collar crime - ranked: tier 3

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton advises clients on bribery, corruption, money laundering, sanctions and financial fraud cases. The firm is seeing an increase in instructions relating to pre-charge and  pre-investigation advice. It represents clients in criminal and civil courts and also in SFO investigations. Co-head of team Anthony Burton CBE is particularly adept at handling financial crime matters. Philip Smith, who also heads the team, focuses on corruption, public inquiries and money laundering.

Practice head(s):Anthony Burton; Philip Smith

Other key lawyers:Henrietta Ronson; David Phillips 


Key Clients

Peter Smith

Simon Childs

Amy Silvester

Hans-Olav Eldring

Carlo Palombo

Work highlights

  • Acquittal of prominent shipping figure in immensely complex ten-week bribery and corruption trial.
  • Massive property fraud case arising from what would have been the tallest residential building in Europe.
  • Acting for Carlo Palombo, one of a number of former employees at Deutsche Bank and Barclays who was charged by the SFO in relation to allegations that they plotted to fix benchmark rates (EURIBOR) - the jury failed to reach a verdict.
  • Instructed by two businessmen who, together with their company, were the subject of a lengthy City of London Police investigation focusing on the influx of millions of pounds from investors.
  • Representing Simon Childs on charges of fraud by abuse of position and money laundering.

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London: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation
Commercial litigation - ranked: tier 8

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton is 'a very serious firm that delivers results'. It is best known for its media litigation practice but also acts in disputes involving luxury hotels, public real estate, aviation and commercial shipping. Managing partner Razi Mireskandari heads the dispute resolution team, which also includes Stephen Shotnes, Maninder Gill and consultant Peter Gould; Jeffrey Smele was made up to  partner.

Practice head(s):Razi Mireskandari

Other key lawyers:Stephen Shotnes; Maninder Gill; Peter Gould; Jeffrey Smele

Testimonials

'A dynamic and collaborative ethos and has strength in media- related disputes'.

'Razi Mireskandari is able to stand back and view the issues in the context of  the client's longer-term needs'.

'Peter Gould is indefatigable in supporting his clients' interests, immersing himself in the detail of cases to secure the best outcome he can for them'.

 

Key Clients

Ionnis Kent

Parish Council of Chalfont St Peter

John Robson and Alfred Chubb

David Bailey

Keith Collins

Discovery Yachts Group

Executive Aircraft Sales

GRP Mina

Work highlights

  • Acted for a joint venture partner in precedent-setting High Court litigation concerning the test to determine a duty of good faith in commercial contracts.

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London: Private client

Family
Family - ranked: tier 4

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton acts for foreign nationals in cases with an international element or where there are assets overseas. The team has niche expertise in cases with an element of Sharia or European law as well as Iranian law and Egyptian law. It also has specialist knowledge of Jewish divorces. The team is skilled at advising on pre-nuptial agreements involving multiple jurisdictions as well as on complex children matters and financial proceedings. Head of team is Jane McDonagh whose client base includes individuals from the media/creative worlds and celebrities. Teena Dhanota-Jones joined the team as a consultant from Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors. Lara Wulwik and Hazel McNaught are also recommended.

Practice head(s):Jane McDonagh

Other key lawyers:Teena Dhanota-Jones; Lara Wulwik; Hazel McNaught

Testimonials

'Jane McDonagh is a fantastic head of department'.

'Teena Dhanota-Jones is very bright'.

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London: Public sector

Civil liberties and human rights
Civil liberties and human rights - ranked: tier 2

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton is renowned for its substantial work on international human rights and death penalty matters, as demonstrated by the founding of the Death Penalty Project, a legal charity, by Saul Lehrfreund MBE and Parvais Jabbar MBE. The team is skilled in complex cross-border work, resulting in landmark judgments; this was illustrated by its recent successful challenge to death penalty legislation in Barbados. Amanda Clift-Matthew has a vast criminal law practice and has represented clients in Singapore and Malaysia.

Practice head(s):Saul Lehrfreund MBE; Parvais Jabbar MBE

Other key lawyers:Amanda Clift-Matthew

Key Clients

Jamaicans for Justice

Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Chief Justice of Trinidad

Gregory August

Jabari Nervais and Dwayne Severin

Jay Chandler

Joseph Ewart Layne

Stephen Stubbs

Japhet Bennett

Dexter Johnson

Yattar Bakar

Kevin Burris

Simeon Bain

Lescene Edwards

Letitia Bosma

Work highlights

  • Acted for joint appellants Jabari Nervais and Dwayne Severin in a landmark case which successfully challenged the mandatory death penalty for murder in Barbados.
  • Acted for appellant Gregory August in a case in Belize which led to the historic declaration of mandatory life sentencing for murder as unconstitutional.
  • Acting for Letitia Bosman in a challenge to the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia.
  • Acting for Jay Chandler, a death row prisoner in Trinidad and Tobago, in a potentially far-reaching case with significant implications for the mandatory death sentencing of prisoners with psychiatric disorders.
  • Acting for Michael Maharaj and Daniel Ramiah, two of ten prisoners convicted of murder in Trinidad and Tobago, in an appeal against the sentence of life imprisonment in light of crucial new evidence.
Leading individuals

Parvais Jabbar MBE - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Saul Lehrfreund MBE - Simons Muirhead & Burton

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London: Risk advisory

Reputation management
Reputation management - ranked: tier 1

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton's 'wonderful and very approachable' media content and disputes team is led by the 'immensely experienced' Louis Charalambous . It takes on the whole range of media defendant claims for most major newspapers and broadcasters in the UK as well as book publication clearances, defence of kiss-and-tell stories and matters with a criminal aspect, which is one of Charalambous' strong suits. The team regularly assists News Group Newspapers as publishers of a variety of media. Managing partner and disputes head Razi Mireskandari has outstanding experience representing both print and online media in high-value libel claims, bringing 'his inner litigator to his media work'. 'Star in the making' Jeffrey Smele also acts for claimants and provides specialist criminal law advice to media clients. Senior associate Erica Henshilwood, who is a 'particular asset to the firm', frequently defends pre-publication injunctions for journalists and publishers. Furthermore, senior associate Gordon Clough is praised for his 'quick and minimum fuss' pre-publication advice.

Practice head(s):Louis Charalambous

Other key lawyers:Razi Mireskandari; Jeffrey Smele; Erica Henshilwood; Gordon Clough

Testimonials

'A wonderful media team.'

'Very approachable and have total understanding of clients' needs, often 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Great associates too.'

'This has been the best external legal team I have dealt with in 20 years, provides both pre-publication advice and advice in responding to legal issues arising from published articles.'

'A very strong firm with a team specialising in all aspects of media law. Great experience and knowledge of their specialisms.'

'Louis Charalambous is brilliant, superb at anything with a criminal element to it. He's client friendly and gets what newspapers need.'

'Jeffrey Smele is a real star in the making.'

'Gordon Clough is very responsive, exceptionally helpful in getting stories into publishable form quickly and with minimum fuss, and - importantly - his advice is always delivered with admirable clarity.'

'The firm has an excellent team - with a profile that is un-stuffy and forward-looking. They offer a broad choice of partners - supported by good quality associates.'

'Jeffrey Smele combines being one of the nicest men in the world with being a highly effective litigator. Trained by leaders in the field, and having worked as a highly-effective team member, expect him to rise as a future star.'

'Razi Mireskandari  is as cool as cool can be - he can litigate, mediate and makes a deal where no deal is possible.  He's smoother than a top silk - charming, with a fatal sting (if you are an opponent).'

'SMAB manages the trick of combining claimant and defendant work which allows its lawyers to see a case from the other's point of view.'  

'The firm is equally at home defending national newspapers and suing on behalf of individuals or small businesses.'

Key Clients

News Group Newspapers Limited (‘NGN’), as publisher of The Sun

Penguin Random House

Channel 4

Reach Plc, formerly MGN Limited (Trading as Mirror Group) – publisher of The Mirror

Times Newspapers Limited

Travel Weekly Group Limited

Simon & Schuster

LADBible

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Tes Global Ltd as the publisher of Times Education Supplement and Times Higher Education

Work highlights

  • Defending the publisher of The Sun in a high-profile action brought by Hollywood actor Johnny Depp.
  • Defending the world’s largest trade publisher, The Random House Group, against claims arising from a book on the Libor scandal.
  • Defending the publisher of The Sun against a libel action brought by Elton John and his husband David Furnish.
  • Defending British-Bangladeshi businessman Matab Chowdury against action relating to five publications.
Leading individuals

Louis Charalambous - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Razi Mireskandari - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Next Generation Partners

Jeffrey Smele - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Rising stars

Erica Henshilwood - Simons Muirhead & Burton

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London: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Brand management
Brand management - ranked: tier 4

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton is particularly strong in assisting clients in the media, entertainment and luxury fashion sectors. The practice continues to be sought after by clients in relation to trade mark enforcement and prosecution, particularly those affected by registrations made in bad faith by trade mark squatters. Maninder Gill heads the department.

Practice head(s):Maninder Gill

Key Clients

Giorgio Armani

Big Issue

Alexa Chung

Boux Avenue

Work highlights

  • Advised well-known British make-up artist Lisa Eldridge Group on the creation and launch of two separate product lines
  • Continuing to advise Alexa Chung, a television presenter and fashion designer, and her eponymous fashion label on its global trade mark registration and contentious matters. Recent work included working on challenging trade mark registrations made in bad faith by trade mark squatters in China and South Korea.

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Franchising
Franchising - ranked: tier 4

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton acts for a wide range of clients including household names and retail clients including Unilever, Rachel Riley and Amanda Wakeley. The practice handles matters at a national and international level and regularly assists with franchise network issues, international franchising and licensing agreements and franchising disputes. Alongside its retail sector strength, the group is also experienced in the publishing and education industries. Maninder Gill leads the department, which also includes Natalie Wright, who excels in beauty industry franchisings.

Practice head(s):Maninder Gill

Other key lawyers:Natalite Wright

Key Clients

Riverford Foods

Unilever

Rachel Riley

Dennis Publishing

Urban Retreat

Miss Mila

North London Collegiate School

Amanda Wakeley

Metersbonwe

Mina

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Media and entertainment (including media finance)
Media and entertainment (including media finance) - ranked: tier 1

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton has a 'professional and practical approach'. It handles contentious and non-contentious matters across the digital media, film, TV, broadcasting, music and publishing industries. The film and TV department is engaged on development, production, finance and distribution matters, as well as disputes, for a range of broadcasters, financiers, producers, cable platforms and online distributors. Advising US production company, Blumhouse Productions, on its first ever UK production You Should Have Left, starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried, was a key highlight. Senior associate Blaise Gaymer acts for various independent film and television production companies. On the publishing side, the team is instructed by an array of print and digital clients. Here, Martin Soames is renowned for his knowledge of publishing, defamation and privacy law. The music department is instructed by artists, songwriters and producers on recording, publishing and production agreements.  It also advises companies in the music sector on corporate and commercial issues. Senior associate Jonny Petch advises business and creative clients in the music industry. The team also offers experience in broadcasting and sports media matters where it handles commercial and transactional mandates.

Practice head(s):Simon Goldberg; Richard Baskind

Other key lawyers:Martin Soames; Marc Sobol; Razwana Akram; Stephen Shotnes; Peter Weiss; Alasdair George; Blaise Gaymer; Jonny Petch; James Greenslade; Liv Lyons; Damien Yare

Testimonials

A very strong team in terms of capability and client care.

Martin Soames is outstanding in terms of the quality of his advice, his availability, his willingness to listen, his ability to understand the wider context of a matter, and his client care; he is a real treasure.

Key Clients

Blumhouse Productions

Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington

Immediate Media

The LADbible Group

Simon & Schuster

First Access Entertainment

Fresh Start Media

Tavistock Wood

42 M&P

Alberto Sciamma

Good Soldier Records/Good Soldier Songs

Arctic Right Management AS

Twist Entertainment

KA Film

Work highlights

  • The team is instructed by Simon and Schuster UK on pre-publication issues related to three high-profile books on Donald Trump’s presidency.
  • Advised major independent UK music publisher, Salli Isaak, on its sale to a leading US music publisher.
  • Advises The LADbible Group on a range of matters such ascommercial, IP and new media deals, which includes its branded partnerships, talent and licensing deals. It also provides pre-publication advice and assists with legal issues surrounding competitions and gambling.
  • Advises Immediate Media on general publication advice.
  • Advises First Access Entertainment on major distribution deals.
Leading individuals

Martin Soames (Publishing) - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Rising stars

Blaise Gaymer (Publishing; digital media) - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Jonny Petch (Music) - Simons Muirhead & Burton

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Sport
Sport - ranked: tier 4

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Simons Muirhead & Burton's sports team acts for clubs, governing bodies, broadcasters and private companies, specialising in the areas of media rights, data rights and contentious regulatory cases. Media rights specialist Marc Sobol brings significant in-house broadcasting knowledge to the practice; in 2018 he acted on two major broadcasting deals, including the sale of European Professional Club Rugby's TV rights to Channel 4 and TV3. On the contentious side, the group, led by experienced litigator Stephen Shortnes, frequently represents Premier League clubs in high-profile disputes covering areas as diverse as terminations, 'tapping-up' allegations, forgery and race discrimination claims.

Practice head(s):Marc Sobol

Other key lawyers:Stephen Shortnes

Key Clients

European Professional Club Rugby

Watford Association Football Club

London Irish Rugby Football Club

Total Performance Data Limited

Professional Squash Association

Cage Warriors

British Eventing

Work highlights

  • Advised on sports broadcasting deal bringing Europe’s premier club rugby competition to free-to-air television for the first time.
  • Advised on broadcasting deal between Europe’s and the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotions.
  • Advising the PSA on a multi-year global distribution agreement with Facebook for all PSA matches.
Leading individuals

Marc Sobol - Simons Muirhead & Burton

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