Firm Profile > Birketts LLP > Ipswich , East Anglia

Birketts LLP
Providence House
141-145 Princes Street
IPSWICH
IP1 1QJ
East Anglia

Agriculture and estates Tier 1

'This is one of the best agricultural law practices in the UK, they have strength in depth and really know their stuff', says a client of Birketts LLP. Another remarks that the firm is 'a dominant force within the East Anglian agricultural legal sector and is now highly regarded as one of the region's leading firms'. Practice head Jack Royall, Neil Sparrow and Christopher Coupland in Norwich, Rachel McKillop-Wilkin in Cambridge and James Dinwiddy in Ipswich are key practitioners in one of the largest agricultural practices in England. The firm acts for private families, banks, utility companies, charities, the Environment Agency and local authority clients across the UK, and handles ecclesiastical and agricultural property work for three of the main East Anglian diocese offices.

Banking and finance Tier 1

The banking and finance practice at Birketts LLP provides 'detailed knowledge, practical solutions and clear advice'. One client describes it as 'a regional firm working at a national firm level - the lawyers are quick, commercial, know the law and make sensible suggestions'. Mark Henry in Ispwich leads the practice, in which banking partner James Allen is a stand-out name. Other recommended names include Greg Allan, Alex Schaafsma and Andrew Tubb. The firm is regarded as one of the leading regional players for corporate and development finance, property and agricultural finance and invoice discounting.

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 1

The charities and social enterprise practice at Birketts LLP has in-depth expertise in the sector thanks to a multi-disciplinary team led by non-contentious charity law specialist Liz Brownsell in Ipswich and Cambridge-based litigator and regulatory expert Sara Sayer, who are both senior associates. The firm's broad offering includes niche expertise in areas such as Retail Gift Aid, GDPR, fundraising law and regulation, ecclesiastical law, public procurement, state aid and immigration. It has a large roster of national charity clients. Another name to note is Erika Clarke, who advises on a wide range of non-contentious issues.

Commercial litigation: Cambridge Tier 1

At Birketts LLP in Cambridge, 'the team is very well connected with the local community' and practice head Laurence Weeks 'gives good practical advice and is very responsive'. Weeks and rising star senior associate Maria-Christina Peyman are 'exceptional at dealing with clients' needs'. Clients also recommend rising star senior associate Sara Sayer and associate Naomi Westcott. The firm handles commercial litigation in all its forms but has niche expertise in sectors such as shipping, education, public law, judicial review, procurement law, defence, and transport.

Commercial litigation: Ipswich Tier 1

Birketts LLP has the leading commercial litigation practice in Ipswich, which handles a wide range of issues including tortious and contractual claims, commercial fraud, shareholder's disputes, breach of restrictive covenant agreements, intellectual property, product liability, partnership disputes, and claims arising from sale or purchase of companies or shares.  Among its clients are local, national and international private companies, PLCs, individuals and professional partnerships across a wide spectrum of industry sectors including energy, media and finance. Matthew Atkins and rising star Emma Albins are the key contacts.

Commercial property: Cambridge Tier 1

The commercial property practice of Birketts LLP in Cambridge climbs the ranking this year. It handles the full range of work but has a key focus on strategic land development, for which lead partner Katherine Herbert has a national reputation, as well as real estate investment for property funds and high-net-worth individuals. Herbert and senior associate Claudia Haisman-Green handle major strategic land schemes for landowners all over the UK. Partner Gavin Acheson and newly hired senior associate Gemma Goddard from Slaughter and May deal with real estate investment work Senior associate Deborah Marshall focuses on residential and commercial development matters.

Commercial property: Ipswich Tier 1

The Ipswich office of Birketts LLP plays a central role in the firm's commercial property practice, which services clients through four regional offices. Chris Schwer leads the firm-wide practice, which handles developer work, strategic land transactions, institutional investment, property finance, and transactions in the utilities sector. It has specific expertise in the retail, residential development, automotive, charity and ecclesiastical sectors. Chris Barker handles strategic land and major development projects; Paul Squire, who joined from Ashurst, and Stuart Raven act for  corporate, investor, owner/occupier and developer clients; and Oliver Crichton advises on commercial property investments through self-invested personal pensions and small self-administered schemes.

Commercial property: Norwich Tier 1

Birketts LLP has a large portfolio of both regional and national commercial property work in the areas of development, strategic land, investment/portfolio management, acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant matters, and real estate finance. Lead partner Melissa Loucas is a key adviser to clients in the automotive and retail sectors. Leading light Robert Gibbs handles high-value regeneration and strategic land projects. Bhargav Trivedi  specialises in development and strategic land deals for landowners and developers. In 2018, the firm hired legal director Cameron Barlow from US law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; he works with key clients Westbrook Partners and M7 Real Estate. Senior associate Elizabeth Lee leads on buy-to-let and commercial mortgage matters for a challenger bank.

Construction Tier 1

Birketts LLP deals with all aspects of construction work for mainstream commercial lenders, developers, contractors, professionals, suppliers and sub-contractors. The practice is led by Andrew Rush who works in both the Ipswich and Chelmsford offices, but the key partner in Ipswich is Ruth Sunaway who handles contentious construction matters for employers, main contractors, sub-contractors and professionals. Stefan Harris-Wright in Cambridge handles non-contentious matters for both public and private sector clients, and real estate finance transactions up to £150m in value for both for borrowers and lenders. Senior associates Katrina Bretten and Oli Worth  in Cambridge and Josh Ripman in Ipswich play key roles in the practice.

Contentious trusts and probate Tier 1

The private wealth disputes practice at Birketts LLP handles contentious trusts and probate matters, which include actions under the Inheritance Act 1975, challenges to the validity of wills, the rights of adopted and illegitimate children, disputes arising from powers of attorney and financial abuse of the vulnerable, and TOLATA claims. Commercial litigation partner Paul Matthews leads the practice, in which ACTAPS member Bernadette Baker is a leading light.

Corporate and commercial: Cambridge Tier 1

James Allen at Birketts LLP leads a practice that clients describe as 'very commercial, always coming up with pragmatic solutions to problems'. The corporate practice works as a single unit across the firm's four regional offices, with Cambridge a key hub for the firm's regional, national and cross-border work. Corporate finance specialist Allen works closely with M&A and technology sector specialist Quentin Golder, corporate partner Adrian Seagers, whose skills include VC finance and private equity deals, and rising star Nick Burt.

Corporate and commercial: Ipswich Tier 1

Birketts LLP has by far the largest corporate and commercial practice in Suffolk and the team in Ipswich works as part of a single practice across the firm's four offices. Clients praise the 'speed of response, the personal engagement and the understanding of clients' business. from a commercially-minded team'. Senior partner James Austin and corporate finance expert Mark Henry are leading lights in the market. The practice's client base comprises a local businesses and national enterprises covering all sectors in a broad array of industry sectors.

Corporate and commercial: Norwich Tier 1

Birketts LLP has 'good listeners who are professional, reflective, straightforward and clear in their advice'. The firm has an outstanding reputation for corporate and transactional work, particularly in the Norwich market, and practice head Adrian Possener is a specialist in transactional work including public company matters, IPO’s and bond issues. Greg Allan focuses on complex reorganisations and restructures, and he has an excellent track record in the healthcare sector, having advised numerous care home providers on acquisitions, group restructures and funding arrangements.

Corporate tax Tier 1

Birketts LLP has a dedicated practice for corporate tax and employee incentives. Karl Pocock leads on tax matters and has more than 16 years' experience in this field. He frequently advises on the tax implications of M&A transactions and also advises corporate and real estate clients on tax structuring. Lisa Hayward has more than ten years' experience in assisting employers and business owners with employee incentives schemes. Senior associate John Kahn is also recommended.

Crime: fraud Tier 1

Birketts LLP has a highly experienced senior team that focuses on regulatory matters and the defence of fraud cases. Barrister Laura Thomas leads the firm's regulatory and corporate defence practice and focuses predominantly on financial crime. Fellow barrister Matthew Gowen has more than 20 years' experience at the criminal Bar and he frequently represents clients at the Crown Court. Senior associates Philippa Dyer, who leads the firm's dawn raids practice, and Julie Gowland are ones to watch.

Debt recovery Tier 1

Birketts LLP acts for local and national private companies, professional partnerships and major Plcs in wide range of industry sectors including shipping and construction. It has one of the largest practices in the region with 40-year veteran of debt recovery Robert Howard, litigation partner Matthew Atkins, associate Emma Albins and two debt recovery assistants. Though based in Ipswich, the 'extremely responsive and well organised' practice delivers services through all four of the firm's regional offices.

Education Tier 1

Birketts LLP has a multi-disciplinary practice that works in every part of the education sector including pre-schools and nurseries, preparatory and independent schools, academies and academy trusts, and FE and HE colleges. Employment partner Abigail Trencher leads the practice and calls on specialists in construction, planning, property, commercial law, litigation, student issues, charities and governance. Other key lawyers include Katherine Herbert for strategic land transactions, charities specialist Erika Clarke and employment partners Catherine Johnson and Matthew Newnham. Senior associate Liz Brownsell  leads the academies group.

Employment Tier 1

Birketts LLP operates a single employment practice across its four offices, three of which are in East Anglia. The group is led from Norwich by Jeanette Wheeler with key partners Abigail Trencher and Catherine Johnson in Cambridge and Ipswich respectively. Matthew Newnham is highly regarded for his work in Employment Tribunal matters, TUPE transfers and mass redundancies. The firm has a dedicated investigations and employee relations consultant, who leads its HR consultancy and investigations service, and a raft of talented associates who are key to work on both contentious and non-contentious matters for employer clients in sectors including food, agriculture, energy, education, transport and health.

Environment & planning Tier 1

Birketts LLP undertakes large-scale projects across East Anglia and the Thames Gateway region for both both the private and public sector clients, among which are minerals and waste companies, local authorities, Parish Councils, strategic developers and numerous regional and national housebuilders. Tom Newcombe in Cambridge leads the practice, in which Ipswich-based Richard Eaton and barristers Laura Thomas and Matthew Gowen handle contentious environmental matters. The recruitment of legal directors Kali Yau from DAC Beachcroft LLP and Rosalind Nuttall from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP further extends the firm's capacity in planning reviews and applications, and large scale mixed-use and residential developments for developers and landowners.

Family Tier 1

Birketts LLP is well known for its mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and litigation expertise in family law matters for high-net-worth clients in East Anglia and beyond. Ipswich-based practice head Oliver Gravell saw the practice in Norwich grow with the hire of associates Lisa Cornish and Denise Findlay from Hansells. Newly promoted partner Katie Beaven in Norwich is best-known for complex and high-net-worth financial settlements and Children Act matters. Senior associates Roopa Ahluwalia  and Elisabeth Sneade are the key contacts in Cambridge.

Health and safety Tier 1

The regulatory and corporate defence practice at Birketts LLP has extensive cross-industry experience in serious health and safety defence including disasters and multiple fatalities. Practice head Laura Thomas and legal director Matthew Gowen are barristers and the firm employs three consultants who are all former HSE Inspectors. Senior associates Julie Gowland and Philippa Dyer also advise companies and individuals on HSE matters. The firm also provides a full compliance assessment service.

Immigration Tier 1

The immigration practice at Birketts LLP is 'second to none', according to one client. Specialist senior associate Clare Hedges leads the immigration group, which has support from paralegals in Norwich and Cambridge, and also calls on the services of a consultant from the Chelmsford office. The firm is particularly well known for all types of Tier 2 and 5 visas, including the more unusual Ministers of Religion visas, and it frequently advises on the prevention of illegal working.

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 1

In the Cambridge office of Birketts LLP, Laurence Weeks leads a restructuring and insolvency practice that operates through all four of the firm's regional offices, and is a market leader in both litigation and non-contentious matters. Weeks has more than 15 years' experience and is also a fellow and council member of R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals. The firm counts many of the region's leading IPs among its clients, who also call upon corporate partner Greg Allan for advice on restructurings. Senior associate Maria Peyman is one to watch for the future.

Licensing Tier 1

Senior associate Julie Gowland leads the licensing practice at Birketts LLP, which has a strong regional client base and delivers licensing services through all of its four offices. The firm's clients include breweries, hotel chains, nightclubs, racecourses, events operators, bingo hall chains, churches and concert promoters. Barrister Laura Thomas, who leads the regulatory and corporate defence practice, provides support to the licensing department.

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Cambridge Tier 1

Birketts LLP handles the full range of private client work including complex probate and estate administration, trust creation, administration, variation and dissolution, tax matters, wills and succession planning, lifetime tax planning, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. The practice led by the 'approachable, sympathetic, efficient, competentCaroline Stenner frequently works with the firm's family business and agriculture departments to provide an integrated service to business and farming families. One client describes the firm as 'very responsive, with the ability to turn matters around within a short time scale if required'. Rachel Winter is a rising star.

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Ipswich Tier 1

Birketts LLP has a strong probate, estate and trust administration practice that provides 'friendly, approachable and personal service'. The practice led by Louise Long, who deals with multimillion-pound estates with complex family and tax issues, expanded significantly in 2018 with the recruitment of a solicitor and two tax executives. Senior associate Richard Guy is a rising star who has ten years' experience in advising business owners, farmers and high-net-worth individuals as well as retirees and the elderly.

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Norwich Tier 1

Birketts LLP runs an integrated wills and advisory practice across its four regional offices and the Norwich team, led by Lorna Spear, plays a central role. It advises on all aspects of private client law including lifetime tax planning, wills and succession planning, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. The firm's diverse client base includes farming families, landed estates, business owners, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals. Veteran senior associate and ACTAPS member Margaret Smith is highly recommended.

Property litigation Tier 1

Birketts LLP has an 11-lawyer property litigation practice that operates across its four offices, though Ipswich and Norwich are the main hubs. It handles the full range of contentious property cases but has in-depth expertise in Telecoms Code property matters, rights to light, leasehold enfranchisement, town and village green matters and commercial landlord and tenant work. Practice head Richard Eaton and partner James Robinson are the key contacts in Ipswich and they act for a national client base that includes local authorities and leading developers. In Norwich, John Scannell and senior associate Simon Woodhead are the key practitioners along with Charlotte WormstoneAlice Harris  and Laura Tanguay are recognised as Rising Stars.

Social housing Tier 1

Birketts LLP is a leading provider of advised to social housing clients in the Eastern region and it frequently handles affordable housing development, housing management, funding, employment matters, regulatory issues, shared ownership and right to buy sales, as well as open market sales. In 2018, Peter Goddard's group saw an uptick in work for housebuilders in setting up their own for-profit Registered Providers. The multi-disciplinary practice acts for many of the country's leading social housing providers. Senior associate Emily Groom and associate Sarah Fish are recommended as rising stars.

Transport and shipping Tier 1

Birketts LLP has the region's leading shipping practice, which is led by Nicholas Woo who handles all aspects of dry shipping. Leading light Henry Adams handles shipping, transport and marine insurance work, which includes charterparty disputes and cargo claims. Shipping, transport and international trade expert Alex Davey is also recommended. Barrister Laura Thomas leads the regulatory and corporate defence practice and specialises in road transport matters. She acts for commercial vehicle operators including road haulage companies and vocational drivers. Up-and-coming partner Lisa Wortley and senior associate Sarah Holsgrove are also recommended for shipping matters.

Commercial litigation: Norwich Tier 2

Birketts LLP has two standout practitioners in Max Roessler and consultant Paul Matthews, who lead a practice that handles high-value and complex cases across East Anglia and further afield. Both advise on a broad range of commercial and corporate disputes, professional negligence, insolvency and traditional chancery work. Senior associate Robert Tiffen has notable expertise in franchising cases and works closely with the firm's non-contentious franchise specialists.

Crime: general Tier 2

The regulatory and corporate defence practice at Birketts LLP is known for its broad range of high-value work and its the high quality of its advocacy. Led by barrister Laura Thomas, the practice represents companies and individuals prosecuted nationwide by the CPS, the HSE, local authorities, the RSPCA, DVSA, the FSA and the Environment Agency. Defending national motor groups, companies and individuals in road transport and traffic-related crime is a key part of its workload, as are Trading Standards cases and financial crime. Barrister Matthew Gowen and senior associates Philippa Dyer and Julie Gowland are also recommended.

Health Tier 2

Birketts LLP has developed a reputation as as a leading healthcare firm in the region and clients in the sector frequently call upon its corporate, employment, property, litigation and public law departments. Richard Eaton, who is a former non-executive director of an acute hospital trust, leads the practice. Public law expert Sara Sayer also plays a key role in the practice, which acts for NHS trusts, CCGs, primary care providers, and suppliers and manufacturers in the healthcare industry. The firm also has a dedicated care homes team.

Intellectual property Tier 2

'They understand our business, tailor their advice and weigh up the commercial risks', says a client of Birketts LLP, which provides 'a readily available, efficient service'. Legal director Nellie Jackson in Ipswich leads the practice and has nearly 20 years' experience in trade mark and brand protection matters. Senior associate Maria-Christina Peyman in Cambridge takes the lead on contentious IP matters and has particular expertise is in civil disputes at the IPEC and the High Court involving copyright, trade marks and passing off, as well as trade mark registry disputes and Company Name Tribunal applications.

IT and telecoms Tier 2

The Birketts LLP IT practice operates out of all four of the firm's offices and acts for clients both in East Anglia and further afield. It is part of the technology practice led from Cambridge by Quentin Golder, which acts for clients ranging from small owner-managed businesses through to large listed companies in the financial services, social media, security software and aerospace industries. Golder specialises in IT and IP matters for companies involved in the digital economy. Corporate partner Mark Gipson in Ipswich, senior associate Paul Palik in Norwich, who handles IT matters including SaaS and software licensing transactions, and Kitty Rosser are also recommended.

Professional negligence Tier 2

Birketts LLP has a claimant professional negligence practice that handles claims against solicitors, accountants and other professionals on behalf of clients across the UK. It also has a niche focus on negligent probate advice. Max Roessler in Norwich handles numerous claims against solicitors, the majority of which concern negligent property and transactional advice. Laurence Weeks is the lead partner in Cambridge, where senior associate Sara Sayer frequently defends defends colleges, universities and schools in actions brought against them for negligence.

The Firm: Birketts is a full service, top 100 UK law firm based in the East of England advising businesses, institutions and individuals in the UK and internationally. The firm has enjoyed substantial growth in terms of size, geographic spread and turnover in the past five years, and continues to build on its investment in people and places year on year, further developing its profile regionally, nationally and internationally. The firm employs over 700 staff including over 350 lawyers, across offices in Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich and Norwich.

Types of work undertaken: Birketts’ core business is divided into four main disciplines: corporate and commercial, property, litigation and dispute resolution and private client advisory. Within those principal areas of practice, it has established industry sector groups, assembling lawyers with a knowledge and understanding of the issues relevant to that particular industry.

The firm has a national reputation in specialist areas such as agriculture, banking and finance, charities and social enterprise, construction and engineering, education, family owned businesses, food production and processing, health and safety, immigration, transport and logistics, motor retail, residential development, self invested personal pensions (SIPPs), small self administered schemes (SSASs), shipping and international trade, social housing, strategic land development, technology and telecommunications.

Corporate and Commercial: The team works across East Anglia and the South East, with a reach extending into London, and is often compared to City, national and international firms. As well as corporate finance/M&A and banking transactions of all sizes, the firm has a strong reputation for commercial work, in particular IP, IT and outsourcing. The employment and shipping and logistics teams sit within this department. The shipping and logistics team is seen as one of the strongest and largest teams based outside of London, though primarily competing with and litigating against London law firms. The employment team is made up of 29 members, including five partners; one of whom is a part-time employment judge. The team adopts an increasingly sector-focused approach, with TUPE and immigration being important areas of practice.

Property: Birketts’ team of over 130 dedicated property lawyers based across four offices are from a range of backgrounds including: City practice, major national and regional firms, industry and local government. It contains individuals with construction and engineering, planning and environmental, self-invested personal pension (SIPP) and small self-administered scheme (SSAS) and property litigation expertise. Work undertaken includes acting for commercial developers and investors from the planning process through to sale and lease work; acting for major and national house-builders on site acquisitions, options agreements and conditional purchases. The residential property team is particularly strong at the high end of the market. Specialist skills include experience in health and education, social housing and strategic land development. 

Litigation and Dispute Resolution: Birketts’ top-ranked team of over 70 lawyers has a proven track record of success in litigation and dispute resolution. The team provides commercial and strategic advice to UK and international clients on the conduct of disputes in the national courts, domestic/international arbitrations and other tribunals. The team is equally experienced and skilled in alternative dispute resolution. Our lawyers are organised into specialist teams to provide expert advice across a wide range of dispute types including commercial, property, construction, corporate criminal defence, insolvency, fraud, shipping/international trade and probate/trusts.

Private Client Advisory (family, tax, trusts, probate and agriculture): The team is long-established, advising on a broad range of issues relating to estates and private property, tax planning and family matters. As well as regional work, the team draws work from entrepreneurial and professional clients in London. The family team is known for providing an exceptional service and is well-regarded by local judiciary, other professionals, counsel and financial advisers. The agriculture team is widely recognised across England for its expertise in providing a comprehensive range of legal services to farmers, landowners and others involved in agribusiness.

The firm offers a range of international services and has extensive language skills, including French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Mandarin, Cantonese and Russian.

Birketts is also an active member of Integrated Advisory Group International (IAG), which offers clients access to a network of English-speaking lawyers and other professional services around the world. IAG members have assisted the firm’s clients with a range of matters over the years, from individuals acquiring investments and properties abroad to companies looking to acquire foreign businesses, set up foreign branches or simply buy or sell goods to foreign businesses. Birketts also undertakes UK legal work for the networks members and their clients.

Other offices: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Norwich

Department Name Email Telephone
Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Agar
Senior Partner James Austin
Corporate and commercial services (including employment and shipping) Adrian Seagers
Private client (including family, agriculture, tax, trusts and probate) Tim Galloway
Property (including commercial, residential, social housing) Chris Schwer
Litigation and Dispute Resolution Laurence Weeks
Photo Name Position Profile
 Liz Brownsell  photo Liz Brownsell
 Henry Adams  photo Henry Adams
 Emma Albins  photo Emma Albins
 Matthew Atkins  photo Matthew Atkins
 James Austin  photo James Austin
 Chris Barker  photo Chris Barker
 Katie Beaven  photo Katie Beaven
 Oliver Crichton  photo Oliver Crichton
 Alex Davey  photo Alex Davey
 Pam Dawson  photo Pam Dawson
 James Dinwiddy  photo James Dinwiddy
 Philippa Dyer  photo Philippa Dyer
 Richard Eaton  photo Richard Eaton
 Nigel Farthing  photo Nigel Farthing
 Mark Gipson  photo Mark Gipson
 Matthew Gowen  photo Matthew Gowen
 Oliver Gravell  photo Oliver Gravell
 James Hall  photo James Hall
 Mark Henry  photo Mark Henry
 Robert Howard  photo Robert Howard
 Catherine Johnson  photo Catherine Johnson
 Ruth Sunaway  photo Ruth Sunaway
 Laura Thomas  photo Laura Thomas
 Graham Kershaw  photo Graham Kershaw
 Louise Long  photo Louise Long
 Andrew Tubb  photo Andrew Tubb
 Stuart Raven  photo Stuart Raven
 James Robinson  photo James Robinson
 Nicholas Woo  photo Nicholas Woo
 Charlotte Wormstone  photo Charlotte Wormstone
 Chris Schwer  photo Chris Schwer
Number of UK partners : 68
Number of other UK fee-earners : 254
English
French
Spanish
German
Dutch
Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)
Russian
Integrated Advisory Group International (IAG)