Watkins & Gunn Limited > Cardiff, Wales > Firm Profile

Watkins & Gunn Limited

Private client > Family Tier 2

Led from Newport by Sophie Hughes , Watkins & Gunn Limited‘s ‘fantastic’ team handles an eclectic mix of private and public family law, including a considerable amount of complex financial remedy proceedings where Hughes is appreciated for her ‘very calm manner‘ and collaborative approach. Kate Roberts  is based out of Pontypool and heads up the firm’s well regarded child care team.

Practice head(s):


It is a fantastic team with a good blend of public and private work. The private side of the practice is highly regarded and is often seen in the more complex matters.’

Sophie Hughes has a very calm manner and always tries to ensure that settlement is considered before launching in to court. Sophie’s time practising in London means her style of practising oozes more class than your average.’

Work highlights

    Wales > Public sector Tier 2

    Under the guidance of the 'exceptional' Michael Imperato , Watkins & Gunn Limited has developed a market-leading reputation acting for claimants seeking to challenge unlawful acts by public bodies. In this context, the firm is particularly accomplished at handling complex High Court judicial review challenges, an area that Imperato has 'an excellent track record of success built upon his vast experience'. Senior associate Lucy O’Brien 'has an amazing eye for detail, particularly in the most complex cases', including those involving Equality and Human Rights.

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    The very professional and communicative team provides reasoned advice.’

    They are really the leaders in public law cases in Wales. They have such a wide case range and are on top of so many issues, both locally and nationally.’

    The public law team is the leading private sector firm in South Wales dealing with public law cases, particularly with complex High Court judicial review.’

    ‘It is a small and committed team with excellent client care and innovative thinking.’

    This firm is very prominent with significant leading expertise in challenges to unlawful acts by public bodies.’

    Michael Imperato is particularly able at conducting litigation on behalf of the his clients, often individuals who are not used to court proceedings, and at finding mechanisms for funding public interest litigation in the field of public law.’

    ‘Michael Imperato is a real rain maker. He is fantastic at working cases from the ground up, meeting the campaigners, working out if there is a runnable issue, getting funding in place, then liaising with counsel. He has an excellent track record of success built upon his vast experience.’

    Lucy O’Brien has an amazing eye for detail, particularly in the most complex cases. She also knows how to be firm with difficult lay clients.’

    Key clients

    Haemophilia Wales

    Haemophilia Northern Ireland


    Elidyr Communities Trust

    Hepatitis B Trust

    Infected Blood Australia

    Save Our Libraries (SOLE)

    School & College Students Union

    Travelling Ahead; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Advice & Advocacy Service

    Swansea Bay University Health Board

    Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team Wales (EYST Wales)

    Work highlights

    • Acting for Haemophilia Wales on the ongoing public inquiry into the 1980s contaminated blood scandal.
    • Acting for number of small rural schools in Powys challenging County Council’s closure proposal.
    • Acting in several Welsh traveller cases involving planning and Human Rights.

    Insurance > Personal injury and clinical negligence; claimant

    Drawing upon the expertise of lawyers from varying degrees of seniority spread across the firm’s Cardiff, Newport and Pontypool offices, Watkins & Gunn Limited is able to cost-effectively resource a range of personal injury matters for clients, ranging from slip and trip accidents through to more specialised expertise relating to industrial disease and military deafness. Team head Clive Thomasleads from the front’ and regularly ‘achieves the positive resolutions of claims’ for trade union member clients in employer liability matters, as well as clients seeking redress in complex multi-track cases including fatal accidents and brain injury cases. Jonathan Wellington handles clinical negligence work alongside his personal injury caseload.

    Practice head(s):


    Excellent range of work undertaken across all areas of personal injury with a particularly strong background in Trade Union work maintained over many years.’

    The Firm has a medium sized team which includes specialist practitioners with a range of seniority and experience with the more junior fee earners dealing with the lower value/more straight-forward cases and the more senior fee earners dealing with the higher value work.

    Clive Thomas – leads from the front, trusted by lay and professional clients alike to achieve positive resolutions of claims.’

    Clive Thomas prepares his cases well, has a good rapport with clients and is good at negotiating with opponents.’

    Key clients

    Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union

    Community union

    GMB Union

    Work highlights

    • Acted in a challenging cross-jurisdictional fatal RTA case involving young man from the UK on a social trip to the Republic of Ireland.
    • Represented a steel worker involved in an explosion at work causing smoke inhalation and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    • Acted for a machinist who suffered the traumatic amputation of his right index and middle fingers.

    Employment Tier 6

    Watkins & Gunn Limited is probably best-known for its work for union clients, spanning advice on industrial relations, industrial action and representation of individual members bringing employment claims. Pontypool-based team head Lisa Guscott  handles much of this work, as well as advice to coporate clients and for employees bringing claims for disability discrimination.

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    Key clients

    Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union

    Community Union

    R & M Williams

    GMB Union

    Work highlights

    • Ongoing dispute with a local bakery regarding lack of consultation leading to redundancies following its closure with a loss of almost 200 jobs.
    • Advising on a longstanding dispute with the employer (a local bakery) surrounding holiday pay for members on flexible working contracts.
    • Representing a client in a complex TUPE issue following a successful tender bid. This led to numerous claims against the client and the unsuccessful candidate from the tender.

    Watkins & Gunn is a forward-thinking, innovative law firm, and a specialist provider of high-quality legal services in Wales and the UK.

    The firm: Watkins & Gunn Solicitors is a five partner law firm, with offices: in Cardiff,  Newport and Pontypool  providing a full range of legal services. The roots of the firm go back over 140 years. They gained Lexcel accreditation in 2006 and in 2009 won the Lexcel Award for Excellence in Practice Management at the Law Society Excellence Awards and were a Highly Commended for Excellence in Technology in 2016. They are a multi award winning law firm, most recently winning the Family Law Team of the Year and Private Client Team of the Year  at the Wales Legal Awards 2019.

    The firm holds six Law Society Quality Marks (in personal injury, family law, children law, criminal law, wills and inheritance, and conveyancing). It is well known for personal injury law, acting for two trade unions. It also has a niche practice in public/administrative law, for which it has gained a national reputation, and is one of the leading Welsh divorce and family law firms. They are one of the firms authorised to act in the Infected Blood Inquiry, representing Hemophilia Wales and Hemophilia Northern Ireland

    Types of work undertaken
    Personal injury:  Their specialist personal injury lawyers deal with many different types of accident claim, most commonly accidents at work, road traffic accidents and slipping/tripping accidents. The firm offers a fast, high-quality service and has a success rate of over 90%. The firm’s lawyers are Members of the Law Society’s Personal Injury Panel and are accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

    Divorce and family matters:  The family law team advise on all aspects of relationship breakdown, divorce, unmarried couples, separation agreements, financial settlements, residence/contact arrangements for children, change of name deed and living together agreements. The firm’s lawyers are accredited by Resolution and are members of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel. They won the Family Law Team of the Year  at the Wales Legal Awards 2019

    Childcare law:  The childcare team offers sound advice and support with sensitivity and professionalism throughout the care proceedings process. It also acts on behalf of children through court-appointed guardians. The firm can also put clients in touch with other organisations and professionals to help in their dealings with social services.

    Private client:  The specialist private client lawyers provide advice on a wide range of matters from wills and probate, lifetime trust and tax planning through to lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection proceedings. They were awarded the Private Client Team of the Year  at the Wales Legal Awards 2019.

    Employment: the specialist team assists in unfair dismissal; redundancy; tribunal hearings; settlement agreements; contracts of employment; general employment advice; strike action; bullying or harassment at work; grievance and disciplinary procedures; unlawful deductions from salary; discrimination; executive severances; family-friendly rights at work; and recruitment.

    Property (residential and commercial):  The property team specialises in residential and commercial conveyancing across England and Wales. It has embraced the latest technology to provide a fast, efficient and effective premier service that delivers the highest standard of client care.

    Clinical negligence: The firm has expertise in claims including pregnancy issues and maternal or infant birth injuries; surgical claims including general surgery, gynaecological, neuro and cardio thoracic; anaesthetic-related problems; cosmetic surgery; and ophthalmic and laser eye surgery errors.

    Public/administrative law:  The firm has extensive experience of challenging the unlawful actions of public bodies through judicial review in the High Court. Its cases often involve human rights law and include challenges to: hospital, school reorganisation and library closures; and the granting of planning permission in environmental matters. They are one of the leading firms representing victims of the  contaminated blood scandal at the Infected Blood Inquiry.

    Criminal law:  They advise and assist on all aspects of criminal law, motoring offences and road traffic law and represent clients at the Magistrates Court and Crown Court.

    Other offices: Cardiff, Newport & London (by appointment).

    Managing partner and Head of PI Clive Thomascthomas@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01495 762244
    PI Clive Thomascthomas@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01495 762244
    Clinical Negligence Jonathan Wellingtonjwellington@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01633 262122
    Family Law Sophie Hughesshughes@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01633 262122
    Private client (wills and probate) Linda Dackldack@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01495 762244
    Crime Jonathan Wellingtonjwellington@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01633 262122
    Public and Administrative law Michael Imperatomimperato@watkinsandgunn.co.uk02921 154313
    Property Joanne Whiteheadjwhitehead@watkinsandgunn.co.uk02921 154313
    Childcare law Kate Robertskroberts@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01495 762244
    Employment Law Lisa Guscottlguscott@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01495 762244
    Family Law Leah Rhydderchlrhydderch@watkinsandgunn.co.uk01633 262122
    Michael Imperato photo Michael ImperatoPartner
    Joanne Whitehead photo Joanne WhiteheadAssociate
    Number of UK partners : 5
    Number of other UK fee-earners : 19