Downs Solicitors LLP > Godalming, England > Firm Profile

Downs Solicitors LLP

Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Kent, Surrey, Sussex Tier 3

The ‘highly commercial’ and ‘friendly, approachable and knowledgeable’ team at Downs Solicitors LLP regularly handles high-value M&A transactions, commercial contract drafting and share sales for clients across a range of sectors including the technology, healthcare and travel industries. ‘Outstanding’ practice head Julian Harvey, based in Dorking, is very ‘approachable and highly skilled’ and offers particular experience in shareholder agreements, franchising work and share option schemes, while Godalming-based Richard Clapham also heads up the team and specialises in M&A, corporate finance and restructuring work and advising family investment companies.

Practice head(s):

Julian Harvey; Richard Clapham

Other key lawyers:

Emily MacNiven; Charmaine Dudman


‘Downs are a friendly and skilful team. They have a particularly strong corporate and commercial team, working well with clients and collaborating with other advisers. They communicate complex legal documents well with clients, showing a good appreciation of the real world and commercial realities. They have always delivered high-quality work and excellent customer service.’

‘I work predominantly with Richard Clapham who works very well with all clients, is efficient and experienced in advising business clients on complex legal areas.’

‘The team are highly commercial with a sound understanding of small and mid-market businesses and the challenges they face. They have excellent communication skills, are very personable and always put their clients’ interests first.’

‘Julian Harvey has outstanding people and communication skills. He is an excellent negotiator. He is very approachable and highly skilled with a friendly and calm demeanour. He has fantastic legal and technical knowledge and is able explain complex legal issues in plain English so that the client has a full understanding of the issue. Emily MacNiven is an outstanding young professional solicitor. She has knowledge and people skills beyond her years and solid technical ability. She puts clients at ease. She also has excellent negotiation skills and is very well organised.’

‘Julian Harvey is a very prompt and easy-going partner. He takes the time to discuss the issue with you and is very likeable and personable as an individual. He delegates to the team well and we have had a fantastic experience with him, and the company and they have supported our clients fantastically, even at short notice.’

‘The firm really punches above its weight, has the breadth and depth of legal skills and experience that would be expected from a much larger practice.’

‘Their partner accessibility and responsiveness is where they stand out as they are able and willing to take calls or deal rapidly with ad-hoc queries in an efficient manner. Access to experienced partners is not always readily available with other firms. I would have to namecheck Julian Harvey as an outstanding partner, have not come across a better commercial lawyer.’

‘The team understand the need to listen and clarify the objective of any process. This is key to ensuring that we do not waste time but also enables them to engage and discuss the pros and cons of different approaches. Julian Harvey is a clear guiding hand and ensures that culture and approach is maintained. Charmaine Dudman provides a practical and highly responsive service to our commercial requirements, with an understanding that there needs to be a pragmatic as well as legal position when trading.’

Key clients

Clubbable Properties Ltd

Cerealto UK Ltd

ORIDA Corporation Ltd

Dwellcourt Limited

Hound and Porter Limited

Aronova Interactive Ltd

Ishrosh Healthcare Limited

Office Base Limited

Prosys International Limited

CHD Living Ltd

EGAP Estates Ltd

Guest Holdings Ltd

Angela Hartnett (Queen Street) Limited

Format Games Limited

Star Cargo PLC

Office Oracle Group Limited

Pan United Ltd

Danhouse Security Limited

UK Agriculture Produce Ltd.

Tortoise & Hare Limited

So Sound Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising the selling shareholders of Etrac Trading Limited on the sale of the entire issued share capital.
  • Advising the selling shareholders of Promain (UK) Limited on the sale of the entire issued share capital.
  • Advising Real Digital International Ltd in relation to different commercial agreements such as collaboration, supplier, distribution and R&D agreements.

Real estate > Commercial property: Kent, Surrey, Sussex Tier 3

Employment > Employment: Kent, Surrey, Sussex Tier 4

Downs Solicitors LLP is described by one client as ‘a local firm with the expertise and clout of a national player.’ Led by David Seals, who offers ‘expert guidance’ on Employment Tribunal matters and data protection law from the Dorking office, the team assists both employers and employees with various matters including corporate transactions, redundancies and dismissals and general day-to-day advisory work. The practice also utilises the Employlaw scheme, offering HR support to clients.

Practice head(s):

David Seals

Other key lawyers:

Heather Love; Elizabeth Barrett


‘The team are extremely professional, knowledgeable, approachable and prompt. When dealing with very sensitive or urgent employment matters it is imperative you have a reliable and professional law firm to assist. There is always a warm, friendly and calming logical voice when you need one at Downs. It is an absolute pleasure working with their team.’

‘David Seal, Heather Love and Elizabeth Barrett always go the extra mile. Nothing is ever too much trouble, they will always ensure you are comfortable with the advice they have given before leaving you to implement or pursue the process.’

‘I deal with various departments within Downs both professionally and personally and have received an exemplary service throughout. The most remarkable aspect is the diversity throughout the company and the calm and professional approach to all legal matters it exudes. It’s as though there is a Downs mold of excellence as standard, and this ethos is carried from top to bottom of the organisation and throughout all disciplines.’

‘Every employee stands out to me for. Their dedication and performance of service towards their clients is great. They adopt a can-do attitude providing just the right amount of support needed and pinpointing the issues through careful consideration from the outset. Outstanding individuals include Heather Love and Elizabeth Barrett.’

‘Heather Love is our main contact. Heather is always quick to respond to my emails. Heather is also happy to discuss issues, approaches and options for resolution over the phone and has learned and retained a lot of information about our company. It’s this personal service that makes Downs Solicitors stand out.’

‘The department are very keen to understand your needs and how your business runs so that they can give advice and assist in the most efficient way possible. Heather Love is fantastic on every count. She always takes her time to listen and fully understand what it is you need and want to be doing. Heather is friendly, helpful and clearly knows her stuff!’

‘A local firm with the expertise and clout of a national player. A very personal service from highly professional lawyers. David Seals is always available for advice and expert guidance. Highly approachable and genuine people.’

Finance > Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 4

The ‘competent‘ team at Downs Solicitors LLP handles a myriad of insolvency matters for insolvency practitioners and creditors. In the Dorking office, practice head and ‘very experienced litigatorChris Millar has longstanding expertise in both corporate and personal insolvencies, frequently assisting clients with asset recovery issues. The ‘excellentMartin Steer is based in Godalming, and has a great deal of experience in handling contentious matters, often relating to personal bankruptcy.

Practice head(s):

Chris Millar

Other key lawyers:

Martin Steer; Julian Harvey


‘Downs have a large number of specialists, so you can be confident that the person you are dealing with is very experienced.’

‘Chris Millar is a very experienced litigator who goes out of his way to avoid litigation where possible. Extremely practical and a great communicator.’

‘A small competent team who provide a very personal service.’

‘They provide a very high quality professional service. The partners have great experience in all areas of law. I always find their advice not just technically correct but pragmatic too.’

‘Chris Millar thinks outside the box, and comes up with pragmatic solutions to problems. He is highly experienced in all areas of corporate and personal insolvency. He has been responsible for building a very strong team.’

‘Downs punch well above their weight. They combine many of the best bits of a regional firm with those a boutique City firm.’

‘Martin Steer is excellent. Robust, commercial, brilliant with clients and strong on both the substantive and procedural law. Despite these strengths, he is not a backseat driver; he knows when to delegate and is always sensible in the way he treats advice. Just a great lawyer to have on your team.’

‘Chris Millar is a very experienced lawyer whose knowledge of the substantive law is in a different league to many of his rivals. His good humour and relaxed manner works wonders in managing client expectations.’

Downs Solicitors LLP is a leading Surrey-based provider of legal services to businesses and individuals. It has offices  Surrey Dorking, Cobham and Godalming.

The firm: Downs has a long heritage of providing legal services dating back to 1836. However, the firm has changed significantly over the years, from simply providing legal advice to private individuals to providing the full spectrum of commercial services to business clients.

Downs is accredited under the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), the mark of excellence awarded to law firms that meet the highest standards for conveyancing transactions.

Downs is also accredited by Lexcel. The Law Society has certified that certain standards of practice have been met following independent assessment. This accreditation is only awarded to solicitors who meet the highest management and customer care standards. Lexcel-accredited practices undergo rigorous independent assessment every year to ensure they meet required standards of excellence in areas such as client care, case management and risk management.

Types of work undertaken
Corporate: from emerging areas of business law, to mainstream M&A and corporate finance, Downs’ corporate lawyers have a depth of experience and a breadth of understanding that enables it to produce rigorously-researched solutions to the most complex business issues.

Employment: the firm’s employment law solicitors help businesses with the full range of employment law and HR advice, from the drafting of contracts of employment and handbooks, to advising on disciplinary and grievance issues, settlement agreements and unfair dismissals through to tribunal hearings.

Commercial property: whether a client owns the local corner shop, is selling or letting an office building, or purchasing land for development, Downs’ commercial property specialists will give all the expert advice and assurance needed to protect their interests.

Corporate recovery: highly experienced and commercially savvy, the firm’s corporate recovery team advises private equity firms, financial institutions, insolvency practitioners, companies and individuals on a wide range of disciplines, from a broad range of industries.

Litigation: the team of specialist litigation lawyers will protect clients’ interests and assert their rights across a very broad range of business areas, including breach of contract claims, negligence, passing off and copyright infringement, insolvency, property and construction, shareholder and partnership disputes.

International: Downs’ specialist multi-disciplinary international group has considerable experience of acting for clients and law firms located in various jurisdictions and requiring legal advice and services in England or abroad. Clients range from multinational companies to wealthy private investors and offshore trusts. It has lawyers who are qualified in multiple jurisdictions and a number speak foreign languages. They are also contributing authors to private international law publications in the US.

Individual client: the firm provides the full range of legal services to individual clients, including buying and selling property, writing a will, inheritance tax planning, probate, lasting powers of attorney, divorce/separation, pre-nups, disputes and employment issues.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partner Chris Millar
Photo Name Position Profile
Richard Clapham photo Richard Clapham Richard practised in a central London firm for over 10 years before…
William Edwards photo William Edwards William specialises in a broad range of matters including tax planning, wealth…
Martin Steer photo Martin Steer Martin specialises in all areas of commercial and civil litigation, excluding personal…
Richard Taylor photo Richard Taylor Richard handles a broad range of property transactions and specialises in residential…
Number of UK partners : 14
Number of other UK fee-earners : 45