Firm Profile > Downs Solicitors LLP > Godalming, England

Downs Solicitors LLP

Commercial property: Kent, Surrey, Sussex Tier 3

Downs Solicitors LLP's commercial property team is spread across the firm's three offices, each consisting of a partner and an associate; Andrew Peach in Dorking, Caroline Walton in Cobham, and Madeleine James in Godalming. The team is active across the London and South East property markets, but also advises on matters nationally. In addition to the partners, associates Heather Kershaw and Ailsa MacLean are also key contacts; Kershaw is experienced in advising on matters involving pubs, while MacLean specialises in development and property finance.

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‘Madeleine and her team always deal with things in an extremely calm and efficient way. They are always willing to give some ad hoc advice outside of projects, which is always well laid out and considered. They come across as very knowledgeable and diligent, whilst maintaining a commercial focus.’

‘Madeleine delivers a city service for a regional price. She is friendly, personable, available and straight forward in her assessment and advice.’

‘We work with Caroline Walton and her assistant Vicky Feltham. They offer a seamless service which is responsive, practical, very commercial and they are a pleasure to work with.’

‘Very responsive, practical, commercial and easy to deal with.’

‘I have worked with Andy Peach and associate Anna Svensson, both of whom are good to deal with and know their areas of practice well.’

Corporate and commercial: Kent, Surrey, Sussex Tier 3

The Downs Solicitors LLP team is spread across offices in Godalming, Dorking and Cobham, and is led by Julian Harvey. They are involved in areas including technology, healthcare, and leisure, with Richard Clapham particularly active in advising clients on transactions involving hotels. The team also handle matters with cross-border elements, such as transactions between clients in France and Ukraine. Harvey is experienced in corporate finance, M&A, private equity and joint ventures; he is praised by one client as 'a pleasure to deal with at all times'.

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‘In all of my dealings with the Corporate team at Downs I have found them to be extremely knowledgeable, responsive to requests and very proactive in everything that they do. I have always found them to be an extremely personable practice and a pleasure to deal with – clients that I have referred give the same feedback and are very grateful to be referred to the team at Downs.’

‘Julian Harvey always finds time to talk to both us and prospective clients. He is extremely proactive and always looks for opportunities. A pleasure to deal with at all times.’

‘My company has worked with Downs for well over 30 years. What is key to their success is that whilst they are relatively small (as compared to huge London firms) they can support and service all that is needed,from commercial contract law to litigation. They give me the confidence that the deals and business ventures I am engaged with are up to date legally and ‘pass muster’ in both a professional and lay perspective. Downs Solicitors provide a seamless and professional image to both my current customers and business prospects.’

‘ A professionalism that I think is outstanding. Responsive and alert to my needs and aware of current business pressures , they successfully concluded the sale of two companies I had and were particularly chosen by the acquirers to act for them as the new business owners going forward . Calm, hard working and very fairly priced, they make for an attractive package , especially for me as a small to medium sized company who could neither afford nor wish to work with a vast legal conglomerate in the city of London. As the saying goes if you can do it all as well and as professionally locally why would you seek anything else? Super people, excellent service, top brains.’

‘The team are very personable and professional. They have the ability to deliver a very personal service and yet clients still feel the weight and legitimacy of an established law firm behind the service. They will always put the interests of the client first and provide honest advice. Their ability to deliver in technical and complex situations and explain the technicalities to the client in an understandable and reassuring way is second to none. I have complete faith in their ability to deliver for our clients and do not hesitate to recommend them. Finally, another trait that sets them aside from their peers is excellent communication. They are very careful to keep clients fully updated and informed.’

‘Julian Harvey is an exceptional member of the senior partnership team at Downs. Julian has an excellent manner and instantly provides reassurance . He is dynamic and leads his department very well. He is the first to step in when times are challenging and leads from the front. Julian is also very commercially astute and has the requisite skills to understand commercial strategy.’

‘Richard Clapham has been very helpful to us. They have been very efficient and always seem to be on top of things, with what work is left outstanding and what deadlines are approaching.’


Key clients

Clubbable Properties

Cerealto UK

ORIDA Corporation

East Stuff

Securus Software


Hound and Porter

Aronova Interactive

Pathway Diagnostics

Personal Diagnostics




Prosys International


Solar Grow

HG&L Newcastle

Guest Holdings

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 3

Led by Chris Millar in Dorking, Downs Solicitors LLP is involved in all areas of insolvency law. The team has recently become increasingly active in matters involving property and cross-border aspects, and frequently acts alongside the firm's corporate and commercial practice. Millar, a specialist in contentious insolvency, offers clients 'particularly strong insolvency and general commercial experience' while Martin Steer acts in 'an enviable range of insolvency-related work' and has previously argued cases before the Court of Appeal.

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‘Downs are an outstanding regional firm with extremely good knowledge of this area of practice. They are also a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend them.’

‘Chris Millar has particularly strong insolvency and general commercial experience. He is an extremely impressive and experienced litigator.’

‘Excellent client service. Standout lawyers are Nigel Cook for transaction work and Martin Steer for litigation.’

‘With Chris Millar leading the Insolvency and Corporate Recovery team, Downs provide effective technical advice in a very efficient and timely way.  They provide pragmatic views on the way forward rather than just giving you a range of options without any real direction. Downs have had the confidence to give me advice in difficult areas and have never failed to support me 100%.’

‘Martin is an experienced litigator who seems to attract an enviable range of insolvency-related work. Typical of his team, his knowledge extends to commercial and property litigation so he is able to spot points that some insolvency specialists might miss. He is good on the law, hard-working, and excellent at presenting the bigger tactical picture to the lay client in a digestible way. He is also good fun to work with.’

‘All of the individuals I have encountered at Downs Solicitors have been very professional, technically excellent but importantly they are able to deliver advice which cuts to the heart of often complex issues in a sensitive and easy to jargon free manner. In particular, I have enjoyed working with Charmaine Dudman who has shown a great attention to detail and excellent technical knowledge.’

‘Martin Steer has always provided updates as required, without the need for chasing at any point. He has also provided advice when required, explaining matters in a clear and concise way.’

‘The team members have experience not just of insolvency work but of broader commercial and property litigation. In broad terms, this means two things: that the team has access to work other than from traditional insolvency channels; and that in performing that work, the team can spot related issues in different areas of practice which might otherwise be lost on an insolvency specialist.’

Key clients

Piper Thompson

PKF Geoffrey Martin

CVR Global

Bailey Ahmed

MBI Coakley

WSM Marks Bloom

Crowe UK

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