Bath Legal Review 2011: The Specialists

September 23, 2011

Government spending cuts and the tough economic climate may have impacted on the legal market but a number of Bath firms have performed well despite these conditions.

In the education sector, the Legal 500 ranks Stone King in the second tier of this category. The firm has acted on many academy conversions and defended schools regarding their selection procedures. Roger Inman heads the team and is well regarded for his ‘excellent knowledge, approachability and good advice’.

Alastair Govier is a key figure for dispute resolution and a member of Thrings’ team which defended two Farepak directors against £40m claims by the liquidators, and also acted for CFH Total Document Management regarding a £3m commercial contract claim. The team regularly represents Thomson Directories. The firm also regularly acts for MAN Truck & Bus UK in litigation, and recently settled a professional negligence claim for Citipost AMP against its former property advisers. Ramona Derbyshire leads the team.

Stone King’s Paul Sutton ‘keeps things moving forward’ and is ‘exceedingly helpful in trying situations’. The team acted for the Samuel Courtauld Trust regarding a claim for restitution of a Rubens painting, and for a charity in a £3m construction claim.

Withy King ‘gets things done’ according to Legal 500, under practice head Philip Banks-Welsh. The group advises LalPac on potential commercial contract disputes, and acted for Seram regarding a breach of copyright claim.

Kerrie Hunt, described as ‘professional and personable’, leads the employment team at Thrings providing advice to private and public sector clients, including on managing the process of informing and consulting employees under TUPE . Expertise also includes a niche in agriculture and estates employment matters.

Withy King’s Malcolm Gregory and Tony Brown are recommended. Their clients include Wessex Water.

Stone King’s ‘extremely effective’ Nick Watson and Peter Woodhouse specialise in the not-for-profit sector and education.

Withy King is listed in the top tiers for clinical negligence (claimant) and personal injury (claimant). In clinical negligence, its ‘tenacious’ team has a notable practice in birth injury cases, as well as inquest and dental negligence work. Practice head Simon Elliman has particular expertise in spinal injury and is ‘first rate’, and Gerry Ferguson is a ‘superb lawyer’ on psychiatry and misprescribing matters.

The firm’s personal injury team is experienced in high-value cases including catastrophic injury, ranging from accidents at work to road traffic accidents. Well-respected partner Stuart Brazington ‘listens to problems and reacts’, according to the Legal 500.

In insolvency and corporate recovery, Withy King’s Philip Banks-Welsh has ‘in-depth knowledge’, and ‘proposes constructive solutions to keep matters moving forward’.

Thrings provides ‘clear and comprehensive’ advice in agriculture and estates. It assisted the NFU on the rewriting and updating of the occupational licence with the Ministry of Defence pertaining to land on Salisbury Plain. The team also acts for a large number of high-profile landed estates. Team head Peter Cusick ‘leads from the front’.

The ‘excellent’ Withy King bloodstock team represents clients such as The Professional Jockeys Association and The National Trainers Federation, and has expertise in regulatory matters. Andrew Chalk demonstrates ‘in-depth knowledge of British horseracing regulatory matters’; and the ‘very helpful’ Richard Brooks acts on a range of contentious matters.

Stone King heads the Legal 500’s ranking South West ranking for charities. Described as ‘outstanding in all areas’, the firm acted for the International Hospital Federation on reorganising working arrangements. Other clients include the Museums Association and the Holburne Museum & Theatre Royal Bath. Michael King heads the team.

Thrings is ranked in the top tier for commercial property on the M4 Corridor. The firm advised a civil engineering company on a £2.5m sale and leaseback of premises. Alex Pinhey provides ‘support of the highest calibre’ and Rosalind Sopel is ‘a pillar of strength’.

Withy King’s ‘very responsive and pragmatic’ team is advising New Riviera Estates on a £25m development, and recently acted for Bespoke Hotels and Bermondsey Square Hotel on lease matters. Paul Daniels heads the team, in which Andrew Chalk is noted for his ‘sound advice’.

Stone King has ‘unrivalled industry knowledge’ in acting for charities and schools. Hugh Pearce, Stephanie Howarth and Sarah Lane offer ‘competitive fees without compromising the level of advice’.

In the construction industry, Thrings advised Diamond Worldwide Finance on the £12m Aberconway House refurbishment, and Cyclamax on construction aspects of two plant site acquisitions. Steve McCombe is ‘a legal safety net’, providing ‘timely support and sound legal advice’.

Withy King acted for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on construction matters, and advised Forcia on project procurement issues. Graham Street heads the team, and Louise Garcia is ‘extremely client focused’.

Peter Cusick heads Thrings’ environment team, which has a substantial developer client base, and recently defended clients against controlled waste prosecutions.

Other sectors:

Planning: Thrings, where the team’s ‘expertise and attention to detail are very impressive’, and associate Alex Madden is ‘enthusiastic and tenacious’.

Property litigation: Thrings’ ‘personable and commercial’ team includes practice head Michael Tatters and Warren Reid, who ‘tackles issues head on’. Withy King’s team is headed by Caroline Preist and includes the ‘dedicated’ Mike Hansom, who ‘refuses to be beaten’.

Technology, Media & Telecommunications: Andrew Braithwaite heads the team at Thrings, which represents EnSilica and Eduserve among others. Withy King’s Jessica Bent is ‘very efficient and on schedule’. Clients include Triumph International and Anderson Dynamics.

Intellectual property: Andrew Braithwaite at Thrings is described as ‘excellent, very efficient’. Jessica Bent who heads the team at Withy King is also recommended.

Criminal law: Andrew Banks heads Stone King’s highly-regarded team, which acted on a number of fraud, drugs and sexual offence cases in 2010, and is increasingly advising on regulatory breaches in schools and care homes.








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