Exclusive: Bath’s high-flying legal eagles and top law firms showcased in The Legal 500

October 9, 2020

Some of Bath’s top lawyers and the firms they work for have earning top billing in The Legal 500, the leading annual guide to law firms and solicitors in the UK.

While the directory’s South West section is dominated, as in previous years, by Bristol’s large national and international firms, a number of lawyers in Bath practices also get a chance to shine among the roll call of the region’s leading individuals. 

The guide is aimed at buyers of legal services, particularly general and corporate counsel, and is researched annually by an independent and expert team. 

More than 4m users visit The Legal 500 website each year, making it a powerful reference tool for the industry.  

The city’s major firms - Royds Withy King, Thrings, Mogers Drewett and Stone King – occupy top-tier places in many of the different specialisms that make up the guide.

Royds Withy King, which has its headquarters in Bath as well as offices in Bristol, Swindon, Oxford and London, appears among the top-ranked firms for corporate and commercial work in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

The Legal 500 says its Bath corporate team is able to work hand in glove with the firm's offices in Bristol, Swindon, Oxford and London to advise corporates and SMEs on a variety of corporate transactions. The group is led by Katharine Mortimer, pictured, known for her health and care sector expertise, while James Worrall is another noted individual for M&A work. In April 2019, the firm recruited Dan Meadon-Bower from an in-house position with TSB Bank, and he now leads the firm's commercial and technology team. 

Key clients include Fidelius Financial Holdings, MJ Church and Rygor and during the year the team advised the shareholders of Bath digital media buying agency Search Star on its sale to US-headquartered digital transformation group Welocalize. It also advised men’s make-up brand Shakeup Cosmetics on the terms of an equity capital raising and the development and manufacturing agreement with its main supplier.  

Thrings, which has offices in Bristol, Swindon, London and Romsey as well as Bath, appears in Tier 2. The Legal 500 says its corporate and commercial team, led by John Davies, pictured, is able to handle mid-market M&A, mainly in the manufacturing, logistics, health, education and technology sectors.

The team was strengthened last year with the arrival of associate Will Foulkes from Foot Anstey, bringing with him substantial blockchain expertise while Simon Hore is noted for corporate finance. Its key clients include HSBC, Santander and Arkells Brewery in Swindon. 

During the year it was lead adviser on Wasdell’s strategic acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Honeywood . Thrings carried out full commercial due diligence as well as handling the property aspects of the transaction.

The corporate and commercial team at Mogers Drewett, which is ranked in the third tier, specialises in M&A for SMEs in the region, frequently advising on transactions involving the hotel and leisure, creative and technology, and food and drink sectors. Tom Webb, pictured, heads the group and is also able to draw on company law expertise. Associate Emily Eccles is another company law expert. 

Among its key clients are Bath hotel group The Kaleidoscope Collection, which it advised on the sale of No 15 Great Pulteney to Guest Holdings, as well as cheese producer Coombe Castle International and Ascend Learning UK.

Royds Withy King and Thrings line up in tier two for commercial litigation in Gloucestershire, Somerset And Wiltshire along with Bath-headquartered Stone King, with Mogers Drewett in the tier below.

Royds Withy King’s Bath-based litigation team is led by social care sector specialist Mei-Ling Huang (who is dual-qualified in the UK and US) following Philip Banks-Welsh’s retirement. Senior associate Nicola Radcliffe is another name to note for contentious and regulatory health and social care issues.

Stone King acts for companies, charities, education providers and high net worth individuals in a range of disputes. It is particularly strong for contractual and property litigation and has growing expertise in Companies Act claims, insolvency litigation and asset finance disputes. Practice head Tony Pidgeon focuses on real estate and commercial disputes with a niche in representing education sector clients in property litigation. Paul Sutton has particular experience in acting for charities and counts breach of trust claims, construction litigation and contractual disputes among his areas of expertise.

The Legal 500 says Thrings is adept at handling a range of contentious corporate and commercial matters as well as financial services litigation, debt recovery claims and product liability disputes.

In the corporate space, the group has been particularly active in directors, shareholder and restrictive covenant disputes and counts defence and aerospace, manufacturing and IT among its sector focuses. Following David Patterson's retirement, Romana Derbyshire leads the team, which also includes Caroline Watson; Derbyshire and Watson both handle a range of contentious matters and have particular experience in product liability disputes and financial services disputes, respectively.

The team recently defended a global financial services group in a claim brought by the executors of an estate relating to the payment of a dependents’ pension.

Mogers Drewett counts corporate, commercial and property disputes, including enfranchisement litigation, among its areas of specialism. The group acts for a range of companies in the region, as well as London-headquartered and international clients. Practice head Maeve England has a broad practice with experience spanning contentious real estate matters, partnership disputes and international arbitration proceedings.

Thrings’ Romana Derbyshire is again singled out for praise for leading the firm’s debt recovery practice, which is ranked in the second tier in the South West.

Thrings advises on all aspects of debt and asset recovery, acting on both domestic and cross-border disputes. The firm has experience in pre-action protocol compliance, issuing claims, enforcement and disputed debts. has particular specialisms in complex commercial disputes, financial services litigation and professional negligence claims. Also notable in the area is recoveries manager Amanda Richardson.

Stone King appears in the second tier of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire firms for its employment work  

The Legal 500 says its employment team works closely with the firm’s nationally-recognised education practice, as well as regularly advising clients in the charities sector. The team handles a wide variety of complex industry-specific matters, including teachers' pensions and TUPE-related issues. Elsewhere, the group also has strong links in the transport sector and a growing client base in the hospitality industry. Peter Woodhouse, who is an expert in the logistics sector, heads the team. John McMullen is a recognised authority on TUPE.

Thrings is ranked as a third -tier South West firm for banking and finance. Primarily acting for lenders, it has particular experience in acquisition finance and secured lending. The firm also provides expertise in equity investment and due diligence advice. Practice head Mike Tomlin specialises in transactions involving layered debt, linked debt and equity, and cross-group security arrangements.

Thrings is also in the South West’s tier three for its insolvency and corporate recovery work. Its team specialises in advising on financially distressed and insolvent businesses, particularly mid-sized owner-managed businesses. The firm has notable strength in the agriculture, retail, financial services and technology sectors. Mark Cullingford is known for corporate strategic advice, negotiation over corporate restructuring and litigation. He co-leads the practice with Melissa George, whose clients include investors, lenders, private banks, entrepreneurs, directors, landlords. 

Stone King’s national specialist education practice is ranked in the top tier for the South West. It provides broad advice and expertise across the area, with particular strength in independent schools, further education (FE) colleges and Church of England schools. The firm has expertise in procurement, criminal procedures and supporting schools in defending disability discrimination claims at the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SENDIST) tribunal, as well as advising diocesan boards of education, multi-academy trusts (MATs) and maintained schools. The immigration team advises clients on sponsorship applications for MATs and also assists schools with Brexit preparations. The team is co-led by Roger Inman, Graham Burns, Tom Morrison and Helen Tucker, who is head of the independent schools team. 

Royds Withy King’s contentious trusts and probate team is in tier one. It advises clients along the M4 Corridor and from London on the full range of work related to contested wills, trusts and inheritance disputes. In addition to attracting high net worth individuals, the firm is often the first port of call for clients in the charities sector. Amanda Noyce heads the team from Bath, and her areas of expertise extend to tax disputes, negligence actions brought against tax advisers and proprietary estoppel claims. A more junior name with a growing caseload is associate Calum Campbell.




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