Birketts secures its best Legal 500 listing to date

Published: 14/09/2016

The Legal 500 UK 2016 rankings (released 14 September 2016) once again recognise Birketts LLP as one of the strongest law firms in the East of England. 

Birketts has been recommended as a ‘top-tier firm’ in 35 practice areas and in total the firm received 53 recommendations. Additionally, 29 lawyers are listed in the elite 'leading lawyers' list (including members from all four core disciplines - corporate and commercial, property, dispute litigation and private client) and a total of 93 lawyers are recommended. 

Commenting on the results, CEO Jonathan Agar said: "This year’s Legal 500 rightly recognises that Birketts occupies a premier position for its range of capability, level of expertise and depth of experience. We have built upon prior years' successes and I am proud to say that we have recorded our best directory listing to date. 

“As a full service law firm we remain fully committed to providing technical excellence and exceptional client service to businesses and individuals, locally, nationally and from around the world, offering London-quality services at a fraction of the costs.”

Highlights from The Legal 500 UK 2016 rankings 

Corporate and Commercial - Birketts’ Corporate and Commercial Team is led by corporate finance specialist Adrian Seagers and is noted for ‘the depth, breadth and practicality of its advice’. James Allen advised on a £5m equity investment, and Quentin Golder, who ‘explains all the options clearly’ to his technology sector clients, handled a multimillion-pound fund raising from US equity investors. Other highlights included acting for the selling shareholders in an MBO. Associate Nick Burt is a rising star.

The team exhibits ‘outstanding commitment and provides sound and detailed advice within tight deadlines’. The ‘swift, efficient and calm’ James Austin ‘provides excellent service’. The ‘hardworking, committed’ Mark Henry ‘always goes above and beyond’. Mark Gipson advised on a complex £4.5m company sale in the energy sector that included a joint venture agreement.

The department attracts admiration for providing service that ‘has the clients’ best interests at heart’. Adrian Possener advised Palletforce plc on a £30m takeover and the ‘dependable, honest, hardworking and dedicated’ Greg Allan acted for Kingsley Healthcare on a £200m fundraising investment. 

Rafael Ruiz is praised as a ‘great communicator’ with an ‘extensive knowledge of competition law’. Adam Jones led a team advising the owners of Alstons Furniture Group on its £24.5m sale to Thai Carpet Manufacturing Company. Nick Burnett advised both parties on the merger of Bird Luckin and Rickard Keen, two of the largest accountancy firms in Essex. 

Banking and Finance - For many, Birketts’ practice is ‘better value and higher quality than most of its competitors’, and is rated for its ‘smooth delivery in lending scenarios’. Ipswich-based department head Mark Henry advised Muntons on a £53.4m asset-based finance facility. In Cambridge James Allen and ‘responsive and client-focused’ Associate Nick Burt are recommended. 

The ‘knowledgeable’ Adam Jones is taking a greater role on lender-side mandates and Duncan Williamson joined from Laytons. Clients include Santander and HSBC.

Commercial Litigation - ‘Very good on all counts’ Birketts’ ‘strong team of Partners and Associates’ includes team head Laurence Weeks, who is noted for his ‘professionalism and good communication’. He defended Powerscourt Services against a multimillion-pound fraud claim. 

It is noted that Birketts ‘can easily compete with London firms of much greater size’. Paul Matthews (who ‘cuts to the quick and understands the broader issues’) and Senior Associate Robert Tiffen represented Port Technology Holdings in a $11m dispute involving claims of breach of fiduciary duty and misuse of confidential information. Max Roessler is also recommended. 

Matthew Atkins is singled out as one of the leading litigators in Ipswich. His team continues to handle an impressive roster of national and international cases.

The ‘outstanding’ team handles a range of matters, from representing clients in shareholder disputes to managing claims arising from omnibus contracts and licensing agreements. The ‘exceptional’ Daden Hunt has been defending Elektron Technology against a £2m derivative claim.
Insolvency and corporate recovery - Birketts’ Insolvency and Corporate Recovery Team attracts praise for its combination of ‘very good professionals and youngsters with excellent local knowledge’. Laurence Weeks ‘knows his stuff’ and is recommended alongside the ‘commercially aware’ Greg Allan. They assisted Price Bailey on corporate and litigation matters arising from a £3.5m insolvency.

The team advises insolvency practitioners, lenders, directors and other corporate clients on contentious and non-contentious aspects of insolvency. Clients include Larking Gowen and FRP Advisory. 

Commercial Property - Chris Schwer leads the team which is rated for its ‘excellent value for money, advice and industry knowledge’. Chris Barker is ‘attentive and cool under fire’ and assisted ForFarmers UK with a residential development in North Yorkshire. Stuart Raven advised on a multimillion-pound investment sale in Peterborough. Oliver Crichton is also recommended. 

Kath Herbert, who has a national reputation for strategic land work, acted in the multimillion-pound sale of development land for Gresham’s School. Senior Associate Nick Pickersgill and Associate Natalie Biggs are ‘knowledgeable and hands-on’. 

Birketts attracts praise for providing ‘a London style of service not available at many regional firms’ and for its ‘excellent value for money’. Robert Gibbs provides ‘supreme customer service’ and head of retail Melissa Loucas is ‘just who you want to deal with a big property matter’. Clients include Barclays Bank and Norwich Airport. Senior Associate Bhargav Trivedi is also recommended. 

The ‘practical and pragmatic’ team at Birketts is ‘always available and responsive’. Grace Kerr specialises in assisting landowners with transactional matters, including negotiating collaboration agreements and joint ventures, whereas Steven Kay has been consolidating the group’s house builder practice.

Planning - Newly promoted Partners Tom Newcombe is ‘very strong on in-depth analysis’ and leads the team with Richard Eaton, who ‘shares the burden and wins the battle’. Newcombe advised Breckland District Council on its high-value Section 106 obligations. Consultant Philip Kratz is also recommended. 

Property Litigation - Birketts ‘superb’ practice ‘punches well above its weight’. Clients recommend the ‘tactically astute’ Richard Eaton, the ‘resourceful, creative’ John Scannell, and James Robinson, who is ‘unquestionably one of the best’ and who advised adjacent property owners on the redevelopment of Tottenham Hotspur FC’s stadium. At Associate level, ‘bright, thorough’ Senior Associate Simon Woodhead and Senior Associate Charlotte Wormstone are ‘a pleasure to work with’. 

Construction - Birketts’ ten-lawyer team attracts praise for its combination of ‘clear, accurate advice and excellent value’. Clients strongly recommend ‘excellent lawyers’ Andrew Rush and Ruth Sunaway, who advised on a £5m contentious matter. Associate and rising star Oli Worth ‘shows great depth of knowledge’. Clients include McGee Group. 

Employment - For some, Birketts is ‘the best employment firm in the region’. Key individuals include the ‘calm, considered, technically sound’ Jeanette Wheeler, Matthew Newnham, Abigail Trencher and Matthew Potter. Catherine Johnson advised new client Just-Eat plc on HR matters. Kevin Palmer is adept at restructuring and TUPE issues as well as contentious work such as enforcement of restrictive covenants. Experienced Partners Tim Tyndall joined from Penningtons Manches LLP.

Immigration - Birketts focuses on business immigration while also attracting a swathe of instructions from individuals. Highlights included acting for Partizan Films in a successful appeal against the suspension of its licence. The ‘excellent’ Janice Leggett is the key contact.

Clients are ‘very satisfied’ with the service from Birketts, and single out Associate Clare Hedges’ ‘competence and clarity in visa and employment issues’. She frequently advises Hitachi Capital UK and recently assisted with applications for three sponsored workers to remain in the UK as Tier 2 intra-company transferees. 

Agriculture and Estates - Birketts’ team ‘operates at a very high standard’. ‘Proactive, accurate’ department head Jack Royall ‘gets all queries sorted before other lawyers even get out of bed’. ‘Considerate and technically excellent’ estate planner Neil Sparrow advised a Norfolk estate on tenancy issues. Agriculture specialist Chris Coupland and property lawyers Rachel McKillop-Wilkin and James Dinwiddy are also recommended. 

Birketts team is praised for its ‘practical and theoretical knowledge’ and it has notable property and private client expertise. Key names include senior Associate Laura Pooley and Associate Annabelle Rout, who are ‘responsive’.

Charities and Not for Profit - Senior Associate Sara Sayer leads the team, which is noted for its ‘prompt and timely service’. Clients recommend legal director Erika Clarke for commercial and governance matters, and ecclesiastical law specialists James Hall and Stuart Jones, who are ‘very competent and understand the sector well’. Clients include The Stradivari Trust and Suffolk’s Libraries.

Personal tax, trusts and probate - Birketts’ team, led by Tim Galloway, is praised for its ‘helpfulness, diligence, technical ability and excellent service’.

Caroline Stenner and experienced senior Associate Catherine Bacon advise many high-value estates, including a set of family trusts worth in excess of £100m. Bacon has a niche in offshore trust matters. 

Charles Boscawen has over 25 years’ experience in wills, trusts and tax. Also recommended is Louise Long, who leads the probate team and excels in IHT matters.

Birketts has a ‘competent, personable team that is willing to assist’. Clients note Neil Sparrow’s ‘depth of trusts knowledge’ and Lorna Spear, for her ‘technically strong advice’. 

Family - Birketts ‘carries the clout of a City firm and its team features genuinely impressive lawyers spread across its offices’. Team head Oliver Gravell stands out for his combination of ‘gravitas, experience and a desire to ensure a fair result’, and recently settled a £20m financial remedy matter. Other key figures include collaborative lawyers Ginny Colman and the ‘dynamic and tenacious’ Roopa Ahluwalia (who ‘really stands up for her clients’), and Katie Beaven, who ‘gets straight to the point’. 

‘A go-to firm in the region’, Birketts houses an ‘outstanding team with real strength in depth’, including ‘tenacious litigator’ Melanie Wilson.

Social Housing - Clients consider Birketts to be ‘the best regional practice for development and complex leases’. Peter Goddard stands out for his ‘extensive experience and strong attention to detail’. Senior Associate Emily Groom advised Orbit Group on its £7m investment in 71 residential units. John Scannell is also recommended. 

Shipping - Clients of Birketts praise its ‘thoughtful, carefully crafted and well-reasoned’ advice. Nicholas Woo leads the team, which includes the ‘highly motivated’ Alex Davey, who ‘handles matters in a professional and competent manner’. Henry Adams and Lisa Wortley are also recommended.

Transport and shipping - Birketts has ‘a rich heritage of effective and specifically targeted services’ in shipping and logistics matters and clients note the ‘promptness, patience and skill’ of the firm’s lawyers. The ‘highly motivated and responsible’ Alex Davey leads on transport and is advising a company headquartered in Hong Kong on import matters. The ‘impeccable’ Henry Adams is involved in High Court matters relating to the theft of cargo. Nicholas Woo leads on shipping and is advising numerous parties on their contribution to a salvage reward for goods shipped on a refrigerated vessel that became a casualty. Barrister Laura Thomas is also recommended. 

Health and Safety - Barristers Laura Thomas and Matthew Gowen have experience defending in regulatory and HSE matters. Thomas assisted an employer with the investigation of an accident that occurred during the preparation of a live event. The firm now has three health and safety consultants on staff. 

Intellectual Property - Clients are ‘very pleased with the service’ from Matthew Atkins’ team. Associate Kitty Rosser advised Port Technology Holdings on IP aspects of the exploitation of its personal data store and subsequent disputes. Technology group head Quentin Golder and trade mark attorney Katherine Shadbolt are also recommended.

Franchising - Birketts has a newly formed franchise team that features legal director Ed Savory and Associate Vicki Mitman, both of whom joined the firm in May 2016, as well as Senior Associate Robert Tiffen

Corporate Tax - Senior Associate Karl Pocock leads on corporate tax at Birketts LLP. He assisted Palletforce with the tax elements of its sale to EmergeVest, which included advice on employee share schemes.

Licensing - Birketts ‘reacts quickly and gives accurate and professional advice’. Key figures include Associate Julie Gowland, Advocate Richard Eaton, Barrister Laura Thomas (who handles contentious matters), and Ruth Sunaway for due diligence and insolvency-related issues. Gowland advised Patisserie Valerie on new premises licences.
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