The 2017 Legal 500 Guide has been published and we are delighted to have a record number of solicitors and departments feature.
We are pleased to have maintained our strong positions in six key practice areas, in addition to securing three new rankings in Commercial Litigation, Employment and Family.
Legal 500 provide independent, trusted and intensively-researched rankings of law firms in the UK and beyond and provide a reliable guide to the best firms to consult on a wide range of different legal areas and client sectors.
A full list of our rankings in this current edition can be viewed below:
Social housing: finance – ranked Tier 1
Devonshires Solicitors LLP’s team has ‘a real can-do attitude and exceptional knowledge’, which ‘places it at the top of the social housing tree’. Julian Barker leads the firm’s banking team and the ‘incredible’ Sharon Kirkham heads up the firm’s securitisation practice; other key practitioners include ‘great advocate’ Andrew Cowan, whose ‘style of working and willingness to go the extra mile gives confidence not only in the advice given but in handling the ways forward’; Richard Sharpe, who regularly acts for registered providers; and Saghar Roya, who handles securitisation matters. Recent highlights include advising on the merger of Affinity Sutton Group and Circle Housing Group to create Clarion Housing Group, which included assisting with amendments and replacements to facility and hedging agreements totalling over £3.5m of debt across the groups; assisting A2Dominion Housing Group with the creation of a £1bn Euro Medium Term Note programme and subsequent bond issuance; and advising Trafford Housing Trust on four loans totalling £275m to be used to refinance debt and fund housing developments in Manchester. Tuntum Housing Association, Peabody and Radian Group are also clients. Chris Drabble joined the Leeds office from Addleshaw Goddard.
Social housing: local authorities and registered providers – ranked Tier 2
Andrew Cowan leads the department at Devonshires Solicitors LLP, which is ‘astoundingly knowledgeable and practical in its approach’ making it ‘a clear leader in the field’. Clients include Home Group and Thames Valley Housing Association; the team advised the latter on its acquisition of a BHS store in Ealing, which will be converted into 136 affordable homes. Other work includes handling the merger between Circle Housing Group and Affinity Sutton, which formed Clarion Group; advising Central & Cecil Housing Trust on securing vacant possession of a sheltered housing scheme to redevelop the site for social housing purposes; and assisted Trafford Housing Trust with a joint venture deal with Wates Construction aimed at constructing affordable housing. Hyde Group, Your Housing Group and Radian Group are also clients. Noteworthy practitioners include litigator Nick Billingham, Gareth Hall, Neil Toner, Donna McCarthy, Jonathan Corris and Elad Yasdi.
Construction: contentious and non-contentious – ranked Tier 5
Devonshires Solicitors LLP’ four partner team is led by Mark London, who delivers ‘confident contentious and non-contentious advice’ to the firm’s extensive public sector and third sector client base. Recent examples of his work include advising Project Light Development 1 on the construction aspects of a major regeneration project in Canada Water, and defending Home Group in an adjudication concerning alleged breaches of two large construction-management contracts in the North East of England. Another name to note on the contentious side is Matthew Cocklin, who provides ‘a good and responsive service on latent defect matters’; he is also a specialist in extensions of time and delay. Non-contentious specialist Susannah Davis remains active, primarily in the housebuilding sector. The practice’s capability in the infrastructure sector was significantly augmented by the hire of Robert Turner, who joined from Dentons.
Debt recovery – ranked Tier 2
Devonshires Solicitors LLP has had an exciting 2016, with the establishment of its debt collection centre, which allows the firm to compete in the same market as debt collection agencies, while still remaining active in subsequent proceedings, when necessary. The firm has also seen increased instructions from national and international clients. Though the group has an 85% recovery rate before proceedings are issued, it also handles litigation and department head Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs acted for Lawlords of London in a disputed invoice matter that did proceed to court. Jim Varley is an insolvency specialist in the team and key clients include Sodexo, Reuters Limited and Kone.
Fraud: civil – ranked Tier 4
Devonshires Solicitors LLP maintains a strong client base in the housing and regulatory sectors, acting for a number of housing providers and regulatory bodies on fraud matters, cross-border investigations, regulatory issues and PFI disputes. Work highlights included advising the Solicitors Regulation Authority in seven interventions to close solicitors’ firms, undertaking all accounting investigations and numerous applications to set aside interventions. Key figure Philip Barden has a strong track record in both litigation and mediation, and Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs is noted for his expertise in cases involving the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands and various Middle Eastern jurisdictions.
Clinical negligence: claimant – ranked Tier 4
Devonshires Solicitors LLP fields an ‘intelligent’ practice with ‘excellent client-care skills’ and ‘an exceptional team ethos’. The firm is experienced in handling high-value cases involving spinal injury, paediatrics, surgical mismanagement, dental negligence and misdiagnosis. Nick Grant is ‘good with clients’ and is experienced in a range of complex, high-value claims including birth injuries, obstetric care, negligent surgery and orthopaedics. Nicola Bould is a ‘prominent’ solicitor with experience in complex negligence claims and expertise in surgical error, diagnosis of cancer and fatal accident claims. The ‘very smart’ Karen Cathcart provides a ‘refreshingly no-nonsense approach’ and regularly handles cases involving obstetric negligence and brain injury cases; she ‘pushes as hard as she can for her clients’.
Newly Secured Rankings
Family – ranked Tier 6
‘Hardworking and compassionate’ solicitor Eileen Macqueen at Devonshires Solicitors LLP‘ provides balanced advice and is a star in the making’. The team provides advice to City professionals and other high-net-worth individuals, and is adept at helping clients with particular needs such as mental health issues.
Commercial litigation – ranked Tier 8
Beyond its housing provider following, Devonshires Solicitors LLP, which ‘has sound commercial acumen’, acts in commercial litigation for regulators, and assists with complex fraud and private finance initiative disputes. Philip Barden is ‘a very savvy lawyer’; Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs is ‘great in a crisis and focused on outcomes’; and James Dunn is highly rated.
Employment: employers – ranked Tier 7
Devonshires Solicitors LLP’s group primarily acts for housing associations. Ronnie Tong represented Merlin Housing Society on proceedings brought by a former employee before the Employment Tribunal alleging unfair dismissal and race discrimination. Other clients include Look Ahead, Clarion and Viridian Housing.