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2018 Legal 500 results!

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We have some great results this year! 

We have 5 listed as elite leading lawyers (Tracey Dickens in Commercial & Corporate and Health, Melanie Bache in Commercial Property, Philip Hoddell in Family, Claire Read in Wills, Trusts and Probate) and 8 new generation lawyers (Reggie LLoyd, Emma Wraight, Lisa Collins, Muntech Kaur, Ben Parmenter and Tracy England), our best result to date!

Commentary of our teams from legal 500 below:

Corporate and commercial: Essex

Birkett Long LLP's 'awareness of client requirements, coupled with technical knowledge and its ability to bring transactions to completion, proves invaluable'. The corporate practice handles domestic and international business transactions, shareholder and joint venture agreements, corporate restructurings and commercial contracts. The healthcare, technology and media sectors are historically strong, while consultant solicitor Alan Massenhove, who joined from a London firm in October 2017, brings in more expertise in franchise businesses and the regulated sectors, including banking. Praxis42, Valeo, Wilkin & Sons, Systematic Logistics International and E2V Technologies form the client roster. Team lead Tracey Dickens is an 'excellent communicator and technical adviser, while remaining commercially pragmatic'. Other key members include David Wisbey and Basildon-based solicitors Stephen Avila and  Tim Field.

Commercial litigation: Essex

The five-partner commercial litigation department of Birkett Long LLP covers court cases, as well as arbitration, adjudication and mediation proceedings. Key areas include real estate, engineering, financial services, agriculture, intellectual property and general company, shareholder and director disputes. In a major highlight, the team defended four family members against a £45m breach-of-warranty claim from a company that they sold shares from their own business to. Another matter related to the representation of an events company in a planning dispute with a London borough council, which refused to give planning permission for redevelopment after the client had entered into a long-term lease and invested £10m. Valeo Group of Companies, Flakt Woods and BEW Electrical Distributors form part of the active client roster. Chelmsford-based partners Peter Allen and Keith Songhurst, as well as Kevin Sullivan in Colchester, are the main practitioners.

Insolvency and corporate recovery

Birkett Long LLP's insolvency practice impresses with its 'very practical and good commercial advice and extremely prompt responses'. The team is best known for its contentious work for insolvency practitioners, private bankrupts and company director clients; the latter mostly seek defence against disqualification claims. Recent highlights include the representation of 24 creditors in their application to remove and replace the administrators of a company with debts in excess of £8m, as well as the advice provided to a former company director regarding misfeasance enquiries from liquidators. CVR Global, Larking Gowen, Kingston Smith & Partners and LB Insolvency Solutions make up parts of the active client portfolio.  Colchester-based partner Kevin Sullivan and associate Tracy England are recommended, while David Wisbey in Chelmsford is also a key practitioner.

Employment: Essex

Birkett Long LLP's 'highly professional and committed' practice 'specialises in all areas of employment law and delivers a quality service'. While the lawyers continue to focus on contract drafting and changes, TUPE transfers and court litigation, including discrimination claims, in the construction industry, 2017 saw the team representing employees or defending employers in an increased amount of tribunal claims, as well as receiving more instructions from the education sector. Team lead Martin Hopkins and 'knowledgeable, personable and professional' associate Reggie Lloyd advised Imperial London Hotels on changes to employees' terms and conditions, which were connected to claims brought by one individual under the National Minimum Wage Act and for unfair dismissal and breach-of-whistleblowing protection. Hopkins also defended K E Kents against an unfair dismissal claim, after the claimant was made redundant for gross misconduct in his working methods. Countryside, Spicerhaart Group Services and Acer Landscapes were some of the new clients from 2017. Solicitor Jo McKenna left for Ellisons Solicitors in February 2018, after which Charlotte Holman joined the Basildon office from Backhouse Solicitors.

Personal injury: claimant

The personal injury department at Birkett Long LLP covers employers' and public liability, road traffic accident, occupational disease and fatality claims. Niche experience exists in stress at work and child abuse matters. In 2017, Chelmsford-based associate Nadina Edmondson settled a £100,000 claim for a pensioner who sustained multiple orthopaedic fractures in a head-on road traffic collision. Associate Tracy England is the key contact in Colchester.

Agriculture and estates

Birkett Long LLP is praised for its 'broad and deep experience and expertise', which makes its agriculture and estates team 'as good and in many cases better than others in the region'. The practice is headed by the 'very knowledgeable and helpful' Caroline Dowding, who 'finds exactly the right balance between professionalism and approachability'; she has wide-ranging expertise covering taxation, succession planning, partnership agreements, powers of attorney, and trusts and probate. Other key figures include the 'extremely thorough' Emma Coke, who is noted for her track record handling agriculture-related transactions; Bruce Ballard, who advises individuals on tax planning; and Katie Gibson-Green. The practice continued to act in a dispute related to a historic agricultural tenancy regulated under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, which settled in mid-2017 with consent to assign negotiated on behalf of the client and the landlord conceding its proprietary estoppel claim.

Family: Essex

The 'considerate and reassuring' family department at 'successful and established firm' Birkett Long LLP 'makes clients feel in very good hands' and provides a 'very professional but caring service', 'exceeding others in expertise, responsiveness and client care'. The collaboratively and Resolution-trained team covers high-net-worth divorce, financial remedy and private law children matters, as well as cohabitation disputes. The 'highly organised, endlessly patient and knowledgeable' Philip Hoddell, who 'has excellent rapport with clients' and 'phenomenal attention to detail', heads the Colchester practice. 'Fantastic and easy-to-talk-to' South Essex team lead Lisa Collins and 'helpful and understanding' divorce specialist Melanie Loxley both became partners in June 2017. Other noted individuals include 'capable and friendly' solicitor Muntech Kaur in Basildon and collaborative lawyer Francesca Cozens. Colchester-based solicitor +Samantha Ellis handles both financial remedy and international private law children matters.

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Essex

The 'professional, friendly, readily available and reliable' private client department at 'strength-in-depth firm' Birkett Long LLP provides 'outstanding service and relevant, timely advice'. The practice covers elderly client work, long-term care planning, tax efficiency, wills, powers of attorney and Court of Protection work, as well as domestic and international estate and trust administration advice. Clients recommend 'straightforward, calm and knowledgeable' team head Claire Read and 'friendly and caring' wills, trusts and probate partner Emma Clarke, both based in Chelmsford. Associate Ben Parmenter is Clarke's counterpart in Colchester and Liz Jones specialises in long-term care planning and NHS retrospective claims. The practice can refer clients to other departments as necessary, including corporate and commercial, agriculture and estates and the group's independent financial advisers division.


Birkett Long LLP fields a multi-disciplinary team that acts for a range of schools and higher education institutions, including the University of Essex, Colchester Institute and Writtle College. Recent work includes acting for the University of Essex on a service level agreement with St Bartholomew's Hospital and acting for Hilltop Junior School on the transfer of the school into Hearts Academy Trust. Stephen Avila is the key contact.


Birkett Long LLP fields a healthcare team that provides 'an excellent level of service and guides the client through complex issues with great patience'. The multi-disciplinary practice acts for a range of clients, including general medical practices, care home operators, dentists and pharmacists, on a variety of issues. Recent work includes acting for a consortium of 5 GP practices on their corporate options and shareholder agreements between the practice representatives and their individual practices, as well as preparing new articles of association concerning share ownership and succession arrangements. Tracey Dickens heads the health and social care team and provides 'invaluable assistance' to her GP clients. Also recommended are the 'very thorough' Liz Jones and David Wisbey, who regularly advises UK-based healthcare companies on corporate and commercial matters.

Commercial property: Essex

The 'extremely strong, knowledgeable and responsive' firm Birkett Long LLP 'is well recognised for its commercial property work' and has a 'keen interest in supporting local clients and their businesses'. Special expertise exists in development and construction, investment and secured lending matters, while the majority of clients come from the education, healthcare, public and environmental sectors. Key examples are London Southend Airport, University of Essex, Healthcare Homes, Flakt Woods and Braintree District Council. Navigator Terminals Thames and Herald Property Investments instructed the department for the first time in 2017, and the team was also appointed to the Lloyds Banking Group commercial banking pass-through panel. 'Outstanding' partner Emma Wraight advised E Wall as seller of a tenanted industrial site to Bellway for development. Also recommended are 'no-nonsense' partner David Rayner and 'knowledgeable and communicative' associate Daniel Sturman. Melanie Bache heads the overall practice.


Birkett Long LLP acts for contractors, sub-contractors, surveyors, engineers, architects and developers on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters, from drafting bespoke construction contracts, handling  consultants' appointments and collateral warranties, and advising on development agreements and options to purchase land, to adjudications, mediations, arbitration and litigation. Recent highlights include acting for Orchard Barns Kindergarten and its pension fund on the conversion of its barn into a day nursery. On the disputes front the practice acted for C&W Industrial Roofing Services in an adjudication relating to an unpaid valuation. It also acted for a bank on the financing for the conversion of a former petrol station site to a residential development. Peter Allen heads the practice and has wide-ranging expertise in construction contracts. Keith Songhurst regularly acts for local authorities, property developers, and construction and engineering companies on construction disputes. David Rayner, Justin Stock and Martin Hopkins are also recommended.

Contentious trust and probate

Clients of Birkett Long LLP single out its contentious trusts and probate practice for its combination of 'a high level of professionalism with empathy and consideration', with practice head Amanda Smallcombe attracting praise for her 'pragmatism, knowledge and realistic negotiating style'. The team's experience covers the full range of inheritance disputes, including claims under the Inheritance Act, claims concerning breach of trust, unauthorised spending, and undue influence, and estoppel claims. Smallcombe recently acted as the litigation friend to minor children, while John Fawcett acted for the applicant in a case contesting the validity of a Health and Welfare LPA with cross application relating to the applicant’s suitability to act as attorney under an EPA.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.