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Birketts LLP


  • 24-26 Museum Street
  • Ipswich
  • UK
  • IP1 1HZ

Agriculture & Rural Affairs - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 6 partners
- 14 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Large agricultural team with strength across East Anglia. Advises on the full range of rural issues, including sales and purchases, renewable energy projects and business structuring. Highly regarded for its expertise in estate planning and agricultural property finance.

What's new? Associate Annabelle Savage joined the Chelmsford office from Birkett Long and strengthens the firm's agricultural expertise in Essex.

Notable practitioners  

Jack Royall heads the agricultural team from Norwich and is widely praised for his technical ability and efficiency. His client service and people skills are highly rated.

Sources single out Neil Sparrow for his detailed knowledge of trusts, tax and estate planning. He also advises on farm sales.

Up-and-coming Chris Coupland is valued by clients for his problem-solving skills. His practice centres on agricultural property transactions.

Associate to watch Simon Blackburn is based in Ipswich and joins the rankings having impressed clients with his considered advice, particularly highlighting his attention to detail.

Rachel McKillop leads the agriculture team in Cambridge and receives excellent feedback from clients, noting her ability to manage matters efficiently.

Clients appreciate Annabelle Savage's farming background and also remark on her excellent communication skills.

Significant clients Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank, EDF Energy, Suffolk Life, Environment Agency.

Banking & Finance - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department

- 8 partners
- 6 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Highly respected group known for its experience in corporate funding and refinancing. Other areas of expertise include property, construction and agriculture-based finance.

Work highlights Acted for both Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Commercial Finance in connection with the £42 million refinancing of a chemicals manufacturing business.

Advised AOC UK in relation to its substantial cross-border refinancing by Bank of America.

Notable practitioners  

Cambridge-based James Allen specialises in corporate finance. He is also qualified in California, and often advises on transactions with cross-border aspects. He is well regarded in the local market and clients describe him as pragmatic.

Greg Allan is a standout senior banking associate based in the Norwich office. He has impressed clients with his responsiveness.

Senior associate Nick Burt works out of the Cambridge office and has a focus on corporate finance. Clients are impressed with his ability to stand his ground in negotiations.

Head of the department Mark Henry is based in Ipswich and is well thought of by peers. He has experience in a wide array of lender-focused banking matters, including property finance and asset-based lending. 

Chris Schwer is a part of the team in Ipswich and offers significant expertise in commercial property finance. Peers note his attention to detail.

Essex-based Richard Payne is a client favourite who is well regarded for his knowledge of corporate and acquisition finance.

Significant clients Barclays, Cambridge & Counties Bank, Clydesdale Bank, The Co-operative Bank, HSBC.

Corporate/M&A - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 13 partners
- 17 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Strong regional footprint with experience acting for international companies, regional powerhouses and SMEs in the full spectrum of transactional matters. Enviable client roster includes household names from a range of sectors including technology, food and banking.

Work highlights Advised Aeroflex on the USD18.7 million sale of Aeroflex Services, an equipment testing subsidiary, to Trescal.

Represented Used Car Sites in a joint venture with The AA that produced the fourth largest online car sales resource in the UK.

Advised the management team on the investment and buyout of Euromedica Executive Search. 

Notable practitioners  

Ipswich-based James Austin heads the firm's corporate and commercial department. His commercial and transactional practice wins strong praise from market observers.

Adrian Possener leads the Norwich company commercial team. His broad practice encompasses M&A, IPOs, buyouts and joint ventures. He recently advised the shareholders of Bernard Matthews in connection with an investment by Rutland Partners.

James Allen focuses his practice on corporate finance, banking and insolvency. His clients include SGJ Limited, for which he recently acted on a demerger under Section 110 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

Chelmsford-based Nick Burnett is singled out by impressed market sources for his pragmatism. His practice is largely focused on the representation of family-owned businesses.

Sources describe Mark Henry as very hard-working and conscientious. He recently acted for Notcutts on the sale of a garden centre to Scotsdales.

Adrian Seagers heads the Cambridge corporate and commercial group and offers clients a strong transactional practice. Recent highlights include advising Kirton Healthcare on an MBO.

Nigel Thompson is based in the Chelmsford office and focuses his practice on transactional matters, often handling matters with an IP dimension. He recently acted for IP-owning company Autotech and its shareholder in its buyout by the management team.

Adam Jones recently advised the shareholders of Lavenham Leisure in connection with the sale of the company to Fred Perry. He handles a broad range of corporate matters including M&A, private equity and corporate finance.

Quentin Golder focuses on corporate finance and transactional matters, often with respect to the technology sector. Sources describe him as very commercial.

Richard Payne's practice includes M&A, MBOs and private equity matters, and he recently represented VCars in its joint venture with The AA.

Greg Allan is a highly rated associate whose corporate practice includes MBOs and M&A. 

Senior associate Nathan Muskett heads the firm's Norwich-based family business team. His clients can be found in the IT, insurance and publishing industries, among others.

 Significant clients Bernard Matthews, Amlin, Acteon Group, BOCM Pauls, Greene King.

Employment - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 7 partners
- 14 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich 

What the team is known for Well-established across the region, offering a full range of employment law services to both claimants and respondents. Sector expertise includes charities, education, food and agriculture, as well as health, logistics and transport.  

Work highlights Advised Colchester United FC on a complex TUPE transfer resulting from the insolvency of Colchester United Community Sports Trust.

Provides ongoing and comprehensive employment law advice to Milsom Hotels.

Notable practitioners  

Abigail Trencher heads the Cambridge practice, advising on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues. She is particularly adept at handling clients in the public and non-profit sector and also takes on private sector clients. She is appreciated for her ability to really get to know clients' organisations and she elicits praise for her commerciality, common-sense approach and efficiency.

Clare Hedges combines her employment practice with a strong knowledge of immigration law. Also a skilled litigator, she is praised for her ability to come up with a range of solutions.

Jolyon Berry heads the Ipswich team and receives praise for his client-focused approach and his pragmatic advice. He advises on all aspects of employment law and is described as commercial and responsive.

Head of the Chelmsford practice, Kevin Palmer is adept at handling tribunal cases and taking them through to the High Court and Court of Appeal, and is also recognised for his strengths in TUPE matters.

Matthew Potter is based in the Ipswich office and has expertise in the construction and facilities management sectors. He is praised for his solid commercial advice and leadership skills.

Lisa Hayward is focused on advising public sector clients and comes recommended for her sound legal advice, which she delivers in a practical manner.

Jeanette Wheeler heads the Norwich team and is an experienced adviser to both employees and employers. She has particular knowledge of the health, energy and food sectors. 

Matthew Newnham advises both public and private sector clients on a range of employment law issues and is adept at handling tribunal matters.

Thomas Wagstaff has a comprehensive employment practice. His expertise covers the offshore industry, food and agriculture, technology, education, media and retail, amongst others. His experience of dealing with trade unions adds another facet to his practice.    

Tom Sharpe's client base encompasses both the public and private sector. As well as being well versed in all contentious matters, he is adept at handling employment issues arising from transactions, notably TUPE issues.  

Significant clients Aspall Cyder, Betfair, Clare College (University of Cambridge), Kettle Foods, Norfolk & Norwich NHS Foundation Trust.

Family/Matrimonial - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 5 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Ipswich, Chelmsford, Norwich

What the team is known for Experienced team much sought after for its advice to clients on financial proceedings, children matters, TOLATA, and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, among other areas. Maintains a particularly strong focus on mediation and arbitration.

Notable practitioners  

Oliver Gravell comes highly recommended for his authoritative manner and fine judgement, as well as for his ability to fight his client's corner.

Ian Pattinson focuses on matrimonial finance work, and is praised for his highly effective approach and excellent client skills.

Melanie Wilson is held in very high regard for her client skills, common sense and commercial awareness.

Clients enjoy working with Cambridge-based associate Teresa Brown. She is singled out for her calm and efficient approach to matters.

Ginny Colman operates out of the firm's Norwich office and is noted for her divorce and cohabitation-based work. Sources are quick to acclaim her understanding and sympathetic nature, which she manages without being overly emotive. 

Intellectual Property - Cambridge and surrounds

This firm is classed as a "Other Noted Firm".

Other Noted Firms are firms that are active in this practice area but have not yet been ranked.

Litigation - Cambridge and surrounds

Basic facts about the department
- 5 partners
- 8 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Continues to attract high-value instructions from international clients. Covers a range of litigation across the team, with notable experience in breach of contract and professional negligence claims.

Work highlights Advised Spektra Jeotek on payment default by Core Mining and the recovery of drilling rigs in Congo and Gabon.

Notable practitioners  

Laurence Weeks has a wealth of litigation experienced and is well regarded by peers. Clients recommend him for his attitude and communicative, reassuring manner.

Matthew Atkins is admired for his calm and methodical approach. Clients like his responsiveness and peers recognise his commercial and sensible advice.

Max Roessler is known in the Norwich market as a leading  litigator. Sources note that he is a pleasant lawyer to deal with and is well liked across the board.

Clients comment that they are always confident in the advice given by Norwich-based Paul Matthews. He maintains a loyal client following.

Norwich-based Bernadette Baker is a specialist in contentious trusts and probate work. Clients enjoy her thorough approach and praise her responsiveness.

Chris Sleep regularly works on high-profile litigation cases. He is praised for his creativity, as well as his practical approach.

Significant clients Nintendo of Europe, Essex County Council, Aeroflex, Greene King, Bernard Matthews.

Planning - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department 
- 1 partner
- 4 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge

What the team is known for Receives frequent instruction in residential developments, with an impressive reputation for judicial reviews and appeals. Strong public sector offering with a significant depth of experience in energy schemes and strategic land projects.

What's new? New client wins include Ben Bailey Homes, Grovermere and Investec. 

Work highlights Handled the Section 106 agreement for a 75-unit appeal site in Broadland on behalf of Generator Group, as well as advising on planning issues across a number of other sites.

Advised the Key family on a significant mixed-use development comprising circa 600 dwellings and public transport infrastructure on land at Thorpe St Andrew.

Notable practitioners  

Tom Newcombe is a senior associate in the planning department with a wealth of experience across residential and commercial developments. He has particular expertise in highways law as well as environmental matters.

Significant clients Hopkins Homes, Enterprise Property Group, Notcutts, Tarmac, Meritcape.

Private Client - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 7 partners
- 9 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Strong presence throughout East Anglia, with extensive experience in advising entrepreneurial and landed clients on complex and unusual issues. Particularly adept at handling trusts matters and contentious work.

Notable practitioners  

Tim Galloway has expertise in offshore and multi-jurisdictional planning, which is enhanced by his City background. Commentators value his experience, talent and common-sense approach.

Caroline Stenner specialises in succession planning. Her practice includes trusts, tax, wills and probate.

Charles Boscawen has a loyal client base of families with substantial estates. He is well versed in matters concerning inheritance tax and succession planning, including in relation to rural property.

Neil Sparrow leads Birketts' Norwich offering, and advises high net worth clients and landed estates on matters of complex tax and trusts law. He has an excellent reputation in the market.

Real Estate - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 18 partners
- 38 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Excellent regional depth, providing clients from diverse industries with high-quality advice in matters ranging from property finance to strategic land agreements and residential development. Specialisms range from pensions property to the utilities sector.

What's new? Persimmon Homes secured as a new client.

Work highlights Provided counsel to Essex County Cricket Club on its £90 million mixed-use grounds redevelopment. 

Represented NHS Property Services on matters concerning the development of the Sudbury Community Medical Centre.

Notable practitioners  

Kath Herbert  has particular expertise in strategic land work. Sources say she deals with matters in a timely and commercial manner. 

Jonathan Greenhalgh centres his practice on development matters, with additional experience in complex leases and secured lending for both borrowers and lenders.

Sources hail Robert Gibbs for the quality of his advice noting that he is quick to understand the key issues at hand. 

Grace Kerr impresses sources with her commercial approach. She heads the commercial property team in Chelmsford and is regularly instructed by a range of clients including investors, developers and operators.

Chris Schwer leads the Ipswich property team and has expertise working with major regional developers on commercial and residential matters.

Chris Barker focuses on health and education-related matters, as well as strategic land work. Sources point to his solution-oriented approach.

Senior associate Diana Barlow is commended by clients for her pragmatism. Based in Ipswich, she has significant experience in landlord and tenant work.

Significant clients Grovemere Property, Turnstone Estates, Royal Horticultural Society, Hopkins Homes, Hawkin’s Bazaar.

Restructuring/Insolvency - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Ipswich

What the team is known for Strong track record in insolvency litigation. Also offers experienced advice in non-contentious situations. Highly regarded for its expertise representing distressed corporate bodies.

Work highlights Acted for Caloo in its acquisition of a number of assets from Monster Play Systems (in administration).

Instructed in the administration of LN-CC by the secured creditor Legion Trade Finance, in relation to a sale of assets and enforcement of securities. 

Notable practitioners  

James Allen is a non-contentious insolvency specialist, and also maintains an active corporate and banking practice. He is recognised in the market as an experienced and efficient adviser, with his clients particularly praising his imperturbable manner and measured advice.

Laurence Weeks is the head of the firm's restructuring and insolvency team, and specialises in handling insolvency disputes. Sources are full of praise for his capacities as a litigator, specifically praising his straightforward and effective approach to handling disputes.

Greg Allan focuses on advising distressed businesses, and is well recognised for his excellent technical knowledge, as well as his client service and drive. He primarily advises on non-contentious restructurings and insolvencies.

Matthew Weston is praised by his clients for his excellent knowledge of insolvency law. He primarily advises insolvency practitioners, creditors and debtors in corporate restructuring and insolvency situations.

Significant clients Ensors, FRP Advisory, Baker Tilly, PKF, Bulley Davey. 

Construction - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner (Chelmsford)
- 5 other qualified lawyers (1 Chelmsford, 4 Ipswich)
- Office locations ranked: Ipswich, Chelmsford

What the team is known for Broad team active across East Anglia, with a range of national private and public clients. Covers the full spectrum of construction matters from development funding, due diligence and contracts, to dispute resolution.

Work highlights Acted for a group of eight leaseholder claimants against a developer and consultant on a defects claim following the development of a block of flats.

Notable practitioners 

Clients consider head of department Andrew Rush to be very approachable and very easy to get on with. He is particularly noted for disputes work.

Ipswich-based Ruth Sunaway works on both contentious and non-contentious construction matters, but is particularly praised for her litigation skills.

Stefan Harris-Wright is a well-regarded associate based in Chelmsford. Clients are impressed by his logical approach He has a particular interest in anaerobic digestion construction projects.

Significant clients McGee Group, Eastbourne Borough Council, Dencora 2000, J Breheny Contractors, Phelan Construction.

Crime - Ipswich and surrounds

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 2 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Ipswich 

What the team is known for Focuses on defending privately funded clients in white-collar criminal cases. Wider expertise includes advising in relation to violent crime and sexual offences.

Notable practitioners  

Laura Thomas is a key contact.

Licensing - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 2 other qualified lawyers
- Office location ranked: Ipswich 

What the team is known for Established licensing team acting for a range of clients in the retail and leisure sectors. Drawing on the experience of other departments within the firm, the team offers a one-stop shop approach to licensing.

Work highlights Advised Patisserie Valerie on its applications to establish designated premises supervisors for multiple establishments in London.

Acted on a premises review for Gough Hotels relating to noise emanating from a waterfront bar.

Notable practitioners  

Senior associate Ruth Sunaway advises on all aspects of licensing, including undertaking due diligence work for new purchasers and investigating premises licences in the event of insolvency.

Richard Eaton heads the team in Ipswich. He has obtained higher rights of audience and clients comment that he is comfortable in the court environment.

Significant clients Notcutts, The TA Hotel Collection, Pleasure & Leisure Corporation, TAG Leisure.

Real Estate Litigation - Norwich and surrounds

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 4 other qualified lawyers
- Ranked offices: Norwich, Ipswich

What the team is known for Strong focus on telecoms work, insolvency and agricultural property disputes. Growing focus on commercial landlord and tenant matters. Fields a diverse client base comprising high-profile portfolio holders, landed estates and retail occupiers.

Work highlights Acted for the residents of Mistley on a public inquiry into an application to have the Mistley Quay area declared a village green.

Notable practitioners  

Richard Eaton is a seasoned property litigator, capable of covering all manner of property and landlord and tenant disputes. 

John Scannell has an eminent reputation in the market and handles residential, commercial and agricultural disputes. Commentators note his user-friendly approach.

James Robinson is noted for his expertise in telecoms work and residential litigation. He is singled out for his ability to provide clear and pragmatic advice.

Simon Woodhead stands out for his technical knowledge.

Significant clients Bernard Matthews, Norwich Airport, Citygate Developments, Hopkins Homes, Dencora Group. 

Real Estate - National Leaders (outside London)

What the team is known for Extensive property offering across East Anglia. Acts for major national house builders, commercial and residential developers and investors. Expertise in strategic land projects. Ranked offices in Chelmsford, Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

Notable practitioners  

Chris Schwer is a key contact.

Professional Negligence - Norwich and surrounds

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 2 other lawyers
- Recommended office location: Norwich

What the team is known for Claimant-focused practice with a range of clients and case types. Focuses on matters regarding law firms and legal advisers, with additional work on claims against accountants, surveyors, valuers and insurance brokers. 

Notable practitioners  

Max Roessler frequently acts on behalf of claimants in cases brought against solicitors, particularly in regards to property and transactional advice. 

Social Housing - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 9 partners
- 11 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Norwich

What the team is known for Excellent regional practice extending beyond Norwich to Cambridge, Suffolk and Essex. Handles development schemes for registered providers, alongside disposals, stock management and governance.

Work highlights Advised Orbit Housing Group on its partnership with Mid Suffolk District Council as part of a regeneration project in Suffolk. 

Notable practitioners  

Department head Peter Goddard has an excellent reputation for social housing work in the region. His clients include national and regional local authorities and housing associations.

Significant clients Broadland Housing Association, East Thames Housing Group, Iceni Homes, Flagship Housing Group, Orbit Housing Group, Swan Housing Association.

Immigration - The Regions

Basic facts about the department
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge

What the team is known for Handles commercial immigration work, including sponsorship licences and certificates under the PBS system, and entry clearance and indefinite leave to remain applications. Renowned for its significant expertise in family law, ancestry and nationality as well as its pragmatic and flexible approach to cases.

What's new? New client wins include Brickwall Limited, Butterfly World Project and Rapidrop Global.

Work highlights Assist Betfair with various immigration matters including visa and leave to remain applications for its employees.

Acted for Neopost in relation to a senior employee's application for permanent residence following the completion of his Tier 1 and 2 visa requirements.

Notable practitioners  

Janice Leggett has previously worked in the Home Office's Immigration & Nationality Department. She is noted for her corporate immigration work with an emphasis on clients from the media industry.

Significant clients London Diocesan Fund, Hitachi Capital, Access UK, Advertising Producers Association, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Education - UK-wide

Basic facts about the department
- 9 partners
- 7 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Diverse practice advising universities and colleges on governance, employment and construction work. Dedicated employment law practitioners handle disputes, student issues and IP matters.

Notable practitioners

Erika Clarke is a key contact.

Significant clients Lowestoft College, Hartpury College, West Suffolk College, Suffolk New College, Palmers College.

Health & Safety - UK-wide

This firm is classed as a "Other Noted Firm".

Other Noted Firms are firms that are active in this practice area but have not yet been ranked.

Healthcare - UK-wide

Basic facts about the department
- 10 partners
- 10 other qualified lawyers
- Recommended office locations: Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Advises public sector clients on a broad range of matters, including property, procurement and regulatory issues. Additional capabilities on employment issues.

Work highlights Advised NHS Property Services on the site acquisition and construction of a new medical centre under a 3PD/PPP scheme.

Notable practitioners Richard Eaton leads the team.  

Significant clients Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, Health East CIC, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS FT, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT.

Shipping - UK-wide

Basic facts about the department:
- 4 partners
- 6 other qualified lawyers
- Recommended office location: Ipswich

What the team is known for Noted for its strength in acting for clients, including insurers and shipowners, on dry disputes relating to charter party and cargo issues. Specialist expertise advising on shipping-related insolvency.

Notable practitioners  

Henry Adams is noted for his role advising on cargo claims. He also acts on charter party disputes and marine insurance coverage issues. Sources have highlighted his strong negotiation skills.

Alex Davey advises on bill of lading and charter party disputes and is also noted for his cargo and logistics practice. Sources note that he is pragmatic in his approach.

Nicholas Woo is highlighted for his advice on charter party disputes. As a dual-qualified lawyer in both the UK and Singapore, he is also noted for his expertise on matters involving the Far East.

Significant clients Reliance Industries, Seatrade Reefer Chartering, Raetsmarine Insurance, COSCO Bulk Shipping, Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association.

Transport - UK-wide

Basic facts about the department
- 5 partners who directly advise on logistics issues
- 6 other solicitors 

What the team is known for Advises on both the regulatory and commercial side of logistics. Regularly advises on commercial disputes involving freight forwarding companies.

Notable practitioners

Alex Davey heads the firm's transport and logistics team and is the key point of contact.  

Significant clients P&O Ferrymasters, BOCM Pauls, MSC (UK), Maersk.

Transport - UK-wide

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 1 associate
- 1 consultant barrister
- 1 consultant solicitor

What the team is known for Advises clients in the east of England on contentious regulatory issues. Regularly appears before traffic commissioners, and magistrates' and Crown Courts on road transport offence cases.

What's new? Laura Thomas was recently promoted to the partnership.

Notable practitioners  

Laura Thomas is an in-house barrister who regularly acts for clients before magistrates' courts and traffic commissioners on a range of regulatory issues.

Significant clients P&O Ferrymasters, BOCM Pauls, Road Haulage Association.