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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
- 2 associates
- 6 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich 

What the team is known for Strong recognition across East Anglia for the strength of resources it dedicates to agricultural matters. Handles matters relating to the sale and purchase of land, rural energy projects, public access and rights of way, and equestrian law.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Accessibility: "Good accessibility and client service."

Market standing: "They are just fantastic. I rate them very highly."

 Market standing: "They are right to be in Band 1."

What's new? Jack Royall has been promoted to head of the agricultural team.

Notable practitioners  

Jack Royall is based in Norwich but is responsible for overseeing all four offices. He is highly regarded by clients.

Neil Sparrow has a broad background in agricultural law and has garnered an excellent reputation for his work from the Norwich office. 

Nicholas Tavener handles a wide array of matters relating to both commercial and residential property transactions.

Chris Coupland specialises in advising agricultural businesses, farmers and landowners on their commercial and private legal matters.

Significant clients Environment Agency, EDF Energy Nuclear Generation, Clydesdale Bank, Barclays Bank, Shepperton Aggregates.

Banking & Finance - East Anglia

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

What the team is known for Provides quality banking and finance services across the region in a variety of matters. Noted for expertise in agricultural finance; particularly strong in acquisition finance.  

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Bench strength: "A well-organised firm with sufficient resources to be able to cover a transaction. They are proactive so would not let a transaction hang around without action being taken to progress it."

Level of service: "Very positive - more cost-competitive than other national players, yet the same level of expertise."

Responsiveness: "They are always available and lead the transactions. If I need them to work over the weekend or the team to be available all hours, then they will do that."

What's new? The team has welcomed two new partners: James Allen, formerly head of banking at Taylor Vinters, and Helen Bolton, a structured finance specialist from Mills & Reeve.

Work highlights Acted for Lloyds TSB on the refinancing of Wilson James Group, including due diligence and completion of the refinancing from RBS.

Notable practitioners

Richard Payne advises a wide range of lenders on acquisition finance matters and refinancing arrangements.

New addition James Allen is a vastly experienced and highly respected banking practitioner. He is lauded by market observers for his industry expertise and strong commitment to client service.

Mark Henry heads the firm's region-wide team from the Ipswich office. He deals with a broad range of matters, from corporate and property finance to asset-based lending.

Chris Schwer is the head of the firm's property team. He is particularly adept at commercial property and highly active in any property finance matters. 

Significant clients Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Handelsbanken, Lloyds TSB, Ipswich Building Society.

Construction - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner
- 4 other qualified lawyers
- Ranked office locations: Essex, Ipswich

What the team is known for Strong regional presence, with offices in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Recognised for its focus on contentious matters, while also having noted non-contentious expertise. Broad industry focus with strength in the leisure, renewables and residential sectors. 

Work highlights Advised Arcadis on an adjudication and subsequent enforcement proceedings relating to valuations in NEC contracts.

Notable practitioners  

Andrew Rush is recognised by industry commentators as a go-to for construction issues in the market. Having previously been a charted civil engineer, he now heads the construction offering at the practice.

Ruth Sunaway specialises in contentious issues, with a focus on adjudications. Sources praise her communication skills

Significant clients Eastbourne Borough Council, McGee Group, Dencora 2000, DGT Structures, Mediterranean Shipping Company. 

Corporate/M&A - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 14 partners
- 17 associates
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Full-service offices in key East Anglia cities. Long-standing presence in the corporate market advising local and international entities.

What's new? James Allen and Quentin Golder arrived from Taylor Vinters, and Helen Bolton joined from Mills & Reeve.

Work highlights Advised animal feed manufacturer BOCM PAULS on the £70 million sale of its share capital to ForFarmers Group.

Acted on the multimillion-pound sale of Anglian Bus to the Go-Ahead Group. This transaction drew on the firm's expertise in employment, real estate and tax matters.

Notable practitioners  

James Austin is commended for his friendly manner when handling transactions. Market observers recognise his considerable experience in corporate finance and banking.

Adrian Possener wins effusive praise from clients for his commercial awareness.

Recognised as one of the main players in Cambridge, Adrian Seagers led on the aforementioned BOCM PAULS sale.

Well regarded in the Cambridge market, James Allen has considerable experience on corporate transactions. Qualified as a California attorney, he regularly handles international matters.

Essex-based Nick Burnett is a widely regarded practitioner who clients say understands the commercial aspects of a deal.

Mark Henry is respected as a “highly capable” practitioner. He acts on major sales and acquisitions, and his clients include Turners Motor Group and Nationwide Metal Recycling.

Nigel Thompson focuses his practice on the technology sector, where he handles a range of matters including sales, acquisitions and commercial agreements.

Another new addition to the team, Quentin Golder enters the rankings having earned praise for his expertise in the technology sector. He is noted for his client negotiation skills.

Newly promoted to partner, Adam Jones demonstrates notable skill in M&A transactions, acting on the firm's most prominent matters.

Market observers agree that associate Greg Allan is one to keep an eye on. He specialises in banking and corporate recovery.

Significant clients Bernard Matthews Group, Amlin, Norwich Airport, Seetec Business Technology Centre, Brandbank.

Employment - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department

- 7 partners
- 14 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Strong across the East of England. Offers clients a comprehensive employment law service. Specialist expertise stems from advising sectors such as the food, health and construction industries. Excels in TUPE matters. 

Work highlights Advised Suffolk's Libraries IPS on the TUPE impact of the divestment of library services by Suffolk County Council.

Notable practitioners  

Kevin Palmer is a part-time Employment Tribunal judge and heads the firm's practice in Chelmsford. Described as an approachable figure, his clients include sports clubs such as Essex County Cricket Club.

Impressed clients report that Matthew Potter provides practical, clear advice.

Jolyon Berry is experienced in handling contentious matters, as well as the employment effects of company restructurings. Clients point to his commercial awareness.

Thomas Wagstaff works out of the firm's Norwich office, advising such clients as May Gurney.

Tom Sharpe is instructed on the full range of contentious employment work.

Jeanette Wheeler is favoured by clients for heavyweight TUPE work and also regularly advises on the hiring and firing of senior executives. Wheeler heads the firm's Norwich employment practice.

Abigail Trencher is well known for her work with clients in the education sector. She is described as being an approachable solicitor who gives practical advice.

Significant clients Clare College Cambridge, Colchester United, Betfair, Bernard Matthews, Kettle Foods.

Family/Matrimonial - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department

- 3 partners
- 5 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Ipswich, Cambridge, Norwich, Chelmsford

What the team is known for Handles high-value matrimonial finance cases, often involving agricultural assets, as well as cross-border contact disputes, pre and postnuptial agreements, and cohabitation agreements. Houses several practitioners of alternative dispute resolution methods, including collaborative law, mediation and arbitration.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Measured approach: "They have an air of objectivity and serenity about them that calms things down."

Notable practitioners

Cambridge-based partner Ian Pattinson handles a range of matrimonial finance matters, and is also qualified as a family law arbitrator and a collaborative lawyer. His "firm but diplomatic approach" is admired by clients.

Teresa Brown is also based in Cambridge, and she regularly handles high-value finance cases. Clients report: "She is unflustered by anything, with such composure - this made me very comfortable and trusting in her ability."

Melanie Wilson leads the Essex team and deals mainly with high net worth, complex family disputes. Sources note that she possesses "very good technical knowledge, with impressive commercial awareness." She is also trained in mediation.

Oliver Gravell heads the family law team from the firm's Ipswich office, and he regularly advises on high-value finance cases, including a number of matters involving agricultural assets. Clients describe him as "a very fair, conscientious and considered individual who provides absolutely first-class advice." He was an early adopter of collaborative law methods, and was also one of the first family law arbitrators in the country.

Leading Norwich-based associate Ginny Colman handles high-value divorce cases, and also has a notable specialism in cohabitation disputes. Clients appreciate her "practical, sensible advice," while sources also describe her as a "feisty, clever and tenacious lawyer."

Licensing - East Anglia

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

What the team is known for Provides coverage of all licensing and regulatory matters for clients in the leisure sector across East Anglia, with a particular specialisation in the licensing of wedding venues. Also noted for the co-ordination of licensing with planning advice, and for the representation of a number of clients with multiple nationwide premises. 

Work highlights Acted successfully on a Magistrates' Court licensing appeal regarding Bruisyard Hall's contested application to open until 2am as a wedding venue.

Helped the new Zootz nightclub in Norwich to secure a late-night licence despite opposition from a local business. 

Notable practitioners  

Brian Hardie acts exclusively on licensing matters, of which he has long and highly respected experience, and is based in the Norwich office. He played key roles in both the Bruisyard Hall and Zootz matters. 

Senior associate Ruth Sunaway operates from the Ipswich office and is noted for her impressive expertise in a range of matters, including the securing of temporary event notices and the handling of insolvency issues affecting premises licences.

Significant clients The TA Hotel Collection, Tag Leisure, JPS Inns, Patisserie Valerie Holdings.

Since publication, Brian Hardie has retired from this practice.

Since publication, Brian Hardie has retired from this practice.

Litigation - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department

- 3 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Offers advice on matters including partnership disputes, restrictive covenant claims and contentious trusts and probate. Receives recurring international instructions.


What's new? Laurence Weeks has joined from Taylor Vinters to head Birketts' Cambridge office, significantly bolstering the team's dispute resolution offering in the region.

Notable practitioners 

Laurence Weeks acts for a range of domestic and international clients and his expertise includes claims concerning corporate, banking and insolvency matters.

Norwich-based Paul Matthews undertakes a broad range of dispute resolution work, and routinely acts for clients in the food and farming industry.

Max Roessler, based in the Norwich office, is a specialist in commercial litigation with a keen understanding of logistics disputes. Clients say Roessler demonstrates complete commitment to their cases.

Matthew Atkins leads the firm's Ipswich commercial litigation team and has a special interest in intellectual property law. Clients say he impresses them with a strong understanding of business. 

Planning - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department

- 1 partner
- 3 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge

What the team is known for Advises across the region on planning matters. Acts on environmental impact assessments (EIAs), planning appeals, the negotiation of Section 106 agreements and strategic land issues.   

What's new? Nottcuts is a new client of the team.

Work highlights Advised Hopkins Homes on a number of sites in East Anglia; issues included EIAs, Section 106 agreements and general planning advice.

Advised a number of clients on compulsory purchase issues in relation to the East Anglian offshore wind farm power cable running through Suffolk.

Notable practitioners  

Tom Newcombe is a senior associate in the planning team. He advises on issues such as the negotiation of Section 106 agreements, and planning appeals.

Significant clients Tarmac, Juddmonte Farms, Lafarge Aggregates, Peterborough City Council, Meritcape.

Private Client - East Anglia

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

What the team is known for A powerhouse with ever-increasing cross-border reach. Renowned for its skill in complex tax and succession planning, and for its considerable expertise in trust formation and management. Clients includes wealthy landowners and the local business community.

Notable practitioners  

Head of department Tim Galloway is admired  for private client work. His areas of specialism include cross-border tax planning and domicile matters.

Caroline Stenner maintains a thriving practice built on her reputation for succession planning work.

Charles Boscawen continues to impress market commentators with his savvy approach to private client matters. He is especially well known for his work in relation to agricultural estates.

Neil Sparrow excels across a broad range of trust and tax planning matters for a diverse client base, including both business owners and those with inherited wealth. 

Professional Negligence - East Anglia

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

What the team is known for East Anglian stalwart with growing client base of solicitors, accountants and educational institutions.  

What's new? Laurence Weeks joined the team late in 2012 from Taylor Vinters, strengthening its overall litigation capability.

Notable practitioners  

Max Roessler heads the Norwich team and often handles business disputes for national clients as well as international names. He is particularly skilled in commercial litigation.

Real Estate - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
-  Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for Extensive property offering across the region. Handles work for clients in various sectors, including matters relating to development, portfolio management and investment, real estate finance, retail, public sector projects and residential development. 

What's new? Associated British Ports Property Pension Portfolio and Suffolk's Libraries IPS secured as new clients.

Work highlights Advised BOCM PAULS on all aspects of its takeover by Netherlands-headquartered ForFarmers. The property team in Ipswich managed the property aspects of the deal, including the due diligence on properties in the UK, Germany and Romania. 

Advised Norwich Airport on the development of an 850,000 sq ft business park adjacent to the airport.

Notable practitioners

Kath Herbert is noted for her work on strategic land projects, including joint ventures, options and promotion agreements.

Robert Gibbs leads the commercial property team at the Norwich office and is an expert in regeneration projects and strategic land work in both the public and private sectors. 

Grace Kerr is head of the commercial property team at the Chelmsford office and is active in all areas of mainstream commercial property work.

Chris Schwer heads the firm's property division. He is highly rated by peers and clients alike.

Chris Barker is a specialist in public sector work and has advised clients on transactions involving PPP, joint ventures and health sector projects. 

James Dinwiddy focuses on agricultural work, advising farmers, landowners and agribusinesses on tenancies and the sale and purchase of land. 

Jonathan Greenhalgh leads the commercial property team at the Cambridge office and is comfortable working across the full range of commercial property sectors, advising investors, landlords, tenants and developers. 

Stuart Raven is praised by sources for his practical, commercial approach to transactions.

Significant clients Hopkins Homes, Norwich Airport, Bernard Matthews, Grovemere Property, Suffolk Primary Care Trust, Lloyds Banking Group.

Real Estate Litigation - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department

- 3 partners
- 5 qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Ipswich, Norwich

What the team is known for One of few firms in the region to boast a standalone real estate dispute resolution department. Noted for its wide geographic spread and feted client services skills. Clients include the likes of local authorities, housing associations and commercial landlords.

What's new? James Robinson was promoted to partner in 2013.

Work highlights Acted for Greene King on a dispute arising from enforceability of a guarantee connected with a nightclub lease.

Notable practitioners

Richard Eaton is the key partner who heads up the contentious real estate teams in Ipswich and Chelmsford. Clients laud his effective and reassuring manner as well as his fast response times.

John Scannell heads the Norwich property litigation practice. Recent work includes advising on disputes involving allegations of trespass and breach of covenant.

Joanne Goobey practised in London before becoming senior associate in the firm's Chelmsford office. She already has a leading role in real estate disputes, such as those involving guarantees, dilapidations and service charge disputes.

Simon Woodhead trained and practised at the Bar before joining the firm. As a senior associate and employed barrister, he is ideally placed to advise on hotly contested real estate disputes that reach the higher courts, including restrictive covenant and 1954 Act disputes.

James Robinson was promoted to the partnership in 2013. His highlights of the year include advising on restrictive covenants and right to light disputes.

Significant clients Bernard Matthews, Dencora Group, Hopkins Homes, Norwich Airport, Surplus Property Solutions.

Restructuring/Insolvency - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 1 other lawyer
- Office locations ranked: Cambridge, Ipswich

What the team is known for Advises on a comprehensive range of insolvency matters. Enjoys strong relationships with major insolvency practitioners in the region.

What's new? Laurence Weeks and James Allen bring experience in contentious and non-contentious insolvency to the team, joining from Taylor Vinters.

Notable practitioners 

New department head Laurence Weeks is a  litigator commended for his expertise in contentious insolvency matters. He is based in the firm's Cambridge office.

James Allen has a strong reputation in the Cambridge area for non-contentious insolvency matters. His hiring is considered a coup for Birketts in Cambridge. 

Greg Allan works across a variety of non-contentious corporate insolvency matters. 

Matthew Weston is a senior associate in the Chelmsford office. He advises on contentious insolvency issues for a range of clients, including insolvency practitioners, directors, creditors and debtors.

Significant clients Ensors, FRP Advisory, Baker Tilly, BDO, McTear Williams & Wood. 

Social Housing - East Anglia

Basic facts about the department

- 10 partners
- 8 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Norwich

What the team is known for Offers housing providers a full range of related services, including development and housing management. Increasing expertise in disposal work and specialist funding agreements with local authorities.

What's new? New clients include YMCA Norfolk.

Work highlights Acted for Axiom Housing on its acquisition of stock housing from the Guinness Trust, negotiating the transfer as well as matters related to tenancies, Homes & Communities Agency consent and employee indemnity.

Represents Orbit Housing in its purchase of an East Anglian housing scheme from Persimmon Homes. The transaction required renegotiation of planning agreements with the local authority.

Notable practitioners  

Peter Goddard heads the social housing department from the firm's Norwich office. In addition to being the lead partner on the matter mentioned above, he has also worked extensively on development projects in South-East England.

Significant clients Orbit Group, Broadland Housing, East Thames Group, Swan Housing Group.

Employment - National Leaders (outside London)

What the team is known for An established presence across Essex and the East of England featuring ranked offices in Norwich, Cambridge, Ipswich and Chelmsford. Accomplished in handling employee transfers, tribunal claims and business restructurings. Sector-specific knowledge of the food, construction, logistics, education and charities sectors, advising such clients as Hartpury College, EMCOR Group, May Gurney and Kettle Foods.  

Notable practitioners Jolyon Berry leads the work of the employment group.

Real Estate - National Leaders (outside London)

What the team is known for The strongest property team in East Anglia. Key focus on regional residential development matters. Noted strength in healthcare and transport sectors. Ranked offices in Chelmsford, Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

Notable practitioners Chris Schwer is the key contact.

Immigration - The Regions

Basic facts about the department
- 1 consultant
- 1 associate
- Office locations ranked: Chelmsford, Cambridge, Norwich

What the team is known for Pre-eminent East of England business immigration practice, able to advise on a broad range of matters in collaboration with the firm's strong employment practice. Also noted for its particular expertise in the media and advertising sectors.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Responsiveness: "They always provide me with rapid in-depth responses to my questions that also aid my understanding for future cases." 

Notable practitioners  

Chelmsford-based partner Janice Leggett is a key member of this business immigration practice. Sources note that she is "not only highly expert in her field, but also speedy, unflappable and extremely approachable." 

Significant clients IPA, APA, OSTC AB Partnership, Betfair.

Education - UK-wide

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

What the team is known for A broad education team that covers areas such as freedom of information and data protection, procurement, employment law, property developments and student issues.

Notable practitioners  

Erika Clarke is a key contact.

Significant clients Hartpury College, Suffolk New College, Palmers College, Clare College, Cambridge, College of West Anglia.

Healthcare - UK-wide

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

What the team is known for Impresses the market with its focus on the public sector and capable handling of commercial and procurement work for health clients, as well as employment, real estate and other non-contentious matters. Recognised pharmaceutical IP capability.

Notable practitioners  

Richard Eaton heads the department.

Significant clients Suffolk Primary Care Trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, ADL.

Shipping - UK-wide

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 6 qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Ipswich

What the team is known for Its East Anglia location contributes to this being a cost-effective choice for a variety of clients, including P&I clubs and insurers. A number of its solicitors formerly practised in the London market, giving their work an equivalent quality.

Notable practitioners 

Henry Adams advises on cargo claims work. Sources cite his timely responses and commercial outlook as reasons to instruct him.

Alex Davey is frequently called upon to advise on charter party disputes and cargo matters.

Nicholas Woo chairs the firm's shipping practice. He qualified and practised in Singapore, and also practised in London before moving to Birketts. His Mandarin Chinese skills are useful when providing shipping advice to Chinese-speaking clients, which include COSCO Bulk Shipping. 

Significant clients Reliance Industries, Seatrade Reefer Chartering, Raetsmarine Insurance, Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association, West of England P&I.