Aviation - UK Wide
This niche litigation firm specialises in advising plaintiffs on international litigation following major aviation accidents worldwide. In the past year it represented the families of the victims of an Air France crash in 2009 as well as the families of the passengers killed in the corporate jet flight from Iraq to Turkey in 2011. In the view of market sources, "Stewarts Law has a really good balance between professionalism and the human side, and is very thorough and supportive." A qualified pilot, James Healy-Pratt is praised for his excellent commitment to client care and deep understanding of the insurance market. "He is the go-to guy for claimants," one peer commented. Sarah Stewart has been described by clients as "dynamic and knowledgeable," as well as "caring and compassionate." She has significant experience in dealing with accidents in the UK, France and South Africa.
Banking Litigation (London)
Stewarts Law "occupies a strong niche" in the market, and focuses its energies on acting as a conflict referral firm. The compact team is especially well-known for its willingness to litigate against major banks, and it frequently advises hedge funds and investors in their claims. A recent highlight was the representation of Euroption in a claim against SEB relating to derivative positions. Peers on the opposing side describe Sean Upson as a "dogged and determined opponent for his clients." He is also commended for his technical prowess: "He fully understands the case down to the detail."
Clinical Negligence: Mainly Claimant (London)
This firm is distinguished by its focus upon catastrophic injury claims, and it has a strong reputation for handling unusual cases in the area of brain and spinal injuries. This "very competent" and expanding firm is also praised by fellow practitioners for providing "good quality service to its clients." In the past year it has secured a number of multimillion-pound settlements, and continues to be recognised as a leader in its chosen area of practice. "We admire them beyond all else," states a market competitor. Robert Dransfield's practice covers claims in the area of catastrophic spinal injury and brain injury. He is particularly strong on high-value cases involving spinal cord injury, and he has secured several six-figure cauda equina settlements. Kevin Grealis, who has over 20 years' experience in this practice area, is held in high regard by fellow practitioners. Grealis is well known for representing claimants who have suffered from negligence relating to brain injury, and for handling cross-over cases in which multiple defendants are involved. In the past year partner Nick Knowles has secured a number of multimillion-pound settlements arising from claims involving spinal injury. He also has a particular interest in catastrophic brain injury and injuries to children, and is admired by peers for being a "very careful, measured" individual who inspires a great deal of confidence in clients. Muiris Lyons heads the firm's clinical negligence department. He is an individual in whom peers have "absolute faith," and to whom they would be "happy to refer" cases on which they are unable to act. He enjoys a reputation as one of the most "impressive and knowledgeable" practitioners in the field, while his workload encompasses catastrophic spinal cord, birth and brain injuries. Hugh Johnson is acquiring a distinguished reputation for his work on high-value and complex cases involving psychiatric disorders, spinal cord injury and brain injury. He is frequently involved in claims arising from failed diagnosis and substandard surgery, as well as claims involving children.
Clinical Negligence: Mainly Claimant (Leeds)
This firm's clinical negligence department focuses solely on catastrophic injury claims, dealing with injuries to the brain and spine, including birth trauma cases. The team purposely keeps a low caseload to provide a high level of service to clients, and sources praise them for being "incredibly strong in communication," and "a delight to work with." Its cases tend to be of a significantly high value, and this "strong and forceful team" has a very good reputation in the sector. Frank Pinch is based in the firm's Leeds office, and routinely handles claims involving paralysis. Clients state that he is "fantastic to work with," and that he "brings humanity to the situation." He is known for being "incredibly knowledgeable," and his cases often have values of more than £2 million. Gabrielle Ross is said to be "really good" by market commentators, and she acts on many cases with Frank Pinch in her role as an associate within this team. Her work centres on complex cases with contested liability, which tend to result in high-value settlements.
Dispute Resolution: Litigation: Highly Regarded (London)
This "experienced team with real expertise in litigation" is "able to hold its own" with some of the largest firms in the market, according to interviewees. A conflict-free commercial litigation boutique, the firm wins referrals from some of the market's largest players and is positioned to act on claims against substantial financial institutions. It recently acted for Anatoly Ereshchenko, the 17th defendant in BTA Bank's multibillion-pound fraud proceedings against its former chairman and others. Sources credit Clive Zietman with bringing "drive and vision" to Stewarts Law's litigation practice. Sources say he is "very tactical in the way he thinks about things; he sees where strengths and weaknesses are and doesn't hold back from telling the client the truth." Zietman recently represented a group of 83 bankers in a headline-grabbing case claiming EUR52 million in unpaid bonuses.
Dispute Resolution (Leeds)
Niche litigation practice Stewarts Law has won a strong reputation in a short space of time for its handling of high-value, complex disputes. It benefits enormously from its conflict-free position, allowing it to pursue cases against major banks, and a considerable expertise in disputes arising out of fraud, competition matters, financial services and professional negligence claims. The team recently represented the Closegate hotels group in a £57 million claim against Barclays. Its other clients include Pace, Croda and Guardian Industries UK. Interviewees say: "They are set up to react quickly and the team is prepared to work all hours and weekends as required. Stewarts Law confirmed my view that there is no requirement to go to a London firm, and a boutique firm can provide a better service, with speed, in this type of situation." Department head Jonathan Sinclair has an outstanding reputation as a "strong technical lawyer and someone of great integrity." "A good operator and an excellent litigator," market sources say he is both "incredibly bright" and "quietly persuasive."
Employment: Senior Executive and Employee (London)
This "quality team" receives enthusiastic feedback for its representation of senior City executives on heavyweight litigation. The team is tipped as "one to watch" as commentators note the impact of the firm in the contentious market. "They have such great understanding of this area of law and a devotion to helping individuals that makes them feel they are represented on an equal footing to large institutions." The team is also building a following among employer clients including First Utility, Dover Harbour Board and London Capital. Tim Spillane is the key contact.
Peers admire the "specialist, sizeable matrimonial department" at this firm. It handles a range of high-value matrimonial finance matters, often involving complex financial structures and cross-border aspects. Its client base includes a number City professionals, as well as high-profile individuals within the sports, media and entertainment industries. Helen Ward is a "force of nature" and "the doyenne of the family law world." Clients turn to her for assistance in some of the most complex and high-value matrimonial finance matters. She recently moved to join the team from Manches. Debbie Chism handles high-value matrimonial finance cases and is also noted for her ability to apply collaborative law methods where appropriate. Emma Hatley handles both domestic and international matrimonial finance matters, as well as advising clients on prenuptial agreements. She has acted in a number of matters involving ultra high net worth individuals going through divorce proceedings. Stephen Foster heads the family department and is described as "very effective and client-friendly." He has considerable experience in cases involving substantial assets and international aspects. Matthew Humphries handles all manner of divorce and finance matters, as well as advising on disputes concerning financial provision for children. He is praised by sources for his "sensible and calm" approach to family law matters.
This firm is noted particularly for its high-value matrimonial finance cases, especially those involving substantial business assets and cross-border elements. Simon Preston is "sensible, with good attention to detail and practical," according to sources. He heads the family law team in Leeds and has recently been involved in a number of high-value finance cases, as well as postnuptial agreements and matters featuring the use of collaborative law methods. Leading associate Adrian Clossick has worked alongside Preston in many of the firm's cases this year. Sources say that he is "switched-on and gets to grips with matters."
Fraud: Civil (London)
This litigation boutique benefits from frequent referrals from large corporate law firms, due to its ability to remain largely conflict-free when acting against financial institutions. The firm's lawyers, who are largely drawn from magic and silver circle firms, have been involved in many of the highest-profile disputes in London, including the BTA Bank litigation, which saw the firm act on behalf of 17th defendant Anatoly Ereshchenko. The "excellent" Jane Colston is praised as "efficient, hands-on and client-friendly" by impressed sources, who go on to cite her skill as a civil litigator, and her ability to staff work in a lean and efficient manner. She is currently instructed in a multimillion-pound multi-jurisdictional fraud involving the energy sector. Experienced commercial litigator Sean Upson is "absolutely fantastic" according to sources, who also note his fluency in Japanese. He is a "highly intelligent" lawyer with an "extremely pleasant and easy-going" manner, which is extremely popular with clients. He has recently been acting on behalf of rock importer Rock Unique in an alleged fraud perpetrated by subcontractors in India.
Personal Injury: Mainly Claimant (London)
Stewarts Law has a strong focus on maximum severity brain and spinal injuries and usually handles claims worth at least £1 million. Its individuals take on modest caseloads to ensure maximum attention to, and recovery for, their clients. One defendant solicitor commented: "If you have a catastrophic claim, I can't imagine you would look anywhere else in the country." Julian Chamberlayne comes highly recommended by peers for his "receptive" approach to negotiations. His catastrophic injury practice includes a significant volume of international work. Paul Paxton is the "impressive leader" of Stewarts Law's personal injury team. He is "charming with a wonderfully light touch and great perspective on the case," and oversees spinal injury claims in the multiple millions of pounds. Stuart Dench has an impressive practice which covers the UK, USA and Europe. He has expertise in high-value personal injury and fatal claims and also aviation accidents. Managing partner and firm co-founder John Cahill is a senior partner in the personal injury department. He is recommended for his ability to see how cases should best be pursued. Andrew Dinsmore gains high praise from peers for his brain and spinal injury expertise. He has recently settled several such claims worth over £5 million. Charles Edwards is a key member of a brain and spinal injury team which is described by top lawyers as "the best in the South." Clare Salmon is a nationally recognised expert with excellent knowledge of brain, spinal and brachial plexus injuries and also fatal accident claims.
Personal Injury: Mainly Claimant (Leeds)
Stewarts Law is recognised as a national leader for its claimant work and boasts a very efficient Leeds offering. The team is focused on pursuing the highest-value claims for clients who have suffered serious brain and spinal injuries and complex amputations, burns and brachial plexus injuries. Department head Daniel Herman is, like all of his colleagues at Stewarts Law, concentrated on achieving large settlements for the most severe brain and spinal injuries. His practice also involves litigating cases for UK nationals that have been injured in the USA. Peter Stringer was recommended by one peer as "having really picked up the pace over the last few years" and for being "very genuine and keen to do a good job." He has handled some of the largest cases in the market. Ben Townsend spends much of his time handling brain injury cases but also represents clients who have become tetraplegic following RTAs and accidents at work.
Travel: International Personal Injury (UK-Wide)
This practice has a particular profile acting for claimants in the travel area. It has a large headcount of talented lawyers dedicated to this sector, with sources saying "they are very experienced and pragmatic, and well regarded domestically and internationally in cases involving serious injury." Sources agree that it is perfectly able to hold its own in high stakes, aggressive litigation. Highlights for the practice include advising on a high-value claim against AXA France concerning a spinal cord injury. Julian Chamberlayne heads the travel team at the firm. He acted on the AXA France matter, and wins plaudits for his "enormous energy and commitment" when advising on international catastrophic and fatal injury claims. He is lauded by sources who note "every single point was ferociously fought and extremely well prepared." James Healy-Pratt is a partner who heads up the aviation department. Sources describe him as "technically competent and a very popular choice" for his work in this area. As befits his area of expertise, he is a particularly astute advisor on airline matters involving injury or accident claims. He acted as lead solicitor for the families of victims of Air France flight AF447. Julie Straughan practises via both the travel and aviation practices at the firm. She wins plaudits as a proficient yet friendly solicitor who strives to obtain the best result for her client. Her language skills also make her a good choice where cases involve a Francophone angle. Scott Rigby is a senior associate in the personal injury department. "He is knowledgeable, detailed and methodical, guiding us smoothly through the process," according to one client. Also of note is his "calm and reassuring" manner as well as his clear explanations of legal processes.