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Charles Russell LLP


Charles Russell LLP - London
  • Buryfields House
  • Bury Fields
  • Guildford
  • Surrey
  • UK
  • GU2 4AZ
  • Senior Partner Christopher Page
  • Managing Partner James Carter
  • Number of UK partners 165
  • Number of other UK legal staff 479

The Firm Charles Russell Speechlys was created by the merger of Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham on 1 November 2014. The firm is one of a small number of major law firms which combine a pre-eminent private wealth practice with a significant business law capacity – offering an integrated service to wealthy individuals, family offices, wealth managers and large, privately held businesses throughout the UK and across the world. The firm provides specialist transactional and advisory services to major international corporates and privately owned businesses operating in the firm’s sectors of focus. The firm has significant strengths in the real estate and construction sectors, transactional expertise across the financial services sector and specialist employment, intellectual property and commercial teams advising public companies in sectors such as retail and leisure, sport and TMT. The firm operates through integrated teams across the firm’s international and regional office network. Charles Russell Speechlys is headquartered in London with regional offices in Cheltenham and Guildford and overseas offices in the following major wealth and business centres: Bahrain, Doha, Geneva, Luxembourg, Paris and Zurich. Other geographic areas of focus include the United States of America, Africa and the Caribbean.

Principal Areas of Work
Business Disputes:
Advising businesses and their owners on contractual disputes, complex fraud litigation and shareholder disputes.
Charities & Not-for-Profit: Advising educational, religious, environmental, medical, arts and other charities, professional bodies and institutions.
Energy & Natural Resources: Advising mining companies, the oil and gas industry, clean-tech companies, and those that invest in them, in particular in emerging markets.
Family: Advising individuals, both in the UK and overseas, and intermediaries, such as IFAs, accountants, banks, doctors and counsellors.
Financial Services: Advising asset and fund managers, dealers, brokers and custodians, investment and private banks, debt funds, pension funds, family offices and senior executives in financial institutions.
Healthcare & Life Sciences: Advising pharmacy and pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists, care home providers, dentists, vets and other healthcare providers and representative bodies.
Private Wealth: Advising high net worth individuals and their businesses in the UK and internationally, entities associated with them (such as companies, funds, partnerships and trusts) and their intermediary advisers (such as family offices, private banks, accountants and asset managers).
Real Estate & Construction: Advising international private and institutional property investors, banks, social housing providers, SIPPS advisers, corporate occupiers, developers, house-builders and contractors. Retail & Leisure: Advising high street retailers, leisure suppliers, fashion houses, fashion supply chain, restaurants and leisure suppliers. Sports: Advising sports regulatory bodies, sponsors, sports clubs, individual sportsmen and women.
TMT: Advising telecoms providers, clean-tech companies, IT companies, government departments and foreign governments.

Services: Charles Russell Speechlys is structured around four Divisions: Business Services, Private Client, Real Estate & Construction, and Litigation & Dispute Resolution.
Business Services: Comprising corporate, commercial, employment, pensions and immigration, financial services, corporate tax and banking and finance. The corporate group advises on a wide range of issues, including flotations, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity and venture capital financings. The commercial group advises on all types of commercial contracts and outsourcing arrangements and has a particular expertise in data protection issues. The specialist groups (financial services, tax and banking and finance) undertake the full range of transactional and advisory work, including fund structuring, regulatory advice, property finance, acquisition finance and Islamic finance. The firm also has one of the largest employment and pensions groups in the UK, providing a comprehensive service to companies and organisations, as well as individuals, in this fast-changing area.
Real Estate & Construction: Including real estate, construction, engineering and projects and real estate litigation. The Division operates across all major real estate sectors including commercial, residential and industrial property; strategic land regeneration and urban estates. The construction, engineering and projects group acts for contractors, as well as investors and developers and much of its work is international in nature, There is a particular emphasis on clients in the healthcare, education, retail and leisure sectors.
Private Client: Including tax & trusts, private property and family. The Division advises families and family offices, successful entrepreneurs, private banks and wealth managers in the UK and around the world. The focus is on delivering a truly integrated approach, helping clients to preserve and enhance their wealth through working closely with the specialist from the other Divisions on corporate and personal asset structuring, regulatory matters, tax, asset protection, philanthropic ventures and managing family issues. The family group has a leading reputation for advising on complex divorce and related issues.
Litigation & Dispute Resolution: Including commercial dispute resolution, corporate recovery and insolvency, contentious intellectual property, contentious trusts & estates, reputation management, healthcare, and advice to foreign governments. The Division handles all types of litigation, arbitration and mediation both in the UK and internationally, and has particular expertise in commercial disputes, sports regulation, judicial review and pharmacy. The intellectual property team has particular expertise in all types of contentious and non-contentious work, including copyright, patents, trademarks, registered designs, database rights, passing off and confidential information.

  • Contacts - SECTORS 
  • Business Disputes John Sykes
  • Charities & Not-for-Profit Mike Scott
  • Energy & Natural Resources Clive Hopewell, Chris Putt Family William Longrigg
  • Financial Services Elizabeth Budd, Jon Bond
  • Healthcare William Nash
  • Private Wealth Ian Cooke
  • Real Estate & Construction Simon Ewing
  • Retail & Leisure Edward Craig
  • Sports Jon Ellis, Ian Lynam
  • TMT Mark Bailey, Vanessa Barnett
  • Contacts - SERVICES  
  • Banking & Finance Paul Kay
  • Commercial Jason Saiban
  • Construction & Engineering David Savage
  • Corporate Tom Shaw
  • Corporate Tax James Carter
  • Employment, Pensions & Immigration Mike Powner
  • Family Sarah Higgins
  • Financial Services Nick Janmohamed
  • IP Ian Wood
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution Duncan Elson
  • Private Client Bart Peerless
  • Real Estate Mark Smith
  • Contacts - OFFICES 
  • Cheltenham Richard Norton
  • Guildford Duncan Elson
  • Bahrain Patrick Gearon
  • Geneva Catriona Syed
  • Luxembourg David Louis, Francoise Pfeiffer
  • Paris Frederic Jeannin
  • Qatar Simon Green
  • Zurich Mark Summers


  • Buryfields House,
  • Bury Fields,
  • Guildford,
  • Surrey
  • UK
  • GU2 4AZ
  • Tel (01483) 252525
  • Fax (01483) 252550
  • DX 2436 Guildford 1
  • Compass House,
  • Lypiatt Road,
  • Cheltenham,
  • Gloucestershire
  • UK
  • GL50 2QJ
  • Tel (01242) 221122
  • Fax (01242) 584700
  • DX 7442 Cheltenham 1

Construction - Guildford and surrounds

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

What the team is known for A leader in the South with a range of household-name clients. Offers contentious and non-contentious expertise with a significant international practice.

Work highlights Advised Caring Homes Healthcare on a professional negligence construction claim involving technical aspects of engineering, architecture and surveying.

Notable practitioners 

Stephen Rockhill is particularly praised for his "commercial attitude" which comes from his background as a qualified engineer. He has experience in high-value procurement and contractual construction matters. One client comments: "The breadth of his knowledge has been impressive."

Head of department David Savage is dual-qualified as a solicitor and barrister. Clients praise his "very practical drafting" of contracts and other construction documents. He has particular expertise in both contentious and transactional matters involving the Middle East. 

Significant clients Eton College, 3S Architects, Tilfen Land, Sportsdirect.com Retail.

Corporate/M&A - Guildford and surrounds

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

What the team is known for Well-established corporate team representing a broad range of clients, including technology-based businesses, care homes and healthcare companies. Well supported by a large team of experts in London, and by the firm's wider international network of offices.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They're particularly diligent and have the ability to think outside the box - they are focused on what their clients want to achieve." 

Work highlights Acted for Love of the Game on its acquisition of Aldershot Town FC, and on negotiations with Chelsea FC in relation to the use of the ground and pitch, and lease variations for the stadium.

Notable practitioners  

Geoff Sparks is a "calm, collected and diligent" lawyer and the leading figure of this corporate team. He is highly recommended by interviewees, who are "confident he can help the client and gives good reasons why something would or wouldn't work to the client's benefit."

"Talented" Tim Jenkins is the head of the pharmacy and veterinary transaction teams, and specialises in matters in the healthcare industry. He frequently assists clients with the purchase and sale of businesses and companies.

Significant clients British Car Auctions, Ingenie, Water Hall Group, Vocality International, Goddard Vet Group.

Employment - The South

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner
- 5 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Guildford

What the team is known for Acts primarily for corporate clients, with a focus on the financial services, utilities, charity and technology sectors. Noted for its expertise in corporate governance and executive termination, with considerable experience in discrimination matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The firm is approachable, knowledgeable, respectful, sympathetic to our situation, compelling in its arguments and timely in its dealings with us."

"I highly recommend the firm. It's very personable, open, down to earth, available, knowledgeable and flexible."

Work highlights Advising Lambert Smith Hampton on employment and pension law issues relating to the forthcoming sale of the company.

Notable practitioners  

Andy Williams is "a very good communicator," according to clients. His expertise covers pensions, outsourcing, reorganisations and restructurings, changes to terms and conditions, and TUPE matters.

Ben Smith has substantial experience in handling grievance and disciplinary processes, redundancy programmes and discrimination matters. He is also "quickly able to assess a problem and thoroughly appreciate the potential impact of any proposed course of action."

Significant clients Ericsson, Randstad Group, Lo-Q, Avicenna, Lord Wandsworth College.

Family/Matrimonial - The South

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

What the team is known for Works across the full scope of family and matrimonial law, while garnering particular recognition for its involvement in complex matrimonial finance cases. Provides clients with mediation expertise and collaborative methods of resolving cases.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They put their cases very strongly and bring the best out in those around them; they really make you think and have an excellent reputation in the area."

"They are excellent - the people they've attracted and retained are very high-calibre and they've got the resources to get the right people."  

Notable practitioners  

Margaret Tyson is praised for being "incredibly hard-working and efficient. She forms a strong rapport with her clients and they adore her." She is highly regarded for her expertise in financial issues related to divorce and sources say that "she is a legend in the area and will run a case the way it should be run."

The "extremely clever and capable" Karen Wilsher is praised for her work on the financial and children-related aspects of divorce. Sources state that "she's very down to earth and builds excellent client relationships." 

Litigation - Guildford and surrounds

Basic facts about the department
- 8 partners
- 21 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for A sizeable team working closely with the London office. Impressive portfolio of clients, including prominent names in the automotive and retail industries. Experience in tracing and asset enforcement in the UK and Europe.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"All-round excellence - they are exceptionally intelligent and very strategic." 

"The advice they give is clear and isn't shrouded in any legal speak as such. It was easy to follow and the advice didn't change. It was very focused."

"I'm getting a value service which I think is as good as I'd get in London."

Work highlights Acting for Wilky Property Holdings on a £17 million joint venture dispute with London & Surrey Investments.

Acting for the former UK managing director of CBRE on a £24 million employment dispute against the company.

Notable practitioners  

Head of department Duncan Elson specialises in shareholder, partnership and contentious trust and estate disputes. Clients appreciate his ability to "think outside the box to get results that others might not have thought of."

Stephen Burns has particular expertise in pharmaceutical litigation and technology disputes. Clients commend his dedication, with one happy client commenting: "He really went the extra mile for me and supported me through a difficult and complex claim."

Senior associate Jamie Cartwright focuses his practice on the automotive industry and agency, distribution and supply chain disputes. Clients rate him very highly, and he is described as being "an absolute star for the future: he exudes gravitas at a young age."

James Lister specialises in contentious trusts and estate disputes. He is commended for a "common sense and maturity which is well beyond his years."

Significant clients Fiat and Chrysler, ITV and ITN, Joules, Walkers Chocolates, British Computer Society.

Private Client - The South

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 9 associates
- Office locations ranked: Guildford

What the team is known for Strong Guildford practice with additional resources in London and internationally. Experienced in Court of Protection work, including deputyship and complex capacity issues. Contentious team focuses on trust and estate disputes.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"They are user-friendly and approachable. Very unstuffy." 

"For difficult tax questions they have strength in depth, with access to the London and offshore offices."

Notable practitioners  

Duncan Elson is an expert on contentious trusts and frequently deals with owner-managed businesses on substantial disputes in the High Court. One client enthuses: "He has one of the quickest brains I know and offers practical solutions based on long experience."

Sally Ashford maintains a strong practice in complex Court of Protection work as well as succession planning. Sources praise her "great people skills" and that she is "very clear in her explanations of technical issues."

The "excellent" Louise Harrhy focuses on trusts and tax issues, especially those with an international aspect. Sources appreciate her "excellent communication and business skills."

Professional Negligence - Crawley and surrounds

Basic facts about the department
- 8 partners
- 21 other lawyers
- Office location ranked: Guildford

What the team is known for Focuses on claims against solicitors, accountants and financial advisers, while also advising on matters relating to pensions and property professionals. The team also has a significant workload of construction-related cases.

Work highlights Advised an individual claimant in a £250,000 action against a property investment company relating to the purchase of property in Budapest.

Notable practitioners  

Stephen Burns is a key contact for the firm's professional negligence team.

Real Estate - Guildford and surrounds

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner
- 6 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Guildford

What the team is known for Solid practice advising both landlords and tenants in the retail, leisure, energy and telecoms sectors. Also has a significant presence in the healthcare sector, acting for dental and veterinary practices, care homes and pharmacies.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"This firm has done an excellent job. The lawyers are fast, but also good at explaining the aspects of the law I need to be clear on."

Work highlights Advised Woodland Views on the sale of land at Canada Water for redevelopment, a deal worth over £30 million.

Acted for CitySprint on various lease renewals, lettings and portfolio management.

Notable practitioners  

Debra Kent heads up the firm's occupier services group, handling a wide range of matters for tenants and landlords. Recent mandates include acquisitions, sales, leases and redevelopment agreements. Clients say: "She intelligently protects our interests and is pleasant to deal with. I have nothing but glowing praise for her."

Significant clients SportsDirect.com, Thames Valley Housing, Save The Children, Woodland Views, NEC Corporation.

Real Estate Litigation - The South

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

What the team is known for Well-established Guildford firm handling a variety of property issues for a wide range of clients. Boasts extensive experience in insolvency and enfranchisement.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The team has very commercial and pragmatic lawyers who provide good advice and very practical solutions."

What's new? Formerly at Blake Lapthorn, property litigator Penni Gibbs has joined the team as an associate.

Work highlights Advised on the disposal of the remaining 30 properties on a long-running litigation on behalf of Charles Terrence Estates.

Acted for the liquidator of Strobe 2 and the landlords of the relevant nightclubs on claims arising from Strobe 2's restructuring.

Notable practitioners  

Peter Levaggi has substantial experience in landlord and tenant matters. Clients say: "He is a very good communicator, he provides excellent analysis and his advice is easy to understand. He is very clear in terms of strategy."

David Haines leads the enfranchisement and compulsory purchase teams and is praised for his knowledge and responsiveness. Sources comment that "he gives a good service and tells me everything I need to be aware of."

Penni Gibbs continues to impress clients, who say: "She's immensely experienced and she gives us much confidence." 

Significant clients HW Fisher, County Bailiff Company, Citysprint UK, Harrisons Corporate Recovery, Ore Capital. 

Restructuring/Insolvency - The South

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

What the team is known for Powerful contentious offering, attracting high-profile instructions. Also recognised for its expertise in fraud and property-related insolvency disputes.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The team are very people-oriented in their approach." 

"A great firm, with a very strong insolvency team; pre-eminent in what they are doing."

"Technically brilliant, very diligent and very commercially-minded." 

Work highlights Continued to act in the administration of the Central Bank of Bahrain, including seeking to recover and safeguard the bank's assets, as well as successfully extending the period of the administration.

Advised the administrators and liquidators of companies within the Menzies Hotel Group, on a variety of security, real estate and creditor issues.

Notable practitioners  

James Hyne is acknowledged by sources as a "very practical" contentious insolvency specialist, and a "very business-driven" adviser. He heads up the corporate recovery and insolvency group, and is lauded by his clients as "a very down-to-earth guy."

Praveen Reddy is a contentious specialist who primarily acts for office holders. He also has broad experience advising on administrations, and is rated both for his "good grip of the technical aspects" of insolvency law, as well as his ability to "get the bigger picture" commercially.

Significant clients Central Bank of Bahrain, Santander UK, Baker Tilly, Credit Suisse (UK), Bank of Montreal.