Keystone Law IOM has announced its most successful results to date in leading legal guide, The Legal 500. The firm, which only launched less than three years ago in 2016, is described as “equal to if, not better than, the more established firms on the Island” – garnering Tier 2 rankings across all of its practice areas.
Keystone Law IOM is currently The Legal 500’s Offshore Firm of the Year.
Here is what the directory had to say about the teams.
BANKING AND FINANCE
Sally Cranshaw, Geoff Kermeen and William Margot recently advised Clearbell Capital on its acquisition of a Luxembourg SPV which holds real estate assets in Birmingham, as well as on its subsequent re-domiciliation to the Isle of Man and the associated post-transaction refinancing. ING appointed the group to oversee the Isle of Man law aspects of a syndicated senior secured term loan related to the refinancing and development of a property in London, and the intra-group transfer of a portfolio of loan facilities. Margot also regularly advises a varied client base, including major banks, lender and borrowers, on the financing of Isle of Man entities such as companies, partnerships and trusts.
CORPORATE AND COMMERCIAL
Keystone Law services a varied client base ranging from local start-ups to international corporates and global financial institutions. The ‘very responsive and high-quality’ team has ‘a strong understanding of its clients’ needs’ and operates under the joint leadership of ‘very commercial and client-orientated’ managing partner Geoff Kermeen and consultant Stephen Rodd. Vannin Ventures instructed the firm to oversee the structuring and documentation of its acquisition of a majority interest in Goshawk and the joint venture agreement between the two entities following the completion of the transaction. On the local front, William Margot and Gillian Christian acted for a car dealership in a number of matters arising from its recent takeover of multiple sites on the island, such as the setting up of a hive agreement for the transfer of assets from three dealerships to the main trading company. The ‘completely reliable’ Sally Cranshaw is ‘always knowledgeable and gets the deal done’.
At Keystone, ‘the service provided is exceptionally high quality’ and ‘response times beat the competition’s – they always remain available to meet at short notice’, according to one client. The group is currently advising a liquidator on the Isle of Man law aspects of the winding down of a fund, and Bridgewaters appointed the firm to handle the recoveries of monies owed via security documents. Clients describe practice head and the only female with leading individual status, Gillian Christian, as ‘an outstanding lawyer’ who ‘regularly uses her wealth of knowledge, pragmatism and formidable presence in court’ to ‘steer them through complex legal disputes’. Also notable is Charles Coleman, who is also ranked as a leading individual, and ‘consistently demonstrates great technical ability’ and is currently defending a high-net-worth individual regarding claims against third parties, complex insurance issues and professional negligence allegations following a multi-incident casualty in the Mediterranean. Solicitor Rachel Berry is part of the team guiding a corporate services provider through fraud and breach of contract claims and is also key name to note.
Keystone’s lawyers ‘go out of their way to provide the most responsive service’ and some clients ‘consider them to be equal to – if not better than – the more established firms on the island’. The full-service offering fields names such as ‘pensions law expert’ and leading individual Ben Hughes, who remains as adviser to the Public Sector Pensions Authority with regard to the consolidation of multiple public sector schemes into a unified government scheme, among other matters. Also notable is Gillian Christian, who – with the help of advocate Rachel Berry – is currently advising Whitbread on the opening of a new Premier Inn location on the island. She also provides advice pertaining to redundancies in the context of restructurings and M&A transactions. Consultant Monica Ma is also a name to note.
INSURANCE AND PENSIONS
At Keystone, ‘the level of services provided is exceptionally high’ and ‘the combined knowledge and experience of the team is a match for any law firm on the Isle of Man‘, according to one client. Ben Hughes and consultant Monica Ma continue to provide ongoing pensions advice to a trust company with regard to issues such as regulatory and tax approvals. In another highlight, the pair recently advised the trustees of an Isle of Man scheme on its buy-out and winding up, which included a comprehensive review of the benefit tables before their submission to the annuity providers, and on anticipating potential member disputes. Notable clients include the Public Sector Pensions Authority.
Managing Director Geoff Kermeen expressed his delight at the recognition:
“These rankings recognise the experience, expertise and, most importantly, the client commitment that Keystone Law Isle of Man has to offer. Having launched less than three years ago, it is a real honour to receive a Tier 2 ranking across the board in an ever-greater number of areas. It is also a particular pleasure to see that the guide – and our clients – have acknowledged the teamwork displayed by our market-leading lawyers, who are able to work closely on complex transactions with the support of our seamless technology, unique structure and commercially minded ethos. Both client and peer feedback are pivotal to the research process and we are extremely pleased with this recognition of our continued efforts. We look forward to expanding our team and improving further on these rankings next year.”