Keystone Law is delighted to announce its most successful results to date in leading legal guide The Legal 500 2022, ranking in 41 practice areas, and achieving 144 individual lawyer mentions, 16 Leading Individual acknowledgements, and seven Next Generation Partners recognitions. Seven Keystone lawyers were also recognised in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame, a section of the legal directory which recognises individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence.
In addition to the wide-ranging recognition by The Legal 500, the firm was described as a ‘flexible and client-oriented firm’ and its lawyers having ‘unrivalled knowledge and experience’ who provide a ‘personable, streamlined and very effective’ service.
Find out more about what The Legal 500 had to say about our ranked practice areas, below.
The ‘excellent panel of licensing lawyers’ at Keystone Law offer a broad array of licensing expertise, covering common issues such as premises, personal and gaming licenses, as well as enforcement action, street trading and late-night refreshment licenses. Gareth Hughes provides a top-flight knowledge of licensing regimes, with a particular emphasis on hospitality and entertainment. He also acts on planning matters, providing his clients with a one-stop service. Andrew Wong is ‘particularly good on London restaurants, retail and hospitality developments, bars and hotels,’ and also excels advising landlords and developers. Niall McCann is also known for working with blue-chip clients and has been particularly active providing clients with Covid-19 advice. Marcus Lavell has ‘a good sense for the best points in a case,’ and James Daglish has experience with the growing CBD market.
Andrew Wong also appears in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame for this area.
COMMERCIAL LITIGATION: MID-MARKET
The commercial litigation team at ‘standout leader’ Keystone Law has an enviable record of success in litigation, and is noted as a go-to for clients ranging in size from SMEs to large global organisations. Alex Ferrari‘s practice covers a wide variety of sectors, and encompasses both domestic and international disputes. The ‘exceptionally talented’ Matthew Reach specialises in business-related and company disputes, as well as financial services and securities-related litigation. Robert Lawrie is active in shareholder claims, general commercial disputes and matters involving allegations of fraud. Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs has notable expertise in sizeable commercial disputes and large-value complex fraud cases (often with international elements). Also recommended are Gagan Ranu and Dharmendra Nair. Elaine Chan is ‘a highly skilled, efficient and personable lawyer’.
Alex Ferrari also appears in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame for this area.
Keystone Law has a well-established presence in the London residential property market, as is evidenced by its work for high-net-worth clients on sales and acquisitions, developments and disputes. It is notably strong advising on matters concerning prime and super-prime London properties, and undertakes a significant account of work for overseas investors from the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific. Ian Cooke has experience of being instructed by members of royal families, other high-profile public figures and international business owners on residential developments. Another key individual is Sakhjit Randhawa, who has more than 18 years of experience in this space. Hugh Murphy advises UK and international clients on transactions relating to country houses, sporting estates, farms and agricultural land. Leasehold enfranchisement expert Katie Cohen and Johnny Drysdale are also recommended.
Other key lawyers: Arwel Lewis
M&A: SMALLER DEALS, UP TO £50M
Keystone Law is well regarded by its diverse client base for its partner-led service and expertise in cross-border corporate transactions. The team regularly acts for entrepreneurs, SMEs and larger corporates on a range of acquisitions, sales, and various other strategic transactions. Key names include Nadim Zaman and Jeremy Davis; Zaman primarily focuses on cross-border M&A, with recent highlights including handling deals for high-net-worth individuals and media companies. Dee Sian is a key player in the firm’s M&A healthcare practice, while Geoffrey Davies is noted for his experience in high-profile retail transactions.
Dee Sian is also included as a Next Generation Partner for this area.
Keystone Law is home to one of the largest groups of senior employment lawyers in the country and is notable for its alternative business model. It provides expertise in the full range of employment issues for CEOs, directors, board members, senior lawyers and political figures and in areas ranging from the financial services industry to the football sector. Alistair French is highly rated for his handling of complex cases and also for being able to ‘manage expectations’, while Clive Howard (who joined from Slater and Gordon in 2021) is known for undertaking high-profile cases. ‘Absolute pro’ Paul Daniels‘ experience encompasses executive dismissals, discrimination and whistleblowing claims, contract disputes and sport issues, while Angharad Harris has ‘second to none’ expertise; both also undertake employer side work. Other highly-rated practitioners include Nigel Forsyth, Michelle Last and ‘stand-out partner’ Jane Wheeler who ‘never fails to impress’.
Jane Wheeler is included as a Next Generation Partner for this area.
The growing bench of aviation experts at Keystone Law work with airlines, airports, aircraft manufacturers, banks, financiers, and leasing companies on a wide range of matters. Hugh O’Donovan ‘is the go-to person‘ for regulatory work, Alex Ferrari advises on insurance disputes, while Susannah Sheppard and Philippe Ruttley are experts in EU and UK competition law. In early 2020, ‘multi-skilled lawyer‘ Stephen McGlennan joined from Hybrid Air Vehicles, where he was CEO and general counsel, while aviation insurance specialist James Healy-Pratt joined from Stewarts Law LLP in May 2021.
TRAVEL: REGULATORY AND COMMERCIAL
Keystone Law has notable strengths in the aviation and cruise industries, focusing on regulatory, contractual and financial issues. Key figures from the team include Trevor Sears, who is highly regarded for his expertise in aviation-related regulatory and insolvency issues, and Simon Murfitt. The practice was further strengthened by the addition of noted personal injury expert James Healy-Pratt, who has particular strength in the aviation sector, from Stewarts Law LLP in May 2021.
James Healy-Pratt also appears in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame for this area.
Keystone Law is recommended for its ability to provide ‘top class fraud expertise and more affordable rates for those who don’t need a cast of thousands’. The firm has broad expertise within the team in the civil fraud space, with particular strength in sub-Saharan Africa matters. Another key advantage is the firm’s unique model, which has served it well in adapting to the challenges of covid-19. Robert Lawrie is prominent in the area and a ‘man to have on your side in a heavy duty fraud litigation’. Another notable name is Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs, who handles large commercial disputes and complex fraud cases, often with an international element.
GAMING AND BETTING
Keystone Law excels in advising online and land-based gambling operators on licensing and regulatory matters, in addition to assisting with corporate transactions, commercial agreements, debt recovery and data protection issues. The team advises a broad spread of casinos, betting shops, online gambling platforms and software providers. Among the key contacts, Richard Williams has extensive experience of assisting with licence applications and reviews, and anti-money laundering and social responsibility issues, and is particularly noted for his strength in advising competition operators on regulatory matters. Niall McCann also brings his expertise in alcohol and gaming licensing to bear in land-based gambling transactions.
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT (INCLUDING MEDIA FINANCE)
Keystone Law’s practice is characterised by its breadth, with the work covering various industries, including publishing, music, advertising, fashion and art. Nicola Thatcher advises publishing clients at the pre-publication stage on minimising risks. Ian Down is experienced in marketing and advertising matters, and he also advises on sponsorships, sales promotions and endorsement agreements. ‘Master strategist’ Gerard Cukier has expertise in advising high-profile individuals in the music and film industries, while Nick Weaser (who joined from Clintons in 2020) focuses on representing emerging talent in the music space. Lucy Blick-Jones provides ‘invaluable advice’ on matters relating to digital media and technology. Vanessa Barnett is a key contact for data and technology-related issues. Jamie Horner joined from Ashfords LLP in 2020.
PRODUCT LIABILITY: DEFENDANT
Keystone Law ‘attracts senior practitioners who wish to focus on the thing that they do best – namely advising and litigating‘. The team showcases a portfolio of international insurer and manufacturing clients, which it represents in matters relating to international trade as well as in property damage claims arising from fire or water. Antony Colman has an active practice involving acting in cases related to cladding, roof lining, electrical circuit protection devices, and sporting and playground equipment, among others. Jason Kallis also handles product recalls and Manchester-based Elaine Chan is well versed in insurance litigation.
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY: CORPORATE OCCUPIERS
Keystone Law’s practitioners are well-versed in all facets of real estate, including large-scale leases and landlord and tenant issues, mid-market acquisitions and disposals, as well as development projects. The practice is particularly strong in corporate occupier matters; Shayne Foley is experienced in the establishment of headquarters and relocations.
Keystone Law has recently been advising parties who have several billion in assets and its cases frequently involve international elements such as foreign nationals or offshore assets. In addition it regularly appears in the High Court and it has acted for and against international DJs, ‘A list’ celebrities, models and high profile business people, tech developers and landowners. The group has considerable expertise in matrimonial dispute resolution and wealth protection as well as substantial experience in children matters. Susan Apthorp; Zoë Bloom and Caroline Kelly are amongst the names to note. Hannah Cornish joined the practice from Slater and Gordon. It has some ‘fantastic lawyers’.
At Keystone Law, one of the key individuals is Richard Temple, who has a particularly strong track record of handling oil and gas transactions connected with Africa. In addition, he is prominent in North Sea deals. Elsewhere, other practitioners at the firm handle corporate finance transactions, and also advise on commercial contracts and intellectual property issues. Stuart Carter who joined from Fieldfisher, advises on the buying and selling of gas assets, while Fei Mao (formerly of Ince) who advises mostly Chinese clients on litigation.
Acting primarily for individual partners, Keystone Law’s practice handles contentious exits in the legal and accountancy sectors. The ‘highly knowledgeable’ Peter Garry leads on high-stakes court proceedings, while Clive Howard, who joined the firm from Slater and Gordon in January 2021, represents individuals in whistleblowing and discrimination claims. Emma Clark assists with contract drafting and consultant Jonathan Greensmith advises on regulatory issues.
PERSONAL INJURY: DEFENDANT
The team at Keystone Law acts on behalf of a wide range of clients, from notable insurers to self-insured organisations and income protection providers. Local authorities are another key source of work, and regularly instruct recommended practitioner Steven Conway. Also noted is ‘preferred legal counsel’ Cordelia Rushby, who has developed a successful practice defending employers and their insurers against substantial claims for psychiatric loss.
POWER (INCLUDING ELECTRICITY, NUCLEAR AND RENEWABLES)
Keystone Law’s bench of energy specialist practitioners includes corporate and commercial specialist Richard Temple, who has worked at a series of major firms and most recently served as general counsel to international gold mining company Hummingbird Resources. The group has experience in both domestic and cross-border transactions on solar and wind projects, with recent engagements including advising a wind plant developer in Italy. Other key names include Jon Close who is a construction and engineering expert, while Sandra Bates (who joined from Fladgate LLP) is a transactions specialist.
Keystone Law, which demonstrates strong capabilities across the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious dry shipping work, acts for charterers, P&I clubs, shipbuilders and high net-worth individuals, among other clients. Jonathan Hadley-Piggin advises on the construction, sale and purchase of yachts. Another notable practitioner is Dharmendra Nair, who handles charterparty disputes for multinational clients. Anastasia Papadopoulou leads on non-contentious commercial shipping work, including charterparties and ship finance transactions, as well as sales and purchases. Fei Mao is another key individual.
Other key lawyers: George Lambrou
Characterised by its non-traditional structure, Keystone Law has assembled a deep bench of employment law specialists. ‘Exceptional lawyer’ Angharad Harris has a track record in dealing with sensitive strategic employment law issues, from board-level disputes to employment litigation. In addition to advisory work, Kelly Sayers also takes the lead in high-level grievance and disciplinary hearings and undertakes investigations. Other names to note include practice head Nick Tsatsas, Fraser Younson, Emma Clark, and ‘superb strategist’ Nicholas Robertson, who joined from Mayer Brown International LLP in January 2021.
Nicholas Robertson also appears in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame for this area.
Keystone Law has put together a strong bench of immigration specialists, including the ‘extremely knowledgeable‘ Sharmila Mehta, who can draw on more than two decades of experience at Magrath Sheldrick LLP and Farrer & Co. Nicola Richards has a strong reputation for her work with technology clients, while Christine Chiew, who joined from Edwin Coe LLP in 2020, handles both private client and corporate immigration matters. Other key names include the ‘exceptionally knowledgeable’ Tsige Berhanu and ‘sterling adviser and advocate’ Jayanti Mitra-Valdes.
INSURANCE AND REINSURANCE LITIGATION
Keystone Law is noted for its strength in coverage disputes and acts for insurers and reinsurers across construction, property and personal injury insurance policies. Experienced insurance litigator Jason Kallis and ‘eminent practitioner’ James Crabtree are key contacts in the team, along with product liability specialist Antony Colman and Elaine Chan, who joined from Ward Hadaway LLP in October 2020.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: PATENTS (CONTENTIOUS AND NON-CONTENTIOUS)
At Keystone Law, patent litigator Rebecca Halford–Harrison is active in disputes connected with chemistry-based and technology-rich industries, such as life sciences, energy, and food and beverages. Numerous clients in the cosmetics sector have engaged her team to defend patent infringement claims, requiring strategic guidance across the EU and US. In another notable mandate, the group defended a Bulgarian manufacturer of payment devices in a case over patent type designs.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: TRADE MARKS, COPYRIGHT AND DESIGN
Keystone Law has a deep bench of lawyers with capabilities across the soft IP spectrum. Rebecca Halford–Harrison’s expertise covers design and trade mark infringements and has secured previous litigation successes regarding Protected Geographical Indications. Simon Chalkey and Karen Fong focus on commercial exploitation and transactional matters in sectors ranging from food and drink and fashion to software and engineering. ‘World-class expert’ Anthony Misquitta actively provides strategic brand advice in the SME space.
Keystone Law‘s growing planning team is particularly strong in (General Permitted Development) Order (GDPO) matters. Ben Garbett and Oliver Goodwin are among the key names; Garbett has expertise in planning for housing and new communities, utilities and motorway service areas, while Goodwin advises both private and public sector clients on the full spectrum of planning matters. The team also has renewable energy expertise, with environmental law expert Yohanna Weber focusing on infrastructure and renewable energy development.
Major hotels, estate agents and property investment firms regularly retain the team at Keystone Law to assist with lease renewals and portfolio management matters – qualified arbitrator and mediator Andrew Tugwell is a key contact for the latter – as well as with various development-related issues, including those at the intersection with construction and planning. Tugwell forms part of the core team together with casual dining sector expert Greg Barnbrook, who has recently assisted a number of landlords with tenant CVAs and also handles residential property disputes, and commercial property specialist Chris Hill. Other clients include developers, retailers and high-net-worth individuals.
Other key lawyers: Alison Moore
Keystone Law undertakes both claimant and defendant work across a range of reputation management issues, acting for politicians, celebrities, media personalities and large corporates. Gerard Cukier has substantial experience obtaining court injunctions to protect private lives, in addition to protecting high-profile figures in matters of blackmail and extortion. Media litigator Nicola Thatcher specialises in advising publishing clients, whilst Sofia Syed brings employment law expertise to the team.
Utilising the firm’s alternative business model, Keystone Law is particularly well equipped to advise venture capital clients. With experience in advising clients throughout the funding lifecycle, Catherine Williams has also gained particular acclaim for her ‘brilliant‘ support to small start-ups on early stage fundraising efforts. The ‘experienced and knowledgeable‘ Dee Sian focuses more on investor-side mandates and is accomplished at handling EIS, SEISS and VCT transactions. Nadim Zaman is also a key name to note. Sector strengths include the technology, healthcare and media industries.
Other key lawyers: Albert Mennen
Keystone Law’s sports department was recently strengthened by the arrival of Jamie Horner, a ‘standout expert in the field of motorsports’ who notably serves as director of Arden and is a founding director of the Young Racing Driver Academy. Other key names include Rachel Flynn, a horseracing and breeding specialist, Paul Daniels, who possesses ‘a mass of experience in acting for football managers’, as well as Gerard Cukier whose expertise lies in defamation, privacy and sporting-related agreements.
Other key lawyers: Paul Renney and Nick Tsatsas
NORTH: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
The team at Keystone Law is instructed by a wide range of businesses, from start-ups to multinational corporates. The group is equally adept at handling contentious issues, often with an international dimension, and advisory work. Key contact Will Sander‘s broad practice exemplifies this wide-ranging proficiency; he assists with the full gamut of intellectual property matters, from the identification of IP to its protection and commercialisation, as well as handling disputes both within and outside the UK.
KENT, SURREY, SUSSEX: PERSONAL TAX, TRUSTS AND PROBATE
At ‘virtual firm’ Keystone Law, the bench of South East private client lawyers cover a wide range of private client issues such as wills, trust work and probate issues, working with a variety of international and UK based clients. Robert Knight has particular expertise in issues of succession, trust and UK personal tax. Alex Boothman frequently advises high-net-worth international clients on tax planning and asset protection.
YORKSHIRE: PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE: CLAIMANT
Keystone Law’s Jonathan Watmough has substantive experience working for professional indemnity insurers and acts exclusively for claimants and uninsured defendants. The expertise on offer covers claims against solicitors, accountants, insurance brokers and financial advisers, including matters concerning structural engineering, surveying, project management and real estate.
SOUTH WEST: CONSTRUCTION
Keystone Law’s members are instructed by private, public and non-profit sector clients as well as contractors, sub-contractors and consultants. It has in-depth experience of the education, hotel and leisure, infrastructure, housing and energy sectors. The key practitioners are Louise Garcia, Martin Howe, Jon Close and Tom Phillips. Andrew Thompson joined Devonshires Solicitors LLP in 2020 and Louise Elmes joined from Trowers & Hamlins LLP in March 2021.
SOUTH WEST: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Keystone Law‘s ‘pragmatic‘ and ‘innovative‘ IP group in the South West offers services related to the identification, management, protection and exploitation of IP assets for a range of IP owners. Jessica Bent, who ‘knows her subject inside out‘, is noted for handling contentious and non-contentious issues on behalf of technology and creative sector clients. Charlie White is focused on IP arrangements and commercial contracts concerning software and mobile applications. Anna Keeling has experience in transactions that involve the transfer of IP rights.
SOUTH WEST: IT AND TELECOMS
Keystone Law‘s ‘responsive and knowledgeable‘ technology team has expertise in IT contracts and data protection issues, assisting a wide variety of start-ups and SMEs. Areas of specialism include affiliate agreements, confidentiality and non-disclosure issues, distance selling, privacy policies and software licensing. Key names include the ‘creative and impressive‘ Jessica Bent, an outsourcing expert, and Charlie White, who focuses on commercial contracts and intellectual property.
ISLE OF MAN: BANKING, FINANCE AND CAPITAL MARKETS
Keystone Law’s team includes Geoff Kermeen, who advises banks, alternative lenders and borrowers on real estate and asset finance transactions, and he also advises Isle of Man regulated banks on regulatory issues. Sally Cranshaw is another key name for real estate finance advice. Stephen Rodd, Hazel Dawson and William Margot are also recommended.
Hazel Dawson and William Margot are also included as a Next Generation Partner for this area.
ISLE OF MAN: CORPORATE AND COMMERCIAL
Keystone Law is the only firm in the Isle of Man with a London office, which makes it well placed to advise on real estate transactions with Manx structures. The practice also has a strong emphasis on the financial services sector, with a client list containing banks, corporate services providers and trusts. Geoff Kermeen and Sally Cranshaw are key names for the firm’s real estate work, as is Stephen Rodd, who formerly worked in the London and Dubai markets. William Margot is another key name, and handles the firm’s work for corporate service providers.
William Margot is also included as a Next Generation Partner for this area.
ISLE OF MAN: DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Trust litigation is a particular focus for Keystone Law; the firm’s lawyers have been advising several claimants on the high-profile misappropriation of £13m worth of trusts funds by Montpelier (Trust and Corporate) Services Limited. Gillian Christian advised on that particular matter and, alongside trust litigation, is also skilled in professional negligence and commercial contract disputes. Andrew Marshall is another key name and advises on Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings, including restraint and production proceedings.
ISLE OF MAN: EMPLOYMENT
Keystone Law is home to two highly experienced litigators in Gillian Christian and Andrew Marshall. Christian’s workload includes disputes involving disciplinary issues, unfair dismissals and allegations of discrimination. Marshall is notably active in matters concerning contractual breaches. Also recommended is Rachel Berry, who is experienced in advising on the employment aspects of major acquisitions and reorganisations.
Rachel Berry and Andrew Marshall are also included as a Next Generation Partner for this area.
ISLE OF MAN: INSURANCE AND PENSIONS
Keystone Law is ‘widely acknowledged as the local leader in pensions advice’, drawing on the ‘in-depth knowledge’ of pensions specialist Ben Hughes. His work entails providing general advice on occupational and personal pension schemes, as well as assisting with the establishment, maintenance and restructuring of major schemes.
Ben Hughes also appears in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame for this area.
ISLE OF MAN: GAMBLING
Keystone Law has advised on gambling services and amenities in both a virtual and physical context, with expertise in corporate transactions, commercial agreements, regulatory compliance work and data protection issues. Corporate partner Stephen Rodd, who has particular knowledge of the e-gaming sector, leads the practice.
NOTHERN IRELAND: COPORATE M&A
Keystone Law’s Belfast lawyers are experienced in corporate transactions, governance, restructurings and fundraisings. Managing director John McMahon is particular prominent in the aerospace, engineering and energy sectors. He works alongside solicitor Lauren McGarry and consultant Richard McLaughlin.
NOTHERN IRELAND: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
Keystone Law has increasingly become prominent in advising developers in high-profile development mandates. In addition, its practitioners are a go-to for advice on investment acquisitions and disposals, leasing agreements and real estate finance transactions. Recent work included acting for Harcourt Developments on its lease renewal of Trident House Belfast to Fujitsu. Commercial director Danny McKay has over 25 years of real estate experience, and acts for a mix of corporate and private individuals. Director Jim Houston is noted for his expertise in handling commercial and residential development projects, and also his experience of negotiating leases for landlords and tenants in relation to retail, industrial, office and hotel premises.
Individual lawyer-only rankings
In addition to our practice area rankings, the following individuals have been recognised in the following categories:
Employees/Unions – Paul Daniels and Clive Howard are included in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame.
Family: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx – Ruth Abrams is included as a Next Generation Partner.
*Leading individuals feature in bold