Keystone Law is delighted to announce its most successful results to date in leading legal guide, The Legal 500. With 31 practice area rankings, 65 individual lawyer mentions, 13 Leading Individual acknowledgements, and 3 Next Generation Lawyers, the firm has been described as ‘standing out for its unique set up’. This year’s release also saw Keystone’s licensing team move up to appear in the top tier for this area of law.
Find out more about what the Legal 500 had to say, below.
The unique structure of Keystone Law focuses on the individual specialities of the practitioners that make up the firm. In the area of commercial contracts, some key names in the team are the ‘immensely talented, intelligent and technically brilliant’ Jeremy Schrire, who specialises in commercial agreements and related competition and regulatory matters; Jimmy Desai, who has expertise in commercial contracts as well as internet and technology law, data protection and IP/IT in M&A transactions; commercial and corporate lawyer Jaan Larner, who particularly focuses on entrepreneurial activity; and the ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Rebecca Halford-Harrison, who is a well-regarded IP, technology and disputes lawyer, notably in relation to IP law in the chemistry-based industries. Timothy Deacon joined from Burges Salmon LLP in 2019.
Tim Deacon is recognised as a Next Generation Partner in this area.
M&A: SMALLER DEALS, UP TO £50M
Keystone Law is best known for advising SMEs and entrepreneurs, particularly in the TMT, healthcare and real estate sectors. The firm’s sizeable group of partner-level consultants handle work for high-growth businesses, encompassing start-ups and publicly traded companies. Although there is no officially delineated practice head at the firm, Nadim Zaman and Andrew Stilton continue to be the key names to note on corporate M&A matters. The firm continues to hire a large number of partners each year, with 2018 witnessing arrivals from Slaughter and May, Jones Day and Withers LLP.
Keystone Law’s lawyers main area of expertise is advising clients on drafting agreements for a variety of partnership structures, including for traditional partnerships and LLPs. The group also handles alternative business structures, M&A, restructuring, employment issues, insolvency, risk management and regulatory issues, as well as partnership disputes. Experienced commercial litigator Peter Garry leads the team, which includes Emma Clark, whose practice spans advisory and disputes work, particularly relating to discrimination and whistleblower cases.
Operating under a business model which utilises sophisticated technologies but which incentivises practitioners to generate a strong workflow since their salary flows directly from it, Keystone Law has a number of well-regarded venture capital practitioners who had ‘cut their teeth’ at several established traditional law firms and thereby have strong traction in the market. Formerly a partner at Marriott Harrison LLP, Dee Sian has excellent ties with numerous institutional investor clients, including Beringea and Calculus Capital, who she regularly advises on financings throughout the investment continuum. The ‘very knowledgeable and accessible’ Nadim Zaman has more of an investee focus to his practice.
Other key lawyers: Catherine Williams
The fraud specialists at Keystone Law handle matters relating to bribery, corruption, directors’ disqualification, disciplinary and regulatory issues, embezzlement, extradition, tax investigations, money laundering and SFO prosecutions. A raft of lawyers joined the new model law firm during 2018, including Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs from Devonshires Solicitors LLP; Gagan Ranu, the former India desk head at Lewis Silkin LLP; and Iain Roxborough, who previously spent decades as a partner at Clifford Chance LLP.
GAMING AND BETTING
Keystone Law boosted its practice with the recruitment of consultants Richard Williams and Niall McCann from Joelson in April 2019. The team advises both land-based and online gambling clients on regulatory compliance, anti-money laundering measures and prosecutions arising from breaches of licence conditions. The practice also assists with the drafting and improving of policies and procedures, and licence review proceedings, which regularly involve the negotiation of financial settlements. Another area of expertise is the provision of advice to social media companies about the legality of proposed offerings with or without the need for licensing.
LICENSING – TIER 1
Keystone Law has a full service licensing capability advising on early morning alcohol restriction orders, enforcement issues, temporary event notices and restaurants. The firm has a mix of new and long-standing clients. Gareth Hughes is a key name for clients in the hospitality and entertainment sectors; he is advising Dragon Knight on the licensing issues concerning a large-scale development in London, which involves thousands of residential buildings and leisure premises. Andrew Wong also has strength in the leisure, entertainment and hospitality sectors. Niall McCann and Richard Williams joined from Joelson in April 2019; the pair now have a consultancy agreement in place to continue to provide services to their former firm.
Licensing specialist Andrew Wong also appears 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.
Keystone Law ‘has significant expertise in the field and provides quick answers and flexibility to match clients’ needs, while caring about good legal solutions’. Alex Ferrari‘s practice covers various sectors and encompasses both domestic and international disputes, Matthew Reach specialises in business-related and company disputes, and Robert Lawrie acts in cases involving shareholder and general commercial disputes, as well as fraud allegations. Patrick Pennal is also an experienced adviser, and in 2018, corporate and commercial disputes specialist Iain Roxborough and Dharmendra Nair, a disputes lawyer specialising in shipping, commodities and commercial litigation, joined from Clifford Chance LLP and Squire Patton Boggs, respectively.
On the employer front, Keystone Law provides advisory, transactional and contentious support for a range of domestic and international clients. The employment team has been significantly boosted in recent months by a raft of new arrivals, including Nick Tsatsas and Angharad Harris, who joined from Fladgate LLP and Watson Farley & Williams LLP, respectively, as well as other new additions from firms including Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Baker McKenzie. The individuals who make up the team are drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds, providing a broad experience base, with sectors covered including financial services, retail, hospitality, marketing, sport, education, charity and transport.
Paul Daniels is recommended as a Leading Individual and also appears in the Hall of Fame for this area.
EMPLOYMENT: SENIOR EXECUTIVES
The lawyers who make up Keystone Law’s employment team have a strong track record of advising high-net-worth individuals and senior executives on high-profile employment issues, such as discrimination, whistleblowing and sexual harassment. Key clients include senior executives at major brands across a range of sectors including media and entertainment, financial services, sport, property and leisure. Paul Daniels now leads the team after joining from Slater and Gordon in early 2018; he is one of a raft of new recruits to have come on board in recent months, including Nick Tsatsas and Angharad Harris from Fladgate LLP and Watson Farley & Williams LLP respectively.
Other key lawyers: Rachel Tozer
INSURANCE AND REINSURANCE LITIGATION
Keystone Law’s insurance disputes lawyers handle coverage disputes and claims in the aviation, construction, property, personal injury, cyber insurance and professional indemnity sectors. Jane Harte-Lovelace focuses on workplace safety and property damage disputes, while Jason Kallis covers product liability and personal injury claims. James Crabtree, who joined from Cooley (UK) LLP in November 2018, advises on a wide range of issues in the insurance and reinsurance space.
PERSONAL INJURY: DEFENDANT
Keystone Law handles the full range of defendant personal injury matters arising from accidents at work, public liability issues, industrial disease and abuse. The team receives instructions from insurers, local authorities, self-insured organisations as well as income protection providers. Steven Conway is the go-to lawyer for local authority litigation and Cordelia Rushby stands out for representing defendants in substantial claims for psychiatric loss. The department also includes Naomi Hatchard, who has experience in claims involving foreign and multi-jurisdictional issues.
PRODUCT LIABILITY: DEFENDANT
Keystone Law’s team is regularly instructed by insurance companies to handle a variety of product liability matters; it is experienced in handling disputes that arise from international trade and has a specialised marine practice. Key contacts at the firm are Antony Colman, who has strength in multiple sectors, including technology, food and medical devices, and Jason Kallis, who is a key contact for product recalls and resulting claims.
Zoë Bloom is a key member of the team at Keystone Law. The group was pleased to add Richard Collins from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and Caroline Kelly from Mishcon de Reya LLP to its ranks. It has dedicated children law specialists in addition to financial, property and more general separation lawyers. The team predominantly advises wealthy individuals often with complex situations both domestically and international.
The client list for Keystone Law’s planning practice comprises developers, local authorities and high-net-worth individuals, who instruct the team on a range of planning mandates. The team is particularly active in planning disputes, with expertise in promoting planning refusal appeals as well as promoting planning permission appeals in defence of client’s interests by way of judicial review. Mixed-use redevelopment schemes and site acquisitions (including green belt property) are strong points for the non-contentious side of the practice, with Ben Garbett offering expertise on all stages of the planning and transactional processes.
Other key lawyers: Oliver Goodwin
Keystone Law helps a range of clients from celebrities to large corporates protect their reputation. The firm acts for claimants and defendants alike and has special expertise in matters related to intellectual property violations, as well as brand exploitation and protection. The ‘extremely accomplished’ department head Jonathan Coad takes on the majority of the workload in this practice area. He receives key support from Sofia Syed, who provides advice to ultra-high-net-worth individuals and handles matters with an employment aspect, such as contentious terminations.
Keystone Law‘s team benefits from ‘a great roster of talent’ and provides ‘responsive, cost-effective advice and robust litigation support and execution’; the group’s expertise spans a range of disputes, non-contentious matters and transactions. Anthony Misquitta is a name to note for SME companies and software, technology, fashion, media and entertainment sector clients, while Jeremy Schrire is highlighted for his commercial IP expertise. The team has been bolstered by the arrival of the ‘outstanding’ Rebecca Halford-Harrison, who focuses on patent litigation for chemical industry clients, and ‘absolutely excellent’ trade mark specialist Karen Fong; they joined from Kemp Little LLP and Collyer Bristow LLP respectively.
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT (INCLUDING MEDIA FINANCE)
Keystone Law handles contentious and non-contentious instructions across the advertising, marketing, publishing and photography industries. The team acts for corporations and individuals on a range of reputation management and privacy matters, and acts for broadcasters and publishers on defamation and privacy disputes. High-profile work includes representing TV personality Noel Edmonds on a £65m claim against HBOS. The team is also active in the marketing and advertising space where it advises on sales promotions, consumer rewards-schemes, sponsorship and endorsement agreements, lotteries, games, merchandising and regulatory matters.
Other key lawyers: Jonathan Coad, Ian Down
At Keystone Law, equine expert Rachel Flynn has a niche in advising horseracing clients on the full range of contentious and non-contentious matters, including employment issues and acquisitions. Paul Daniels and Nick Tsatsas, who joined the firm in 2018, also have employment expertise, advising clubs and sportspeople on dismissals, discrimination, whistleblowing and contract disputes. In the commercial space the team also advises individuals and private companies on IP, copyright and sponsorship matters.
Keystone Law has ‘excellent knowledge and experience of the industry’. It is instructed on contentious and non-contentious aviation mandates where it acts for major airlines, airports, government departments, regulators, manufacturers, insurers, trade associations and ground handlers. UK and EU competition law and state aid issues are a key focus; here the team was recently bolstered by the arrival of Philippe Ruttley from Ince. The team also offers in-depth experience in regulatory work where barrister Hugh O’Donovan is particularly active; O’Donovan led advice for Blue Islands on a formal investigation by Channel Islands competition authorities (CICRA) into franchise arrangements between it and Flybe.
Other key lawyers: Trevor Sears, Alex Ferrari
Keystone Law’s ‘fast-acting’ marine and shipping offering ‘delivers a personalised service’. It handles an array of contentious and non-contentious shipping work. On the contentious side, insurance disputes, collisions, regulatory breaches, charterparty disputes, crew claims, personal injury claims, yacht arrests, cargo disputes and salvage claims are key focuses. Non-contentious work includes yacht construction contracts, refit and management contracts, crew agreements and sale and purchase work. The team advises major yacht distributor Sunseeker London Group on marine matters.
SOUTH WEST: CONSTRUCTION
Keystone Law, whose team in the South West is part of a wider UK construction group, provides partner-led advice on both contentious and non-contentious construction matters. The names to note at the firm are Louise Garcia, Martin Howe, Jon Close and Tom Phillips. Practitioners undertake work across a number of industries, including the education, transport, healthcare, central and local government, energy, waste, and leisure sectors. In addition to acting for employers, the firm acts for contractors, sub-contractors and consultants.
SOUTH WEST: IT AND TELECOMS
Keystone Law in Bristol advises an array of businesses, including start-ups and large companies, on IT contracts and data protection issues. The firm retains strong links with businesses in the local area, supporting new companies and SMEs on technology acquisitions and licensing requirements. Both practice head Jessica Bent and Charlie White are recent arrivals to the firm, joining from Royds Withy King and Edwin Coe LLP respectively.
SOUTH WEST: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Keystone Law assists businesses, which range from start-ups to large corporations, with copyright and database rights, trade mark registrations, patent licensing and dispute resolution. Jessica Bent, who is a recent arrival from Royds Withy King, advises on both contentious and non-contentious issues. Charlie White, who joined from Edwin Coe LLP, is experienced in IP-related commercial contracts and data protection.
ISLE OF MAN: BANKING AND FINANCE
Crossing over with its corporate practice, Keystone Law has a particular strength in real estate finance. Sally Cranshaw and Geoff Kermeen have expertise in financing of UK real estate, as does William Margot. Hazel Dawson joined from DQ, bringing with her high-yield expertise.
Hazel Dawson and William Margot are recognised as Next Generation Partners in this area.
ISLE OF MAN: CORPORATE AND COMMERCIAL
Keystone Law handles a range of work, with a particular strength in UK real estate. Stephen Rodd handles a mixture of M&A deals, many of which concern on-island assets and deals. Sally Cranshaw and Geoff Kermeen are notable names for handling the Manx elements of UK real estate deals. William Margot’s practice also includes on-island commercial contracting work. Hazel Dawson is a new hire from DQ. John Melia, who joined from Appleby, is qualified in the BVI.
William Margot is recognised as a Next Generation Partner in this area.
ISLE OF MAN: DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Keystone Law’s three-partner practice enjoys particular strength in acting on some of the Isle of Man’s leading insolvency mandates, with Gillian Christian a noteworthy name in this field. The team’s offering was further bolstered with the addition of Andrew Marshall from Gough Law, who brings a wealth of expertise in trust and property disputes as well as fraud and fiduciary breach matters. Rachel Berry represents defendants backed by leading insurers in high-value personal injury claims. The client base comprises liquidators, financial services providers, retailers and hospitality businesses.
ISLE OF MAN: EMPLOYMENT
The team at Keystone Law, led by Gillian Christian, recently advised on the employment aspects of a number of significant business entrances to the Isle of Man, handling work permits, employment contracts, handbook policy reviews, and incentive and share plans. Rachel Berry assists Christian on contentious matters for trust companies, corporate service providers, hospitality businesses and retailers for mandates including constructive dismissal claims, data protection issues, disciplinary procedures and discrimination claims.
Other key lawyers: Ben Hughes
ISLE OF MAN: INSURANCE AND PENSIONS
Keystone Law’s leading pensions practice advises on the full range of matters, with considerable strength in creating domestic and international schemes for publicly listed corporations, insurers, banks and pension providers. Renowned pensions expert Ben Hughes often acts as counsel to leading UK and US firms on pensions-specific issues arising from corporate transactions, and also advises Isle of Man Government departments on issues including Pension Ombudsman claims and public sector pension obligations.
Ben Hughes also appears in the Hall of Fame for this area.
Other key lawyers: Gillian Christian
NORTHERN IRELAND: CORPORATE AND M&A
Keystone Law acts for listed and unlisted clients but has been particularly active in public company M&A. The team advises on domestic and cross-border transactions, with particular expertise in the aerospace and healthcare sectors, as well as handling the corporate aspects of real estate financing and forward funding. ‘Very capable’ Belfast office head John McMahon leads the practice. London-based consultant JP Irvine has strong experience acting for major regulated utilities.
NORTHERN IRELAND: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
The ‘very capable’ team at Keystone Law is noted for its advice to developers on major local leisure, residential and student accommodation projects. The office sector is also an area of strength, with the team regularly acting for landlords and tenants on leasing arrangements. The ‘excellent’ Danny McKay leads the team. Jim Houston, whose areas of expertise include advising national and international funds on the acquisition of Northern Irish property portfolios, is also a key contact.
YORKSHIRE: PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE: CLAIMANT
Keystone Law’s Yorkshire professional negligence offering is led by Leeds-based solicitor Jonathan Watmough. His substantial experience includes working for indemnity insurers, while he has also previously acted on the defendant side, meaning he has extra insight to offer clients. He mainly acts in tax-related cases against accountants and insurance brokers, while conveyancing claims are also a key source of work.
*Leading individuals feature in bold