Keystone Law has celebrated another stellar year in leading legal guide The Legal 500 2021. The firm ranked in 31 practice areas, and achieved 92 individual lawyer mentions, 12 Leading Individual acknowledgements, and 4 Next Generation Partners recognitions.
Find out more about what The Legal 500 had to say about our ranked practice areas, below.
The team at Keystone Law is ‘one of the best for a thorough understanding of licensing’ and fields ‘a diverse range of committed, thoughtful practitioners’. The firm’s expertise spans the full gamut of licensing matters, including enforcement issues, noise complaints, regulated entertainment and late night refreshment, and temporary event notices. For clients in the hospitality industry, Gareth Hughes, who is also a ‘fine and fluent advocate’, is the key name to note. Andrew Wong is ‘especially strong when acting for bluechip restaurant, hotel and bar operators’ and is also recommended for his commercial approach. Niall McCann is noted for achieving ‘excellent results’, especially when advising nightclubs, off-licences and events spaces. James Daglish also recently joined from Goodman Derrick LLP.
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.
COMMERCIAL LITIGATION: MID-MARKET
Keystone Law’s litigation experience includes general commercial litigation, as well as advice in more specialist areas such as fraud, shipping, aviation, financial services and cross-border matters across significant jurisdictions. Alex Ferrari‘s practice covers various sectors and encompasses both domestic and international disputes; Matthew Reach advises on business-related and company disputes, including financial services and securities litigation; while Robert Lawrie acts in cases involving shareholder disputes, general commercial litigation, and fraud allegations. Elaine Chan also recently joined from Ward Hadaway’s Manchester office.
M&A: SMALLER DEALS, UP TO £50M
Keystone Law is known for its work with SMEs and entrepreneurs; its practitioners are particularly active within the TMT, healthcare and real estate sectors. Recent work has included advising high-growth businesses such as start-ups, and on the acquisition of companies with publicly traded shares. The firm continues to recruit heavily, having recently taken on lawyers from McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP and Squire Patton Boggs. Although there is no official practice head as such, Nadim Zaman, Andrew Stilton and Geoffrey Davies are all key names to note for M&A matters.
Keystone Law underwent significant expansion during 2019, and now has a significant presence in the prime central London arena. Ian Cooke and Sakhjit Randhawa arrived from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP; both have excellent reputations for advising high-net-worth individuals looking to make sales, purchases, or disposals on the prime London market. The pair’s client lists include high-profile individuals such as celebrities and the owners of large businesses. Katie Cohen is a specialist in leasehold enfranchisement and also assists clients with the sale and purchase of freeholds. Johnny Drysdale is another notable addition, having arrived from Macfarlanes LLP in 2019.
GAMING AND BETTING
The practitioners at Keystone Law advise gambling operators on issues such as regulatory law, corporate transactions, gaming duty, commercial agreements, debt recovery and data protection. Richard Williams and Niall McCann are both specialist regulatory lawyers; the former handles operating licences and the risks of operating in international markets, while the latter focuses on lotteries, competitions and promotional draws. The team has both land-based and online gaming expertise and is therefore able to advise casinos and adult gaming centres as well as online betting and lottery operators.
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT (INCLUDING MEDIA FINANCE)
Keystone Law’s ‘highly experienced’ media practice has experts in a range of industries including the music, publishing, advertising, fashion and arts sectors. Nicola Thatcher focuses on advising publishing clients at the pre-publication stage, and Vanessa Barnett advises technology companies on commercial IP, data protection and contractual considerations, while Ian Down focuses on marketing and advertising matters. Additions to the team include Gerard Cukier, who joined the practice from Kingsley Napley LLP adding ‘tremendous experience’ in a range of commercial and contentious matters, particularly reputation management issues; and music expert Nick Weaser from Clintons.
EMPLOYMENT: EMPLOYERS and EMPLOYMENT: SENIOR EXECUTIVES
Keystone Law now has one of the largest bench of employment practitioners in the UK and is continuing to grow, with a number of new recruits in the past year. Alistair French – ‘a true champion for senior executives’ – joined from Brahams Dutt Badrick French LLP in May 2019 at partner-level, followed by Rob Eldridge from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP in December 2019. Other recent arrivals include Chris Goodwill, former global head of employment law at Clifford Chance LLP, who joined as a consultant in May 2019. The diverse team has expertise in every area of employment law; key individuals Nick Tsatsas and Angharad Harris both advise employers and senior executives, and Paul Daniels, focuses on work for senior executives.
Keystone Law is instructed on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters for major airlines, airports, ground handlers, aircraft and engine manufacturers, leasing companies, financiers and insurers. It has experience advising on UK and EU competition law, state aid issues, UK and EU merger regulation, and IATA regulatory issues. Hugh O’Donovan is best known for his regulatory capabilities, Alex Ferrari handles insurance disputes, and Simon Murfitt is skilled in aviation finance. Susannah Sheppard focuses on competition mandates.
Keystone Law’s team represents clients in commercial fraud and financial crime disputes, spanning bribery, corruption, money laundering, disciplinary and regulatory issues, among other areas. ‘Formidable opponent’ Robert Lawrie has notable expertise in complex fraud, claims against directors and shareholders disputes. Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs focuses on cross-border fraud in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Solicitor Bledi Albri, who recently joined the firm from Cubism, has particular expertise in arbitration proceedings and multijurisdictional cases.
Keystone Law stands out for its non-contentious work, which includes drafting partnership agreements and setting up LLPs. Other areas of expertise include alternative business structures, mergers and restructurings, as well as regulatory issues and disputes. Emma Clark excels in non-contentious work, while Peter Garry is a seasoned partnership disputes lawyer.
PERSONAL INJURY: DEFENDANT
At Keystone Law, Steven Conway has particular experience defending insurers and local authorities against a wide variety of liability claims brought against them. The team also includes Cordelia Rushby, who is ‘completely on top of her game’ when acting for income protection providers, manufacturers, and employers on a whole range of claims, including employers’ and occupiers’ liability.
PRODUCT LIABILITY: DEFENDANT
Keystone Law has considerable experience in property damage claims arising from fire and escape of water following the failure of a used product as well as international trade issues; it handles matters in various European jurisdictions and primarily acts for large insurers. Antony Colman is well versed in the industry and electrical goods sectors, while Jason Kallis is knowledgeable of consumer goods cases.
Keystone Law’s shipping practitioners handle a broad range of contentious and non-contentious matters. Key figures include Jonathan Hadley-Piggin and Anastasia Papadopoulou; Hadley-Piggin offers expertise in the yacht and superyacht space, while Papadopoulou handles commercial work including ship transactions, charter parties and shipbuilding. George Lambrou is ‘a real troubleshooter’ and handles international shipping litigation, particularly in Greece and Eastern Europe. Fei Mao and Alison Marriott joined from Ince in November 2019.
Other key lawyers: Philippe Ruttley
Keystone Law acts for and against professionals, entrepreneurs, wealthy individuals and those in the public eye, and frequently advises parties with several billion pounds’ worth of assets; recent cases include acting against one of people mentioned in the top ten of the Sunday Times Rich List. Its cases frequently have an international dimension, involving foreign nationals or offshore assets. There have been a number of senior additions to the group, including Susan Apthorp from Sears Tooth. Names to note include Zoë Bloom and Caroline Kelly.
In November 2020 Keystone Law recruited Chris Hill and Greg Barnbrook from Fletcher Day; the duo have a strong track record in commercial real estate litigation and residential disputes, including landlord and tenant matters and development-related litigation.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: PATENTS (CONTENTIOUS AND NON-CONTENTIOUS)
Rebecca Halford–Harrison is a key name at Keystone Law for patent litigation services. Halford-Harrison is currently involved in patent infringement and licensing disputes across a diverse range of sectors including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, energy and consumer products. Additionally, the team is advising on IP strategy and in the highly complex field of AI-driven competitive gaming technology. Corporate partners including Jeremy Schrire take on commercialisation, R&D and licensing matters.
The planning offering at Keystone Law is strong in (General Permitted Development) Order (GPDO) matters and has recently gained a number of notable new clients across the construction, house development, retail and infrastructure sectors. Ben Garbett is a specialist in judicial reviews and leads the practice alongside Oliver Goodwin, an experienced planning lawyer with expertise in major urban regeneration schemes and complex environmental assessments.
Other key lawyers: Yohanna Weber
Acting on both sides of reputation management matters, Keystone Law can field specialist practitioners across an array of work, ranging from defamation and privacy claims, to media relations, regulatory complaints, brand protection and risk management. Spanning more than three decades of experience in the field, Gerard Cukier provides legal representation to high-profile individuals, sports personalities and media clients. Nicola Thatcher focuses on advising publishers at the pre-publication stage, while Sofia Syed is regularly instructed by global brands and diplomatic families in relation to reputation protection issues.
INSURANCE AND REINSURANCE LITIGATION
Keystone Law acts for insurers and reinsurers in coverage disputes across aviation, construction, property and personal injury insurance policies. Key individuals in the team are Jane Harte-Lovelace and Jason Kallis; Harte-Lovelace focuses on disputes involving property, while Kallis’ practice covers a range of insurance areas. The group also includes James Crabtree and product liability specialist Antony Colman.
Keystone Law boasts a number of lawyers with strong credentials for disputes concerning equestrian sports and football. Rachel Flynn has a specialism in horseracing and equine sports, offering expertise on the governance of equine authorities, as well as commercial arrangements and disputes concerning horses. Football work is handled by Paul Daniels and Nick Tsatsas, who both share a strong emphasis on employment-related disputes, with Daniels mainly representing managers and Tsatsas advising managers, players and agents.
Keystone Law’s venture capital specialists include Dee Sian, Nadim Zaman and Catherine Williams; all three offer expertise in private equity, while also handling a broad range of other corporate matters for VC clients, covering buyouts, investment and financing, among others. Clients are drawn from sectors including tech, healthcare, media and energy.
ISLE OF MAN: BANKING, FINANCE AND CAPITAL MARKETS
Keystone Law has distinguished itself in the market due to its strong focus on real estate finance. Sally Cranshaw and Geoff Kermeen act for lenders, developers and investors in deals concerning trophy properties in the United Kingdom in the office, retail and logistics spaces. William Margot is also active in this space as well as asset finance, and Hazel Dawson contributes capital markets expertise.
William Margot and Hazel Dawson are recognised as Next Generation Partners for this area.
ISLE OF MAN: CORPORATE & COMMERICAL
Real estate deals concerning Manx structures holding international assets are the standout strength of Keystone Law, with Geoff Kermeen and Sally Cranshaw particularly active in multi-jurisdictional matters concerning assets in the UK and beyond. Stephen Rodd also focuses on real estate deals but is also very active in the technology and gaming industries. William Margot has a track record of work including mergers and acquisitions in the corporate service provider space, among other deals inside and outside the regulated financial services industry.
ISLE OF MAN: DISPUTE RESOLUTION
The team at Keystone Law is led by Gillian Christian, who is known primarily for professional negligence defence and insolvency work, with additional expertise in commercial, trust and employment disputes. Her professional negligence work tends to involve the legal and financial services sectors. Working alongside her is Andrew Marshall who has carved a niche in the proceeds of crime space, most notably in challenging restraint orders.
Andrew Marshall is also recognised as a Next Generation Partner for this area of law.
ISLE OF MAN: EMPLOYMENT
Keystone Law’s litigation team includes Gillian Christian who has a practice covering the contentious aspects of employment law, and ‘exceptional employment lawyer’ Andrew Marshall. Rachel Berry is another important member of the team with broad expertise in employment that includes immigration, as well as contentious and non-contentious labour law matters.
ISLE OF MAN: INSURANCE AND PENSIONS
Ben Hughes at Keystone Law is ‘widely regarded as the pensions expert in the Isle of Man’, with expertise in advising on occupational and personal pension schemes in areas such as establishment, maintenance, restructuring and insolvency. He has been advising on both domestic and international pension schemes.
Ben Hughes also appears in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame for this area.
NORTHERN IRELAND: CORPORATE AND M&A
Keystone Law’s practice is led by John McMahon, who is an expert in corporate and commercial matters with strong sector expertise in the property, energy and retail industries. McMahon is qualified in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as England and Wales.
NORTHERN IRELAND: COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
Keystone Law’s real estate lawyers have advised on a range of major commercial property developments, covering the office, leisure and residential sectors. Jim Houston is a key name and is an expert in transactions, lease agreements, as well as rent reviews and renewals. Also recommended is Danny McKay who is particularly strong in conveyancing and licensing issues.
SOUTH WEST: CONSTRUCTION
Advising clients regionally and nationally, Keystone Law acts for employers, contractors, sub-contractors and consultants. Areas of speciality for the practice include the education, transport, infrastructure, health, energy, leisure and residential sectors. The key names in the team are contentious construction expert Louise Garcia; Martin Howe, who focuses on non-contentious construction law and procurement; Jon Close, who advises employers, contractors and engineers; and Tom Phillips, who has expertise in construction, development and finance law.
SOUTH WEST: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Jessica Bent and Charlie White make up Keystone Law’s IP team in the south west, advising on IP audits, trade mark registrations, copyright and design rights issues, commercialisation and dispute resolution issues, including invalidity actions.
YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER: PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE: CLAIMANT
Keystone Law acts for clients across the UK in claims against a broad range of professionals including solicitors, accountants and insurance brokers. Jonathan Watmough is the key practitioner in Yorkshire and leverages his previous experience working for leading professional indemnity insurers to represent businesses and high-net-worth individuals. Claims arising from conveyances are also an important sphere of work for the group.
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 is included in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame.
Financial Services: Non-Contentious/Regulatory – Adrian Shedden is a Leading Individual.
Charities and Not-For-Profit – Robert Meakin is a Leading Individual.
Family: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx – Ruth Abrams is included as a Next Generation Partner.
*Leading individuals feature in bold