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The Legal 500

The Legal 500 2017

The Legal 500 2017 has awarded Leigh Day top rankings in six main areas of its practice, with an impressive forty-four solicitors recommended, and ten (senior partner Martyn Day along with Claire Fazan, Russell Levy, Stephen Jones, Brendan HopeSally Moore, Jill PatersonFrances Swaine, Clare Campbell and Andrew Bradley) marked out as 'leading individuals’. Tom Jervis, Jamie Beagent, Rosa Curling and Tessa Gregory were identified as 'next-generation lawyers'.

Administrative and public law

Leigh Day is ‘regularly engaged in cutting-edge litigation’ and is retained by individuals and campaign groups as well as non-governmental organisations and charities such as Reprieve, Mencap and Amnesty International. Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK has instructed Jamie Beagent, ‘an up-and-coming star’, in disputing a proposal from Companies House to destroy company records, on the basis that protecting the data protection rights of company directors is allegedly prejudice to mesothelioma sufferers that are tracing historic torts. Through the efforts of the ‘outstanding’ and ‘fantastically hard working’ associate Rosa Curling, the Supreme Court ruled that the government had unlawfully discriminated against a married couple by implementing the Bedroom Tax for disabled adults. Department head Sean Humber ‘is a first-class prison lawyer’, whose human rights expertise also includes, environmental, discrimination and information law. The ‘extraordinary’ Tessa Gregory ‘instils others with the same drive and discipline that she brings to her cases’ and was made up to partner. Richard Stein retires from practice.

Civil Liberties

Leigh Day’s ‘exceptionally strong’ team has particular expertise in the international human rights space, where it is representing claimants in the first modern slavery case against a British company and acted in three separate Supreme Court cases pertaining to complicity in rendition and torture of detainees by state agents. The group is acting for foreign individuals in a number of claims against multinational corporations and government bodies in relation to human rights abuses committed overseas, including the mistreatment of individuals by British troops and the attacks on plantation workers during the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya. Sean Humber leads the human rights department and Martyn Day heads the international and group claims practice. Tessa Gregory, Emma Jones and the ‘smart, strategic and innovative’ Merry Varney were promoted to the partnership. Sapna Malik, the ‘client-focused’ Rosa Curling, Richard Meeran, ‘up and coming star’ Jamie Beagent, who specialises in immigration and environmental law, and historic claims expert Daniel Leader who ‘combines a strong intellect, hard work and great determination’, are also noted. The firm’s managing partner Frances Swaine is another key name.

Clinical negligence - claimant

Praised for its ‘superior’ expertise and ‘excellent value for money’, Leigh Day’s ‘professional, thorough and talented’ practice handles a range of clinical negligence cases, including delay in diagnosis, brain injury and birth-related injury claims. The firm was recently involved in a £5m wrongful birth claim resulting from a failure to identify foetal microcephaly, as well as concluding a £1.4m settlement in a fatal surgical negligence claim involving post-operative complications in an aortic root replacement surgery. Olive Lewin is singled out for her ‘exceptional ability’ and ‘particular experience in the highest-value cerebral palsy claims’. Claire Fazan is noted for representing children who have suffered a brain injury as a result of midwifery or obstetric negligence; she combines ‘excellent judgement with steely determination’ and is praised for her ability to ‘get the best deals for her clients’. Other key figures include ‘top solicitor’ and department head Russell Levy, the ‘excellent’ Nicola Wainwright and the ‘brilliant’ Suzanne White.

Leigh Day has two standout lawyers in the ‘excellent’ Stephen Jones who is ‘thoughtful, careful and realistic with a great bedside manner’, and the ‘intelligent, helpful and sympathetic’ Brendan Hope, who is a ‘fantastic lawyer’. Hope joined the practice from Slater and Gordon. The group is ‘meticulous at looking into every aspect of the claim’, and has extensive experience of acting in high-value complex claims in areas such as cerebral palsy, brain injury, spinal injury and amputation. Jones is also known for his work representing families at inquests.

Employment: employee/union firms

A ‘first port of call’ for many clients, Leigh Day’s department of ‘savvy and aggressive litigators’ often handles high-profile group claims, with a particular strength in the technology sector. Practice head Chris Benson (an ‘excellent tactician and creative lawyer’) and the ‘very knowledgeable and intelligent’ Michael Newman represented more than 100 construction workers in a blacklisting claim against various companies. Associate Nigel Mackay represented a group of drivers in an Employment Tribunal claim brought against Uber regarding employment status. Associate Shubha Banerjee is representing more than 200 judges in age discrimination and indirect sex and race discrimination claims arising from changes to judicial pensions in 2015 which required younger judges to leave the scheme.  Emma Satyamurti, Elizabeth George and the ‘impeccable’ Nick Webster are also recommended. Kiran Daurka joined from Slater and Gordon.

London-based Chris Benson heads a ‘very responsive’ team at Leigh Day that includes associate solicitor Mike Cain, who is ‘outstandingly creative; if one approach doesn’t work, he will try really hard to find another one that does’. The team handles the full range of employment matters for claimants and trade unions, including issues concerning equal pay, working time rights and the national minimum wage. The GMB Union is a client. The team is representing up to 20,000 individuals in equal pay claims in addition to a significant number of senior executives on matters such as favourable exit terms.

Employment: senior executives

Leigh Day’s ‘excellent, professional and knowledgeable’ group specialises in handling high-value disputes on behalf of senior executives. Practice head Chris Benson regularly represents clients before the High Court, with particular strength in disability discrimination, equal pay and pensions litigation. Kiran DaurkaEmma Satyamurti and the ‘very responsive and knowledgeable’ Michael Newman are also recommended, as is associate Paula Lee, who is an ‘extremely capable and strong communicator’.


Leigh Day is well known in the market as a ‘leading claimant firm for public law environmental challenges’, and the team is involved in many of the most high-profile environmental cases, both nationally and abroad. Daniel Leader focuses on international work and is acting for the Ogale and Bille communities in claims against Royal Dutch Shell and Shell Nigeria relating to damage suffered from oil spillages in the Niger Delta. On the UK front, Richard Stein was active in various judicial review claims seeking to overturn local authority grants of planning for fracking. Stein’s other work included acting for ClientEarth and DG Cars in a potential claim against the Secretary of State for Transport for failure to adhere to EU regulations on vehicle emissions. Other names to note include Sean Humber, who is acting in a series of cases relating to serious health risks posed by environmental tobacco smoke, and Shanta Martin, who has ‘pursued groundbreaking claims to secure justice for victims of modern slavery in the UK’. Martyn Day heads the department.

Personal injury - claimant

Leigh Day’s ‘first-class’ team of ‘extremely committed and able lawyers’ is ‘a leader in the field’ and ‘devoted to the interests of its clients’. The firm represents a range of clients, including individuals, companies and public bodies, and is experienced in handling cases such as catastrophic spinal and brain injury, amputation and abuse claims. Department head Sally Moore has ‘broad experience’ in brain, spinal and amputation injuries and has handled high-profile fatal and severe injury claims involving cyclists. Other key figures include Martyn Day, who heads the international group claims department; the ‘careful and quietly effective’ Daniel Easton, who is ‘very experienced, organised and understanding of the issues at hand’ and specialises in industrial disease and personal injury, including complex high-value asbestos claims; the ‘fearless and determined’ Harminder Bains, who is ‘highly motivated and a formidable opponent’ and has expertise in asbestos cases and serious injury claims; and the ‘clever and measured’ Vijay Ganapathy, who specialises in public accident and child injury cases.

Leigh Day provides ‘a high level of service and dedication’. The team is singled out for its ‘truly expert service to those who have been injured abroad; the lawyers have real in-depth expertise in travel package claims and injuries that have occurred in the air or at sea’. Key figures include the ‘very thorough’ Andrew Bradley and the ‘tenacious’ Clare Campbell, who is an ‘outstanding cross-border personal injury lawyer with extensive experience of handling tricky jurisdictional issues and is committed to achieving the best possible result for her client’. At a more junior level Joseph Dawson is a ‘very knowledgeable and confident; he is a rising star’. The team is also very skilled in the niche area of cycling claims. Ben Hacking is ‘extremely knowledgeable about cycling claims’. Kevin Johnson is one of the ‘leading solicitors in the North West for asbestos claims’; he has an ‘extremely reassuring manner with clients’ and joined the team from Slater and Gordon to assist in opening the firm’s new Liverpool office.

Private client - Court of Protection

Leigh Day is ‘a force to be reckoned with, and is one of the firms at the forefront of mental capacity issues’, with Sean Humber leading ‘an excellent COP team’. It includes the ‘practical and very knowledgeable’ Emma Jones and Merry Varney, who were promoted to partner; Frances Swaine, who specialises in human rights law and is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor in best interests applications; and solicitor Anna Moore, who has ‘tremendous judgement and excellent client skills’. Its recent work includes advising on withdrawal of treatment cases and residence issues, in addition to contact and care matters. Clients include the Official Solicitor, relatives of protected individuals, and charities (as intervenors). Solicitor Kate Egerton is instructed by the Official Solicitor on behalf of a young adult with learning difficulties who does not have the capacity to make decisions about contact with her family.

Product Liability - claimant

Leigh Day fields ‘an outstanding team of talented individuals’, who are at the forefront of group litigation. Bozena Michalowska Howells ‘has an excellent understanding of scientific issues’ that underpin group actions concerning pharmaceutical and medical devices, and is representing 312 claimants in a dispute with DePuy Synthes regarding injuries that were allegedly caused by the early failure of the Pinnacle hip prostheses. The ‘tenacious and extremely hard working’ Jill Paterson, together with clinical trials and product safety expert Gene Matthews, is representing 157 individuals in proceedings against Corin, which faces allegations its Corin Cormet 2000 Hip Resurfacing System was defective, resulting in early failure and the development of adverse reactions to metal debris. Additional work streams for the group include claims relating to food poisoning, cosmetic products and faulty white goods. Tower block residents have retained Paterson in litigation against Whirlpool regarding a fire that was allegedly caused by an Indesit tumble dryer. Department head Martyn Day is ‘a leading light’ with ‘experience that is not matched elsewhere in the field’ and consumer rights expert Michelle Victor ‘leaves no stone unturned in pursuing the client’s interests’. The ‘outstandingly bright and phenomenally hardworking’ Sarah Moore was promoted to associate with Thomas Jervis, who is ‘not only a knowledgeable and skilled litigator, but is compassionate and empathetic’.

Travel - Personal Injury

Leigh Day’s ‘highly-rated’ team handles a range of international personal injury claims for claimants. It is representing a claimant who suffered serious injuries while working in India, and is acting for the family of a child who drowned while on a package holiday in Egypt. The team also receives referrals from British Cycling and British Triathlon Federation, when members suffer injuries abroad. Manchester-based Clare Campbell has ‘great judgement’ and leads the team alongside Sally Moore in London. Also recommended are Christine Tallon, who is ‘very able’, and solicitor Joseph Dawson, who recently joined from Irwin Mitchell.

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