In this ebriefing, we identify what we see as the key messages arising from recent prosecutions in the care and housing sectors.
We are delighted to have maintained our position as a top-tier firm in four of our practice areas in the Legal 500, along with a record number of our lawyers being ranked as leading individuals and rising stars.
The firm’s Tier 1 rankings include the practice areas of charities and not-for-profit, family, local government and social housing.
We are also thrilled to receive a ranking for our North West social housing offering; despite this being the first year we submitted for this region; joining our rankings for the West Midlands and London work areas. Our strength in social housing is recognised as a ‘nationwide offering’, with our Manchester office providing us with additional capability for company growth.
A total of 40 lawyers are mentioned by name in Legal 500 UK commentary for their standout contribution to respective practices.
Our formally ranked lawyers include:
Hall of fame
- Rankeshwar Batta (Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant)
- Jas Tamber (Family)
- Natalie Singh (Social housing: finance)
- Olwen Brown (Local government)
- Peter Hubbard (Social housing)
- Rankeshwar Batta (Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant)
- Tim Coolican (General crime and fraud)
- Victoria Jardine (Social housing)
- Alex Lawrence (Local government)
- Ann Houghton (Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant)
- Doug Mullen (Pensions)
- Gayle Monk (Local government)
- Lisa Whitehouse (Personal tax, trusts and probates)
- Maria Ramon (Family)
- Phil Scully (Property litigation)
- Sarah Huntbach (Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant)
- Victoria Fullilove (Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant)
Some comments from Legal 500 include:
Charities and not-for-profit
- ‘The whole team is outstanding. Edwina Turner is technically superb, immensely experienced and has excellent client handling skills – she is a real person of integrity. Phil Watts is also outstanding‘.
- ‘It has a deep knowledge of the social care market. John Wearing is dependable and brings a lot of experience‘.
- ‘Every member of the team has always delivered, on time and with high-quality work. The lawyers know their stuff and I can rely on their advice 100%, which really helps my organisation to be less exposed than it otherwise would be. Each team member has also been really good at explaining concepts of law and answering my questions in plain English which really helps me to do my job advising funders and our board properly‘.
- ‘Dominic Curran is highly responsive, especially in a crisis. What makes Dom stand out is that he always delivers sage, pragmatic advice and I’m much clearer on what to do after speaking to him‘.
- ‘The lawyers go beyond what is asked of them to provide an integrated and efficient service. Esther Campsall stands out for her patient, thorough and good-humoured approach‘.
- ‘Anthony Collins provides a first-class service in all areas of family law. The practice is unique in the area and indeed nationally in having such a large team covering all aspects of family law‘.
- ‘Jas Tamber is absolutely first-rate for public law children work, a top, top lawyer‘.
- ‘Chris Lloyd-Smith is doing incredibly well, the firm is a “go-to mediation firm” and Chris is a “go-to” mediator‘.
- ‘Liz Wyatt is very experienced and has a fantastic rapport with clients‘.
- ‘ACS is probably the best solicitors’ firm in the Midlands for children law – the firm takes only the very best and all its lawyers are extremely driven and focused‘.
- ‘ACS solicitors always work as part of our team. They are responsive and communicative, and always achieve even very tight deadlines. They build trusting and valued relationships.’
- ‘ACS has a culture and set of business ethics which is perhaps uniquely appropriate to the social housing and not-for-profit sectors which it serves so well. Crucially, though, the firm’s ethics do not dilute the professionalism and commerciality of the legal team and the advice and support they provide, which I’ve always found to be first-class.’
- ‘Victoria Jardine is excellent – commercial and pragmatic while always keenly focused on achieving the right outcomes for her clients.’
- ‘We can rely on first-class, in-depth knowledge of social housing and leasehold issues. When relying on a legal partner this is a huge strength as we know the advice we receive is rock solid, based on real-life experience and not just from a book. This sets ACS apart from others in the sphere.’
- ‘Jonathan Cox has a unique blend of vast and technical expertise and hands-on knowledge combined with an approachable, friendly manner. He stands out as one of those rare experts who is a pleasure to work with.’
- ‘The team understands what the needs of the client are in local government circles (in particular political) and this is demonstrated by other members of the team from differing backgrounds. The practice has particular specialists in key local government areas and is not always driven by money and can work with an authority to have a productive relationship.‘
- ‘Really good responsive service, excellent senior partner leadership but also when needed very capable associate support. They often go the extra mile and you feel as though you are building a constructive relationship with various team members.’
Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant
- ‘The team is organised and hardworking. Rankeshwar Batta – knowledgeable, diligent and a great team player – leads an efficient and goal-orientated team. Its strengths are very good communication and listening skills‘.
- ‘The professionalism, technical expertise and dedication to clients is outstanding. I have particular respect for Rankeshwar Batta. I have also been impressed by David Evison, Sarah Huntbach and Victoria Fullilove – they will all respond to any enquiries promptly and efficiently‘.
- ‘One of the best teams in the Midlands if not the UK. Led by the nationally known Rankeshwar Batta. Fantastic history and track record. Batta – fantastic caseload, good fun, knowledgeable, clever’.
- ‘A practice that really focuses on the client. The team empowers the client to feel that they are a key member of the team‘.
- ‘Rankeshwar Batta is a truly excellent lawyer who is very empathetic, a recognised industry leader. Ann Houghton is hugely impressive‘.
- ‘Sarah Huntbach – dedicated, legally astute, good forensic analysis of the case. Very tenacious. Victoria Fullilove – clever, hardworking, good judgement, practice beyond her years‘.
Personal tax, trusts and probate
- ‘The team is forward-thinking and really going places under the creative leadership of Donna Holmes and rising star Lisa Whitehouse. The lawyers are known for doing the right thing by their clients for a fair price and have an enviable reputation in the marketplace. The team is innovative‘.
- ‘Donna Holmes is exceptional in her professionalism, natural understanding of her clients’ needs and her ability to relate to her clients. Whilst she has an ability to do the best for her clients she is always caring and considerate and at the same time can think “out of the box”.’
- ‘Donna Holmes is an exceptional deputy of great experience and knowledge. She leads a superb team and all team members take their lead from her. She is supremely professional but at the same time caring, understanding and patient. She always puts clients at ease at a very anxious period in their lives‘.
- ‘Lisa Whitehouse has excellent technical knowledge of probate and the ability to deal with contentious probate matters. Able to explain complex inheritance tax issues concisely and simply to non-specialists‘.
- ‘Lisa Whitehouse is increasingly a very important and respected adviser in the team‘.
- ‘Matthew Gregson is highly rated and experienced‘.
- ‘Anna Dabek and Matthew Wort – both are excellent in the social care and third sector – real thought leaders in this field‘.
- ‘The team’s understanding of issues in the social care sector and their close involvement in key sector-relevant cases put them ahead of competitors in their field. Anna Dabek and Matthew Wort [are recommended], but honestly all the employment team are consistently reliable and responsive‘.
- ‘Strong experience and technical knowledge in the property litigation field, coupled with the firm-wide social emphasis, working in sectors such as local government, housing, education, charities and social business.’
- ‘Jonathan Cox and Helen Tucker are stand-out partners. They both have great experience, knowledge, and judgement and commitment to their clients.’
- ‘Phil Scully is that stand-out associate for Property Litigation. He has strong experience and technical knowledge in the field. He is a very reliable practitioner, who manages to combine straight-talking advice with a pleasant, personable manner.’
Court of protection
- ‘From the partners down, all staff are incredibly professional, competent, caring and supportive of their clients. They are approachable.‘
- ‘The lawyers go the extra mile with clients to make them feel comfortable in what can be a most anxious situation.‘
- ‘Donna Holmes is outstanding in her work always. She gets to know the clients and treats them with the respect they deserve. Nothing is too much trouble for her. Many clients have learning difficulties and she shows enormous patience when explaining situations to them.‘
- ‘Anthony Collins is a large firm that covers many different practice areas, but each department has a small and personalised feel. If clients need support in more than one specialist area, they are able to receive this within the same firm.‘
- ‘Kirsty MacMillan really cares about her clients. She has developed a solid health and welfare practice which sits alongside the wider private client deputyship practice at the firm. She is able to build relationships with the most hard to reach clients.‘
Social housing: finance
- ‘From Jon Coane as partner and throughout the whole team, they adopt a professional, engaged and efficient approach to supporting clients. They have risen to the high challenges I have set them at times as a client and have always delivered no matter the situation. They are also easy to talk to and have practical and pragmatic conversations, alongside their focussed expert advice.
- ‘Sector knowledge, experience and presence in the social housing practice is strong. Good resourcing and availability.
- ‘Natalie Singh – Finance & funding – excellent commercial knowledge, excellent at finding practical solutions, delivery to schedule and budget.’
- ‘The funding team are a pleasure to work with. They are professional, skilled, knowledgeable people that you can rely on when dealing with complex legal matters. They go the extra mile to ensure that work is completed to deadline and find solutions when things are not going quite to plan. I have used other firms for funding legal work in the past but none have been so reliable and knowledgeable as ACS and as easy to work with.’
A recent High Court case on costs could prove essential reading for clients who have cases in the magistrates' courts.
The employment and pensions team offer practical advice on whistleblowing.
Partners, David Alcock and Sarah Patrice, have been involved in reviewing the new Code of Governance for community-led housing, published on 21 May 2021 by the Confederation for Coop Housing.
Following the eviction ban being lifted on 31 May 2021 and further to our previous ebriefing, the new notice of seeking possession forms are now available on the Government website as Word versions.
The European Court of Justice's standpoint on the Wiener Wohnen landowning developer case, and how the level of influence over the work did not amount to a decisive influence.
The Law Commission's Technical Issues in Charity Law report revealed that many charities struggle with a range of technical issue in the law.
The Law Commission recommended four key changes to the law in respect of mergers and the incorporation of charities which we have detailed in this ebriefing.
Over the last few weeks, we have published individual ebriefings on some of the key changes to be implemented following the Government’s response to the Law Commission’s report.
In April 2021, the Foreign Office halted funding for Oxfam following new allegations of sexual misconduct made against staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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