What a year 2016 has been. Political upheaval in the UK, turmoil, conflict and terrorism in so many parts of the world, tensions between East and West and one of the most divisive US election campaigns in history.
It’s been quite a year at DMH Stallard too, albeit a peaceful and prosperous one.
The unchartered political and legal territory that we journeyed to as a result of Brexit meant that we’ve been busy responding to businesses, individuals and the national and international media with our assessments of what the future holds.
In print, on the radio and on television, Rustom Tata, Chairman of DMH Stallard, has been in high demand discussing the implications of Brexit, explaining ‘that’ legal challenge, demystifying the High Court judgement and clarifying the relationship between the Supreme Court, Parliament and the Lisbon Treaty. Rustom said: “Little did I know that when Gina Miller and others challenged the government’s ability to use the Royal Prerogative as a means of avoiding a Parliamentary vote on the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, I would soon be sat in a BBC TV studio in Broadcasting House being interviewed about the ramifications in front of a worldwide audience of 270 million!”
The year has included more than a few high profile areas of work. The DMH Stallard corporate team has been consistently busy throughout 2016 managing multi-million pound mergers, acquisitions, flotations and placings.
Brexit certainly hasn’t slowed this sector, as Abigail Owen, Corporate Partner, confirmed: “After a lull pre-Brexit the legal market has bounced back with a bang. We have seen a continuous stream of transactions and there seems to be lots of money around for the right proposals.
“The economic data now coming out only reflects what we have seen on the ground - a very active market with lots of buyers and sellers fuelled by a cheaper pound and increasing overseas interest.”
The planning department has also been leading on numerous developments that are making the news.
DMH Stallard is well known for the work the in-house team of solicitors and planning professionals undertake on major building projects in the UK.
One such scheme is 2,750 new homes in Horsham. Working on behalf of the Liberty Property Trust, the firm is orchestrating plans that include a 500,000 sq ft business park, new schools, transport links and other community infrastructure.
Peter Rainier, Principal Director, said: “The submission of this major planning application is the culmination of six years’ work, which included the incorporation of the site into the strategic allocation of the Horsham District Planning Framework, adopted in November 2015.”
“The plan will provide housing, schools, employment, commercial opportunities, leisure facilities and the new transport routes needed to support them.”
Peter Rainier and his colleagues were also award winners in 2016 when their work on the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre in Lancing, the new training base for Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, was recognised as an exceptional example of planning in the South East.
The £32 million centre in Lancing won the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) South East top award for Excellence in Planning for Community and Well-being. The centre boasts a ‘category one status’ under the Premier League’s new Elite Players Performance Plan and ranks alongside any of the training grounds built by the biggest Premier League clubs.
Speaking about the performance centre, Paul Barber, Chief Executive at Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, described the venue as, ‘one of the finest football training and academy facilities anywhere in the world’.
Heidi Copland, Head of Planning, also went in front of the media when news broke about the government decision to opt for Heathrow in the battle with Gatwick over airport expansion.
As numerous groups lined up to challenge Theresa May’s decision, Heidi’s mobile was red hot with journalists keen to hear her expert insights, not least her assessment of the legal costs the government faces in defending its position.
She said: “The total legal bill is impossible to accurately estimate, suffice to say costs of all sides in this planning process will be considerable.
“The Treasury will have employed sophisticated financial modelling to gauge costs to the taxpayer and while we don’t know what the outcomes of this are, a complex legal dispute running over many years will mean afar from insignificant bill that the public purse will have to pick up.
“Combined with the fees for private actions, the costs will certainly run into seven, or even eight figures.”
With rapid growth across each of the firm’s offices in Gatwick, Brighton, Guildford and London, the HR department has also been busy making sure the very best talent in the sector chooses DMH Stallard when considering their next career move. This work has led to a number of high profile partner appointments in 2016.
Intellectual property (IP) and technology solicitor James Martin joined in the spring from City law firm, Fieldfisher. James’ track record in IP law has made him a regular speaker, lecturer and contributor in the media.
In September, his standing in the industry resulted in James being part of a UK delegation at the International Bar Association Annual Conference in Washington DC. He was invited to speak at the conference by the Government’s Ministry of Justice spokesman in the House of Lords, Lord Keen of Elie QC. Lord Keen said: “I am determined to assist UK law firms and UK lawyers succeed across the globe and develop business opportunities created by their world class reputation.”
Following the appointment of James, Mark Harden joined DMH Stallard as a partner in the firm’s London office.
Mark joined from Thrings and specialises in corporate and commercial transactions with particular emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate and project finance and all manner of commercial agreements.
Two more partners soon to arrive at DMH Stallard are Michael Nixon from Downs Solicitors who joins the real estate department, and our award winning corporate team will be expanding in our Guildford office with the arrival of a new partner.
The success of the firm in 2016 hasn’t gone unnoticed. Three renowned publications that benchmark the biggest and most successful law firms in the UK have recognised DMH Stallard as being among the best.
The firm secured a Top Tier rating in seven categories in the Legal 500 with over 20 individual recommendations and two partners recognised as ‘leading individuals’ in the legal sector. The Lawyer magazine officially ranked DMH Stallard in the Top 100 law firms in the UK after posting revenues of over £24m last year, while Chambers and Partners cited 19 members of the team as ‘leaders in the field’.
Richard Pollins, Managing Partner at DMH Stallard, said: “It’s been a great time for the firm and these rankings mirror our growth trajectory across London and the South East.”
In addition to the ‘day job’, DMH Stallard supports a number of good causes and charitable initiatives. We’ve highlighted two of many below:
Earlier this year, BBC South East TV interviewed Lucy Cory-Wright (pictured top right), a solicitor on the dispute resolution team, about her voluntary mentoring role working with IntoUniversity.
IntoUniversity helps young people from less affluent families go to university and is working in Moulsecoomb. With far fewer young people from disadvantaged families progressing to university than those who are not, the charity raises aspirations, assists with extra A-level study and helps students navigate their way through the university application process.
Lucy said: “Being from Brighton, it’s extremely rewarding to be part of a scheme that is doing such great things in the city.”
Claire Carberry is a Partner who specialises in the legal aspects of elderly care. She is also a Dementia Friends Champion.
Claire’s family has been significantly affected by dementia. Her grandma had it, her aunt has it and Claire’s mum now has late stage dementia and is in a specialist dementia nursing home.
In her role as a Dementia Friends Champion, Claire runs awareness sessions for anyone interested in knowing more about dementia and how to help people who have the condition.
Earlier this year, during Dementia Awareness Week in May, Claire was featured in numerous news articles and on the radio, talking about living with dementia and the legal steps families may have to take.
Claire said: “I was lucky. I’d managed to eventually persuade Mum to grant me a Power of Attorney so the legal side was in place. I do this for a living, so although I didn’t know all the answers, I knew where to go.
“If possible, have that difficult conversation with your parents now. It might be a tricky conversation now, but it will be a lot trickier when ‘in theory’ becomes reality.”
If you are worried about a member of your family you can get in touch with Claire on 01293 585610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org