Druces is recommended in Legal 500, 2017, a leading international legal directory, for many of its legal services. A number of our Partners are also recommended. Areas where the firm is recommended are set out below, with additional commentary (where it is given by Legal 500).
Corporate & Commercial: M&A smaller deals, up to £50m (tier 2)
Toby Stroh leads the team at Druces LLP, which counts real estate as a key sector strength and has particular experience in the care homes space. Stroh and David Bennett assisted Glenstone Property with its £49m purchase of London & Surrey Property Holdings, Amdale Securities and Deemark. Christopher Axford advised Pickstock Group on its £7m sale of St Martin’s Grange Care Home to Blackrock, and acted for Exclusive Care Group on its purchase of four care-home businesses throughout 2016. David Bennett and David Smith have strong knowledge of equity capital markets as well as M&A; Smith counts life sciences, natural resources and solar energy as particular sectors of expertise. Recent client wins include Summit Therapeutics, Oxstem, Presteigne Broadcast Hire and Legendary Investments. The team is also noted for its experience in shari’ah-compliant transactions..
Islamic Finance (tier 3)
With instructions from UK and Middle Eastern banks and lender clients, Druces LLP provides ‘a good level of service’ on shari’ah-compliant property finance matters. The team has seen increased deal volume every year since the department’s founding in 2012, and 2016-2017 has been no exception. The ‘friendly and approachable’ Christopher Axford handled a variety of real estate and asset finance transactions for clients such as Bank of London and The Middle East, and was also instructed by a London law firm to advise specifically on the shari’ah aspects of an acquisition of a UK school by Middle Eastern investors. Nicholas Brent and Suzanne Middleton-Lindsley have experience in real estate and property finance, and Simon Pullen has developed a reputation for advising Middle Eastern banks on shari’ah compliant structures in the development finance sector.
Commercial Litigation (tier 7)
Druces LLP ‘provides a level of service in keeping with larger City practices’. The practice’s main areas of specialism are disputes involving shareholders, directors, partnerships, and joint ventures; professional negligence claims against professional service providers; and cross-border disputes. Julian Johnstone ‘has a great instinct for pre-empting clients’ needs’; and Charles Spragge is ‘technically very good, but also very commercial’.
Commercial Property (tier 6)
Druces LLP provides ‘good clear advice and a commercial approach’. The practice is probably best known for its specialism in syndicated property investment, but it also acts for a range of REITs, financial institutions, property companies, and pension funds; clients on the investment side include Henderson Global Investors and British Arab Commercial Bank. In the development sub-sector, the team is active across a range of asset types including sports facilities, data centres, and premises for corporate occupiers. Names to note include Suzanne Middleton Lindsley and Nicholas Brent, who show ‘detailed commercial understanding of key issues and the ability to deal with issues incisively’; and the ‘responsive and sensible’ Adrian Footer. Karen Chapman leads on syndicated investment work.
Commercial Property – retail (tier 3)
Property Finance (tier 6)
Druces LLP has strong expertise in syndicated property financing and Islamic finance; Bank of London and the Middle East and British Arab Commercial Bank are key clients. Suzanne Middleton-Lindsley and Islamic finance expert Christopher Axford acted for more than a hundred property investment syndicates on their real estate investments and associated financings. The practice is increasingly active in handling syndicated mezzanine loans. Other clients include Henderson Global Investors, Ratcliffes, Alpha Bridging Solutions and Bank Julius Baer & Co. Simon Pullen is also recommended.
Property Litigation (tier 4)
At Druces LLP, the practice is led by ‘bright lawyer’ Julian Johnstone, who ‘has a cool head for litigation and an ability to think laterally with a reassuring style and realistic merit assessment’; he combines substantial landlord and tenant expertise with professional negligence experience. He regularly acts for property investors, developers and private individuals, and clients include Aquila Developments, Condé Nast Publications, Dogs Trust, Urban Evolution and Gatwick Airport. Johnstone and senior associate Michael Pidge acted for Zedra Trustees (Jersey) and Walbrook Properties, as trustee for Aquila, in a dispute pertaining to the recovery of part of an industrial estate from a neighbouring owner claiming adverse possession. Pidge is recognised for his experience advising landlords and tenant occupiers. The team also includes senior associate and ‘standout individual’ Benjamin Lomer, who is ‘particularly pragmatic and commercially minded’; he handles the firm’s leasehold enfranchisement work.
Contentious trusts and probate (tier 4)
At Druces LLP, the ‘down-to-earth’ Helen Freely ‘puts clients at ease and immediately reassures them’. The team regularly advises on multi-jurisdictional issues and the legal aspects of estate and probate management, in particular where art work is a core asset. Freely is experienced in acting for clients in relation to complex and contested estates of high-profile individuals, in the last year representing a well-known author, a composer and an art collector. Other clients include The Queen’s Club.
Charities and not-for-profit (tier 4)
Druces LLP’s lawyers are ‘friendly, interested in getting to know their clients and willing to spend time in answering questions. They make a complex world far easier to navigate’. Head of the charities group Richard Monkcom is ‘very experienced and thorough, and has a very caring attitude towards his clients’. Helen Freely is also ‘excellent’, and associate Matthew McCormick is ‘keen and energetic’. Senior associate Caroline Cropley is ‘very clear in her advice’, and is recommended for corporate matters. The firm acts for a variety of private charities, independent schools, medical charities, religious orders and city livery companies. Key clients include the Dogs Trust and the Directors Charitable Foundation, a charity which supports emerging directors and also assists professional directors in financial distress.
Personal tax, trusts and probate (tier 4)
Druces LLP’s ‘extremely competent’ team ‘combines excellent legal knowledge with a keen sense of the commercial and practical realities of each case’. Helen Freely ‘is able to come up with commercial solutions which go a long way towards achieving her clients’ aims’; she regularly acts for individuals in relation to complex and contested estates of well-known people who have died, with recent examples including a well-known author, a composer and an art collector. Richard Monkcom and associate Matthew McCormick are both ‘very thorough and focused on practical solutions’. Robert Macro specialises in complex tax planning for international and domestic clients. Neil Morris advises trust companies and high-net-worth clients (such as entrepreneurs and media clients) on international tax planning, and is particularly adept at advising on complex cross-border estates and tax planning across multiple jurisdictions. Clients of the practice include trustees, private banks, funds, companies and individuals, and it has a particular specialism in the niche area of advising estates owning high-value artwork.
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