Druces is recommended in Legal 500, 2019, 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)
Healthcare is a sector strength for the team at Druces LLP, which is led by Toby Stroh; in a recent highlight, he and Christopher Axford (who also specialises in shari’ah-compliant transactions) acted for the Montreux Healthcare Fund on its acquisition of Active Assistance (UK) Group, and Axford also advised part of Pickstock Group on the sale of a residential nursing home to Guide Total Care Group. In the biotech sphere, David Smith and David Bennett acted for Summit Therapeutics on the acquisition of an antibiotic discovery and development platform. Other sectors in which the team has been active include manufacturing, hotels and leisure, pensions and technology; the latter is a particular area of growth for the practice. The team has an established client base of institutional fund and listed companies, as well as private companies and investors, including Exclusive Care Group, Emerald Fund of Funds, Napier Capital Partners and Dentons Pension Management.
Personal tax, trusts and probate (tier 3)
The ‘calm and experienced’ Richard Monkcom heads the team at Druces LLP, which is ‘very efficient and client-focused and comes up with creative solutions to suit its clients’ needs’. The ‘responsive’ Neil Morris has ‘decades of experience of dealing with complex and high-profile cases. His knowledge is encyclopaedic’. Helen Freely ‘deals with difficult situations extremely well’. Robert Macro is ‘precise and provides quality advice’ and new addition to the team Matthew Duncan from Kingsley Napley LLP ‘knows his subject extremely well’. The team also added Paul White to its ranks. The department provides a traditional private client service in UK capital taxes, estate planning and probate. It also provides an international advisory service and acts for non-UK domiciled clients both resident and non-resident in the UK and their fiduciaries, structures and businesses. Vistra UK and Directors UK are active clients.
Immigration (tier 6)
The ‘skilled’, ‘accurate’ and ‘efficient’ team at Druces LLP focuses on Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa work, advising entrepreneurs, investors, exceptional talent and companies wishing on bringing skilled migrants into the UK. The team also provides advice on spousal visas, commonwealth ancestral visas and sole representatives of overseas companies, as well as queries on citizenship, registration and naturalisation. Consultant Graeme Kirk, who has a ‘great deal of industry knowledge and experience’, heads the team which includes senior associate Charles Avens.
Islamic Finance (tier 3)
Christopher Axford heads the team at Druces LLP, who have particular experience in real estate securities predominantly, advising on cost-plus and commodity murabaha, wakala, ijarah, mudarabah and musharakah structures. The team has recently added British Arab Commercial Bank to their roster of panel appointments, which also includes the Bank of London and The Middle East. Simon Pullen and Suzanne Middleton-Lindsley are also key contacts.
Commercial Litigation (tier 7)
Druces LLP‘s ‘litigators understand clients‘ needs and their advice is always spot-on’. The team’s key areas are cross-border disputes; disputes involving shareholders, directors, partnerships, LLPs and joint ventures; professional negligence claims against professional service providers; and insolvency and banking disputes. Department head Julian Johnstone is ‘intuitive, gets straight to the point and has first-class judgment‘; and Charles Spragge is ‘smart, quick and has great analytical skills‘. The firm merged with London-based Ronaldsons, adding commercial litigator Neil Hayter to the group.
Commercial Property (Corporate Occupiers – tier 4)
Druces LLP is known for providing ‘practical and considered advice on landlord and tenant issues that present particularly demanding timeframes’. Indeed, the team has experience acting for US-based first-time entrants to the UK market, and is also regularly instructed in portfolio management mandates and syndicated investment transactions. Department head Nicholas Brent provides ongoing UK property advice to Condé Nast, and Adrian Footer (‘a pragmatic and commercially minded team leader’) handles portfolio transactions and ongoing property management for clients such as Comland Commercial and Napier Capital. Key contacts in the investment team include Karen Chapman and Suzanne Middleton Lindsley, who advised Equinix on a data centre acquisition.
Property Finance (tier 6)
At Druces LLP, the ‘overall level of service is superb‘: ‘partners stay actively engaged in the deals and provide commercial, sensible advice‘. Shari’ah-compliant matters are a niche specialism of the team, which acted for key client Bank of London and the Middle East on a series of loan facilities to property developers involving development and refurbishment financing, and it also has a niche specialism in syndicated property investment. In addition, the team handles conventional acquisition and development finance and refinancing; recent highlights include advising a corporate borrower on the £15m financing of a large mixed-use development in the City of London, as well as acting for a different borrower client on the acquisition and refinancing of a number of care homes across the UK. Christopher Axford heads the practice, which also includes Suzanne Middleton-Lindsley and Simon Pullen, who ‘demonstrate an excellent technical ability, are thorough and methodical, and best of all are an absolute pleasure to deal with‘.
Property Litigation (tier 4)
The practice at Druces LLP is led by the ‘first rate analytical mind’ of Julian Johnstone who is praised for his ‘broad skill set’ and ‘practical and commercial advice’. The team is a ‘good, strong player in the market’ and offers a ‘forensic and insightful approach to any given dispute’. Johnstone has experience in landlord and tenant disputes, professional negligence and development issues. Senior associate Benjamin Lomer focuses on leasehold enfranchisement, forfeiture and possession proceedings and dilapidations. The team provides an ‘overall excellent level of service’ and is advising Topland Group and Enstar Capital on overage clauses and contractual provisions at a London development. The group is also acting for Henderson Global Investors in respect of its considerable central London office portfolio. Other clients include Gatwick Airport, Ratcliffes Surveyors and Aquila Developments. Michael Pidge is recommended.
Contentious trusts and probate (tier 4)
Druces LLP is ‘firm with a growing presence in this area’. Helen Freely is ‘very good tactically’ and Matthew Duncan joined the team as a consultant from Kingsley Napley LLP. The group acts for individuals, beneficiaries, executors, trustees and charities in resolving disputes. Key clients include entrepreneurs and City individuals, fund managers and other high-net-worth individuals.
Charities and not-for-profit (tier 4)
The ‘conscientious’ team at Druces LLP ‘takes really great care of its lay clients. The team is willing to go that extra mile’. The ‘readily available’ Richard Monkcom is ‘very realistic and is able to respond quickly to problems. He has extensive knowledge of charity law’. The ‘excellent’ Helen Freely is ‘always really pleasant and willing to fully engage with her clients while at the same time showing a great degree of humanity’. Senior associate Caroline Cropley regularly advises charities on various corporate issues. The multi-disciplinary team is drawn from lawyers across a range of disciplines that brings together specialisms in taxation, employment, corporate, commercial, property as well as litigation. This is alongside its considerable expertise in charity law. The Dogs Trust is a major client. It acts for a variety of private charities, independent schools, medical charities, religious orders and city livery companies. In addition the group advises a broad range of individuals on the tax implications of charitable giving and sets up and runs many family charities. It also acts for charities where an estate (with charitable beneficiaries) is disputed and has a particular expertise in the area of disputed estates containing high value artwork.
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