Sydney Mitchell is recognised in the Top Tier of the Legal 500 and is ‘very strong’ and ‘probably the best in central Birmingham outside the large National and International Firms’ for dispute resolution and commercial litigation matters.

Sydney Mitchell has again been recognised as a Tier 1 firm for its Contentious Wills and Probate work; with a ‘driven professional team’ led by Kamal Majevadia handling a variety of high-value complex cases.

In total the firm has obtained recommendations in 13 areas of legal practice; Contentious Probate, Commercial Litigation, Debt Recovery, Insolvency and Corporate Recovery, Employment, Clinical Negligence, Personal Injury, Professional Negligence, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate, Health, Commercial Property and Property Litigation.

Sydney Mitchell’s clients have made some excellent comments on the work undertaken by the legal teams.

Div Singh, Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell commented:

“What an excellent result again this year for Sydney Mitchell, with the firm maintaining its ranking in Tier 1 for our Contentious Probate work and in particular Kamal Majevadia being singled out as a ‘leading individual’”.

Many of our talented solicitors have been named throughout for their hard work with our ‘client care second to none’.

It is great to see new team members being recognised, David Lydon, Adam Hodson, Samantha Glynn, Hayley-Jo and Gemma especially have shone through this year. Our clients and referrers have made fantastic comments on the work we have undertaken including…

‘solid, well respected team’, ‘can-do attitude’ ‘an approach to client care that is second to none’, ‘caring straight-to-the-point’ and ‘manages expectations’.

What more can you ask for than recommendations from your clients for the excellent service received for work undertaken by our legal teams.

Dean Parnell is recognised as “very experienced and sensible; ...calm and reassuring, firm but not aggressive and tactically astute negotiator who secures good deals for his client’ and  ‘…strong on shareholder disputes and claims relating to directors’.

Karen Moores, Head of the Family Team, is recognised for her ‘compassionate’ and ‘understanding’ manner.

Leading Midlands Law firm Sydney Mitchell is ranked in 13 Legal 500 categories and won Birmingham Law Firm of the Year 2018.


Legal 500 information links are included below:

West Midlands: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Birmingham - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘very strong’, and for some ‘probably the best in central Birmingham outside the large national and international firms’. The practice handles a range of matters, many of which with fraud elements, with clients ranging from international businesses, trade bodies, regional businesses and individual executives. Dean Parnell, whose expertise includes acting as a supervising solicitor for court-ordered searches, on top of being ‘very experienced and sensible: he is calm and reassuring, firm but not aggressive, and a tactically astute negotiator who secures good deals for his clients’, is ‘particularly strong on shareholder disputes and claims relating to directors’ – he represented a foreign company on recovery of losses from director-level frauds. Kamal Majevadia acted for an engineering company concerning unpaid invoices for engine components – he also handles cases concerning alleged fraud.

Debt recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP ’s workload includes a number of matters acting for finance providers concerning lending secured on residential property, plus matters concerning social care fees, vehicle finance and unpaid invoices. Kam Majevadia  heads the practice, with solicitor Hayley-Jo Lockley  a name of note below partner level. Gemma Parker is a key legal executive. Clients include West Bromwich Commercial.

West Midlands: Finance

Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP's Leanne Schneider-Rose  advised an insolvency practitioner on gaining access to and possession of a sports and leisure club, and handled several cases concerning the sales of care homes from administration. Section 216 cases and personal bankruptcy are also areas of expertise.

West Midlands: Human resources

Employment - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP  is 'a solid, well respected team' that is 'a very popular locally' with 'a reputation that is growing nationally'. Dean Parnell  leads the team and is 'very popular with clients', and has 'a "can-do" attitude'.  He has a broad expertise in employment, and acts on behalf of employers and very senior employees. Also recommended is solicitor Samantha Glynn, who specialises in contentious issues.

West Midlands: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP  handle a range of clinical negligence claims, with 'an approach to client care that is second to none'. Mike Sutton  heads up the team and 'very well respected locally'. He is assisted by senior personal injury executive David Lydon, Adam Hodson  and  Stephen Jesson.

Personal injury: claimant
Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP is 'a small team that has built up considerable experience', whose 'approach to client care is second to none'. Mike Sutton  leads the team and is 'very well respected locally within the profession'. He specialises in handling road and work accidents, and recently represented a client who suffered from complex regional pain syndrome due to falling from a ladder. David Lydon recently joined the firm from Pearson Rowe Incorporating Springthorpes and has a similar focus on work and road accidents. He recently acted for an individual who required amputation to due to injuries suffered by his fingers while at work. Also recommended is solicitor Adam Hodson.

Professional negligence - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP 's litigation team is highly active in professional negligence cases, most notable against in the areas of legal services and construction. Sundeep Bilkhu is a key figure with extensive experience in negligence relating to property transactions.

West Midlands: Private client

Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Sydney Mitchell LLP

The 'driven' and 'professional' Sydney Mitchell LLP is led by Kamal Majevadia who is a 'caring, straight-to-the-point person' who 'tells it like it is' and 'manages your expectations'. He is particularly known for disputes on estates with a cross-border or commercial aspect. Shirley-based Tracy Creed  is also a key figure, with notable strengths in probate, trusts and estate planning.

Family: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP

The 'excellent' Sydney Mitchell LLP  focuses on complex matrimonial disputes and childcare arrangements. Karen Moores is a key contact and is known for her 'compassionate' and 'understanding'  manner. Mauro Vinti is also recommended and advises on all aspects on relationship breakdowns.  

Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

The 'excellent' Sydney Mitchell LLP  is particularly strong in dealing with elderly client issues, with additional expertise in wills and estate planning, powers of attorney and administration work. Tracy Creed leads the team and has extensive experience in probate and trust matters.  Also recommended is Shirley based solicitor Nicholas Bennett , who focuses on will and probate issues, and solicitor Ravinder Sandhu, who is experienced in wills, trusts and probate issues.

West Midlands: Public sector

Health - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP focuses on GP mergers, disputes, leasing and tax issues. Fahmida Ismail leads the team and is heavily involved in property and finance matters pertaining to GPs and medical practices. Consultant solicitor Tony Harris is active on Primary Care Commissioning and extending existing GP premises. Consultant solicitor Dean Parnell works on commercial disputes and employment issues.

West Midlands: Real estate

Commercial property: Birmingham - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team handles a range of multimillion-pound deals. Consultant Georgina Walsh in Shirley handles work concerning purchases and sales of development sites... At partner level Div Singh , who is based in Birmingham, also handles buy-side deals, often involving title issues. Fahmida Ismail is also a key contact.

Property litigation - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, associate Sundeep Bilkhu handles a range of commercial property disputes, frequently acting for landlords. Highlights include representation of a landlord in a dispute over the unauthorised removal of a stud wall, which was initially thought to have caused £30,000 of damage but triggered a subsequent order from the local authority to demolish and replace the buildings. Other work concerns boundary restrictive covenant disputes and Party Wall Act matters. In Shirley, Kam Majevadia handles trespass to land matters concerning residential developments, including Court of Appeal cases.

Our lawyers are recommended in The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2018 editorial (listed below)

Dispute resolution - Commercial litigation - Birmingham
- Dean Parnell
- Kamal Majevadia

Dispute resolution - Debt recovery
- Kamal Majevadia
- Hayley-Jo Lockley
- Gemma Parker

Finance - Insolvency and corporate recovery
- Leanne Schneider-Rose

Human resources - Employment
- Dean Parnell
- Samantha Glynn

Insurance - Clinical negligence - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- David Lydon
- Adam Hodson
-Stephen Jesson

Insurance - Personal injury - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- David Lydon
- Adam Hodson

Insurance - Professional negligence
- Sundeep Bilkhu

Private client - Contentious trusts and probate
- Kamal Majevadia (leading individual)
- Tracy Creed

Private client - Family - Birmingham
- Karen Moores
- Mauro Vinti

Private client - Personal tax, trusts and probate
-Tracy Creed ~
- Nicholas Bennett
- Ravinder Sandhu

Public sector - Health
- Dean Parnell
- Fahmida Ismail
- Tony Harris (Deceased)

Real estate - Commercial property - Birmingham
- Georgina Walsh
- Div Singh
- Fahmida Ismail

Real estate - Property litigation
- Sundeep Bilkhu
- Kamal Majevadia

At a time in your life when you are feeling very vulnerable, legal costs can add to the stress of the breakdown of the family and so it is vital to consider all options.

Very few people are entitled to legal aid, but if you are, you need an experienced legal aid lawyer to deal with your matter and make sure that legal aid funding is obtained as quickly as possible.  If you are not entitled to legal aid, what are the options?  If you do not having savings or surplus income, in some circumstances it may be possible to apply to the court for interim maintenance from your spouse to help fund legal costs, but that in itself can increase costs so not always appropriate.  Another option is to look at a litigation loan. The interest is paid each month, but the capital  is repaid from any settlement.

In my experience most people would prefer to receive invoices on a monthly basis.  That will enable you to budget for costs and keep control of how much is being spent.  It is vital that you work with your lawyer to make costs affordable.

Consider how much legal advice you need.  Do you need a lawyer to help you with all steps or just one step, for example attending a court hearing?  We offer schemes to help you pay for the legal help you need, rather than for the whole of your case.

For help and advice contact Amanda Holland on 0808 166 8827 or email


No Fault Divorce to become Law
The justice secretary, David Gauke, has announced that ‘no fault’ divorces will become law in England and Wales. This means that divorcing couples who have not been separated for 2 years or more will no longer have to apportion blame or fault in order to apply for a divorce.
At present, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 allows divorces to be granted in cases where marriages have irretrievably broken down. That is deemed to have occurred in cases of adultery and where one party to a marriage cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other due to the latter’s unreasonable behaviour. Where there is no such fault, divorces will only be granted after two years of separation with the consent of both parties, two years desertion or after five years if such consent is not forthcoming.
Demands for change have been mounting for some time. This pressure increased exponentially when in 2017, The Court of Appeal called upon Parliament to consider the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce after dealing with the now infamous Tini Owens' case.
In this case, Ms Owens applied for a divorce following the breakdown of her 37-year marriage. Ms Owens argued that her husband had behaved unreasonably in various ways, including disparaging her in front of her friends and family. However, Ms Owens’ divorce petition was rejected by the judge who found that Ms Owens’ criticisms of her husband’s conduct were exaggerated, flimsy at best and that she could reasonably be expected to continue living with her husband.
Left in an untenable position, Ms Owens challenged the ruling of the judge. However, her challenge was rejected by the Court of Appeal who could find no flaw in the Judge’s assessment of the evidence or his approach to the law.
The Court of Appeal reached their conclusion with no enthusiasm. The Court observed that the marriage was clearly over, that Ms Owens had been left in a very unhappy position and that she would be approaching 70 before she would be able to obtain a divorce under the five-year separation rule.
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal questioned whether the time had come for the introduction of a broader category of no fault divorce. It noted that, of almost 114,000 divorce petitions issued in the year to January 2017, only a trivial number – about 0.015 per cent – were actively resisted.
Given that minutely small number of cases, it is hard to see why an insistence on proof of fault remains necessary. Common sense dictates that if a former couple agree that their marriage is over, they should be permitted to apply for a divorce without having to make allegations against each other that invariably create bitterness and acrimony. This is particularly unsatisfactory if the former couple have children and will need to maintain contact and a good relationship moving forwards.
The introduction of no fault divorce has the potential to dramatically reduce the stress, anxiety and emotional turmoil so often associated with apportioning blame when preparing of a divorce petition based on unreasonable behaviour. The forthcoming change will be welcomed by many.
For help or advice on the new rules and how it will impact on your divorce, please contact Emma Gray on 0121 746 3300 or email


Everyone has a story of a “bad divorce”.  It usually involves lots of legal costs, stress, court proceedings and hurt feelings. 

Is it possible to have a good divorce?  Here are some tips which may help:

  • - Choose a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution.  We abide by a code of practice which says we will do everything we can to ensure that you and your former spouse remain on good terms whilst at the same time providing you with specialist family advice.
  • - Unfortunately we still need to say why the marriage has broken down to start divorce proceedings.  Hopefully that will change with the campaign for a no fault divorce, but in the meantime if possible agree on the reasons why the marriage has broken down and avoid “fault”.  If you have been separated for 2 years and both agree, then you don’t need to set out lots of details of the other party’s bad behaviour or adultery – just say you have been separated for 2 years and you both agree.  If that is not an option, don’t set out pages and pages of bad behaviour and don’t name the other party if adultery is the reason the marriage is at an end.
  • - Start with the commitment to reach agreement on money and child arrangements.    Consider the collaborative process.  This is all about you and your lawyers working together in one room to try to sort out arrangements for money and children. 
  • - Put yourself in the shoes of your child.  How would you feel if you couldn’t see your Mother or Father?  How would you feel if your Mother or Father made nasty comments about each other to you?

Divorce is hard.  I am not convinced that you can have a “good” divorce, but I do think you can have a “better divorce”.

Please contact Amanda Holland on 0808 166 8827 to discuss this or other related family law matter.

Family inheritance disputes can be witheringly sad and it is absolutely essential to seek independent legal advice to ensure that peace prevails after you are gone. In one case, a man’s death, leaving a £16 million fortune, raised the curtain on years of venomous dispute between his two children.

The man’s will was as simple as could be, in that it left his estate equally between his son and daughter. However, by a previous will, the daughter had been left her share only for her lifetime. That would have meant that, on her death, her inheritance would have passed to her brother or, if he did not survive her, his children.

Following the man’s death, aged 92, his son launched proceedings, claiming that he lacked knowledge and approval of the contents of the later will at the time of its execution. He argued that the earlier document was his last true will.

In rejecting those arguments, however, the High Court found that the son had lost all sense of perspective about the case, to which he had devoted himself full time for three years. He had persuaded himself, contrary to the evidence, that his sister and his mother had engaged in a conspiracy to overcome his father’s free will.

There was nothing remarkable or suspicious about the man’s decision to make an equal and outright division of his estate between his children, and the Court had no hesitation in concluding that he was fully aware of the nature and effect of the document he was signing.

For advice please contact Kamal Majevadia 0121 746 3300, email and for Wills Trusts and Probate matters contact Tracy Creed 0121 746 3320, email

In big money divorce cases, much is made of the distinction between the so-called sharing principle and needs-based assessments of financial entitlements. However, as a High Court ruling in one such case clearly showed, family judges are in fact focused on just one thing – overall fairness.

The wife, a former model, and the husband, a successful entrepreneur and software engineer, were married for about four years and enjoyed an exceptionally lavish lifestyle. Upon their divorce, the assets that fell to be divided between them were agreed to be worth over £38 million.

The wife sought a lump sum of £16 million – about 40 per cent of the total pot. Her lawyers put her reasonable housing needs at up to £7 million and sought capitalised maintenance of £8.5 million. The husband, however, offered her a lump sum of £5.1 million on the basis that £3.5 million would be sufficient to meet her housing needs and that her income requirements could be capitalised at £1.6 million.

In assessing the contribution that each of them had made to the marital wealth, the Court took account of a period of about four years before their marriage during which their relationship was solid and quasi-matrimonial. The husband, however, had achieved much of his business success before they became committed to each other, having sold a business for over £15 million several years previously.

The Court therefore adjusted the wife’s share of the available assets to reflect the wealth that the husband had brought into the relationship. Her housing needs were assessed at £4.5 million and her capitalised income needs at £4.44 million. Applying the sharing principle, the Court awarded her a total lump sum of £9.31 million, about 24.3 per cent of the pot. The husband was also ordered to contribute over £700,000 towards her legal costs.

The Court noted that, in taking a broad brush approach to the matter, it had sought to apply a combination of the principles of sharing, needs and compensation in a non-discriminatory manner. In respect of the departure from equality in dividing the marital assets, it was both essential and fair to make an adjustment to reflect the husband’s pre-existing wealth. The Court was satisfied that the overall outcome was fair to both husband and wife,

For help and advice please contact Karen Moores on 0808 166 5638 or email

Merry Christmas from all at Syndey Mitchell LLP

When family judges make financial orders in divorce cases, they are not beating at air and have panoply of powers to make sure that they are obeyed. A wealthy businessman who spent over £70,000 on his wedding to his new wife, whilst neglecting to pay maintenance to his ex-wife, found that out to his cost.

Following the end of his 12-year marriage, the businessman was ordered to pay his ex-wife a £5 million lump sum. Until that debt was satisfied in full, he was required to pay her £8,000 a month in maintenance. He had, however, made no such payments for almost a year and was a total of £88,000 in arrears. In those circumstances, the wife’s lawyers sought his committal to prison for contempt of court.

In finding that he had refused or neglected to pay his ex-wife maintenance, the High Court noted that he had, during the relevant period, bought a country house for £4.3 million and spent lavishly on wedding ceremonies in England and Morocco. His bank records revealed payments into his account of more than £40,000 a month. In the circumstances, the Court was in no doubt that he could have paid his ex-wife the maintenance due to her had he chosen to do so.

Noting that an immediate term of imprisonment was likely to have a serious impact on the man’s business, and might sour his and his ex-wife’s relationship with their two children, the Court agreed to stay its hand. Sentencing was adjourned for six months, but the businessman was warned that, if he failed to clear the maintenance arrears before then, he would be at risk of losing his liberty.

For help and advice please contact Amanda Holland, on 0808 166 8827.

Burying your head in the sand and ignoring court orders is a good way of ensuring defeat in litigation. A wealthy vineyard owner engaged in a big money divorce case found that out to his cost after failing to meet his obligations to his estranged wife.

The businessman, aged 70, and his 50-year-old wife had had two sons together before they separated. Having settled with the children in England, she launched divorce proceedings in London, about a month before her husband did the same in his native France. An English judge accepted jurisdiction to consider her petition on the basis that she was by then habitually resident in this country.

As an interim measure, the husband was ordered to pay his wife more than £4,000 a month in maintenance and to contribute to her legal costs. However, the wife's lawyers said that he was deeply unhappy at the prospect of the divorce taking place in England and had completely ignored those orders and fallen more than £120,000 into arrears. His refusal to engage in the proceedings was said to have extended even to a failure to communicate with his own English solicitors.

The wife had been left in a state of near penury, unable to pay her utility bills or rent. Her lack of funds meant that she would be unable to pay solicitors and barristers to represent her in the proceedings. The husband had been granted permission to appeal against the jurisdiction ruling, but the wife's legal team argued that it would be an affront to justice for the appeal to proceed given his ongoing contempt in failing to obey court orders.

Following a hearing at which the husband was neither present nor represented, the Court of Appeal gave him two weeks to pay more than £100,000 towards his wife's legal costs. The Court warned him that, if he failed to do so, his appeal would be automatically dismissed and the way would be open for his wife to press ahead with the divorce in England.

For help and advice please contact Mauro Vinti,  on 0808 166 8860.

It is commonplace for one spouse to control the family finances and, while relations are amicable, this usually causes few issues. However, if the relationship falls apart and separation or divorce is in train, this is often no longer the case.

When a spouse attempts to put pressure on their estranged partner by denying them access to funding to cover their legal fees, this can certainly be a problem, but as a recent case shows, the courts take a dim view of those who seek to deny legal representation to others. The solution was novel and likely to prove effective.

The case in question reached the Family Court after the husband had dragged his feet over filing the required statement of financial means (Form E). Two months after the expiry of the extension date for producing the statement, it had still not been submitted, leading the judge to comment that 'the considerable delay in producing the Form E after two earlier consent orders setting a timetable for its production is not excusable'. This is the sort of comment that seldom presages good news for the client about whom it is made.

The ire of the Court was further stirred up by the fact that the husband (a wealthy Omani) was some £100,000 behind with the maintenance payments he had been ordered to make. Nor had he made the payments ordered for his wife's own legal representation – some £120,000 – whilst having paid his own solicitors in the region of £95,000.

The judge's solution was strict. He issued an injunction against the husband, banning him from paying anything further to his solicitors until he had cleared the arrears due to his wife and paid pound for pound to her any legal costs he had paid to his (or any other) solicitors.

If you are struggling to get others to comply with their obligations to you or orders of the court, contact us for advice.

For help and advice please contact Karen Moores, on 0808 166 5638.


UK Top Tier Firm 2017 Lexcel Practice Management Standard Birmingham Law Firm of the Year for 2011 Resolution Collaborative Family Lawyer
The Law Society Accredited in Family Law Conveyancing Quality Scheme


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