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Bond Pearce is forming an integrated transport unit following the hire of highly-rated shipping specialist Nick Horton from disbanded marine firm Grant & Horton.
Horton joins Bond Pearce with assistant solicitor Tracey Martin. Grant & Horton ceased to practise with effect from 31 May. The firm's other two partners chose to go their separate ways. Rod Grant has become a consultant to Nash & Co in Plymouth and John Tolcher has set up his own practice, Tolcher & Co, in Southampton. "The discussion processes that led us here showed up some different aspirations, which made dissolution inevitable," said Horton. It is understood that not all of Grant & Horton's partners were offered partnership at Bond Pearce. Horton will head the new integrated transport unit when Bond Pearce's merger with Cartwrights becomes effective on 1 July (The Lawyer, 28 May). Horton and Martin will work closely with commercial shipping associate Nicky Nelson, who joined Bond Pearce from Norton Rose last year. The new unit will also include road and rail practices and other commercial shipping, personal injury and port and harbour specialists at the combined firm. The bulk of Horton's client base is understood to be following him to Bond Pearce. The marine client base will comprise protection and indemnity clubs and marine insurers, shipowners, shipyards, road and rail operators, port authorities, airport operators, import and export businesses, ancillary marine businesses and superyacht builders. Grant & Horton was formed in 1997 when it was spun out of Davies Grant & Horton. Horton said he now wants the chance to grow his practice with the greater resources of a larger firm. "This is a chance to bring together some fantastic contacts and clients, and I think we'll create something quite special," he said. Grant & Horton's lengthy discussions with Bond Pearce preceded the latter's decision to merge with Cartwrights. "[The merger] helps to bring Bristol into the loop in terms of transport as a whole," said Horton. "Eversheds were doing transport-related work in Bristol. I think it's a pretty wide open market now." Horton was recently involved in the longrunning Factortame litigation involving Spanish trawlermen in the European Court of Justice and UK courts. He acted for Irish and Belgian fishing boat owners.