Gordon Dadds

Gordon Dadds insists there’s more to it than family law and litigation

Mayfair-based Gordon Dadds prides itself on the reputation of its family law and litigation practices. Despite this, managing partner David Goff maintains that the firm aims to offer clients a full commercial service.

During the past couple of years there has been a number of personnel changes at Gordon Dadds. In 2001 the firm, which generates most of its income from family law work, faced difficulties following the departure of former senior partner Douglas Alexiou and partners Jeremy Fisher and Susan Phillips, who left to set up their own specialist family law practice. Alexiou represented Spice Girl Melanie Brown (formerly Gulzar, before her divorce battle in the summer of 2000). Partner Sue Bland has since assumed responsibility for running the family law department.

Around the same time the firm swallowed up three-partner commercial practice Camillins following a year of talks.

The push into non-contentious commercial work continued into last year with the hires of commercial property lawyer Simon Edwards and associate Jackie Boot from property firm Julian Holy. Edwards brought with him a client base of high net-worth individuals and family-owned property companies, valued at between £100m and £500m.

The firm now has 17 partners, one consultant, four associates, 11 assistants and five trainees.

The past year has seen steady growth in fee income. Goff attributes this to the firm’s “slightly conservative approach”. “You’re not shielded by the type of work you do, but by the way you run your business,” says Goff, who also hints that the firm is looking to consolidate, but would only go as far as to say that the firm would “grow logically”. “Profitability and a good foundation are most important. Not size,” he adds.

Last year on the litigation side, the firm was involved in two very high-profile cases. The first involved an appeal to the House of Lords by Bernard Weatherill QC of Enterprise Chambers and Josephine Hayes of Gough Square Chambers against the Court of Appeal’s decision to impose a wasted costs order against them. The order was made against the barristers for making “improper” allegations against Roger Medcalf, one of the creators of the BBC’s Big Break, who was advised by Gordon Dadds. However, the House of Lords rejected the barristers’ claim that the courts no longer have any power to make a wasted costs order since the enactment of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.

In the second case, Gordon Dadds acted for Michael Verrechia, who was claiming £141,500 damages from the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis for police interference with his property. In a landmark decision, the High Court made a no costs order against the successful litigant. This is considered by many litigation specialists as being highly unusual.

Last year the firm successfully represented claimants in an action against Customs & Excise for trespassing, false imprisonment, wilful interference with goods and malicious procurement and execution of a search warrant. The claim, for up to £2m, is thought to be one of the biggest ever brought against Customs & Excise.

The company commercial department advised five directors in the management team of WT Foods on the sale of the £128.5m buyout and refinancing of the company. The department is also known to have acted for the Football Association and Coventry City Football Club.