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Olswang was the surprise winner of the Mid-market Corporate Firm of the Year at The Lawyer Awards 2008 last night.
The firm trumped its more established rivals to take the trophy with a groundbreaking hotel sale that exemplified the problems facing corporate groups post credit crunch.
The seller, Dawnay Shore Hotels, wanted to offload 20 hotels worth some £500m to a tentative buyer.
The deal changed form several times before ending up as a business disposal with complex long leases. Olswang’s growing corporate team negotiated an unusual “try before you buy” arrangement without which the buyer, Spain’s Barcelo International, might have left the table.
Taylor Wessing came second, after deal highlights this year including the sale of petrol blending company Blue Ocean, carried under the shadow of a multi-million pound litigation as well as a dispute with Dutch port authorities.
Taylor Wessing’s team made sure the transaction went ahead by ring-fencing a portion of the purchase price so that its client, Ion Equity, was not liable.
Travers Smith took the final podium spot with its heavyweight private equity practice. Partner Charles Barter and his team pushed through the purchase of clothing chain Fat Face from start to finish in just 47 hours, an hour before the self-imposed deadline.
For the law firm, in-house lawyer, management team, employment team and litigation team of the year awards click here, for barrister and chambers of the year click here, for the international firms of the year click here and for the real estate winners click here.