Andrew M Jackson

How a Hull shipping firm is getting work from Paris lawyers

“The reception that City firms are getting internationally is actually helping us,” says senior partner Silas Taylor. A lot of Andrew M Jackson's business comes from other marine lawyers. “In Paris, we are doing work for marine lawyers who have traditionally dealt with London for decades, but who have become very upset by the fact that all these firms are opening offices there. It has been really good news and we have deliberately marketed ourselves to take advantage of that.” Can you blame them? The firm is forever fighting the battle against those who think Hull is just too far away to handle many cases.
A well-publicised feather in its cap is the recent case against the Inland Revenue where Andrew M Jackson acted on behalf of three rig workers seeking tax rebates (The Lawyer, 6 August). Accountants are now saying that the case could cost the Inland Revenue as much as £600m. And all this from the man who had never led a tax case before, Silas Taylor.
Taylor is modest in his response, saying that the key issue was one of shipping law – when is a ship a ship? – rather than tax. Mills & Reeve in Norwich was apparently considered for the case that was first appealed by way of case stated, before the Court of Appeal decided that the original judgment of the commissioners should not have been contested. The current issue is whether the firm can claim costs from the Inland Revenue for the expense of raising the fighting fund.
The Hull-based firm has 23 partners and 73 lawyers with a turnover of £7m. Commercial property accounts for about a third of the total turnover at £2.2m; shipping and litigation just under 20 per cent each at £1.25m. Food is big business in Hull and Northern Foods, Seven Seas and Express Dairies are all local clients. The firm acted for Northern Foods in the purchase of the Foxes Glacier Mint brand from Nestlé in April this year. The firm also handled Northern Foods' 40 per cent, £16m acquisition of Solway Foods.
Recently made-up partners are Scott Yates and Stephen Unwin, who joined from Olswang in 1997. Both were promoted in September 2000. Stephen Berry, a lawyer in the commercial property department, joined from Hill Dickinson, Liverpool, in July 2000. There are eight solicitors in the shipping department, seven of whom trained at the firm.
The firm acted for the Wykeland Group on the acquisition, letting and funding of a high specification 140,000sq ft food factory development at Euro Park in Grimsby and the sale of a 90,000sq ft retail park in south Yorkshire for a private investor. Other key clients are Carpet Right, MFI and Associated British Ports.
Taylor says: “We've got a pretty vibrant economy in Hull. The development around the estuary is significant and we are the obvious link to the Continent. The two other major law firms in Hull, Gosschalks and Rollit Farrell & Bladon, would probably say the same.”