Our people

700 professionals at Knights service 10,000 clients across the full spectrum of legal & professional services.

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Sian Champkin

Partner
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Sian Champkin

Partner

Sian is a Partner in the Corporate team.

Sian acts for SMEs, off-shore entities, owner-managed businesses and AIM companies in a wide range of sectors including real estate, retail, technology, charities and education.

Sian provides corporate advice on a range of matters including, acquisitions, disposals, mergers, entrepreneurial and institutional investments, joint ventures, management buy-outs and buy-ins, reorganisations and restructuring. She also negotiates and drafts shareholders' agreements, articles of association and share capital reductions.

Sian advises a number of education and charity clients on governance, constitutional matters, reorganisations and the merging of charities.

Recent examples of how Sian has helped clients include:

• providing ongoing corporate advice and support to Long Harbour on its real estate investments, with multiple large transactions handled in the last five years;

• the merger of two charitable schools including advice on constitutional complexities and highly involved negotiation of merger documentation;

• providing ongoing advice to Oxford-based H2O Venture Partners on a variety of investments in the technology sector and a seed enterprise fund in East Africa;

• completing the multi-million pound sale of Ling Design, one of the UK's longest established and largest independent producers of greetings cards and stationery, to Swan Mill Holdings.

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Mike Cummins

Partner
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Mike Cummins

Partner

Mike is a Partner in the Employment team.

Mike advises employers on UK employment law, with an emphasis on the defence of Employment Tribunal claims brought by trade unions and former employees. He assists with the enforcement of restrictive covenants following the departure of senior personnel, securing injunctions to prevent competitive activities or the use of commercially sensitive information and issuing High Court proceedings to recover damages.

Mike also advises on TUPE in the context of business mergers and acquisitions and on collective consultation issues arising as part of a planned redundancy programme or changes to employees’ terms and conditions.

Mike supports senior executives in the negotiation of business exit arrangements, including advising on the terms of severance packages and the relaxation of post-termination restrictions.

Mike clients include Dunelm, the Camping and Caravan Club, Wesleyan Assurance Society, Everards Brewery, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Academy Trust and the Diocesan Education Service for Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire Catholic Schools.

Recent examples of how Mike has helped clients include:

  • securing the mediated settlement of court proceedings on behalf of an employer accused of benefiting from confidential information supplied by a new employee in breach of a restrictive covenant with their former employer;
  • a restructuring programme of a business which involved collective consultation with staff;
  • successfully defending a school in employment tribunal proceedings brought against them by a teaching union following their decision to move employees to a performance related pay scheme; and
  • advising a senior executive in the retail sector on the terms of a multi-million pound severance package and negotiating post-termination covenants.
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Jameel Mann

Partner
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Jameel Mann

Partner

Jameel is a Partner in the Employment team.

Jameel provides high-level strategic and day-to-day support to employers, as well as working with senior executives when negotiating settlement agreements and other employment documentation. He advises upon Employment Tribunal claims such as Unfair Dismissal and Discrimination, including conducting advocacy at Tribunal hearings, involved disciplinary investigations, large scale redundancy exercises and restructuring projects, performance and absence management and TUPE.

Jameel works with a range of businesses and has considerable national experience in the education sector, particularly with Multi-Academy Trust projects.

Recent examples of how Jameel has helped clients include:

• enabling a food manufacturer in financial difficulty to carry out large-scale restructuring involving over 100 staff with minimal disruption or claims;

• helping multi-academy trusts move away from local authority policies, supporting senior leadership restructuring, addressing staff and budget constraints and building relations with Trade Unions; and

• facilitating the conversion of multiple schools to academies by consulting with relevant stakeholders and advising upon associated implications and strategic issues for consideration.

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Claire Tonks

Partner
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Claire Tonks

Partner

Claire is a Partner in the Commercial team.

Claire creates contracts to support a range of business activities in the private and public sector. She is particularly experienced in drafting terms and conditions of trading, outsourcing agreements, software licenses, contracts for consultancy services, IT agreements, procurement project documentation and agreements for funding.

Claire has extensive knowledge of regulatory and compliance issues, specifically around data protection.  She carries out regulatory and compliance audits and helps with the creation of bespoke policies and procedures.

Claire acts for private businesses, local authorities, public sector companies, financial organisations and educational establishments.  She has experience in a number of sectors, including the automotive industry, retail and logistics.

Having undertaken a long term secondment for Office Depot, Claire appreciates the need to create legal documents that are pragmatic from a commercial perspective.

Recent examples of how Claire has helped clients include:

• advising a further education college on the tendering process for the construction of a new college building to ensure fair selection of a preferred bidder;

• advising a building society on the outsourcing of their IT requirements to ensure contractual arrangements were in place to guarantee compliance with data protection regulations and which maintained confidentiality;

• supporting the introduction of an online booking system for the repair and servicing of cars at quality-assured garages, by creating multiple contracts with the software developer, garages within the scheme and an automotive parts provider; and

• assisting a school federation to make the contractual arrangements necessary to facilitate the pooling of resources and the sharing of skills across the 10 school members.

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Matthew Wolton

Partner
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Matthew Wolton

Partner

Matthew is a Partner in the Education team.

Matthew advises school governors, directors and trusts through numerous government education schemes, helping them to embrace change. He assists schools to band together in multi-academy trusts to achieve efficiencies in back-office support whilst providing tactical legal advice and strategic support to achieve cultural change.

Matthew advises a number of multi-academy trusts with between five and thirty schools in their portfolios, as well as individual academies. From setting up a new multi-academy trust through to a group merger, he advises on corporate structure, finance, governance, HR, IT systems, data and property issues.

Recent examples of how Matthew has helped include:

• forming the White Horse Foundation multi-academy trust with five primary schools helping the group to grow to its current portfolio of 19 schools in four counties;

• establishing the Rosedale Hewens Academy Trust with two secondary schools and then advising on campus development so that one campus now houses a secondary academy, a primary free school and a studio school, and the other houses a secondary academy, a new provision academy and a studio school;

• dealing with a claim on the Teachers' Pension Scheme for over £100,000; and

• advising on privacy issues and dealing with a television company regarding unauthorised filming on school premises.

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Richard Goodlad

Senior Associate
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Richard Goodlad

Senior Associate

Richard is a Senior Associate in the Real Estate team.

Richard advises on property investment and development, principally freehold acquisition and transfer of sites, drafting leases, overage and claw back agreements, and on due diligence in corporate transactions. After more than 10 years in-house with an Oxfordshire local authority, Richard has substantial experience in all real estate issues regarding educational property, including site acquisition, disposal, transfer and lettings by academies, foundations and voluntary schools.  Richard also has substantial experience on the registration of village greens and commons.

Richard's clients include developers, investors and local authorities.

Recent examples of how Richard has helped clients include:

• safeguarding a village green from development for housing, by demonstrating customary use in sufficient numbers;

• enabling a keen investor to acquire a multi-let property freehold by undertaking necessary due diligence within 24-hours; and

• ensuring the profitable acquisition of a site by re-drafting aggressive provisions for claw back lasting decades that would have rendered the deal worthless.

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Stephanie Merritt

Senior Associate
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Stephanie Merritt

Senior Associate

Stephanie is a Senior Associate in the Employment team.

Stephanie advises HR professionals and senior executives in a range of businesses and educational establishments, including independent schools, academies and colleges. Stephanie also delivers training to the Independent Schools' Bursars Association.

Stephanie deals with contentious employment matters that might end up before the Employment Tribunal; however, she also advises on non-contentious issues, such as the employment aspects of company restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing arrangements and TUPE transfers.

Stephanie also provides strategic guidance and advice on restrictive covenants and breach of confidentiality actions, director and senior employee exits, complex and high value settlement agreements, managing underperforming staff or staff with capability issues, changing terms and conditions, disability discrimination and ill-health.

Recent examples of how Stephanie has helped clients include:

• successfully defending an employer against a claim of £500,000 and allegations of unfair dismissal, victimisation, race discrimination and disability discrimination;

• advising an owner-manager on their options for exiting a business and securing a significantly more valuable settlement package than originally proposed; and

• ensuring no claims from employees affected by a business restructure which necessitated the renegotiation of employees' terms and conditions.

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Andrew Nicklin

Senior Associate
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Andrew Nicklin

Senior Associate

Andrew is a Senior Associate in the Employment team.

Andrew advises employers on employment law and human resources matters, including the drafting of contracts of employment, the management of poor performance and persistent absence, grievance and disciplinary proceedings, changes to terms and conditions, redundancy programmes, TUPE compliance following a business acquisition or merger, severance packages, enforcement of restrictive covenants and the defence of employment tribunal claims.

Andrew also provides advice to insolvency practitioners on redundancy and TUPE matters arising out of business sales or restructuring deals.

Andrew’s clients are public and private companies, owner-managed businesses and international companies with UK subsidiaries operating across a range of sectors.  He acts for a number of education providers, including maintained schools, free schools, single and multi-academy trusts and further education establishments.

Recent examples of how Andrew has helped clients include:

  • undertaking collective consultation with 140 employees represented by an internal works council to enable a large multi-national manufacturer to make changes to their employees’ terms and conditions;
  • supporting a multi-academy trust in revising their policies for dealing with staff accused of inappropriate behaviour following safeguarding concerns raised about former employees; and
  • guiding several schools and single academies through the TUPE process following their decision to form a multi-academy trust and negotiating appropriate warranties and indemnities to manage the risks associated with subsequent employee claims.
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John Wood

Senior Associate
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John Wood

Senior Associate

John is a Senior Associate in the Employment team.

John provides employment law advice, predominantly to employers who require help with contracts of employment and service agreements, handling grievances and disciplinary matters, implementing large-scale redundancy programmes, handling the TUPE transfer of staff, compromising claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination and unlawful deduction from wages and defending proceedings brought in the employment tribunal.  He also offers employers HR support in the form of strategic counselling and guidance.

John acts for employers of all shapes and sizes in a broad-range of sectors.  His clients include national retailer, Dunelm, and the UK’s leading supplier of industrial tools and equipment, Cromwell Tools.

John is particularly experienced in advising schools and academies, having spent the past decade working closely with private and publicly funded providers of education to children up to the age of 18.  He advises schools on staffing issues, admission and exclusion policies, special educational needs provision, making reasonable adjustments for children with a disability, safeguarding concerns, complaints from parents and the defence of legal proceedings.

John also provides support to employees who need help resolving a dispute with their employer, whether through a settlement agreement or tribunal proceedings, or who have been advised to speak to a lawyer about a TUPE transfer or a proposed change to their working conditions or terms of employment.

Recent examples of how John has helped clients include:

  • successfully defending an employer against allegations of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal in a heavily contested trial before the employment tribunal lasting 20 days;
  • supporting an organisation in the successful merger of two audit teams following the TUPE transfer of one team from another business under an outsourcing arrangement;
  • guiding a local authority through the process of amending their schools’ admission policy to remove automatic entitlement to a place for pupils when moving into a catchment area; and
  • successfully defending a school in the first tier tribunal against allegations of disability discrimination arising from their decision to exclude a pupil with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).