People: Vincents Solicitors; SoMo Bridging; H&H Group; Martin Property Group; Jefferies Solicitors; Ball & Berry

Tia Grimshaw and Michael and Karen Sandys

Vincents Solicitors has appointed Michael Sandys as director of corporate and commercial.

A highly experienced solicitor with more than 20 years’ in practice, Michael specialises in intellectual property, commercial contracts, business sale and acquisitions, restructures, refinancing and shareholder agreements. He also acts for both claimants and defendants in media law and libel cases, including those involving national newspapers, trade unions and broadcasting channels.

Michael qualified as a barrister and was called to the Bar in 1991 before making the switch to become a solicitor a decade later, working in-house for a major telecoms company in Liverpool. He has also worked in-house for a high street and online clothing retailer, and for law firms across the region including Cobbetts and Halliwells in Manchester.

Michael retains his Rights of Audience in the High Court but now focuses on corporate legal work and intellectual property, in which he has a Master’s degree.

He brings with him clients in a range of sectors, chiefly SMEs from across the North West for whom he provides contractual and transactional services. It is his expertise in intellectual property law, however, for which Michael is most well known, protecting clients in creative and corporate industries including clothing, retail, manufacturing, software and the entertainment sector.

He said: “We only tend to hear about intellectual property when it comes to a contentious issue and someone has wrongly used someone else’s creation without permission. Those headline cases are often the result of a missed opportunity to carefully and clearly protect that asset in the first place, and can prove to be an extremely costly mistake for both sides.

“I help clients identify the assets and rights which should be protected and arrange the appropriate level of protection, then put in place the correct licencing or collaboration agreements to allow the creator to commercialise their rights and generate commercial revenue. This early work aims to prevent issues from becoming contentious but, if an infringement does occur and goes to court, we’ll ensure our client is given the best advice to ensure a successful outcome.”

Joining Michael at Vincents is his assistant of 15 years, wife Karen Sandys, and trainee solicitor Tia Grimshaw who will move from the property team to work with Michael as part of her training contract.

Michael is also area leader for the Federation of Small Business Cheshire and Merseyside region, and has worked alongside the Lancashire, Manchester and Cumbria regions in pushing the SME agenda to politicians locally and nationally.

Phillip Gilmore, Vincents Solicitors managing director, said: “A well known and well respected figure among businesses in Cheshire and Merseyside, with clients across all sectors from around the North West, Michael is an exceptional addition to the Vincents team. As director of corporate and commercial he will be a great asset for our business clients for whom I’ve no doubt he can add significant value in a wide variety of ways.”


Specialist lending firm SoMo | Bridging, based in Altrincham, has promoted Jade Keval to the position of sales director to help keep pace with the firm’s growth.

Jade is already taking strides leading the company towards hitting a target lend of £75m before the close of 2022, alongside further strengthening the sales team’s relationship with its broker network.

Jade Keval

She has been at SoMo for five years, starting out as a business development manager and later progressing to head of sales. The sales director role is a new position created to keep pace with SoMo’s growth over the past 18 months.

Jade said: “SoMo is experiencing phenomenal growth at the moment and I’m proud to lead such a high performing sales team. Everyone has a can-do attitude and wants to fulfil our reputation of being a solutions-based lender.

“When I started at SoMo five years ago we were a team of five and we are now 80, so looking back I feel really proud of how the business has grown.”

SoMo CEO Louis Alexander said: “Jade is a huge asset to SoMo and she thoroughly deserves this promotion. We’re lending more year on year thanks to our popular Valuation Only product and market leading Second Charge rates. Jade has been integral in fuelling this growth through innovative thinking and a passion for the success of the company.

“Myself and the team look forward to seeing what this role brings for Jade and SoMo alike. We’re certain that she’s the right person to drive us forward and lead our hard working sales team as we enter a volatile economy.”


Carlisle-based H&H Group has announced that Craig Norman, who farms at Little Orton, near Carlisle, is to join the board as a non-executive director.

Operating across the agricultural, land management, insurance, and the creative and digital sectors, H&H Group is the parent company to the UK’s largest livestock trading enterprise. In recent years H&H’s operations have grown, expanded geographical coverage, and evolved to meet changing customer demands and expectations.

Craig has been involved in farming for most of his life and after completing his degree in Business and Economics at Durham University, he returned to Cumbria to join his parents and brother in the family business. The Norman family farm is in the region of 400 acres and has a noted pedigree herd of Limousin cattle.

Craig Norman

He and his family have been involved with the H&H Group for many years and he said: “I am very pleased to have been invited to become a non-executive director and to be involved with such a large and diverse business. With so many changes, especially within the agri-sectors, it is more important than ever to keep abreast of the latest developments.

“The new green agenda and digital developments will provide huge challenges and opportunities, and together with the other members of the board, I want to do all I can to help the H&H group of companies, customers and shareholders strengthen the position of the company and maximise potential.”

At 39, Craig will be one of the younger members of the board, along with recently appointed Toby Mounsey-Heysham, and it is part of the company’s strategy to nurture the talents of the next generation.

Michael Scott, chairman of the H&H board, said: “With his business and farming experience I know that Craig will be a great addition to the board. He is young enough to bring new fresh ideas and old enough to have the experience and knowledge to be effective. He will be integral to ensuring that H&H Group keeps up to date with the market and delivers to our broad community. This appointment not only strengthens the skills of our existing team, it demonstrates our commitment to the future generation, and I am sure he will make a considerable contribution going forward.”


Phil Crowther has been appointed as acquisitions director of Martin Property Group’s (MPG) new UK Living division in Manchester.

Formerly a director of Lambert Smith Hampton’s Manchester office, Phil is the first appointment of managing director Ian Scott. Phil has worked in senior land buying roles for Churchill Retirement Living and Story Homes, previously.

Phil will be responsible for UK Living’s acquisition of land, housing, apartments and building stock suitable for build to rent (BtR), with a keen focus on the North West market.

Phil Crowther

Ian Scott said: “Phil has always had an exceptional eye for finding potential sites and buildings, so he was a very natural choice to join us, particularly as we get out of the starting blocks and concentrate on establishing our investment portfolio.

“We already have some key assets in Preston, Letchworth and Liverpool, but with Phil’s input we can push forward building our asset portfolio and develop plans to bring 1,000 family-focused BTR units forward over the next two years.”

Phil Crowther said: “Ian’s vision for the UK Living division is to be principally focused on property investment with some development in strategic locations. It’s a compelling proposition that really maximises the BtR potential in the North West, so it’s a pivotal and exciting time to join the business.”

The new Living Division expects to have a 10-strong team in place by the end of 2022. This is in addition to the existing 50-strong Martin Property Group team already based in Northern Ireland.

The Martin Property Group is a family-run real estate investment and development company comprising five core divisions – development, investment, architectural, construction and newly-launched living.


Altrincham-based personal injury firm Jefferies Solicitors has strengthened its team by appointing five new recruits to the firm over the past few weeks.

The new starters bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the firm to strengthen its commitment to delivering an excellent service to clients.

Joining the new claims team are claims assessors Lily Millet, Jemimah Boby and Georgia King-Brownsword.

Laura Baddeley

Alongside the new claims team appointments, the firm has also appointed a new solicitor Laura Baddeley and a new clinical negligence paralegal, Tabitha Rennard.

Solicitor, Laura Baddeley, said: “I qualified as a solicitor in 2018, where I worked for a Legal 500 firm specialising in noise induced hearing loss claims.

“I have spent the last few years representing trade union member clients’ personal injury claims eg employer liability, public liability and road traffic accident claims. I am looking forward to dealing with all types of personal injury claims at Jefferies and especially multi-track matters.”

Managing director, Michael Jefferies, said: “I’m delighted to welcome our new starters to the firm as we continue to develop our team and the business.”


Approved inspector Ball & Berry has appointed a new associate director for the North West.

Karen Pritchard will oversee Ball & Berry’s various sector portfolios and will be tasked with driving forward the business’s growth in the region, using her extensive connections to establish new strategic partnerships to continue building the company’s reputation.

Karen’s first experience of building control came in 1999 via her father, who worked in the field for Cheshire West and Chester Council. The team required an assistant to support surveyors with internal admin, and Karen fulfilled the role.

She undertook extensive training on building surveying and control and became an assistant building surveyor for the council in 2002, a role which she progressed in up to 2009 when she became a building consultancy surveyor working in education, hospitality, leisure and commercial sectors.

In 2015, she moved into the private sector, working on numerous Ministry of Defence projects, including several military barracks, before becoming a project manager in 2018. She was later promoted to principal managing surveyor and regional manager for the North West, before joining Ball & Berry as an associate director.

Her extensive expertise in building control and consultancy surveying spans various industries, including local authority, education, healthcare, defence and residential, and she is always willing to take on additional responsibilities.

Karen Pritchard

Karen is currently studying an NVQ in Spectator Safety, having spent several years as a safety steward for Wrexham AFC. She is a former chair of Wales’ regional group for CABE, and was a board member for CABE until May 2017.

She said: “Having worked for both local authority and private sector companies, I’ve experienced virtually every application of building control possible, which has armed me with extensive knowledge of the sector. I’ve also straddled projects across England and Wales, so understand the differing regulations and ways of working – something which I will apply to my new role.

“I’m excited to get stuck in and particularly keen to spend my time training the younger generation, supporting the development of junior staff so they can get involved in all parts of building control just as I was able to.”

Paul McNeill, director at Ball & Berry, said: “Karen is a proactive self-starter and has demonstrated she is keen to push the boundaries of our business to help us further raise our profile as the leader in our field.

“Within a short space of time she’s already made a huge impression, and I know her experience will shine throughout the business to inspire other people to follow in her footsteps well into the future.”