2019 is a momentous year for Backhouse Jones. Not only did the firm win Boutique Firm of the Year at the highly acclaimed Lawyer Awards in London last month, Sunday 21 July marked 200 years in law for the Backhouse family.
The truck, the trailer, the fifth wheel…and the Backhouses. As transport operators cast around for legal advice, following the introduction of the first Road Transport Act in 1930, lawyers named Backhouse were on hand to back them up. A recognisable name in the valleys of Lancashire, the name built itself a reputation. From a line of Henrys, Harrys, Johns and Isaacs came a surname that a cross-section of truck owners could always turn to for legal advice. Burning their brand into the logistics sector, the now-named Backhouse Jones has committed itself to providing industry-specific expertise that will not cause clients to clutch caustically at their wallets.
They are as embedded as the red buses of London, the Suzie Lines on your truck and the pallets in your trailer. Regularly, the law firm is appointed to advise prominent trade associations, navigating those that represent the industry through a jungle of regulations and legislation. A prime example is the Road Haulage Association’s ongoing Cartel Case in the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Estimated to be worth £1 billion in damages, this trade association trusts such an important piece of litigation to this firm because of the history and knowledge it possesses. That being said, they act for any client; big or small, private or public, and they do so with equal fervour for each.
By being uniquely industry-specific, clients looking to instruct Backhouse Jones do not have to spend valuable time during consultations explaining to their lawyer an O-Licence, a PG9 or an OCRS. This means you can cut into the substance of your problem quicker and work with their lawyers to find a resolution faster. Such efficiency is why they are praised for being ‘commercially minded’ in the way they apply the legal points of a problem to the circumstances.
BACK to the Future
Who are the Backhouses now? Well, the mantle has fallen to twins, James and Jonathon. Both have been hailed by Chambers & Partners as experts in the transport industry and both received accolades for their performances in Public Inquiries. Their ‘knowledge of the law’ and ‘excellent technical knowledge’ has seen them further their family reputation and assist in building a dedicated firm of lawyers, fluent in the language of logistics. Further to this, whilst their legal expertise and experience in the sector has seen them build a successful firm, so to have they been able to pass on their knowledge to a fresh set of high-rising solicitors.
It would, however, be remiss not to give credit of the firm’s success also to the twins’ business partners, Ian Jones and Andrew Woolfall. It was Ian Jones’ awareness of the needs of the industry and clear vision for creating a brand that has seen the firm offer its subscription-based legal service; the Netflix of the legal world and equally as innovative. Likewise, Andrew is recognised as another solicitor acquainted with the transport industry and accomplished when appearing in the Magistrates’ and Crown Court of England and Wales.
Roll on to 2003 and the firm commenced its “trainee” programme with Steven Meyerhoff and Mark Davies as early recruits. Both, now fellow directors, demonstrate the organic growth that the firm has experienced with market sources describing Mark as having ‘technical brilliance’ and Steven as the leading figure in the RHA’s current Cartel Case.
Observing other solicitors at the firm, ‘game keeper turned poacher’ John Heaton joined the ever-growing team in 2011 after many years prosecuting for VOSA. He brought with him tactical experience and is regarded as ‘cerebral’ with incredible knowledge. Other notable lawyers in the regulatory arena are Scott Bell and Laura Hadzik who have begun to make their own waves in the transport industry; Laura being described as ‘clearly a very knowledgeable and talented lawyer,’ and Scott being recognised for ‘his decisive and informed approach.’ With young lawyers such as these breaking the ranks of Backhouse Jones, the firm’s past is looking to foretell its future. With a steady stream of transport-savvy lawyers available to each and every operator holding (or in some cases, not holding) an O-Licence.
What is unique about this firm, other than its heavy focus on an otherwise often-overlooked business sector, is the culture. It recognises its roots and cherishes them. The staff bear their past proudly and will greet you with a smile. Managing some of the most complex litigation from its offices in both Clitheroe and London, it is undeniable that this firm knows transport law BACKwards.