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Freeths - Law firm
Richard Coates

Richard Coates

Partner & Head of Automotive

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"He is not only fiercely strategic and crucially proactive but also objective and pragmatic. He is without doubt the solicitor you should have on your team.”

Richard is head of the directory recognised Dispute Resolution Team in Birmingham and also leads the firm’s Automotive Sector.

Richard’s team prides itself in delivering the right results with first class client service in a cost effective and client friendly manner. Clients comment that “all problems and dangers are fully worked through” by the team, which focuses on “delivering a supportive, but not flowery, response and summary”.

The team is recognised by Legal 500 as “a strong team with an impressive range of experience”.

Richard is directory recognised for his “intellect” “ability to empathise with clients and extensive knowledge of law”: for being a “charming”, “pragmatic”, “focussed” and “strong lawyer [who is] … a pleasure to work with”.

Richard advises on a wide range of commercial litigation matters – specialising in: automotive matters, corporate and commercial disputes, contractual disputes, professional negligence claims, corporate governance and directors duties.

He also advises retailers in relation to their obligations to consumers – acting for large corporate clients and he has recently acted for an Austrian company in a dispute with a customer over alleged misrepresentations in its advertising.

Richard is a talented, pragmatic and tenacious litigator who acts for a diverse range of clients spanning from individuals to PLCs, in both domestic and international litigation.

Richard is listed as a Recommended Lawyer in The Legal 500 (2024 edition).

“Practice head Richard Coates has ‘a great attitude’ and ‘an amazing presence when dealing with other aggressive firms”

Legal Services

Commercial Dispute Resolution

Third Party Funding

There is no hiding from the fact that litigation is an expensive emergency purchase. Richard is able to advise upon various funding options for clients in circumstances where the proposed claimant might not have the resources to bring an otherwise good claim.

Richard has strong links with a variety of UK and internationally based funders and brokers and can often fund claims which otherwise may not be capable of being pursued.

Recent Work

  • Acting for various individuals in professional negligence actions against solicitors, accountants and surveyors.

Mediation & ADR

Richard provides practical advice in relation to the realities of litigation. He believes that the exit strategy can often be lost. As such, he advises upon and has represented clients at numerous settlement meetings and mediation. Richard is not afraid of difficult conversations with his opponents to achieve the right results for his clients. He will provide commercial astute advice to achieve those results as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Corporate and M&A Disputes

Richard’s work has particular emphasis on large and complex chancery/commercial and corporate disputes (including corporate governance, fiduciary/director duty issues).

He regularly provides advice on the drafting and terms of warranty and indemnity clauses as well as advising on and prosecuting warranty and indemnity claims post completion.

Richard has recently concluded a dispute relating to the duties owed by a finance director to his fellow board members and shareholders. That claim related to the recovery of 40% of the equity in a large corporate operating within the shipping industry.

Shareholder Disputes

Richard is an expert in claims between shareholders. He has acted for both corporate and individual clients, with many of the disputes relating to multi-million pound cases between shareholders.

Recent Work

  • He recently concluded a claim between shareholders involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duties. The claim involved a dispute over 40% of the equity in a maritime and naval architecture business worth circa. £80 million.
  • He has also recently acted for multiple defendants (including corporate and individual) in relation to a multi-million pound, multi-jurisdictional shareholder dispute.
  • Acting for a director summarily removed from his position and the consequential dispute arising over his shares.
  • Richard has recently dealt with the exit of a finance director/shareholder from a company which dealt with the issue of good leaver/bad provisions in the Articles of Association. The question dramatically altered the value of the shareholding. The case settled in favour of Richard’s client at mediation.

Partnership Disputes

Richard has run numerous partnership disputes, both acting for the firm and individual partner(s). He is able to provide often time critical advice in relation to matters arising from issues unique to partnerships.

During his time in practice, Richard has obtained a strong reputation for his involvement with the prosecution and defence of disputes relating to partnerships across all sectors of the commercial world.

Recent Work

  • Richard acted for a national firm of accountants in a partnership dispute. It was alleged by an outgoing partner that as a result of the fact that one of the partners had failed to sign an addendum to the partnership deed, the firm (with over a thousand staff) should be wound up. That element of the claim was successfully struck out at an interim stage and the case settled in favour of the firm.
  • He has also represented a solicitor equity partner in relation this exit him from a firm. The case was complex because of the nature of the partnership created in law. Richard successfully exited his client and later commenced proceedings against his client’s former partner for monies owed following his exit.

Professional Negligence Claims

Richard is regularly instructed in relation to claims against other solicitors. He is currently involved in claims exceeding £60 million for various clients, including one present claim with a value of in excess of £40m.

Employment Restrictive Covenant Disputes

Richard has significant experience in acting for employers and employees in relation to the enforcement of restrictive covenants in contracts of employment in the High Court.

Recent Work

  • Recently provided advice relating to the removal of confidential information by an employee leading to injunctive proceedings.

Injunctions, Emergency Court Relief & Search Orders

Richard has extensive experience of injunctive applications, including search and seizure orders (for applicants and respondents, as well as supervising those applications) and interim applications for delivery up and continuation of supply.

Richard has conducted numerous injunctions over his career. He specialises in injunctions to compel compliance with restrictive covenants, but has also obtained orders for the continuation of supply of goods to manufacturers (specifically, in the luxury motor industry).





To contact Richard or for more information…

Call: 0345 128 7972
Mobile: 0758 368 7339
Or email: Send an email



“Confidence in the ability and integrity of your most senior legal adviser is paramount in managing a successful commercial organisation in today’s ever moving business environment. Richard Coates provides unerring confidence to our board members whenever legal advice is required ensuring business decisions are taken from a trusted legal position.”

(Duncan Williams, Excool CEO)

“Having engaged the services of Richard Coates and his team over the past 30 months to support me with a number of commercial legacy issues I inherited I can highly recommend him. He is not only fiercely strategic and crucially proactive but also objective and pragmatic. He is without doubt the solicitor you should have on your team.”

“Richard’s clients’ comment of his ‘intellect’ saying he is ‘quick to grasp facts, financial matters and legal issues alike’ and that ‘He is not only fiercely strategic and crucially proactive but also objective and pragmatic’ and he ‘provides unerring confidence to our board members whenever legal advice is required ensuring business decisions are taken from a trusted legal position’.”

‘Richard Coates is excellent at developing relationships with clients and has strong commercial instincts.’

(The Legal 500, 2024)

“Sharp thinker and experienced litigator.”

(The legal 500, 2022)

“Freeths LLP focuses on contentious matters concerning contract breaches, professional negligence, partnership agreements and commercial fraud. The ‘remarkably user-friendly’ Richard Coates leads the practice in Birmingham.”

(The legal 500, 2020)

“Richard Coates is remarkably user-friendly and has a strong natural instinct for commercial litigation.”

(The legal 500, 2020)

“Practice head Richard Coates has ‘a great attitude’ and ‘an amazing presence when dealing with other aggressive firms’.”

(The legal 500, 2019)

Client service

‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.

Our values


Talk to us

Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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