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The history of Brabners

Brabners - The Firm's History

Picture of the Liverpool Law Society taken in 1893 - G.Harold Brabner can be seen in the top left of the picture


With roots from founder law practices the firm has had a presence in the North West since the late 18th century. 

The name ‘Brabner’ has been included in the title since 1815.

Five successive generations of the Brabner family have practised law in Liverpool continuously since 1815.

Brabners has had a long and close association with Liverpool Law Society with more than 13 Partners from the firm holding the office of president since 1844.  Housing & Regeneration Partner Alistair Fletcher was president in 2013. Recent presidents include Tim Marshall and Mark Feeny, both of whom still work at the firm, and Lawrence Holden, who was president in 1989. Tim Marshall’s father, Michael Marshall, and grandfather, Roland Marshall, also held office.

Past presidents of Manchester Law Society include Litigation Partner Jeff Lewis, who was president in 2012, and Arthur McKenna and Bill Royle of James Chapman & Co, which merged with Brabners Chaffe Street in 2006.

Below are the timelines of the Liverpool, Manchester and Preston offices which make up Brabners today.


Brabners - timeline

1772 – The firm which has since become the Preston office was founded

1815 – The year the name Brabners was first used!

Early 1930s – G Harold Brabner & Son merged with Toulmin Ward and became Toulmin Hodgson & Brabner

1968 – Toulmin Hodgson & Brabner merged with Duncan Oakshott & Co to become Brabner Holden

1988 – Brabner Holden merges with Avisons

April 1990 – Brabner Holden merges with Banks Wilson Brindle & Co (in Preston) and becomes known as Brabner Holden Banks Wilson.  At the time a total of 16 partners and eight associates worked at the newly-formed practice, including Richard Eastwood, president of the Preston District Law Society

January 2001 – Brabner Holden Banks Wilson appoints 8 commercial partners from Berrymans Lace Mawer and becomes known as Brabners

January 2002 – Brabners merges with Chaffe Street (in Manchester) and becomes Brabners Chaffe Street

May 2005 - Brabners Chaffe Street becomes a limited liability partnership

March 2006 – Ranked 90 in Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for

May 2006 –The Commercial & Sports Law team joins from James Chapman & Co

March 2007 – Ranked 67 in Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for

March 2008 – Ranked 27 in Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for

March 2009 – Ranked 20 in Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for

May 2009 – Mark Brandwood succeeds Michael Brabner as managing partner

May 2009 – Brabners Chaffe Street merges with Bremners

March 2010 – Ranked 83 in Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for

April 2010 - Brabners Chaffe Street merges with private client specialist David Bishop & Co

May 2010 – Brabners Stuart Corporate Finance launches incorporating the corporate finance firm, The Steve Stuart Partnership

March 2011 – Ranked 81 in Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for, our sixth consecutive appearance in the guide

May 2011 – Brabners Chaffe Street merges with Murphy Hodgkinson

June 2013 – Brabners Chaffe Street rebrands to Brabners

November 2014 - Brabners acquires Lawson Coppock & Hart

2015 - Brabners marks 200th year in legal practice


James Chapman & Co (Manchester) – timeline

James Chapman & Co was founded in Manchester over 100 years ago.

Niche firm providing defendant litigation services to the insurance market.

Separate specialist niche department of Commercial & Sports law, headed by the firm’s Senior Partner, Maurice Watkins.

1984 – Maurice Watkins was appointed to the board of Manchester United FC.  Maurice and other members of the team regularly advise on signings of world-class footballers to the Manchester United squad, and on other record-breaking commercial agreements for the club.

May 2006 – The Commercial & Sports Law team from James Chapman & Co joins Brabners Chaffe Street


Harold Chaffe & Co (Manchester) – timeline

Established in the 1960s in Stockport.

1983 - The firm opened a Manchester office – a boutique corporate practice of 6 lawyers which grew rapidly

1984 – Separate firm of Chaffe Street was formed

January 2002 – Merges with Brabners and becomes Brabners Chaffe Street


Wilson Brindle Wright & Ascrofts and Banks & Co (Preston) – timeline

1772 – Hankinson and Wilson was established. The firm went through a series of mergers and eventually became known as Wilson Brindle Wright & Ascrofts in 1972

Mid 1800s - Banks & Co was established

1980 - The two firms merge in 1980 to become Banks Wilson

April 1990 – Banks Wilson Brindle & Co merges with Brabner Holden and becomes known as Brabner Holden Banks Wilson

Five successive generations of the Wilson family have practised law in Preston continuously between 1770 and 2000

Three successive generations of the Eastwood family have practised law in Preston

Today Brabners is a nationally recognised law firm with over 10,000 clients. We use our experience to provide creative solutions to clients’ problems with the emphasis on results, service delivery and value for money.