A litigation executive is retiring 44 years after first stepping through the doors at a well-known Warwickshire law firm.

Darryl Barnes started working for Blythe, Owen George & Co. Solicitors, now known as Blythe Liggins, in Leamington Spa in January 1980, a time when Margaret Thatcher was still a relatively new Prime Minister and ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ by Pink Floyd was top of the music charts.

However, it could have been a very different story for Darryl’s long-spanning career as he was late for work on his very first day due to car problems. At that time, the offices were in Clarendon Place but moved to Rugby Road in 1993.

Despite this minor mechanical setback, Darryl has progressed within Blythe Liggins into more senior roles which has seen his career mainly focused on litigation, together with an early spell in accounts.

He believes his length of time at what became Blythe Liggins is because it has always kept a warm and welcoming environment for clients, as well as staff,  in addition to being a great place to work.

Darryl, whose career highlight was assisting in the firm’s success in winning a substantial case at the Court of Appeal in London in the 1990s, said: “I never dreamt, as I am sure nobody would when starting a new chapter in their career at a rather more spritely 21 years of age, that when I joined Blythe Liggins way back in 1980 that I would still be here 44 years later. It is not something you see much of these days.

“However, the time is right to retire and I will miss the comradery of so very many colleagues and the often good humour of so many clients with whom I’ve enjoyed working with over the years.

“I don’t know how I’ll react to retirement. There is much to do and much to learn. If I have the time, whilst I know my wife will have many other plans and ideas, I expect to be coming back and knocking on the doors at Blythe Liggins to say hello as it has been such a large part of my life!”

Darryl is a keen motorsport spectator and also enjoys the great outdoors, two areas he intends to experience more in retirement.

David Lester, senior partner at Blythe Liggins, said: “Darryl is a credit to the legal profession and a credit to Blythe Liggins.

“We’ve been very fortunate that he’s dedicated the vast majority of his extensive legal career to us and our clients.

“His commitment and loyalty have been second-to-none and we wish him, and his wife, a very enjoyable, and lengthy, retirement together.”

CAPTION: Left to right: David Lester (senior partner at Blythe Liggins), Darryl Barnes, Jagdeep Sandher (head of dispute resolution at Blythe Liggins).

A Warwickshire personal injury solicitor has expressed her frustration at a report into a devastating Leamington factory fire being delayed yet again, meaning it is unlikely to be published much before the third anniversary of the fatal blaze.

The fire at Leeson Polyurethanes Ltd on 27 August 2021 led to employee David Boswell losing his life and many more being deeply affected.

The report was originally due for completion in December 2022 but further delays mean that it will not be ready until May 2024 at the earliest, with the HSE advising that even this date is not set in stone.

Claire Kirwan, a partner and head of the personal injury department at Blythe Liggins, who is bringing civil claims on behalf of some of those affected by the fire, said: “It could now be almost three years since the fire before we get the answers we desperately need.

“This also means further ongoing uncertainty for those affected by the fire. Notwithstanding the complexities of the matter, it does seem to be taking an incredibly long time.”

It is understood that the delays are due to a variety of reasons, the main one being that the investigation team haven’t addressed all of the issues required. They have had to carry out further enquiries as a result and an additional specialist was appointed as late as October 2023.

Claire added: “I fully appreciate all processes must be adhered to, but it is very disappointing that we are facing yet another delay to the report’s publication.

“Once again, I would urge the HSE to treat this report with urgency so that we can start to bring closure for those that were affected so badly and continue to be affected.”

Claire, who has appeared on BBC Watchdog and Legal TV throughout her career, will continue to push for answers for her clients.

Caption: Claire Kirwan, Partner and Head of Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence

Registration for the 2024 Two Castles Run is now open as the popular event also waves goodbye and says thank you to a legendary figure.

The unique annual fundraising run, which is once again sponsored by Leamington Spa solicitors Blythe Liggins and is celebrating 40 successful years, will see participants tackle the 10km course between Warwick Castle and Kenilworth Castle on Sunday, June 9.

It is also going to be the first race in 18 years where Rotarian Philip Southwell has not been at the helm, as he has retired from organising the event after nearly two decades in charge.

Philip, who believes the time is right for other people to take the lead, said: “There were 800 entrants when I first took charge and now there are around 4,000.

“It’s turned into a very successful event and has raised well over £1 million pounds for good causes just over the last 10 years or so.

“This year will be the first time I’ve missed the Two Castles Run in more than two decades as I’m going on holiday. My wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary in June, so it’s been a very long time since we’ve been away together at this time of year due to obvious reasons, but I think I can go on holiday this year!”

The race entry for the 2024 Two Castles Run is £29 for England Athletics affiliated runners or £31 for unaffiliated runners, and a T-shirt and medal are included for finishers.

Donna Bothamley, head of wills and probate at Blythe Liggins Solicitors, said: “Our thanks go to Philip who has been instrumental in turning the Two Castles Run into a fantastic event which always draws in participants from far and wide. He’s done an amazing job and thoroughly deserves his retirement.

“Blythe Liggins is delighted to be continuing our long-running support of the run once again this year as it celebrates 40 years and we’re hoping to see as many people as possible taking part.”

The Two Castles Run is organised by the Kenilworth Runners in conjunction with Kenilworth Rotary and Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club.

It is a flagship fund-raising event which attracts competitors from all over the country. This year, there are 4,500 places available.

Richard Clarke, race director from the Kenilworth Runners, said: “The Two Castles Run is a great community event that benefits charities in the local area and beyond.”

To learn more about the 2024 Two Castles Run, visit www.twocastlesrun.org.uk, while to register, visit race-nation.co.uk/register/the-two-castles-run/twocastlesrun2024.

CAPTION: Richard Clarke from Kenilworth Runners, Philip Southwell and Donna Bothamley from Blythe Liggins Solicitors.

A mum from Rugby who lost her daughter last year has become a trustee at Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice in Coventry, which did so much for her family in their time of need.

Lois Zapasnik’s three-year-old daughter Elsa suffered from a rare genetic mutation that created profound disabilities and which ended her life far too soon.

In a fitting tribute to her daughter, Lois has become a Trustee at Zoe’s Place to help other children and families like hers.

Lois, who is a Solicitor at Leamington Spa solicitors Blythe Liggins where she is known by her maiden name Harrison, said: “We lost our beautiful daughter Elsa last summer. She was an incredibly special little girl who touched so many lives and we are beyond proud of our little fighter.

“Zoe’s Place provided us with huge support in many ways. The amazing team looked after Elsa for respite overnight stays, which gave us a chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep.

“She also had the best time at Zoe’s Place, taking part in activities that would not have been accessible to her anywhere else.

“I wanted to do something to thank Zoe’s Place, and also to help other families like ours, which is why I’ve become the first bereaved parent trustee at Zoe’s Place.”

Zoe’s Place, which also has baby hospices in Liverpool and Middlesbrough, cares for babies and young children with life-limiting, life-threatening or complex conditions.

It is a registered charity and it is proud that all of its care is free of charge to families who need it. It could not do its work without the support of local friends, communities and businesses who raise funds in many different ways.

Lois added: “The team at Zoe’s Place became an extension of our family and treated Elsa like their own. Their help was huge to us, so I hope I can help raise funds, and the profile, of Zoe’s Place, so more families like ours can benefit from their incredible work.”

For more information about Zoe’s Place, visit www.zoes-place.org.uk.


CAPTION: Elsa at Zoe’s Place

Would you like to win a week’s work experience at Blythe Liggins? If so, enter our competition to be in with a chance to win.

Blythe Liggins invites you to write a short article on an area of law practised by the firm to discuss any recent or anticipated developments within your chosen area.

Enter by 17:00 on Thursday 28th March 2024.

There is a 500 word limit and all entries must be sent by email to sj@blytheliggins.co.uk.


  • All entrants must be over the age of 18 years.
  • The work experience will take place at the firm’s offices at Edmund House, Rugby Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 6EL.
  • The hours of the work experience will be 09:00 – 17:30 Monday to Thursday and 09:00 – 17:00 on Friday.
  • The winner must take up the offer of work experience by the end of 2024.
  • The work experience is unpaid.
  • All other queries should be directed to sj@blytheliggins.co.uk.

A Warwickshire solicitor is advising that pre-nuptial agreements are a real expression of love and not at all unromantic as starry-eyed lovers look to propose on Valentine’s Day.

Sophia Mellor, Partner at Blythe Liggins Solicitors in Leamington Spa, is gearing up to help clients who are intending to propose, or think their beloved will pop the question to them on February 14.

Sophia said: “Pre-nuptial agreements are not at all unromantic. It is, after all, the expression of love to another and that the marriage is not being entered into for financial reasons.”

A pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement made by a couple before they marry to outline intended ownership of respective assets if the marriage should end in divorce.

In some cases, a pre-nuptial agreement would be advisable if, for example, there are pre-marital assets, inheritances or children from a previous relationship who need to be protected.

Sophia added: “From my experience, representing people for pre-nuptial agreements, living together agreements and post-nuptial agreements, is nothing but positive.

“We should never forget that marriage should be for love, not for money.”

Sophia is urging those intending to propose, or those who have been proposed to, to consult with a specialist family law solicitor for advice.

“A specialist family law solicitor will enable you to make an informed decision as to whether a prenuptial agreement is suitable for you,” she added.

“Consulting with a family law solicitor in these moments of pure joy can be invaluable in helping people to organise themselves financially, while committing to a long and happy relationship or marriage.”

For more information on Blythe Liggins, call 01926 831231 or visit www.blytheliggins.co.uk.

CAPTION: Sophia Mellor, Partner at Blythe Liggins Solicitors

Would you like to win a week’s work experience at Blythe Liggins? If so, enter our competition to be in with a chance to win.

Blythe Liggins invites you to write a short article on an area of law practised by the firm to discuss any recent or anticipated developments within your chosen area.

Enter by 17:00 on Thursday 28th March 2024.

There is a 500 word limit and all entries must be sent by email to sj@blytheliggins.co.uk.


  • All entrants must be over the age of 18 years.
  • The work experience will take place at the firm’s offices at Edmund House, Rugby Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 6EL.
  • The hours of the work experience will be 09:00 – 17:30 Monday to Thursday and 09:00 – 17:00 on Friday.
  • The winner must take up the offer of work experience by the end of 2024.
  • The work experience is unpaid.
  • All other queries should be directed to sj@blytheliggins.co.uk.

A Leamington Spa solicitor is urging people to make updating their will a priority as the new year commences.

Jessica McDonnell, senior associate solicitor at Blythe Liggins Solicitors, said it was recommended to review and update your will every five years – or sooner if there has been a major life change in the family, such as a divorce, marriage, death or new arrival.

Previous research has suggested almost half of Brits who have a will haven’t updated it for more than five years.

Jessica said: “As life gets busy, updating your will is one of those tasks which can fall to the bottom of priorities, possibly even forgotten.

“The new year is an ideal time to address this because having an up-to-date, well-written and comprehensive will in place is vital to ensure that your wishes are dealt with in the way you’d like when you die.

“Of course, it’s not a situation which any of us like to dwell on, but by making sure that your will is current, you have the peace of mind from knowing that everything is in place as you go on living and appreciating life.”

Wills cover everything from who will benefit from a person’s estate – their money, property, possessions and investments – to care arrangements for their children in the event that they pass away.

Jessica added: “In the event that you die without making a will, there are set rules that must be followed, called the rules of intestacy. These rules govern as to who receives your property, cash assets and personal possessions. Unfortunately, this can sometimes result in those closest to you receiving nothing.

“Also, in modern society, there are many unmarried couples who live together, but have not provided for each other by making a will. Under the rules of intestacy, an unmarried partner is not entitled to anything and therefore would not be provided for financially.

“Consequentially, it cannot be stressed enough the importance of unmarried couples making wills to ensure that both parties are provided for and will have somewhere to live in the event of an unexpected death.”

CAPTION: Jessica McDonnell, senior associate solicitor at Blythe Liggins Solicitors in Leamington Spa.

With ‘divorce day’ fresh in the memory, a Midlands solicitor has advised couples thinking of going their separate ways to seek specialist legal advice.

‘Divorce day’ was known as the first working Monday of the new year when applications traditionally surged, and saw 28,865 divorce applications made in January to March 2023, according to the Family Courts National Statistics.

The start of January still tends to be when enquiries noticeably swell for lawyers and Sophia Mellor, head of family law at Blythe Liggins Solicitors in Leamington Spa, said this spike is often due to couples preferring to wait until after the festive season, mostly in an attempt to prioritise the children of the family.

Enquiries in the New Year can also be due to a stressful Christmas and new year period, when tension and financial pressures increase.

Sophia said: “Many family lawyers see a noticeable surge in enquiries received from people who want to start divorce proceedings in January.

“We certainly see this and we find that enquiries about divorce often start to come in between Christmas and New Year, which is then followed by a noticeable peak around ‘divorce day’ and throughout the rest of the month.”

There has, however, been a change in instructions, which may be linked to the change in the law back in 2022.

Indeed, since April 2022, couples looking to separate can do so through a no-fault divorce, meaning married couples are able to divorce without having to apportion blame for the breakdown of the marriage.

The timing of divorce applications is no longer of relevance, and applicants will generally apply when it is right for them and their family.

Sophia added: “It is important parties seek specialist legal advice if they are deciding to end their marriage.

“Our family solicitors provide sensitive, knowledgeable and practical advice to ensure matters proceed as amicably as possible.

“Crucially, alongside divorce proceedings we can also help with financial matters, which is an extra element divorcing parties need to consider.”

For more information on Blythe Liggins, call 01926 831231 or visit www.blytheliggins.co.uk/services/family-law/divorce.

CAPTION:  Sophia Mellor, Partner and Head of Family Law at Blythe Liggins Solicitors.

Christmas is a time for giving – but what if one of your gifts turned out to be faulty or wasn’t quite what you wanted?

Jagdeep Sandher, head of dispute resolution at Leamington Spa solicitors Blythe Liggins, said there are more legal rights if the product is faulty but that stores are not legally obliged to let you return products if they are unwanted.

He said: “With faulty goods, whether it was bought in store or online, you will usually be entitled to a refund.

“Thirty days from purchase is usually the window for a refund and, after that timeframe, you may be able to have the product replaced or repaired as an alternative – though some retailers will still be ready to offer a refund. If they cannot offer a repair or a replacement then you are entitled to a refund.

“To be classed as faulty, there are legal standards which a product must fall short. For example, if the item is not satisfactory and as described, fit for purpose and able to last for a reasonable length of time, you can certainly put forward an argument that it is faulty.”

Jagdeep added that, while there were certain legal rights around obtaining a refund for faulty products, there was no legal obligation for retailers to offer a refund for an unwanted product which was bought in store.

He said: “If the store-bought good is simply unwanted, retailers are not legally obliged to let you return it – for example, if it’s a piece of clothing which is the wrong size or you don’t like the colour of it.

“However, retailers often tend to offer more lenient policies than this, particularly in the period following Christmas, possibly offering an extended window for exchanges or refunds, so it’s definitely worth finding out.

“If a store has a return policy, this will be stated on the original receipt and they are within their rights to adhere to it. This makes it worth being aware of the return policies on the gifts you buy for others.

“For future reference, it might be advisable to consider putting a gift receipt in with the presents you give as this will make it easier for the recipient if they do want to try and exchange it.

“The rules for online purchases are slightly different. This is because retailers offer a 14-day window for you to give notice of the return, and then a further 14 days after that to send the goods back.

“These are standard timeframes to be aware of but some retailers may offer more generous return policies if you check.”

CAPTION: Jagdeep Sandher, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution at Blythe Liggins Solicitors in Leamington Spa.