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Fast-paced and innovative, the automotive sector demands commercial lawyers who think on their feet and understand the pressures facing the industry.

Led by Stuart Young, our 25-strong automotive industry group brings together technical excellence in regulatory, corporate, employment, dispute resolution, real estate, commercial and competition. When it comes to automotive finance, partner Greg Standing is in the driving seat, as the only lawyer to feature in Motor Finance's top 50 most influential people in UK car finance.

While operating at the centre of the UK's automotive heartland, our client base is worldwide and includes the likes of Mazda, Prodrive, Peugeot, Aston Martin, SMMT and GKN.

Economies of scale and low unit costs are crucial to the sector. We reflect this by providing cost-effective legal advice. Whether completing disposals and acquisitions or resolving disputes, we head off issues before they affect the client's bottom line.

Experience ranges from providing urgent advice to a major motor manufacturer when Greenpeace protestors stopped production on its site, to advising Williams F1 on the sale of its Flywheel energy capture business to GKN plc.

The automotive sector is supported by a dynamic supply chain. When disputes arise, the industry's biggest players call upon our expertise. A highlight was obtaining an injunction for the continued supply of a critical component to a leading car manufacturer. A hugely successful outcome for our client, it also changed the law relating to insolvent suppliers to the automotive industry.

Paving the way for driverless cars

The team plays a significant role in the driverless cars consortium - UK Autodrive. The aim of the project is to establish the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies and to integrate driverless vehicles into urban environments.

UK Autodrive carries out cutting edge research which will provide insights for vehicle manufacturers, cities, commercial operators, legislators and insurers to develop the legal framework for the roll-out of autonomous mobility. The consortium is delivering a programme of feasibility studies and practical demonstrations in Milton Keynes and Coventry.

As the only lawyers in the consortium, the team are contributing to the thinking on societal and legal issues around the development of autonomous vehicles by developing a series of white papers. The first two in the series, covering data protection and the moral algorithm of driverless vehicles, have already been released. Future white papers will discuss liability, infrastructure and legislative aspects of driverless vehicles.

The other partners in the 'UK Autodrive' consortium are Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, MIRA, Thales (UK), Oxbotica, AXA, the Transport Systems Catapult, the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University.

Immersed in your sector

We have visited a number of clients' manufacturing operations to get first-hand insight into the commercial issues affecting the front line. Our work with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) on industry codes of practice and the retention of influential professor and automotive guru David Bailey as a consultant also ensures we keep clients abreast of the latest issues.

Don't just take our word for it, here's what Seftton Samuels of the SMMT has to say about our sector immersion: "While many firms claim sector knowledge, Gowling WLG is the only firm which lives up to that claim when it comes to advising automotive clients."

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Stuart Young
Stuart Young

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