Call us01689 822554

How We Began

Walk in with a problem, walk out with a solution

Walking into Thomas Dunton Solicitors, a thriving, dynamic legal practice on Orpington High Street, you would be hard pushed to imagine its roots.

Norman Thomas Dunton grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Hackney, East London. He left school at 14 and worked in a solicitors firm as an office boy. After returning from service in World War II, he found work at a City law firm.

One day in 1962, at the age of 49, he decided to train as a Solicitor. With a wife and a young family to support, college was not an option, so he enrolled on a correspondence course and studied at home in the evenings, emerging as a fully qualified Solicitor six years later. Thomas Dunton Solicitors was officially born when Norman was 65. He practiced from home for several years and then, when his daughter Melanie joined the firm, he moved into a small office.

A man with a deeply felt social conscience, he once said that among his greatest pleasures in life was seeing someone walk in through the door, weighed down with a problem, knowing that he was able to help them.

Nearly 40 years on, this ethos is still very much part of the firm, the question “How can we help you” being the cornerstone of the Thomas Dunton philosophy.

A tradition of care

Carrying on the family tradition from her father, Melanie Dunton is now a Senior Partner at the firm.  Joining in 1986 and initially working in all areas of the law, as the firm expanded she headed our Family Department and specialised in finance, pensions and mediation. She now heads our Private Client Department assisting clients with the financial aspects of wills, trusts, taxation and probate.  She is also a Family Mediator.

The Partners

Melanie’s fellow Senior Partner, Vernon Hadida, joined in 1992.  With a Physics degree and having further qualified as a Chartered Physicist, after five years at sea as an engineer in oil exploration, Vernon re-trained as a solicitor.  As well as his experience working in industry outside the law, Vernon brought to the firm three years’ experience of working in a City of London law firm, where he trained and practised.  Now head of Dispute Resolution in the firm, he is a CEDR accredited mediator and also plays a large role in running and planning the affairs of the practice.

Tessa Bengo subsequently became a partner in the firm in 2002, bringing a wealth of Family Law experience.  Specialising in Children Law and financial issues arising on relationship breakdown, she now heads the Family department.

The partners are fortunate to have been joined by a team of highly experienced lawyers and committed support staff.  Having become a leading Kent-based firm of Solicitors, Thomas Dunton provides a wide range of services to both private individuals and businesses, and their reputation is founded on a tradition of care.

Quality is the key

Whatever the problems, the team will assess what each particular situation requires, whilst also considering the wider picture. Their aim is not just to resolve the immediate issue, but also to protect your future interests.

Quality is key to everything Thomas Dunton do.  Above all, the firm is judged on the quality of the advice it provides and the high level of personal service that clients have come to expect.  Clients have said of the service, “Professional, attentive and courteous. Thank you.”

In a changing world, one can never be sure what the future holds, but whatever your situation and the issues you face, Thomas Dunton will provide the expertise and personal attention you need.

Social Responsibility Policy

Our policy focuses on supporting the local community we serve. We are committed to supporting local organisations and the community in general.

We try to offer work experience as far as is practicable and have links with the local college.

We provide free talks on legal subjects local community groups.

We try to be as socially responsible as possible with regard to the way we run the business:-

  • Paper
  • Cardboard;
  • Glass bottles;
  • Kitchen waste;
  • Printer and copier toner cartridges.

A large proportion of correspondence is via email, saving on paper consumption.

The building is also heated in as an environmentally way as is possible by using a timed thermostatic heating system in place.

Helping in the community

Thomas Dunton also donates to various charities, local and national, and raises money for these at local community events.

Thomas Dunton is part of the Federation of Small Businesses, which emphasises trading locally and also the Orpington Business Forum, which is instrumental in pushing forward positive action to encourage the growth of the town.

The partners are responsible for any matters relating to the reputation of the firm, with Vernon Hadida being responsible for this policy.

This policy is reviewed at least annually to ensure it is in effective operation.


What our clients say about us:

  • “We have both been impressed with your diligent and thorough conveyancing, highlighting issues with the property that had been missed during the previous sale”.

  • “Catherine Westcott truly helped us beyond her duty and was always there for us, going that extra mile made all the difference”.

  • “All very satisfactory, efficient and approachable. We now look upon Thomas Dunton as our solicitors”.

  • “Extremely satisfied with the service that you have provided. We will be recommending Thomas Dunton to our family and friends”. 

  • “Great patience and great deal of thought to ensure our Will achieved our complicated requirements. Thank you”.

  • “I found the staff I dealt with professional, practical and patient…helping to clarify matters and enabling me to take better informed decisions”.

  • “Wonderful and understanding of my circumstances. Guided me through the process and presented all the options in a way that I could understand”.

  • “Thank you for all your hard work. You have been amazing. I will forever be thankful that you were my solicitor”.

  • “The service was exceptional —  friendly, welcoming and sympathetic. I do not think that I could have received a better service anywhere else“.

  • “No words to express my gratitude to your amazing work and patience”.

  • “Thank you very much for the courtesy, care and efficiency which we have received from you and everyone we have dealt with at Thomas Dunton”. 

  • “Thank you so much for all your help for my family and I.  I am so very  grateful.  You’re  my little Christmas angels”

  • “What you all do for people is amazing. You should all be proud of yourselves for putting a little bit of light back in my life and I’m most certain that of others”

  • “The firm give their clients very detailed and clear advice in plain English.”

  • “Extremely friendly, did not feel that anything was too much trouble”.

  • “I received a very prompt, professional and caring service from you at a very sad and distressing time”.


  • “Thank you all for your amazing support throughout last year.  You really are a fabulous team”.


  • “It really was a hideous experience, but every time I got to the point I couldn’t breathe and I spoke to one of you, I felt instantly strong again”.

  •  “You made me giggle and reassured me whenever I was about to cry or hide in a cupboard, often picking up the phone to check I was ok – so very kind”.


  • “Vernon Hadida is by far the best solicitor I have ever dealt with.”

  • “Extremely satisfied with the service which I considered excellent value for money.”

  • “I was very happy with the service. I was always able to speak to somebody that could help me when I telephoned.”

  • “Thank you for all your work on my claim. I am extremely grateful for your assistance.”

  • “Thomas Dunton exceeded my expectations in terms of both service quality and value for money.”