Melanie Dunton – a Senior Partner and Head of Private Client Department
Melanie is the head of our Private Client Department and has over 30 years’ legal experience. In this position she is the supervisor for the work the firm carries out on Wills, trusts, probate and conveyancing.
Melanie has a wealth of experience having practised both as a solicitor and mediator. She currently assists clients with their Wills, Probates and Trusts. In the past she headed our family department.
During her career she has helped generations of families and has dealt with over 1000 probates, wills and financial remedy family cases. Melanie tends to work on cases with complex issues, and to date has worked on more than 100 contested probate cases.
Vernon Hadida – a Senior Partner & Head of Dispute Resolution Team
After a career in engineering, Vernon qualified as a solicitor in 1991 and joined Thomas Dunton in 1992. He is now one of the senior partners with the firm.
In his supervisory role, Vernon oversees the smooth running of dispute resolution in the firm, which encompasses personal injury, employment and other kinds of dispute. He brings to the role over 30 years of legal expertise.
Vernon has acted in or supervised over a thousand disputes.
He is also a highly skilled mediator (CEDR accredited) and mediation trainer (Facilit8 Accredited), with over 20 years’ mediation experience.
For Vernon’s more detailed biography, please click here.
Tessa Bengo – Partner
Tessa qualified as a Solicitor in 1990 and became a partner at Thomas Dunton in 2002. She is currently Head of the Family Team and specialises in Children Law and Financial issues arising on relationship breakdown (divorce/separation) including Trust of Land proceedings in respect of unmarried partners.
In addition Tessa also specialises in public law care cases and is an Accredited Law Society Children Panel Solicitor as well as a member of the Association of Lawyers for children.
Robert Sardo – Solicitor
A graduate of The College of Law (London) and also Oxford University, Robert qualified as a Solicitor in 1992, joining Thomas Dunton in 2004. He splits his time working on personal injury, employment and wider dispute resolution work (including contested probate and occasionally property disputes.)
With over 25 years’ experience, Robert has successfully advised on hundreds of serious personal injury and employment claims. His personal injury experience covers Fatalities, Clinical Negligence, accidents abroad and at work, industrial disease, and road traffic accidents, along with accidents for which there is public liability. His work for clients with employment law issues includes claims for Unfair Dismissal, Redundancy and Discrimination cases of all types, from inception to conclusion including advocacy at the Tribunal.
He has Senior Litigator Approved status with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and is also a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.
Robert’s work is supervised by Vernon Hadida, a senior partner.
Catherine Westcott – Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
Catherine joined Thomas Dunton Solicitors in 2002, qualifying as a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in 2005.
Since qualifying, Catherine has worked in the conveyancing department and has helped thousands of families and individuals.
Focusing solely on conveyancing matters makes her a specialist in her field and she is extremely proficient in residential conveyancing of freehold and leasehold properties, transfers of equity and re-mortgages.
Catherine’s work is supervised by Melanie Dunton, a senior partner.
Linda Charman – Solicitor
After leaving college Linda worked in a local county court, the Court of Protection, the Supreme Court and the Criminal Appeal Office whilst studying for a law degree.
Linda’s career as a solicitor began in 1987 with a successful high street practice in Bromley, where as a partner she covered a variety of legal work including family matters, residential conveyancing, Wills and probate. Wanting to spend more time with the family the firm merged with another Central Bromley firm where she was a consultant.
Linda joined TD in December 2011 and now with over 30 years’ experience in a wide range of disciplines she concentrates on helping vulnerable clients (including work with Lasting Powers of Attorney and the Court of Protection), contentious probate (contested Wills), Wills and residential conveyancing.
Linda is appreciative of those clients that have followed her, recommended her to others and looks forward to working with them and with new clients. Linda likes a challenge.
She has also been instrumental in training all staff as Dementia Friends and is proud to be a ‘Dementia Champion’.
Linda’s work is supervised by Melanie Dunton, a senior partner.
Rae Broughton – Solicitor
Rae qualified as a solicitor in 1994 and has over 20 years’ experience in property and private client work.
Joining Thomas Dunton in 2011, she has worked for many hundreds of clients and splits her time working on commercial property, including leases; and Wills, LPAs, Probate and related matters.
She is also a specialist in the sale and purchase of businesses.
Rae’s work is supervised by Melanie Dunton, a senior partner.
Catherine Crabtree — Solicitor
Catherine qualified as a solicitor in 2002. She graduated from Oxford in 1998 and then studied the Common Professional Examination and Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, gaining a commendation in the CPE and a distinction in the LPC. She completed her training contract at Ashurst and continued to work in the City until taking a career break in 2005 to care for her children. In 2014, Catherine sat STEP’s Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation and passed with distinction. She is now an affiliate member of STEP.
Catherine has worked in Thomas Dunton’s private client department since 2014 and has worked on close to a thousand files in this time, mainly in the area of wills inheritance tax, lasting powers of attorney and probate. She also undertakes some commercial work at times. Catherine enjoys learning and undertakes a wide range of continuous professional development.
Catherine’s work is supervised by Melanie Dunton, a senior partner.
Jayshree Patel – Solicitor
Jayshree qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and her experience is centred around personal injury, employment and private client work. After graduating, she practised personal injury for two years, before taking a career break and then going on to teach the Legal Practice Course modules of civil litigation and personal injury and clinical negligence for a year.
Jayshree joined Thomas Dunton in 2011, where she worked in the personal injury and employment law department and her varied case load included road traffic accidents, public liability and employer’s liability cases. In the last two years, Jayshree has supported the private client department and now mainly spends her time on drafting Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection work. She has worked with hundreds of clients since she qualified.
Jayshree’s work is supervised by Melanie Dunton, a senior partner.
Ruchi Keerthiratna — Solicitor
Ruchi qualified as a solicitor in 1991, dealing with Family and Employment Law in the London and Kent areas. She joined Thomas Dunton in 2012 where she specialises in family financial issues and matters relating to children following the breakdown of relationships. Ruchi is a member of Resolution (Solicitors Family Law Association). She also carried out voluntary work as an adviser for the Citizens Advice Bureau and at an advice centre for abused families. Ruchi is fluent in Sinhalese.
Maria James – Solicitor
Maria joined the firm in February 2016 from a City practice. Qualifying in 1994, she has worked exclusively in Family and Matrimonial Law since 1997 dealing with a mixed caseload of divorce, dissolution and separation matters, many with complex financial aspects. She advises and represents clients in Children Act matters relating to Child Arrangement Orders, Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps orders as well as leave to remove children from the jurisdiction. Maria also has a particular interest in international children cases and the firm are panel members of the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) meaning Maria receives instructions to act for parents from around the world whose children have been brought to the UK by the other parent against their wishes as well as from those parents who have come to the UK with their children but not necessarily with the agreement of the other. She advises on adoption and parental orders following a surrogacy arrangement. Maria is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Financial Remedy, Children Act work and Child Abduction as well as a qualified Collaborative Lawyer
Ovid joined the team at Thomas Dunton in 2017. Prior to joining us, Ovid worked with national firms and organisations dealing with a mixture of personal injury, private client and commercial matters. On qualification as a solicitor in 2015, Ovid specialised in private client work including Wills, Probate and Powers of Attorney. In the two years that he has been with the firm he has worked on over 100 client cases.
Following a course of study Ovid has obtained the STEP Advanced Certificate in Administration of Estates and is an affiliate member of STEP.
He has also been instrumental in training staff as Dementia Friends and is proud to be a “Dementia Champion.”
Ovid’s work is supervised by Melanie Dunton, a senior partner.