Robert Rutherford is the CEO of QuoStar, a leading IT service provider serving clients nationally and internationally, across multiple sectors. Prior to starting QuoStar Robert studied Business Information Technology at Bournemouth University, before travelling the world managing corporate acquisitions from an IT perspective. He also worked for IT services providers and large firms as a lead technical consultant. Along with his direct commercial experience, Robert is a regular industry commentator on topics ranging from flexible working and IT security through to LEAN.

Robert Rutherford

Founder and Managing Director of ASH Elite Limited, Dorset’s only specialist legal recruitment consultancy. Sofie is an active Ambassador of Dorset Community Foundation and sits on their educational grant bursary panel. Sofie’s background is in Human Resources and she has a Masters Degree in Business with Human Resources from Bournemouth University. Born and bred in Sweden, Sofie moved to the UK in 2007.

Sofie Scott

Panel Judges

Dr. John Knowles is a prominent businessman and entrepreneur. As Chairman and formerly Managing Director he has led DEK Printing Machines Ltd, a Weymouth-based microelectronics company, to world leadership in its specialist field. For many years he was a member of the Bournemouth University’s Board, serving as Deputy Chairman and as Chairman of the Personnel Committee. Dr Knowles is also Deputy Chairman of Poole Foundation Trust Hospital. He plays a leading part in the development of entrepreneurship in schools.

Dr. John Knowles

John was admitted as a Solicitor in 1968 and as a Notary Public in 1978. John was the head of litigation at a local firm between the years of 1975 – 1992 after which time he was appointed a full time District Judge of the County Court and High Court at Southampton Combined Court Centre and worked there until retirement in 2012. Between 2012 and the 31st March 2017 he was a part time Deputy District Judge of the Western Circuit. John has also held various voluntary positions during his career including Appraisal Judge for the Western Circuit, and is currently the Trustee of both the Ferndown Golf Club and the Ferndown Golf Club Pension Scheme.

John Ainsworth

Darren Slade has been business and technology editor at the Bournemouth Daily Echo since 2014. His role is about bringing people surprising and important stories from business world – including Dorset’s booming creative and digital sector, as well as the activities of major employers such as JP Morgan, Lush, LV= and Sunseeker.

A Poole born father-of-two, he came to the Echo after experience on weekly newspapers. He has previously been the Echo’s chief reporter and its local government correspondent.

Darren Slade

Elizabeth (Liz) was called to the bar in 1987 and has for over 20 years practiced exclusively in the field of family law. Now working with 3PB Barristers, she was formerly Deputy Head of Chambers at St Philips Chambers where she was also head of the Family Law Practice Group. Liz is ranked as one of the UK’s leading family law QCs by the legal directories. Her expertise spans all aspects of childcare and financial dispute resolution.

Liz appears frequently in complex and sensitive cases involving children (public and private) as well as cases within the financial remedies remit, dealing with issues involving substantial assets and often where the Court is faced with complex factual and expert evidence.

Liz has a proven ability to deal with high conflict issues in a calm and professional manner whilst devoting significant energy to her client’s case. Liz is highly regarded both locally and nationally.

Elizabeth McGrath QC

Category Judges


Andrew heads up the Legal Sector Group in top 20 Chartered Accountants practice Saffery Champness, which provides a comprehensive range of services to law firms from its seven offices across England.  Based in the Bournemouth office, Andrew has been working with legal practices for 30 years.

Andrew Alder

Michael qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen & Co, and then spent thirteen years at Smith & Williamson, Chartered Accountants, working in both Salisbury and London.  He qualified as a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner in 1991 and was instrumental in building the successful Corporate Recovery team and latterly was National Head of Corporate Recovery.

Michael left the world of turnaround and recovery, and in 2009, together with his business colleague, he re-established Key Business Finance Corporation, after the demise of its Icelandic parent, and this business, which lends funds to law firms to facilitate their cashflow, became Wesleyan Key Business Finance Ltd (“Key”) when it was sold to the Midlands based mutual, Wesleyan Assurance Society. Michael remained a director of Key until December 2013, when, he established Iceberg Client Credit LLP, which lends funds to matrimonial clients to pay their legal fees during a divorce.  Alongside this business, The Iceberg Partnership LLP was established in 2015, once again lending money to law firms to smooth their cashflow.  Michael is a partner in both Iceberg Client Credit LLP and The Iceberg Partnership LLP.

Michael lives on the edge of the New Forest in Fordingbridge, is married to Penny, and, with 12 and 11 year old sons, is always fully occupied when away from the office.

Michael Stevenson