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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > North > Corporate and commercial > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the North

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the North
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Martyn Tennant - Swinburne Maddison
    • Michael Walby - Burnetts

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Daniel Flounders - Archers Law LLP

Rising stars

  1. 1

Based in Stockton-on-Tees, Archers Law LLP advises clients with operations across the Tees Valley, as well as corporates investing in local businesses, with a strong focus on M&A. The group is led by David Adams, who has experience on a number of high-value transactions. Daniel Flounders, who made partner in 2019, is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):David Adams

Other key lawyers:Daniel Flounders

Key Clients

Gary Ritchie-Bland – Subsea Innovation

Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of a sole shareholder in the sale of whole share capital of Subsea Innovation Limited to the AIM Listed PLC, Tekmar Group, for the sum of circa £4m.

Baines Wilson LLP handles a wide variety of corporate and commercial matters, including high-value M&A transactions for major corporates investing in Cumbria. Team head Andrew Hill, who splits his time between the firm's Carlisle and Lancaster offices, has expertise in takeovers, private equity transactions, reorganisations, joint ventures and general company law issues. Kate Parker, who was promoted to partner in 2018, draws on her substantial experience of corporate work at UK and US law firms in London.

Practice head(s):Andrew Hill

Other key lawyers:Kate Parker; Samantha-Jane Amor

Key Clients

Stolle Machinery Company LLC

Cumberland Building Society

Svenska Handelsbanken

Penrith Farmers’ & Kidd’s plc

Butterfly Group Healthcare

Work highlights

  • Advising Lake District Hotels on the sale of a hotel for a guide price of £2.75m.
  • Advised Butterfly Group on multiple disposal resulting in sale of entire care home portfolio.
  • Advised The Stuart Family on the sale of a holiday park business and assets.
  • Advising shareholders in connection with equity fundraising.

A major presence in the Cumbria market, Burnetts provides clients with M&A and professional services advice across a number of key sectors, including healthcare, leisure, TMT, transport, nuclear and engineering. The group also has a strong state aid practice, assisting with applications for funding from the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. The team is led by Vaughan Jones, who has expertise in intellectual property and the IT sector, while 'extremely motivated' Michael Walby is noted for his M&A expertise.

Practice head(s):Vaughan Jones

Other key lawyers:Michael Walby; Caroline Redhead; Melissa McManus


'The team is highly motivated, hardworking and extremely professional'

'Vaughan Jones has a very clear and comprehensive understanding of company law'

'The team is approachable and available to speak directly with clients whenever they have any concerns'

Key Clients

H & H Group Plc

Lloyd Motors

Cumbria Waste Management

Innovia Films

Evidence Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Shareholders of Zoo Hardware on £19m sale of Zoo Hardware to Tyman Plc.
  • Advised on the sale of Queensberry Bay Caravan Park Ltd to private equity backed buyer Verdant Leisure 2 Limited.
  • Advised Otaq Group on the acquisition of the issued share capital of Marinesense Limited, a marine technology company based in Aberdeen.

Durham-based Swinburne Maddison's key competencies include corporate finance, transactions and commercial advisory services. The group, which is often instructed on cross-border mandates, operates across a number of sectors, with particular strength in leisure, transport, retail, manufacturing, technology and professional services. Martyn Tennant leads the team and has significant M&A experience.

Practice head(s):Martyn Tennant

Other key lawyers:Alex Wilby


'They are able to provide excellent and most of all understandable advice'

'The diversity of the team's skills allowed for detailed guidance'

'They always responded to requests in a timely and effective manner'

Key Clients

Durham Cathedral

The Esh Group

Atom Bank plc

Hargreaves Services plc

Handelsbanken plc

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of Maven, one of the UK’s largest fund managers, in relation to a co-investment from the Finance Durham Fund and the North East Fund in Dyer Engineering, the largest independent engineering business in County Durham.
  • Restructure of an extensive group of companies (with a group wide turnover of circa £50m) with various joint venture considerations to achieve both corporate and personal improved tax efficiencies.
  • Refinancing of an SPV incorporated to progress the development of a site of 100+ residential homes, to be built near Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Endeavour Partnership LLP's team, based in Stockton-on-Tees, handles high-value M&A and commercial matters for a variety of clients, including SMEs, start-ups, banks, corporate financers, investors and the third-sector. The team is led by Nik Tunley, who advises on transactions around the North East.

Practice head(s):Nik Tunley

Other key lawyers:Nigel Williams; Martin McKinnell; Paul Bury

In Wynyard, Tilly Bailey & Irvine's team is instructed on a wide variety of matters by clients in the Tees Valley region, including corporate finance and commercial contracting for SMEs, with additional specialisms in intellectual property and the education sector. In 2018, Craig Malarkey was promoted to equity partner and took on the leadership of the corporate and commercial team from John Walters.

Practice head(s):Craig Malarkey

Other key lawyers:Michael Stevens; John Walters


'The team always respond to enquiries efficiently'

'Large enough to have the expertise but small enough to be flexible in their approach and not charge the earth'

'Very good people skills in explaining the options available'

Key Clients

Ad Astra Academy Trust

Langley House Care Home

Work highlights

  • Advised on the acquisition of Langley House Care Home, a 26-bed care home based in Horden, County Durham.
  • Advised Ad Astra Academy Trust on its conversion of Ayresome Primary School to a multi-academy trust.

Corporate and commercial: Newcastle

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Newcastle
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners
  5. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Muckle LLP is noted for its strong regional presence, upon which it has built outstanding corporate and commercial teams, under the leadership of the 'knowledgeable, pragmatic and strategic' Andrew Davison. The corporate practice focuses on M&A and private equity, both of which are specialisms for Anthony Evans. In 2018, the commercial group benefitted from the arrival of consultant Robin Adams, who joined from  Collingwood Legal. Adam Rayner focuses on corporate finance and company law matters.

Practice head(s):Andrew Davison

Other key lawyers:Anthony Evans; Adam Rayner; Hugh Welch; Philip Clare; Robin Adams; Matthew Walsh; Sarah Forster


'Client focused team'

'Able to deliver clear and concise professional advice'

'Anthony Evan has fierce intelligence and foresees how events will develop'

Key Clients

LDC Private Equity

CriSeren Foods Limited

Fairstone Group Limited

Newcells Biotech Limited

NVM Private Equity

The Naked Deli Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised LDC Private Equity, the UK’s leading mid-market private equity investor, on its secondary buy-out of Synova Capital from Mandata.
  • Advised CriSeren Foods on the sale of two businesses, Northumbrian Fine Foods and Walnut Tree Foods, simultaneously to the same French buyer, Biscuit International.
  • Advised Transforming Training with Technology Limited on its acquisition of the Scottish registered Survivex Group.
  • Advised Portion Pack Europe Holding on the acquisition by its UK subsidiary, Single Source Limited, of CustomPack Limited from Selecta.
  • Advised NVM on investment of £2.75m of growth capital into Ridge Pharma Limited.

At Ward Hadaway, Robert Thompson leads the corporate team, while Colin Hewitt heads the commercial department. The groups work closely together, providing advice on the range of transactions (for both buyers and sellers) and business operations in the North East. The commercial team has particular experience in outsourcing deals, often for businesses operating in the banking and insurance sectors.

Practice head(s):Robert Thompson; Colin Hewitt

Other key lawyers:Katherine Hay-Heddle; Damien Charlton; Tom Pollard; James Nightingale; Matthew Cormack; Steven Roper


'The team has excellent attention to detail and commerciality'

'Katherine Hay-Heddle manages projects well and looks for a commercial solution'

'The team has the strength to use negotiated contract clauses to deliver successful outcomes when up against difficult clients in dispute scenarios'

'Fast turnaround, fast to quote and delivery in agreed timescales.'

Key Clients

Pacifica Group

Springfield Home Care Services

The Bannatyne Group



Virgin Money

Work highlights

  • Advised North East Fund on the creation of the £145m North East Jeremie2 Fund.
  • Advised Hyperdrive Innovation Holdings on equity investment from shareholders and new investors.
  • Advised Kykloud on £12m sale to Accruent LLC.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's Newcastle office is a major hub for the transatlantic firm, ensuring it is well-placed to advise US investors into the North East. Unusually for the region, the office contains dedicated competition, tax and projects lawyers, all of whom support the corporate and commercial teams. The team is led by Ben Butler and includes corporate finance expert Jamie Pass and Stacey Hall, who specialises in corporate transactions. Ian Pritty is noted for corporate aspects of property transactions.

Practice head(s):Ben Butler

Other key lawyers:Jamie Pass; Robert Phillips; Simon Watts; Iain Pritty; Will Bonas; Stacey Hall; Oliver Rickett; David Ridley


'The breadth of capability across disciplines is demonstrable'

'Jamie Pass and Oliver Rickett deserve special praise for their focus and dedication to ensuring the project is delivered'

'A longstanding and deep understanding of business'

Key Clients

Atom Bank plc

Augean plc

CN Group

EQT Infrastructure

Newcastle City Council

Richmond Group

The team at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP is noted for its expertise in the healthcare, leisure, engineering, construction and technology sectors; handling advisory work for a variety of owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs, corporates and institutions. Paul Hughes leads the team and is a veteran of corporate law in the North East.

Practice head(s):Paul Hughes

Other key lawyers:John Nicholson; Peter Robinson; Chris Hughes


'The practice has great depth in its abilities giving clients a "one-stop-shop" to satisfy the bulk of their legal requirements'

'Always professional and timely'

'They combine a forensic knowledge of the law with a commercial and practical approach not found elsewhere'

Key Clients

High Street Group

Pharmacy Express

Northern Bear plc

LB Foster Group

Cairn Group

Telenomics Retail

Metnor Group

Work highlights

  • Represented High Street Hospitality on a number of acquisitions of leisure outlets.
  • Acted for Pharmacy Express in its acquisition programme.
  • Acted for All Saints Developments on its acquisition of Westminster Works.

Sintons LLP's group handles the spectrum of corporate matters, including M&A, buyouts, private equity investments, solvent and insolvent reorganisations and corporate finance, with a particular focus on healthcare, life sciences and leisure. The commercial team's instructions include data protection and cybersecurity law advice. Practice head Karen Simms has significant experience in transactions involving the energy and waste management sectors. Senior associate Emma Pern is noted for complex transactions.

Practice head(s):Karen Simms

Other key lawyers:Christopher Welch; Emma Pern; Matt Collen; Adrian Dye; Chloe Dinsdale


'A well organised practice, very knowledgeable and quick respond to queries'

'Team members are friendly and very approachable'

'Karen Simms is not only methodical but always remains calm during pressured situations'

Key Clients

North Tees Limited


Eagles Community Foundation

The Auckland Project

Techflow Group

Gainford Group

Malhotra Group plc

Work highlights

  • Acted for Dr Nas Khan OBE in relation to the demerger of three motor dealerships.
  • Assisted NE1 with sponsorship agreements for the Newcastle Motor Show.
  • Acting for Northcare in relation to the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Chrysalis Sales Limited.

Watson Burton LLP's team has experience across a broad ranged of sectors, notably technology, education, private equity, venture capital and franchising; advising a mixture of domestic and foreign companies on transactions in the North East. Duncan Reid leads the team, which includes all-rounder Paul Wigham.

Practice head(s):Duncan Reid

Other key lawyers:Paul Wigham; Marc Allison; Kirsty Adamson

Key Clients

Broadband Satellite Services

Accelerated Digital Ventures

Northstar Ventures


Maven Capital Partners

Work highlights

  • Advised The Car People on its acquisition by Sytner.
  • Advised pub group Wear Inns and its shareholders on its £22.4m sale to property investor Aprirose.
  • Advised Accelerated Digital Ventures on a significant number of investments in scale-up technology businesses, totalling an aggregate value of over £50.5m.
  • Advised online shopping cart recovery business SafeCycle on an investment of £11.5m from BGF.
  • Advised BGF Investment Management Limited to facilitate an investment into Arc Trinova Limited.

DWF's team draws on the firm's UK-wide presence to provide clients, including major domestic and foreign corporates, with a full-service offering for corporate matters. Areas of expertise for the firm include financial services, TMT, energy and utilities and real estate. Practice head Jeremy Swift  regularly handles private equity transactions and M&A.

Practice head(s):Jeremy Swift

Other key lawyers:Jemil Visram

Key Clients

Immotion Group plc

Polemos plc

Vibe Group Holdings

Digitalbox Group

Northern Gas and Power

Work highlights

  • Advising Digitalbox Group Limited on a statutory demerger of three subsidiaries by share capital reduction.
  • Advising Immotion Group, a virtual reality/augmented reality company, on three acquisitions on a share for share basis and raising £1.4m to fund working capital.
  • Advising Nplus1 Singer Advisory LLP on a secondary fundraise for its client by way of an accelerated book build.

The lawyers at Hay & Kilner are the go-to firm for a variety of owner-managed businesses and regional SMEs in the care home, pharmaceutical and veterinary sectors, in addition to a number of corporates. The team is co-led by Jonathan Waters who, alongside significant corporate law expertise, advises a range of charity-sector clients on complex restructuring and operational issues. Mark Adams co-leads the team alongside Waters.

Practice head(s):Jonathan Waters; Mark Adams

Other key lawyers:Laurie Wilson; Ben Jackson; Sarah Hall

Key Clients

Park Lane Healthcare

PLH Moorgate Holdco

Wingrove Motor Company

Bonds Group

Indigo Software

Work highlights

  • Advised PLH Moorgate Holdco Limited in refinancing and related group restructuring.
  • Representing Wingrove Motor Company Limited in the acquisition of a Peugeot dealership from the PSA national franchise operator.
  • Representing Novares Venture Capital SAS on an equity investment in a Cambridge-based tech company specialising in advanced user interface technology for the automotive industry.

Corporate tax

Index of tables

  1. Corporate tax
  2. Leading individuals

In addition to supporting the firm's other practices, Ward Hadaway's dedicated tax department handles a variety of standalone tax matters for owner-managed businesses and corporates. The team's expertise includes structuring, investment and exit planning and employee share incentive arrangements. The practice is led by Paul Christian, whose background in corporate law gives him particular insight into imperatives for businesses.

Practice head(s):Paul Christian

Key Clients

Bannatyne Group Plc

CNG Group

Lookers plc

Pacifica Group

Northumberland Estates

Work highlights

  • Acted for the shareholders of Kaystan Holdings Limited, the highest independent metal recycling business in Yorkshire on the sale to Sims Group Plc Limited, which involved a number of complex tax issues.
  • Acted for Lookers Plc, one of the largest automotive retailers and dealers in the UK, with a turnover of £4.1bn, on the acquisition of the £200m turnover Jennings Motor Group, a multi-franchise North East motor dealer group.
  • Advised on Kykloud's sale to Accruent LLC, advising the shareholders on the sale of the business to the US buyer.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's tax team regularly advises the firm's  corporate and real estate practice groups, providing advice on tax-related issues arising from banking, restructuring and employment matters. Drawing on the firm's national and international presence, the group is regularly called upon by clients across the UK. Practice head Jeremy Smith is noted for his experience in the tax aspects of corporate and property transactions.

Practice head(s):Jeremy Smith

Other key lawyers:Lee Parbery

Key Clients

Deutsche Bahn

Hertshten Group

Old Mutual Wealth


REG Power Management

The Royal Institute of British Architects

Work highlights

  • Advised CN Group on its sale to Newsquest Media Group.
  • Advised longstanding client Tekmar, an offshore wind company, on admission of its shares to trading on AIM with a market capitalisation of approximately £65m, following a successful £61.8m fundraising from institutional investors.
  • Advising Commercial Estates Group on tax issues (in particular issues relating to VAT and the distribution of sale proceeds in the event of a buyer default, but also explaining the tax implications of arrangements entered with counterparties and the implications for CEG) in relation to a number of land promotion agreements entered into with owners of land.

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