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  1. Commercial litigation: Newcastle
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Who Represents Who

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The β€˜first-rate practice’ at Bond Dickinson LLP is noted for its β€˜sharp commercial acumen and high level of practicality’, making it β€˜a strong player on both a regional and national level’. The firm fields a team of β€˜incredibly effective litigators’ whose expertise covers a wide range of industries, with a prominent presence in the transport, chemical, pensions, procurement, financial services, retail and oil and gas sectors. Representative clients include West Berkshire Council and IBM; Richard Collins and Suzanne Duff acted for the latter in a pensions-related Court of Appeal case involving employer’s duty of good faith. Collins (β€˜a very bright, incisive and clear-thinking individual’) was promoted to the partnership in mid-2016 and is highly regarded for his financial services and procurement expertise. β€˜Highly sophisticated’ practice head Paul Stewart has a particular focus on transport and manufacturing disputes, managing associate Joanna Bromhead is recommended for pensions litigation and managing associate Jonny Gribben handles contractual disputes. John Marshall and Craig Monty retired.

β€˜One of the best commercial litigation firms in the area’, Ward Hadaway fields β€˜an outstanding team that is strong across the board’, attracting praise for its β€˜first-class service, excellent attention to detail and robust yet commercial approach’. Following Ian Collinson’s move to a consultancy role, Peter Hornsey leads the nine-partner practice, which includes IT disputes specialist Tim Toomey; the β€˜highly experienced’ Robert Glassford, who regularly advises public sector clients; the β€˜exceptional’ Martin Woodford; and associate Joe Kelley, who handles financial services disputes, professional negligence claims and procurement litigation. In a highlight matter, Glassford advised Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust in litigation relating to the closure of Bootham Park Hospital in York. Other mandates include Woodford’s defence of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in a procurement challenge relating to its procurement of coagulation analysers, and Hornsey’s successful defence of Nourish Training in a defamation claim. Clients also single out the β€˜technically excellent’ Julie Huntingdon and Russell Ward, who has β€˜a very easy manner’.

The β€˜incredibly well-regarded’ team at Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd stands out as β€˜an invaluable resource’ thanks to the β€˜seriously heavyweight experience’ of key figures Toby Gibson, who is β€˜a thoughtful and strategic lawyer who always thinks about the wider picture’; and β€˜consummate litigator’ Jane Gibson, who is β€˜commercial and sensible but knows when ferocity is needed’. The practice has a no-nonsense approach to litigation; it β€˜does exactly what it says on the tin’ and is β€˜a true leader in banking and finance litigation’, counting Credit Suisse, Capital One and UBP as key clients. In a recent highlight, the team acted for ING Bank in the Supreme Court in a test case relating to the insolvency of OW Bunker Group. Key mandates outside of banking litigation included representing Sunderland AFC in the successful pursuit of an arbitration award in Tanzania relating to payment recovery issues, and acting for Superdrug in multiple contract disputes. The β€˜commercially savvy’ Michael Reed regularly handles IP and real estate disputes.

The β€˜approachable and hardworking’ Martin Soloman heads the β€˜efficient and professional’ practice at Hay & Kilner, which has β€˜unsurpassed knowledge’ and β€˜handles litigation very strategically, playing its hand in a measured and effective way that always gets good results’. Key areas of focus for the β€˜highly experienced’ group include the technology, construction, financial services, agricultural and rail sectors. The group is also noted for its experience in director and shareholder disputes and insurance litigation. Soloman is recognised for his mediation expertise, and is ably assisted by Rodney Jones, who is recommended for professional negligence matters, property litigation and inheritance issues; Neil Harrold, who is noted for his β€˜practical and common-sense approach’ and focuses on disputes relating to insolvency and restructuring matters; the β€˜relentlessly professional’ Lucy Gray, whose expertise spans contractual disputes, IP matters, property litigation and contentious trust mandates; and Ros Sparrow, who specialises in professional indemnity claims.

Muckle LLP is β€˜genuinely brilliant on all counts’, with clients praising its β€˜excellent service levels, exceptional knowledge and sensibly commercial approach’ as key factors in its ability to provide β€˜advice that is always solid and pragmatic’. Susan Howe, who is β€˜outstanding with a no-nonsense approach’, leads the practice and recently represented the Caribbean Premier League in a high-value contractual claim relating to owed expenses; she is also acting for The Clouston Group in a dispute with a property consultant. George Festing is β€˜one of the best’ for IP and technology litigation; his recent mandates include acting for Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor in a claim brought by Gloucester Place Music relating to how US copyright law reversion rights apply to the band’s English music publishing agreements, and defending The Explorer Group in several matters alleging breach of copyright. Celtic Aerospace Ventures, Sahaviriya Steel Industries, Sunderland AFC are noteworthy clients. Senior associate Leah Heatley is singled out for her procurement expertise.

Specialising in financial services litigation and insurance disputes, Claire Collinson Legal is a β€˜small but perfectly formed firm’ that β€˜punches above its weight’ and provides β€˜first-class specialist expertise in claims relating to financial derivatives’. It is also noted for its β€˜exceptional interest rate hedging litigation knowledge’. β€˜Bright, committed and hardworking’ name partner Claire Collinson is β€˜an absolutely top-class team player’; clients praise her β€˜excellent grasp of the law, exceptionally thorough and careful approach and commercial pragmatism’. The practice has a sole focus on claimant mandates for clients spanning high-net-worth individuals, consumers, SMEs and large corporations. Collinson recently led on a consequential loss claim relating to mis-sold interest rate hedging products and represented an individual in a claim under a critical illness insurance policy that was rejected by an insurer. The β€˜highly knowledgeable’ Helena Motherway and the β€˜excellent’ Suzie Done (both solicitors) round out the practice.

Anthony Brown heads Clyde & Co LLP’s department, which includes healthcare and retail specialist James Thompson and Lex Dowie, who focuses on insurance disputes. The group handles a wide range of disputes, including personal injury claims, insurance litigation, professional negligence, health and safety matters and maritime law. In a recent highlight, Dowie represented International Energy Group before the Supreme Court against Zurich in a dispute relating to the extent of the indemnity available to it in an employer’s liability claim concerning the death of a former employee; Brown also acted for a chartered accountant in proceedings relating to a terminated contract. Other clients include Macdonald Hotels, Aviva, Markel and the Secretary of State for Business and Skills.

DWF’s team regularly acts for regional, national and international clients on a range of commercial and contractual disputes, including breach of contract issues, negligence, shareholder disputes and fraud. The group is particularly well regarded for defamation and reputation management issues through the expertise of Ed Meikle and senior associate David Summerhayes. Meikle is also recommended for IP, technology and media litigation, while Summerhayes regularly handles contract issues, fraud matters and partnership disputes. Highlights included acting for Leicester Grammar School Trust in a dispute relating to a terminated agreement, and defending Northern Gas and Power in claims brought by Utilitywise alleging breaches of restrictive covenants, breaches of undertakings and defamation relating to statements made on Facebook. Northumberland Council, Newcastle College Group, Tribal Group and UTS Engineering are also clients.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP is β€˜excellent in all areas; it has superior knowledge, an excellent value-for-money service and a premier-league team’ that is highly regarded by clients. Recent work includes handling a breach of contract claim, advising on litigation following the termination of a distribution agreement, and acting in contentious insolvency proceedings. Representative clients include Holystone Civil Engineering, LB Foster Rail Technologies, Springs Roofing and Ovington Boats. Practice head Stewart Irvine is β€˜highly intelligent and provides great advice and an excellent tactical approach’ that β€˜ensures clients are well looked after’; his expertise encompasses shareholder disputes, contentious IP issues, property litigation, professional negligence claims and debt recovery. Other key individuals include contractual dispute and insolvency specialist Susan Roberts and Robyn Shepherd, who regularly handles employment-related disputes.

Watson Burton LLP is β€˜a highly competitive firm’ that is β€˜always willing to go the extra mile’ and is rated for its β€˜exceptional skill set and outstanding experience’. The group’s recent work includes representing a client in a damages and consequential loss claim against a national bank following a mis-sold interest rate hedging product. It also acted for the University of Leicester in various disputes concerning the management and implementation of its student admissions and related disciplinary proceedings, and represented a client in litigation concerning the removal of defamatory material from social media. Atkins, the University of Sunderland and Northern Powergrid are also clients. The β€˜excellent’ Christopher Graham heads the team, which includes Gavin Winter, Jacqueline Turner, who has expertise in unfair prejudice issues, confidential information and post-termination restriction enforcement, and the newly promoted Anthony Rance, who regularly handles commercial contract litigation.

The β€˜absolutely brilliant’ team at Sintons LLP is led by Angus Ashman, who attracts praise for his β€˜open and honest manner, exceptional dedication and outstanding knowledge’. healthcare disputes, enforcement and confidentiality issues, claims resulting from the mis-selling of financial products and infrastructure litigation are key areas of expertise for the practice, which includes Graeme Ritzema, who is rated for his β€˜truthful approach’, and associate Kevin Anderson, who is noted for his construction litigation expertise, particularly in the healthcare sector. Highlights included handling disputes arising from breach of restrictive covenants and confidentiality issues; acting in financial product mis-selling claims; and handling multiple disputes relating to commercial properties. Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a noteworthy client.

TT Law is a β€˜strong and reliable’ litigation boutique that β€˜punches above its weight in the region’ with β€˜a service level that is nothing short of excellent’. The β€˜responsive, reliable and well-informed’ team’s SME client base praises its β€˜highly commercial approach, which combines thoroughness and attention to detail with a well-regarded practicality’. Firm founder Neville Takiar, who is β€˜particularly astute at guiding clients through the many pitfalls of litigation’, has wide-ranging expertise covering a diverse range of sectors including retail, manufacturing, hospitality and construction. Clients also single out the β€˜technically excellent’ Kevin Turnbull, who β€˜has the type of knowledge and experience that can make a real difference to cases’. Recent highlights include advising a client on issues relating to a neighbouring land owner and defending an individual in a civil action. End Clothing, Click Mechanic and Cairn Hotel Group are all clients.

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