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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 > Finance > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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Leading individuals

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Muckle LLP’s full-service practice rates as ‘one of the best for service level and commerciality’, and is recognised for its lender-side capabilities; it is on the panels of Atom Bank, HSBC, Svenska Handelsbanken and Santander, among others. In a recent highlight, practice head Louise Duffy (who is ‘incredibly detail oriented, communicative and professional’) advised Lloyds Bank on a £60m revolving credit facility to a housebuilder. On the borrower side, Duffy acted for Newcastle University on the £100m property development funding for the redevelopment of its student accommodation and the construction of an urban sciences building. It is also assisting Kitwave Group with a refinancing and fundraising matter. The team is highly regarded for its expertise in financing issues, particularly in the shipping, social housing, education, healthcare and real estate sectors. Other key figures include Stephen McNicol, who has ‘an excellent reputation in the field’; Kevin Maloney, who ‘provides invaluable advice’; and senior associate Nicola Nutley, who is experienced in healthcare and registered provider funding mandates.

The team at Ward Hadaway is led by the ‘extremely accessibleJulie Harrison, who has ‘an excellent and well-deserved reputation in the region’ and ‘presents advice in a clear, concise manner, free of jargon’. Clients rate the ‘genuinely brilliant’ team for its ‘professionalism, responsiveness and focus’. Harrison’s highlights included advising North East Finance on the extension of the Finance for Business North East Initiative, bringing its total funds up to £159m; and assisting Santander with the provision of a facility to Gainford Hotels for its acquisition of the County Hotel. Corporate partner Imogen Holland attracts praise for her ‘superb leadership in complex transactions’; she recently acted for Rivers Capital Partners on multiple funding rounds into Hyperdrive Innovation Holdings, and assisted Newcastle City Council with various loans made to regional arts and culture organisations. The ‘extremely thoroughSimon Errington is recommended for secured lending transactions and property finance. Barclays, Lloyds Bank, FW Capital and North East Local Enterprise Partnership are also clients.

Highlights for Bond Dickinson LLP included advising Manitowoc on a £1.2bn credit facility; assisting Grainger with its acquisition of Kew Bridge Court Guernsey, which involved £225m of term and revolving facilities; acting for CIMC Developments on the funding of its new hotel in Manchester; and handling Santander’s financing of Inn Collection Group’s acquisition of Durham Vale Developments and Commissioners Quay Blyth. Real estate specialist John Ralph and Leeds-based secured lending expert John Connor jointly lead the group, which handles a broad range of financing work including acquisition, property and corporate finance; debt restructuring; and asset based lending. The team’s clients span national banks, corporate borrowers, government departments, public bodies and local authorities; CIMC Capital, Bellway and Vertu Motors are noteworthy examples. Key figures at associate level include Kirsty Kullar, who counts HSBC and Grainger as clients, and Peter Hugill, who joined the team from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.

Watson Burton LLP acts for a mixed borrower and lender client base, which calls on the firm to handle a range of matters spanning general corporate lending, asset backed lending, acquisition finance, venture capital and private equity funding, and restructuring. Duncan Reid heads the practice and is recognised for his strength in private equity; his recent highlights include advising Camerons Brewery and The Head of Steam on a £30m refinancing and acting for WHP Facilities on an investment from Enact. The firm is also on Lloyds Bank’s panel, with loan facilities and recently advised it on security structures, compliance issues and bank funded purchases. Wear Inns, Business Growth Fund and Northstar Ventures are also clients. Other key team members include Paul Wigham (who specialises in venture capital transactions and made partner in 2016), property finance expert Libbie Henderson, and Julie Farrell-Knowles, who focuses on real estate matters.

Phil Broadhurst leads Hay & Kilner’s department, which is singled out for its regulatory compliance expertise alongside its work on commercial property finance, security arrangements and portfolio refinancings. In a recent highlight, Broadhurst advised an Italian bank on FCA regulatory compliance issues, particularly regarding UK mortgage portfolios; he also regularly provides consumer credit advice to lenders, motor finance companies and mortgage brokers. Paul Taylor, Nicola Tiffen and Richard Freeman-Wallace are key names for commercial property issues, while Neil Harrold focuses on insolvency matters and Jonathan Waters and Mark Adams handle corporate lending work.

Recent highlights for the ‘excellent’ department at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP include advising Station Hotel on the £50m refinancing of its existing bank debt through a new facility from HSBC; acting for Minhoco 35 on facilities connected to its acquisition of five companies in the Hotel Collections Group; and assisting Lugano Group with the refinancing of its national land and property portfolio and an asset backed development facility. Paul Hughes heads the department, which includes commercial property finance expert Ryan Bannon, private equity specialist Peter Robinson, who joined from gunnercooke LLP in 2016, and John Nicholson, who recently led advice to Northern Bear on a revolving credit facility from Yorkshire Bank. Royal Bank of Scotland, Metnor and Popular Care are also clients.

Sintons LLP fields a ‘strong and experienced team’ whose ‘excellent ethos, helpful approach’ and ‘very customer-focused’ service means that ‘clients trust its advice implicitly’. The department, which is led by the ‘incredibly personable’ Jane Meikle, has a strong reputation for real estate finance and corporate refinancing. Chris Welch advised Gainford Hotel and Gainford Care on the financing of its acquisition of a new hotel site. Other clients include Svenska Handelsbanken, Accelerating Growth Fund and 3R Land & Property. The team is also on the panels of Lloyds Bank, AIB Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, National Westminster Bank and Santander. Mark Dobbin and Laura Peace are recommended for real estate finance matters and Matt Collen handles corporate lending transactions.

Jacksons Law attracts praise for its advice to lenders and borrowers on secured loan issues relating to investment property portfolios, as well as its advice on the financing aspects of land acquisitions for the purposes of residential and commercial development. Practice head Geoff Skeoch specialises in secured lending across a range of sectors including industrial, office, retail, leisure and health. Managing partner Jane Armitage is recommended for her expertise in mortgage financings related to developments and property portfolios. Erica Turner regularly advises on secured lending matters and Tony Wentworth handles the corporate aspects of commercial lending mandates including debentures and guarantees. Recent highlights include advising on a £10m re-mortgaging and several property financings.

Craig Malarkey heads the practice at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, which includes John Walters, consultant Martin Levinson and associate Andrew Beattie. Malarkey and Walters regularly advise on security matters and on corporate governance issues. Levinson works primarily on real estate financing and Beattie’s experience covers commercial and agricultural property work. The practice, which acts for lender and borrower clients, recently advised Svenska Handlesbanken on a facility for a flagship retail development in Northallerton, and handled several agriculture financing matters for national banks and specialist lenders.

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