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Who Represents Who

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Boutique employment firm Collingwood Legal has ‘carved out a strong reputation in the market’, with practice head Paul McGowan singled out for his ‘drive and business acumen, which inspires loyalty and respect from his clients’. He leads a team of ‘knowledgeable and reliable lawyers who are a pleasure to work with’, and which has ‘a top-quality standard that is hard to beat’. McGowan has substantial expertise in restructurings and whistleblowing cases, and recently advised a national training company on complex TUPE issues. Other key individuals include Paul Johnstone, an ‘effective advocate’ who specialises in equality and discrimination law; the ‘excellent’ Sarah Fitzpatrick, whose expertise covers collective redundancy matters; and ‘incredibly capable’ associate solicitor Jane Sinnamon. Johnstone recently advised Sage Gateshead on a change to the terms and conditions of working contracts and the issuance of new contracts, while Fitzpatrick assisted Danieli UK Holding with a review of the company’s employment contracts and staff handbook. In another key highlight, McGowan handled exit negotiations for the chief executive of a major regional business. Other clients include York St John University and Atom Bank; the latter is a new win for the group.

Bernard Hodgson, Paul Scope and Jamie Gamble jointly head the six-partner department at Ward Hadaway, which handles contentious and non-contentious matters, primarily for employers. Hodgson specialises in advising public-sector clients, while Scope has substantial experience in recruitment, education and social housing issues, and Gamble leads the firm’s manufacturing and charity employment teams. Highlights included advising Newcastle College on a major collective redundancy process, acting for Home Group on contentious TUPE issues, including disciplinary matters, and carrying out a strategic review for NAC Group in preparation for the implementation of the government’s apprenticeship levy. Scope also advised Intraining on a contested TUPE matter with Morrisons affecting over 100 employees, and acted for Global Decontamination Solutions in allegations against a global director including a suspension, a disciplinary investigation and threatened proceedings. The Bannatyne Group, Wilkinson Sword, Newcastle United, Merck Sharp and Dohme, and ScS Upholstery are also clients. Consultant Joe Thornhill and associate Graham Vials specialise in complex dismissals and in issues related to the education sector, respectively.

The ‘excellent’ team at Bond Dickinson LLP provides ‘an exceptional level of service and advice that is always appropriate for the client and the situation’. The practice is led by James Wilders, a TUPE, employment tribunal and discrimination law specialist who took over as head following the retirement of Glenn Calvert and Claire-Jane Nicol. Clients include financial institutions such as AIG; energy companies such as Total Petrochemicals; and regional SMEs, manufacturers, NHS Trusts, educational establishments, and local authorities. In a recent highlight, Wilders successfully defended a housing association client in an employment tribunal claim relating to unpaid holiday pay; he also advised an insurance company on the closure of two final salary pension schemes to future accrual as part of the client’s attempts to de-risk its pensions liabilities, and handled the closure of a site for a manufacturing client, which involved potential redundancies and TUPE implications. Legal director Lorraine Heard and managing associate Hilary du Randt also receive praise.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has extensive experience providing employment advice to public-sector clients including local governments, police authorities and education establishments. The firm also handles national and international projects for private employers. Practice head Shirley Hall specialises in equal pay and discrimination matters and successfully defended Northumbria Police in proceedings relating to allegations of unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, sex discrimination, disability discrimination and victimisation. She is also acting for the University of Newcastle in employment tribunal proceedings regarding whistleblowing and race discrimination issues and is representing Northumberland County Council in a disability discrimination claim brought by an employee who is alleging harassment and bullying. Principal associate Jessie Uppal has experience in business immigration matters, senior associate Victoria Vallely focuses on the education sector and senior associate Suzanne Caveney has pensions experience.

Muckle LLP’s ‘brilliant’ department primarily represents employers including owner-managed businesses, educational institutions, sporting clubs and charities. It also acts for senior executives. Particular areas of expertise include executive terminations, confidentiality enforcements, post-termination obligations, TUPE and corporate support matters. Practice head Chris Maddock focuses on TUPE and post-termination restriction enforcements, and is ably assisted by litigator Tony McPhillips and senior associate Jill Donabie, who primarily acts for education-sector clients. Recent highlights include representing an individual in claims against Health Education England and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust relating to constructive dismissal and disability discrimination issues; assisting the Caribbean Premier League with all employment matters surrounding the Twenty20 cricket tournament; and acting for an individual in an Employment Tribunal claim against BP services regarding claims of sex discrimination and unfair dismissal. Other clients include Newcastle Building Society, Bishop Auckland College and Sunderland Association Football Club.

Sintons LLP has an ‘exceptional’ team that is jointly led by the ‘extremely knowledgeable and pragmatic’ Keith Land (who ‘knows his subject, reacts to tight deadlines and leaves no stone unturned in getting the job done’) and Christopher Welch, who is ‘always able to see the bigger picture’. Land recently advised Eleven Arches and Auckland Castle on the employment elements of a live action show at the castle. He also assisted Atom Bank (a new client) with a reorganisation of its human resources team and negotiating the exit of a sales member, and acted as employment and human resources adviser for the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. The Care Quality Commission, Sunderland City College and North East Worldwide are also new clients for the group. Associates Donna Anderson and Ailsa Hobson are other names to note.

At Watson Burton LLP, Christopher Graham regularly represents employers and employees before the Employment Tribunal, High Court and Employment Appeals Tribunal; recent examples include defending Atkins against whistleblowing and disability discrimination allegations, and representing a claimant in a constructive dismissal claim against an NHS trust hospital. Other clients include the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Utilitywise and Sunderland University. David Jenkins is singled out for his transactional experience; he recently advised a technology and communications company on a major restructuring and a collective redundancy process, and assisted an international manufacturing group with an issue regarding back dated holiday pay. Jacqueline Turner is singled out for her experience in unfair dismissal and discrimination claims, and on TUPE regulations. Also recommended are associates Hazel Royle, who focuses on the education sector; Kerry Waters, who has expertise in executive exits and tribunal cases; and Jill Dalkin, who specialises in contentious mandates.

Baines Wilson LLP acts exclusively for employers, with notable expertise in senior manager and executive dismissals, employment tribunal hearings, M&A support, TUPE issues and redundancies. Practice head Joanne Holborn is an expert in matters relating to sickness absence and rehabilitation; her recent work includes advising on long-term absences and dismissals on the grounds of ill-health. Tom Scaife, who made partner in late 2016, is recognised for his expertise in the employment elements of corporate transactions, and also has experience in employment tribunals and drafting directors’ service agreements. Associate Caroline Rayner is noted for her contentious work, which covers unfair dismissals, discrimination and restrictive covenants.

The ‘knowledgeable, pragmatic and commercial’ team at Burnettshas carved out a well-earned reputation for the sheer quality of the lawyers’, which marks it out as ‘one of the go-to Cumbrian firms for employment law’. Joanne Stronach and Natalie Ruane jointly lead the practice and specialise in disciplinary matters arising from discrimination or bullying and the education sector, respectively. Kuba Strycharczyk is well regarded in the field and ‘is able to convey complex legal issues with ease and understanding’. Recent highlights for Strycharczyk include defending H&H Group in a constructive unfair dismissal claim and Ruane advising Furness College on the employment elements of a merger including TUPE issues and a restructuring. Other clients include Preston’s College, Witherslack Group and Stone Eden Group.

DAC Beachcroft LLP is ‘incredibly strong at employment work with tremendous experience and knowledge in the health sector’. The ‘intellectually strong and reliableGuy Bredenkamp is ‘extremely clever but in an unassuming way’; he leads the group, which includes ‘thorough, rigorous and impassioned solicitor’ Sarah George, who is recommended for TUPE transactions and employment litigation. The practice handles a wide range of matters, including organisational changes, equal pay matters and disciplinary and capability cases involving NHS doctors and executives. Clients include NHS England, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Everything Everywhere, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Outside of the healthcare space, Actavo and Bellway Homes are new clients for the team.

Hay & Kilner is widely recognised for its expertise in reorganisations, tribunal proceedings and corporate support matters. Neil Dwyer heads the department, which includes Sarah Hall, who leads the firm’s HR corporate support work. In a recent highlight, Hall advised Harkers Logistics on the restructuring of its business, which involved TUPE transfers, redundancy processes and contractual documentation updates. The team acts primarily for employers ranging from SMEs to international corporations such as Sabic UK Petrochemicals, Darlington Building Society, Helen McArdle Care, Foundation of Light and Park Lane Healthcare. Sarah Furness has experience in tribunal claims, redundancies, discrimination issues and dismissals.

At Short Richardson & Forth, practice head Max Winthrop primarily advises on contentious matters for employers and employees, and David Gibson is recommended for employment tribunal issues, corporate support mandates and senior executive terminations. Clients of the practice include SMEs, large companies and charities, with particular emphasis on the transport and legal sectors. The group is also increasingly acting on data protection matters. Associate solicitor Seema Ahmed regularly handles employment tribunal claims and senior executive terminations.

Archers Law LLP’s ‘excellent, prompt and extremely professional’ team is led by Elizabeth Casey, who has ‘a very strong and well-deserved reputation in the field’ with ‘an eye for detail and ability to quickly establish an easy and friendly rapport with clients’. Casey’s recent highlights include providing TUPE advice on an asset transfer relating to the purchase of a community centre, representing an individual in a constructive dismissal claim before the Employment Tribunal, and acting for an employee in a potential automatic unfair dismissal claim following a breach of TUPE regulations. Associate solicitor Lauren Mills (who is ‘very easy to do business with’) has experience in redundancies, TUPE, employment contracts, and unfair dismissal and discrimination claims.

DWF provides ‘timely, concise and relevant advice’ and ‘ensures it knows its client’s business inside out and tailors its recommendations accordingly’. Senior associate Stephen Cairns leads the department and ‘has a commercial awareness that makes resolving issues much easier’. He is particularly experienced in employment tribunal claims, redundancies, restructurings, senior executive terminations and corporate support matters. Cairn also has particular expertise in the social housing sector and was part of the team that successfully defended Together Housing against unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims made by a senior manager. Other clients include Watts Water Technologies and Byker Community Trust; Cairns advised the latter on the employment aspects of a joint venture.

Endeavour Partnership LLP attracts praise for its ‘excellent communication skills, practical approach and unmatched accessibility’, all of which contribute to its reputation as ‘an exceptional firm in the region’. The group, which advises employers on contentious and non-contentious issues, also handles pensions and immigration issues. Assistant solicitor Laura Kirkpatrick joined from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in 2016, strengthening the firm’s immigration capability. The ‘vastly experienced’ Stephen Elliott leads the department and ‘always connects well with clients’. Other key figures include ‘reliable’ associate Catherine Devereux, who handles transactional employment issues, and ‘commercially focused’ associate Nazia Aftab, who handles high-value disputes.

Jacksons Law’s ‘excellent, responsive and practical’ team is led by the ‘incredibly supportive’ Mark Foster and counts South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Hovis and Polam Hall School as clients. The department advises on the full range of employment law matters, including contentious issues, reorganisations, redundancy processes and business transfers. The firm is also developing a business immigration service and has a niche focus on the employment elements of drug and alcohol testing. Recent work includes handling an unfair dismissal claim involving alcohol and substance abuse issues. Other key team members include senior associate and discrimination law specialist Julie Dalzell, associate solicitor Paul Clark, and solicitor Stacey West, who is experienced in immigration matters.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s ‘excellent’ team ‘delivers accurate, expert and pragmatic advice’ across the gamut of employment issues including disciplinary proceedings, redundancies, long-term sickness leave, executive terminations and changes to terms and conditions. Practice head Nick Smith recently advised over 200 employees on a large-scale reorganisation of a national company, handled a senior manager termination for a major software company and also acted for Total Jobs Group on a range of employment issues including an alleged breach of post termination restrictions. Northern Bear, LB Foster Rail Technologies and Burn Brae Care Home are also clients. Solicitor Robyn Shepherd is also recommended.

Swinburne Maddison’s practice in Durham is led by the ‘superb’ Jonathan Moreland, who has ‘a very straightforward style and handles all issues in a very co-operative and positive manner, showing empathy and understanding to clients’; he is ‘a true professional at all times’. In a recent highlight, Moreland defended a senior academic against allegations of bullying and discrimination, and advised an insurance brokerage on a company sale and related TUPE issues. The ‘highly knowledgeable and personable’ David Low is singled out for his contentious expertise, particularly with regard to negotiating settlement agreements, and ‘inspires complete confidence in the advice he provides, which is always appropriate for the situation’. Other clients include Durham City Rugby Football Club, Berger Closures and the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral.

BHP Law has a ‘small but strong’ practice led by the ‘very client-friendly’ Andrew Lightburn, who is ‘incredibly responsive and calm’ and has notable expertise in bullying and harassment issues, disability discrimination, TUPE matters, data theft and restrictive covenant breaches. Recent highlights include advising on restructurings and redundancies, handling TUPE transfers for public and private sector clients, and assisting directors and senior executives with termination issues. ‘Diligent’ associate Philippa Roberts is ‘exceptional with clients and provides excellent support in the litigation process’. She is handling a high-value age discrimination and constructive dismissal claim against an education authority.

Beecham Peacock’s ‘very professional practice’ is ‘always eager to go the extra mile for clients’ and provides ‘knowledge and experience across all key sectors’. The group focuses on advising claimants, with notable experience in unfair dismissals, discrimination issues, unlawful deductions, contract queries and TUPE agreements. ‘Friendly and helpful’ associate solicitor Sara Devennie is the key contact and ‘provides quality advice in an easy-to-understand manner’.

Claire Davies heads the department at Cartmell Shepherd, which advises employers and employees on contentious and non-contentious matters including TUPE transfers, corporate support and employment tribunal claims. Recent highlights for Davies include advising a senior executive on the terms and conditions of a termination agreement, acting for a deputy head teacher in a disciplinary process, and assisting with the potential transfer of employees under TUPE. Other key names include assistant solicitor Rebecca Armstrong and associate Mark Aspin; Aspin is recommended for contentious issues and is experienced in settlement agreements.

David Gray Solicitors LLP focuses on immigration matters and has substantial experience in business immigration, EEA law work and family migration mandates. Bryony Rest heads the department, which advises individuals but also has experience representing businesses. In a recent highlight, Rest appealed a decision to suspend a Tier 2 sponsor’s licence, and acted for an individual in a citizenship matter. Solicitor Amy Stolting is also recommended, and has experience in family settlement and visitor applications, EEA law and human rights issues.

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