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This chapter covers three key markets in the North: Newcastle, which stands as the primary economic and commercial market in the region; Cumbria, with Carlisle as the key legal centre; and the Tees Valley, which primarily focuses on Stockton on Tees, Darlington and Durham.

Commercial property work remains prominent in the region, with many areas of Newcastle and the surrounding cities seeing substantial development projects, which results in significant contentious and non-contentious mandates for law firms. Though having experienced a minor slowdown in the number of transactions following the Brexit vote, commercial and corporate teams are kept busy thanks to an active SME market and continuing investment made in the region. Cumbria - a region heavily influenced by the nuclear sector and therefore less prone to fluctuations in the market - will see the development of a garden village and a potential boost of the local tourism industry with the re-opening of Carlisle airport for scheduled passenger flights in June 2018.

Despite the existence of a certain level of anxiety regarding the country’s post-Brexit future, regional law firms and their clients maintain a confident outlook which is partly based on the region’s continued positive balance of trade, making it the UK’s only net exporter, and the prospect of the establishment of a free port status for Teesside. The agricultural sector remains a key component of the region’s economic fabric which leads to a steady flow of instructions for law firms with teams specialised in this sector. In employment law, firms have seen an increase of contentious work as a result of the abolition of Employment tribunal fees. The most profound changes in the short-term will however come from the introduction of GDPR in May 2018.

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