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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 > Real estate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Commercial property: elsewhere in the North

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property: elsewhere in the North
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Sean Logue - Baines Wilson LLP
    • Christopher Todd - Archers Law LLP
    • Simon Wake - Endeavour Partnership LLP
    • Victoria Walton - Swinburne Maddison

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Rachel List - Archers Law LLP

Archers Law LLP's team handles a wide variety of commercial property matters across the Tees Valley region and the North East. Areas of expertise include real estate transactions, development projects, landlord-tenant work and commercial property finance transactions. Clients include banks, developers and freeholders. Promoted to partner in April 2019, Rachel List leads the team, which includes former practice head and development expert Christopher Todd.

Practice head(s):Rachel List

Other key lawyers:Christopher Todd


'Archers have a very passionate team which serves its clients in the Tees valley area very well.'

'Rachel List is very hands on and ensures, is able to deliver on client expectations and takes ownership of the issues.'

'Archers always provides a quality, timely service.'

Key Clients

Subsea Innovation

Work highlights

  • Sale of Subsea Innovation's entire issued share capital to publicly listed company for c.£2m.

In Carlisle, Baines Wilson LLP's key area of expertise is development projects, with wide-ranging experience in hotel development, school extensions, residential developments and other industrial and commercial projects.  The team also regularly handles property transactions, as well as landlord and tenant instructions throughout Cumbria. Sean Logue takes the lead and is supported by Duncan Harty, whose expertise includes the agribusiness sector, and development and regeneration expert Laura Barnfield.

Practice head(s):Sean Logue

Other key lawyers:Duncan Harty; Elizabeth Sewell; Stephanie Bradley; Lucie Barnes; Sophi Al-Tikriti

Key Clients

Genesis Homes (North)

Work highlights

  • Advised Genesis Homes (North) Limited in connection with acquisition and financing of a Residential Development Site
  • Disposal of a portfolio of care homes.
  • Represented Party A in its £1.3m acquisition of a Residential Development Site from Party B

Burnetts, in Carlisle, handles a wide array of commercial property matters, including portfolio management, planning and development, pension fund portfolios and property finance, in addition to regionally specific issues pertaining to mines and minerals. The group is co-led by property finance and development expert Robbie Mather and Helen Hayward, whose robust client roster includes investment portfolio landlords and pension funds.

Practice head(s):Robbie Mather; Helen Hayward

Other key lawyers:Sarah Loan; Abigail Clucas


'Helen Hayward, having first hand experience of the property sector, understands her clients' needs and objectives and provides clear advice on what they want to do and what they need to do to achieve our goals'

'Accessibility, communication and accuracy are three values which come to mind'

'One of the leading teams in Cumbria; a progressive go-ahead approach'

Key Clients

H&H Group plc

Eden Housing Association

Investacc Pension Trustees

Cumberland Building Society

Stobart’s Group

Work highlights

  • Helen Hayward is continuing to advise H&H Group Plc, a Cumbria-based business with a varied portfolio, including one of the largest livestock sales centres in the UK.  She is advising on several ongoing strategic transactions including ongoing aspects of the development of a mixed-use commercial site in Carlisle (adjacent to Junction 43 of the M6)
  • Burnetts is one of five advisers (and the only one based in the North West) appointed to the national panel for Investacc Pension Trustees Limited.
  • For Thomas Armstrong Group plc, matters have included work on developments throughout the region, such as two current sites with a combined number of 159 plots and a further site in the pipeline of in excess of 100 plots for residential development in West Cumbria.
  • Helen Hayward acted for ADR Properties Limited, an offshore client (Channel Islands), on the purchase of a head office in the centre of Woking (Surrey). It was purchased with a sitting commercial tenant, which added complexity to the deal.
  • Sole legal adviser for all property matters relating to Eden Housing Association’s property portfolio which now stands at 2,000 units

Swinburne Maddison's Durham-based team's key areas of expertise are development work for developers and landowners, leasing and commercial property transactions. Clients include small and large developers, the owners of property portfolios and not-for-profit and charitable entities. The team is led by Victoria Walton, whose expertise includes acquisitions, sales, leases of commercial property and finance work.

Practice head(s):Victoria Walton

Other key lawyers:Simon Robinson; Kate Stephenson


'The team are knowledgeable and friendly and go the extra mile to provide an excellent service'

'The firm offers a unique blend of professional legal services coupled with a no-nonsense attitude which has delivered consistent results for clients'

'The team's close relationship with clients and key influencers across the Region is a key factor in them delivering on behalf of clients'

Key Clients

Durham Cathedral

The Esh Group

Atom Bank plc

Theakston Estates

Wynyard Park Land

Work highlights

  • Negotiating collaboration agreement regarding promotion and development of c500 hectares of land to the north of Darlington, County Durham for approximately 4500 houses
  • Acted on behalf of Hesler Homes Limited in relation to the finance of a development site outside of the North East and subsequent sale of the site
  • Acted on behalf of a number of registered providers of social housing in relation to the acquisition of affordable housing elements of various residential development sites.
  • Gillian Moir led on four new lease matters, two lease renewals, a surrender of a previous lease and licences to assign in respect of two existing leases in 2018 for Esh Space the Park Limited.
  • Represented Gallowgate Developments Limited in its purchase of 2 Cook Way, North West Industrial Estate at a price of £1.5m plus VAT.

Headquartered in Wynyard, the team at Tees Valley heavyweight Tilly Bailey & Irvine has particular expertise in advising pension funds on acquisitions, disposal and management of their property portfolios. The group also regularly handles development site transactions in the residential and social housing sector. The group is led by Sara Garnett, who was promoted to partner in 2018.

Practice head(s):Sara Garnett

Other key lawyers:Andrew Beattie; Martin Levinson; Rhiannon Melrose


'Andrew Beattie very conscientious and attentive to detail'

'Clients always feel in a good safe pair of efficient hands'

'Sara Garnett gives excellent legal advice, responds to call backs quickly'

Key Clients

IPM Personal Pension Trustees

Prism Planning

Landteam Property Investments

Gus Robinson Developments

Swale Valley Construction


Work highlights

  • Advised IPM Personal Pension Trustees on the acquisition of an industrial estate comprising 21 separate units on behalf of a SIPP.
  • Acted for Prism Planning Limited in the relocation of their business.
  • Acting for Landteam Property Investments, the landlord of an office park in Middlesbrough.
  • Acted for Gus Robinson Developments Limited in securing a number of sites for residential development.
  • Acted in relation to the surrender of a registered lease and subsequent sale of the property with vacant possession with complex issues.

In Darlington, BHP Law's team has developed a niche in advising farmers and landowners on rural diversification issues, including renewable energy projects. The group also handles matters relating to commercial disposals and acquisitions, large-scale land development and agricultural tenancies. The group is led by veteran commercial property lawyer Peter Blackett.

Practice head(s):Peter Blackett

Other key lawyers:Kathryn Boyd; Liz Smith; Catherine Booth

Work highlights

  • Acquisition of land for development

Endeavour Partnership LLP in Stockton-on-Tees handles a wide range of property and development transactions, as well as real estate financing, with particular expertise in the leisure and healthcare sectors. The group is led by Simon Wake whose clients include a number of regional developers.

Practice head(s):Simon Wake

Other key lawyers:Jamie Brown; Alexandra Ketchley

Darlington's Latimer Hinks Solicitors handles the gamut of commercial property-related services, including transactions for sellers and buyers, landlord-tenant issues, real estate finance and trusteeships for regionally-, nationally- and internationally-based clients. Adam Wood leads the team, focusing on acquisitions and disposals, landed estates, mineral leases, secured lending and lease management.

Practice head(s):Adam Wood

Other key lawyers:Neil Stevenson; Martin Williamson

Work highlights

  • Advised on the sale of a development site to a local housebuilder.
  • Advised on the purchase of commercial premises.

Commercial property: Newcastle

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property: Newcastle
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Muckle LLP is the go-to firm for real estate clients in the education and sport sectors, alongside its more general real estate offering; and was appointed to the Crown Commercial Service panel in 2018, cementing its reputation with public sector clients. The group is instructed on transactions, portfolio management and joint ventures. Jonathan Combe leads the team, which includes David Towns (who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in 2018) and transactional lawyer Gail Bennett.

Practice head(s):Jonathan Combe

Other key lawyers:Gail Bennett; Will McKay; David Towns; James Armstrong


'Excellent, pragmatic and knowledgeable service and good understanding of real estate in the North East of England'

'Jonathan Combe and James Armstrong in particular provide an exceptional service in term of advice, accuracy and speed of response'

'The diversity of expertise in the firm means that, as a collective, they can cover a wide spectrum of legal advice and disciplines'

Key Clients

McAleer & Rushe Group

Home Group

Newcastle University

Mandale Group

Arriva plc

Work highlights

  • Acted for McAleer & Rushe Group on a forward funding of The Gate, Furnival Square, Sheffield with Curlew Capital & Curlew Student Trust.
  • Acted for Metnor Group on the sale of the Grade II listed Generator Studios building in Newcastle city centre to Vengrove Group.
  • Advised O’Brien Aggregate Marsden in its acquisition of Marsden Quarry, saving around 30 jobs put at risk following the collapse of civil engineering firm, Owen Pugh.
  • Acted for Home Group (fourth largest provider of social housing in the UK) to agree facilities and perfect security on its latest funding run.
  • Instructed by the World Wheel Company on all real estate, corporate and financing matters in relation to the proposed development of Europe’s tallest observation wheel on Newcastle Quayside.

The team at Ward Hadaway has a diverse practice, advising housebuilders, commercial developers, occupiers and investors and public sector clients on the spectrum of real estate matters, supported by a dedicated real estate finance group. The group is co-led by property development expert Lesley Fairclough and planning specialist Robin Atkin. Heather Markham is recommended for commercial property work, with particular expertise in the charitable sector.

Practice head(s):Lesley Fairclough; Robin Atkin

Other key lawyers:Alex Cox; Alex Wright; Simon Errington; Helen O'Neill; Saji Bratch; Neil Smith; Sophie Bohill; Heather Markham


'Exceptional service levels'

'Lesley Fairclough and Heather Markham stand out as exceptional individuals, both providing a personal element to the working relationship'

'Alex Cox has a telepathic understanding of his clients' requirements and communicates his advice with absolute clarity in relation to their commercial drivers'

Key Clients

Keepmoat Homes

BDW Trading Limited (Barratt Homes)

Newcastle International Airport

Bannatyne Group

Aldi Stores

Work highlights

  • For Forrest Park (Newton Aycliffe), a proposed joint venture development of a 116-acre site for industrial use in a strategic location next to the A1(M). The development has been projected to bring an economic boost of £495m to County Durham and to deliver 3,200 jobs to the region.
  • Acts for BDW Trading Limited (Barratt Homes) on the majority of their acquisition, development and strategic land deals in the north of England.
  • Sale of a Travelodge hotel investment and adjoining hotel development for Union Retail Properties by way of a development funding arrangement to the same institutional plc investor.
  • Acted for Story Homes in its joint purchase with another house builder of a large residential development site comprising circa 300 houses and associated access, landscaping and public open space.
  • Acting for Keepmoat Homes on the majority of its site acquisitions in the North East, most notably its partnering arrangements with Newcastle City Council and its unique partnership with Durham County Council.

Drawing on its status as an international firm, the team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is able to handle flagship real estate deals across the North East, advising national housebuilders, residential landlords, property funds and other corporate clients. The group is led by John Ralph, who is instructed by owners and occupiers of investment, development and operational real estate assets. Managing associate John Booth is noted for expertise in the education and energy sectors.

Practice head(s):John Ralph

Other key lawyers:Barbara Painter; Ian Ward; Michael Brown; John Booth; Tom Willows


'A very joined up and well organised team'

'The team builds up good relationships with advisers acting on the other side'

'Easy people to work with, who can explain complex issues in an accessible manner'

Key Clients

Grainger plc

Bellway Homes plc


The Vista PRS Fund

Hansteen Holdings plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Middlesbrough Council on a multimillion-pound advanced manufacturing park in the Tees Valley.
  • Acted for three major SIPP/SSAS providers on c.300 individual property instructions. These instructions include acquisitions, disposals, leases, renewals and surrenders and all landlord licences for commercial properties held within a personal or corporate pension wrapper. The transactions range in value from £50k to £7m.
  • For Buccleuch Property Group, sale of 55 Degrees North, Newcastle upon Tyne for £5,395,000 to Tarras Properties Limited – the owners of the old Bank of England site.

DWF's team utilises its strong national presence to advise regional and national clients on the spectrum of real estate matters in the North East, including investment and property portfolio management; regeneration and development projects; landlord and tenant issues; and housing-related projects. Practice head Adam Heather has particular expertise in finance and funding for public and private sector real estate projects, while Lee Pickett is a housing expert.

Practice head(s):Adam Heather

Other key lawyers:Lee Pickett; Jonathan Smith

Key Clients

Advance Northumberland/Ascent Homes

Hanro Group

The Northumberland Estates

Newcastle College

Stockton Borough, Darlington Borough, Sunderland City Councils

Work highlights

  • Acting for a Luxembourg-based real estate fund in the purchase of a £140m office portfolio and the immediate sub-sale of £80m of the assets.
  • Acting for LXi Reit plc in the forward funding of £75m of hotel and retail assets.
  • Acting for The Northumberland Estates in the sale of three industrial estates.

Sintons LLP's team is pre-eminent in healthcare sector real estate, including landlord-tenant and development work for professional partnerships, national NHS trusts and care providers. Other areas of expertise are real estate finance, residential and commercial development, portfolio management, leisure and the agricultural sectors, while Paul Liddle has developed a niche in ecclesiastical property law alongside more traditional development and investment projects. Mark Dobbin leads the team.

Practice head(s):Mark Dobbin

Other key lawyers:Paul Liddle; Alok Loomba; Tom Wills; David Ferguson; Laura Peace

Key Clients

The Church Commissioners for England

Cussins (North East)

Sansec Developments

Malhotra Group Plc

Crown Care Group

Work highlights

  • Conditional acquisition of residential development site for Cussins (North East) to facilitate larger development of circa 580 dwellings.
  • Acting for Sansec Developments in respect of the acquisition of a development site for a retail development scheme.
  • Acting for Malhotra Group Plc in the acquisition of a prominent city centre investment purchase.
  • Acting for Highbridge Commercial Limited in the acquisition of a number of let investment commercial properties.
  • Acting for Gainford Hotels Limited in the acquisition of a key city centre hotel site and dealing with a redevelopment of the same.

Watson Burton LLP's key areas of expertise include commercial and residential development; secured lending and banking support; real estate support in corporate transactions; investment; portfolio management and education and healthcare sector real estate issues. Department head Naren Deen specialises in property investment and secured lending, and has vast experience in regeneration schemes.

Practice head(s):Naren Deen

Other key lawyers:Helen Stenton; Richard Phillips


'Naren Deen is highly diligent, knowledgeable & provides reassurance when dealing with the transaction'

'The team is easy to deal with, quick to respond, and very detailed in its knowledge'

Key Clients

Stockton Riverside College

Lok Developments

Gosforth Federated Academies

Northern Trust Company

Advanced Electronics

Work highlights

  • Negotiation of Lok Developments' contract and transfer with Newcastle City Council (“NCC”) including negotiation of release of restrictive covenants and a carve out in the transfer permitting the client to develop Eagle Star House in accordance with its development proposals.
  • In addition to transactional tasks, the team reviewed complex subsisting PFI arrangements to inform a risk analysis for discussion with Gosforth Federated Academies (GFA). Following a period of comprehensive due diligence it negotiated the terms of a Schools Agreement that sets out the scope of GFA’s commercial obligations.
  • Assisting Morton Group at all stages of the development cycle, from lock-out / exclusivity agreements to due diligence, site acquisition and funding, though to plot sales and ground rent disposal.
  • Academy conversion on behalf of Valley Road Community Primary School and Highfield Community Primary School for Iris Learning Trust.
  • Undertook due diligence on the title to a premises and negotiated, settled and completed a lease of the new premises subject to major landlord’s refurbishment works.

Hay & Kilner's department is regularly instructed on transactions, as well as landlord-tenant matters, joint ventures and real estate finance. The group's clients include an array of regional owner-managed businesses, but the group also assists major developers, educational establishments and healthcare providers. Healthcare sector expert Nicola Tiffen leads the team.

Practice head(s):Nicola Tiffen

Other key lawyers:Richard Freeman-Wallace; Chris Anderson


'Chris Anderson is highly effective and efficient'

'Nicola Tiffin is the best commercial property lawyer in the north'

'By far the best law firm for commercial property purchases and leases'

Key Clients

Persimmon Homes

Park Lane Healthcare

Hellens Group

Pinlee Investments

International Centre for Life

Work highlights

  • Instructed to act on behalf of the International Centre for Life in respect of commercial property work at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.
  • Advised PLH Moorgate Holdco on a hive-up of three care home businesses into the immediate group parent company and an associated bank refinancing, including coordinating property and employment implications of the transfer, and liaising with the client on CQC registration issues.
  • Continuing to advise Cornish Bakehouse UK in relation to lettings and other landlord and tenant matters.
  • The negotiation of an agreement for Hellens Residential Limited for the construction and purchase on a phased basis of 50 units within a residential development in Stockton on Tees.
  • Two acquisitions of adjoining property for S & B EPS Limited, both at short notice and one from the seller’s administrators.

Short Richardson & Forth has an active client list of owner-managed property companies, advising on sales, purchases, and new and renewed leases. The group is led by Paul Earnshaw, who specialises in investment property transactions and commercial tenant-landlord issues. Experienced in assisting offshore property investment companies, developers and industrial landlords, Mark Stephenson joined the team from Mark Swatts Morse in June 2018.

Practice head(s):Paul Earnshaw

Other key lawyers:Mark Stephenson; Peter Hall; Chris Morgan


'The firm has many good lawyers, often joining with experience of larger practices'

'The team is pro-active, able to solve problems and approachable'

'Paul Earnshaw is a commercial property lawyer of immense experience & is a first port of call for sound, practical, efficient & cost effective advice'

Key Clients

Peter Stevens Estates

Wordie Properties

Planning Gain

Harrow Consulting

DC Assets

Work highlights

  • Acting for Wordie Properties on the purchase on practical completion of a newly built retail park in Skelton North Yorkshire with tenants including B&M and Greggs plc.
  • Sale of a multi-let business park in North-West England for Peter Stevens Estates.
  • A sale of part of a plot owned by Trevor Hanover to a development company subsequent to a promotion agreement.
  • Purchase of new-build industrial unit in Huyton, Liverpool for Peter Stevens Estates.
  • Sale of an 18,000 sq ft tenanted office with the benefit of planning permission for redevelopment for Wordie Properties.

DAC Beachcroft LLP's Newcastle offices support the firm's national network on the spectrum of real estate matters across the country. The group, which is led by housebuilding sector expert Duncan Fisher (who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in February 2018), advises private commercial clients, in addition to public and private healthcare operators, local authorities and educational establishments.

Practice head(s):Duncan Fisher

Other key lawyers:Nicola Fairbairn; Andrea Proudlock

Key Clients


Royal Mail Group

Newcastle University

Newcastle Building Society

Newcastle City Council

Work highlights

  • Represented Lendlease in relation to asset management and property development transactions.
  • Representing Newcastle Building Society in relation to a lease of a building which consisted of a previous Society branch, which was to be occupied by a food and drink retail organisation.
  • Advised an NHS foundation trust in connection with a Second Generation Estates Outsourcing.
  • Acting for the University of Sheffield in relation to its strategic occupation of a parcel of land on a hospital site for development.
  • Acting on the sale of surplus property at a decommissioned hospital for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust for both retail and residential development.

Focuses for the team at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP include property finance, corporate funding, redevelopment leases, buying and selling commercial real estate and managing investment portfolios. The team is led by tranactional lawyer Ryan Bannon, who is instructed by developers, investors, commercial occupiers and retailers.

Practice head(s):Ryan Bannon

Other key lawyers:Malcolm Wood; Claire Catterson; Rebecca Dawson

Key Clients

High Street Group

Lugano Group

Gort Properties

Chrome Classic Investments

Work highlights

  • Advised High Street Group in connection with facilities to be used in connection with two high-profile, mixed-use development projects in the North West.
  • Advising property developer All Saints Living in connection with facilities for the acquisition of a residential development site.
  • Community acquisition of Ye Olde Cross Pub by Ryton Cross Community Society (RCCS).


Index of tables

  1. Construction
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

DAC Beachcroft LLP's substantial Newcastle-based construction team handles mandates at the top of the market in the North East and across the country. Particular areas of expertise include the education sector, where clients include a number of public bodies, while the group also services a number of major housebuilders and, increasingly, energy sector clients. The group is co-led by Warren Kemp, who handles contentious matters, and James Harrison, who leads the non-contentious practice. Specialising in procurement, Roddy Gordon is also recommended alongside construction and engineering disputes lawyer Stephen McLellan.

Practice head(s):Warren Kemp; James Harrison

Other key lawyers:Roddy Gordon; Stephen McLellan

Key Clients

South Tyneside Homes / South Tyneside Housing Ventures

Newcastle City Council

Bellway Homes

Taylor Wimpey UK

Criterion Capital

Work highlights

  • Acting for Bellway Homes in site acquisition and development of new headquarters.
  • Acting for Newcastle University on the re-development of campus buildings (c.£60m project cost).
  • Acting for Durham County Council on largest and most complex development ever undertaken in Durham.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP handles the spectrum of contentious and non-contentious construction work, drawing on the firm's office network to advise local and international clients. In addition to its more traditional practice, the group also has a niche in offshore, decommissioning and subsea work. Simon Lewis leads the team, focusing on dispute resolution for public and private sector clients alike. Managing associate Andrew Clough is noted for complex construction litigation, while on the non-contentious side, Simon Rowland is recommended for developments and Ian Atkinson is well-regarded for his 'straight-forward and pragmatic' approach to transactional matters.

Practice head(s):Simon Lewis

Other key lawyers:Simon Rowland; Ian Atkinson; Andrew Clough; Ruth Davidson


'The team is proactive, efficient and pragmatic regarding their approach to achieving contract award on individual schemes.'

'As a local authority client, you always feel confident instructing the firm in relation to property matters, because everyone in the team is very technically competent.'

'Simon Rowland provides excellent service and professional advice.'

'The team are responsive and helpful and give advice that i's pragmatic and unstuffy. We've seen a willingness to roll up sleeves and engage positively with our sometimes unusual approval processes.'

'A tight-knit team with a great depth and breadth of experience, particularly in relation to PFI disputes.'

'Simon Lewis is a very experienced construction specialist who gives sound and sensible advice.'

'Andrew Clough is charming and easy to work with - he will go the extra mile.'

'Ian Atkinson is straight-forward, pragmatic and responsive, as well as understanding of our particular requirements.'

'Ian Atkinson provides prompt, helpful responses and is very proactive. He is able to explain things in layman's terms, which is great for all parties involved. He is also a nice person to work with, which counts for a lot.'

'We really enjoyed working with Ian Atkinson - he dealt with the construction elements of a large and complex development agreement really efficiently and promptly. All the work was turned around really quickly - he knew what needed to be done, and ensured that happened within a tight time frame.'

Key Clients

Education and Skills Funding Agency


Newcastle City Council

Bellway Plc

IKEA Properties Investments

University of Durham

Work highlights

  • Advised the Department for Education/Education and Skills Funding Agency since 2010 to the current date on its capital programmes. The work has predominantly seen the delivery of new and refurbished schools across the country and in the period 2010-18 the firm has worked on over 550 school projects, 75% of which have been delivered in the last three years.
  • Continues to advise Newcastle City Council on the landmark refurbishment of a prominent city centre building. The Civic Centre is a Grade II star listed building located in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Advising Durham County Council on the procurement of its new Civic Headquarters project.

The focus at Muckle LLP is construction and engineering projects, serviced by a team well-versed in contentious and non-contentious work. The team is led by Public Private Partnership and joint venture expert Lucilla Waugh, whose clients include public sector procurers and private sector contractors. 'Extremely knowledgeable' senior associate Adam Aston leads on a number of projects.

Practice head(s):Lucilla Waugh

Other key lawyers:Adam Aston


'Very knowledgeable construction team that have a clear understanding of the frequently used construction contracts and, as a result, are able to provide clear explanations of how the contracts work and the effect of amendment'

'Adam Aston is always well prepared and grasps quickly the risks associated with projects'

'Pragmatic advice in very complex areas with a problem solving approach'

Key Clients

The University of Newcastle

Jersey Electricity plc

Mandale Group

McAleer and Rushe

Clouston Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for the University of Newcastle on the design and construction contracts for their new £16m indoor sports facility in Richardson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Acting for Aura, the lead consultant appointed for the refurbishment of Newcastle Civic Centre, which is to become a hub for government agencies in the North East.
  • For Stephenson Quarter Developments, prepared and successfully negotiated a full suite of construction documents with the government and local authority’s legal teams. These documents (which included building contracts, a suite of professional appointments, collateral warranties and guarantees) were essential in order to protect the developer’s interests and secure funding for the scheme.
  • Conversion of PFI-built Walker Technology College to an academy within the Tyne Coast College multi-academy trust, the merger of South Tyneside and Tyne Met colleges.
  • Advised Mandale Group on a range of refurbishment projects across the UK; leisure accommodation and a range of residential apartments to meet the UK’s housing demand.

Sintons LLP's group (which is overseen by former quantity surveyor Alex Rayner) is instructed on contentious and non-contentious construction and engineering matters by a mixture of developers, contractors, funders and consultants. In terms of disputes, it handles construction litigation, including for over-runs and defect liability.

Practice head(s):Alex Rayner

Other key lawyers:Matthew Pexton; Andrew Noble

Key Clients

Northumbrian Water/NWG Commercial Solutions

Greggs plc

The Auckland Project

Cussins (North East)

The Auckland Project

Work highlights

  • Acting for NWG Commercial Solutions Ltd in connection with the design, build and operation of a new wastewater treatment plant in Gibraltar for Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar.
  • Advised Tolent Construction Ltd on the building contract for the completion of the Vaux Brewery Site in Sunderland, which had been commenced by Carillion.
  • Advising The Auckland Project on its construction contracts for the transformation of Bishop Auckland.
  • Advised Jerram Falkus Construction Ltd on the construction documents in connection with the design and construction of a mixed-use scheme.
  • Acting for Greggs Plc in connection with its national bakery refurbishment programme, including the design and construction of a new build distribution centre at Solstice Park, Amesbury.

At Ward Hadaway, the team has substantial experience advising private sector clients on a range of commercial, industrial and residential projects, but is also instructed by a wide variety of public sector procurers, including local authorities, healthcare providers and educational establishments. Expertise also includes heavyweight disputes in the engineering space for clients in the energy sector. Veteran construction lawyer Tim Craig heads the department.

Practice head(s):Tim Craig

Other key lawyers:Paul Reekie; Alan Ross; Neil Williamson


'The team at Ward Hadaway is both responsive and pragmatic in their advice'

'Tim Craig and Neil Williamson are proactive and responsive, offering us pragmatic practical solutions rather than giving generic neutral advice'

Key Clients

McAleer & Rushe Group

Newcastle Science Central LLP

Sage UK plc

Arch (Development Projects) Ltd/Advance Northumberland (Developments)

The Co-Operative Academies Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising McAleer & Rushe Group, a leading national property development and construction group, in connection with a large number of hotel, office, student accommodation and residential developments throughout the UK.
  • Providing construction advice to Newcastle Science Central Management LLP in connection with the development of each part of the Newcastle Helix site and the infrastructure works in relation to the Master Plan.
  • Advising Sage UK plc in relation to the front-end consultancy appointments for the proposed refurbishment of their UK headquarters.
  • Advising the University of Buckingham in relation to the drafting and negotiation of the building contract and professional team appointments and ancillary collateral warranties from the consultants, contractor and sub-contractors for a new £8m academic facility in the University grounds known as The Vinson Centre.
  • Acting for Advance Northumberland (Developments) Ltd in relation to a number of matters including the drafting and negotiation of a £35m building contract for a proposed new build County Council headquarters and ancillary documents.

Watson Burton LLP stands out for its construction and engineering litigation capabilities; a strength validated by cladding expert Richard Palmer's representation of one of the participants in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Outside of that, the group has expertise in statutory and contractual adjudication, litigation before the Technology and Construction Court, domestic arbitration proceedings and alternative dispute resolution. Adjudication expert David Spires leads the team.

Practice head(s):David Spires

Other key lawyers:Richard Palmer; Anne-Marie Knight; Bal Manak


'Their stand out quality is their business understanding and their tailoring of advice to provide the right answer for the businesses'

'The team has a strong local knowledge of the North East "village"; they are flexible and customer-focused'

'David Spires and Bal Manak's individual attention to detail, knowledge and experience, together with their communication of the merits and various options available, is clear and simple which makes business decisions easier to make'

Key Clients

Applebridge Construction



Sunderland City Council

Black and White Engineering

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of Sunderland City Council in its claim against the main contractor (Balfour Beatty) appointed to design and build a flagship leisure complex and Olympic-sized swimming pool concerning defects that have arisen at the complex, including permanent deflection of the roof, serious water ingress and condensation issues.
  • Representing a core participant at the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry (“GTPI”).
  • Contemporaneously advised and acted on behalf of two civil engineering contractors in their challenge to the public procurement of a framework agreement for civil engineering works by a local authority for works packages worth up to £500,000.
  • Acting for Wellspring who have agreed with Leeds City Council to take a lease of three new school sites which are to be constructed by the council in three separate phases for social, emotional and mental health provision.
  • Provided legal support to Applebridge Construction Limited in its role as agent for the joint administrators of a civil engineering company to pursue a seven-figure claim against a national housebuilder.

Hay & Kilner's contentious construction expertise includes adjudication proceedings and mediation. The group's clients include design teams, main contractors and sub-contractors, as well as funders on collateral warranties. The department is led by consultant Martin Soloman, who has vast experience in disputes.

Practice head(s):Martin Soloman

Other key lawyers:Jan Rzedzian


'The team has impressed with their professionalism and depth of knowledge in construction law'

'Regular and prompt communications with Clients and experts continually advising on all of the current position'

Key Clients

IKM Testing UK

Howard Russell Construction

G A Smith

Arrowbuild & Civil Engineering

Groundwork Services (Durham)

Work highlights

  • Represented a specialist sub-contractor client, Groundwork Services (Durham), in a successful adjudication against the main contractor on a large commercial project in the North East.
  • Acts for Heat-Air, a specialist main contractor, in relation to its dispute with an employer over the installation of a renewable heating system in a large care home.
  • Acts for P Plunkett (Tiling Contractors), a sub-contractor, in relation to its dispute with the main contractor on the construction of a leisure centre involving a heavily amended NEC3 form of contract.
  • Acts for Arrowbuild & Civil Engineering Limited, a civil engineering sub-contractor, in relation to its dispute with a PLC main contractor over works governed by an NEC3 subcontract to a major university sports park development.
  • Acts for R J Utility Services Ltd, a utility infrastructure specialist sub-contractor, in various multi-party disputes with a main contractor in relation to contractual indemnities.

Environment & planning

Index of tables

  1. Environment & planning
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Ward Hadaway takes a multi-disciplinary approach to planning matters, fielding a team of chartered town planners and planning technicians alongside experienced lawyers. The group handles a range of issues, including applications, appeals, advocacy, enforcement and matters relating to new developments. The team, which is led by Robin Atkin was joined by consultant Frank Orr, a veteran of the town planning field, in April 2018.

Practice head(s):Robin Atkin

Other key lawyers:Kamran Hyder; Neil Robson; Frank Orr; Nick Gholkar


'Strong commercial solicitors, same day responses and good to work with'

'The team are extremely competent and always willing to offer assistance when asked'

'All individuals are very personable, competent and approachable'

Key Clients

Barratt Homes

Northumberland Estates

Story Homes

Keepmoat Homes

Darlington Borough Council

West Cumbria Mining

Work highlights

  • Over the course of 2018 Ward Hadaway has advised the North West divisions of Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes on a significant number of s.106 Agreements and the wider implications of these Agreements on the planning and development process.
  • Acted for a major housebuilder in relation to a judicial review of one of its planning permissions.  Work involved advising on the judicial review process, the merits of the claim and instructing Counsel.
  • Acting for West Cumbria Mining in relation to a major planning application for development of an existing surface mine entrance for a new metallurgical coal mine including the construction  of an innovative interconnecting underground coal conveyor to a new coal loading and railway siding and  extension of a railway underpass.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's planning department handles major infrastructure projects, redevelopment schemes, judicial review and planning litigation, energy and waste development. The group advise a range of clients including landowners, developers and public sector organisations. The regulatory and environment team is led by Stuart Wardlaw, while managing associate Stephen Dagg leads on planning matters.

Practice head(s):Stuart Wardlaw

Other key lawyers:Stephen Dagg; Antonia Murillo; Kate Ashworth; Francesca Hodgson

Key Clients



Vauxhall Motors (Groupe PSA)


Lotte Chemicals

Work highlights

  • The firm advised Hanro in relation to its objection to the Sunderland City Council (Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor Phase 3) Compulsory Purchase Order 2017 and associated side roads order.

Property litigation

Index of tables

  1. Property litigation
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Sharon Mathieson - Ward Hadaway
    • Susan Roberts - Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

Rising stars

  1. 1
    • Jill Dalkin - Watson Burton LLP

Ward Hadaway fields a team of dedicated property litigators, handling disputes for clients in both the public and private sectors. The group also supports the firm's non-contentious property lawyers, providing advice on litigation risk in relation to transactions and asset management. Practice head Sharon Mathieson, who splits her time between Newcastle and Leeds, has expertise in landlord-tenant litigation and property-related professional negligence claims.

Practice head(s):Sharon Mathieson

Other key lawyers:Jeremy Hardy; Kirsty Smith

Key Clients


Canal & River Trust

Virgin Money

Newcastle Airport

County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust


Work highlights

  • Acting in arbitration proceedings with regards to determining the price payable for development land acquired and, in particular, in relation to a preliminary issue in which the landowner was asserting that the Option Notice served pursuant to the Option was invalid and successfully defeating this.
  • Acting for the client in relation to a dispute as to the rent payable by the client to the tenant following exercising an option to take a new lease, including advising on the valuation principles to be applied in fixing the new rent, being a rent in excess of £1m per annum.
  • Acting for and advising a university on the application of rights of pre-emption in favour of the freeholder on the disposal of the university's long leasehold interest in several properties and serving pre-emption notices.
  • Acting for the client which is the occupier of a large industrial unit with regards to occupation of part of the client's land, the individuals claiming long-term rights of occupation and use.

The team at¬†Watson Burton LLP¬†handles a wide variety of claims for commercial clients, based around the country. Expertise includes the enforcement of free- and leasehold covenants, possession claims, service charge disputes, dilapidation claims and boundary disputes. The group, which is led by¬†Christopher Graham, includes¬†Jill Dalkin, who has significant experience in disputes concerning breaches of lease covenants ‚Äď working closely with the real estate team to provide strategic input into vacant possessions and development strategies.

Practice head(s):Christopher Graham

Other key lawyers:Jill Dalkin; Mark Egner; Mark Reeves


'Absolute dedication and commitment'

'Jill Dalkin is extremely professional and able to handle vast quantifies of data whilst retaining a focus on the key issues at hand'

'Mark Egner is extremely approachable and business orientated'

Key Clients

Bellway Plc

Northern Powergrid (North East Limited)

University of Sunderland

Northern Retail Consortium

Ubisoft Reflections

Work highlights

  • Instructed to safeguard the client’s position, initially taking steps to obtain injunctive relief against a housebuilder to prevent the proposed development as it affected the client’s property.
  • Advising the client during the arbitration process and conducting ongoing negotiations with the local authority.
  • Advised the client throughout the matter on how best to proceed and corresponded with the tenant in relation to both the recovery of rents and the fall-out from a peaceable re-entry.
  • Advised client on the validity of a break notice, its end-of-lease obligations and dilapidations,
  • Advising and representing client in possession proceedings.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's property litigation team benefits from an international office network, allowing it to represent both domestic and US clients. Areas of expertise include rent recovery, landlord-tenant disputes and contentious matters arising out of developments, landed estates and property portfolios. Jen Smurthwaite heads the national team and is based across Newcastle and Leeds.

Practice head(s):Jen Smurthwaite

Other key lawyers:David Hambler; Fiona Graham; Paul Joyce


'They are knowledgeable and are able to act as a one stop shop for all legal matters'

'Good knowledgeable practice, right price point with strength in depth and they really understand their clients' business'

'Paul Joyce has a good eye for the detail, calm and unflappable'

Key Clients

Airwave Solutions

Bernicia Group


Standard Life Trustee Company

Work highlights

  • Acts as sole UK legal services provider to Airwave Solutions' real estate team which provides the emergency services communications network across the country over thousands of sites.
  • Acting for the Bernicia Group on a range of tenancy management issues including claims to possession, injunctions to tackle anti-social behaviour, committals for breach and defending housing disrepair claims. The team has also provided bespoke training on tenancy management issues.
  • Advises Standard Life Trustee Company in a full range of property disputes across its SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension plan) portfolio.
  • Advises Akelius in relation to all aspects of tenancy management across its stock.

Following the arrival of Kenton Bazeley from Tilly Bailey & Irvine in 2018, the property litigation team at Archers Law LLP has developed a strong practice, handling boundary disputes, dilapidations, rent and service charge recovery, adverse possessions and service charge disputes. The group's client roster includes commercial and residential landlords, property developers, surveyors and property agents.

Practice head(s):Kenton Bazeley

Other key lawyers:Helen Lyne; Richard Flounders


'The team has great connections with local business, and has a good sense of the commercial realities in which its clients operate and always looks for the best commercial solution for its clients'

'Richard Flounders is dogged in seeking to get the best result for his clients'

'The lawyers are prompt to respond to queries and in turn give instructions, which are clear and concise'

Key Clients

National Landlords Association Panel

Work highlights

  • Instructions in various matters concerning commercial property owned by the client.
  • Rent Act 1977 possession proceedings
  • Disputed application for rectification of title in respect of farm land.
  • Dilapidations claim, acting for landlord.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP handles a wide variety of property litigation in the North East and across the country, including commercial property business lease renewals, break notices, dilapidations, re-entry and forfeiture and freeholder-leaseholder disputes. The group is led by veteran property litigation associate Susan Roberts, who handles both commercial and residential disputes.

Practice head(s):Susan Roberts

Other key lawyers:Stewart Irvine; Ryan Bannon; Malcolm Wood; Robyn Aisbitt


'The level of service provided by Susan Roberts is efficient and ultimately very effective'

'Susan is professional, responsive and makes things easy for clients to understand'

'The team is interested, determined and achievement focused'

Key Clients

Lugano Group

The Works Stores

The Station Hotel (Newcastle)

Finalcertain Property Management

Cairn Hotel Group

Work highlights

  • The firm represented the clients as defendants in relation to a dispute between neighbours in respect of entering onto neighbouring property without written permission, restraint from causing alleged nuisance or annoyance and removal of a gate within the boundary wall and to fence the boundary and related claim for damages for trespass and/or breach of covenant. This is an extremely acrimonious dispute.
  • Regularly acts for the client in relation to its commercial property matters throughout the country and internationally. Litigation advice, case planning and liaison with client’s surveyors (as appropriate) is provided in respect of each matter including service of relevant notices under Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 in relation to lease renewals, dealing with extensions to extend the statutory period in writing as required and within proceeding.
  • Repeat instructions from the client in relation to lease renewal matters, dilapidations and related issues, breach of covenant of lease and break notices as and when required.
  • Acted for clients in relation to a matter in respect of The Insolvency Act 1986 and in the matter of The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.
  • Instructed in relation to making an application to the Upper Tribunal (Land Chamber) under s2 of the Rights of Lights Act 1959.  In addition, the firm is instructed in relation to over sale issues in relation to the building works.

Muckle LLP's property litigators are situated within the wider real estate team, assisting firm-wide and standalone clients on a variety of property disputes, with a strong focus on the residential and social housing sectors. The group is led by Charlotte McMurchie, who counts a number of regional housing associations as clients. In 2018, the team was joined by associate Sarah Barratt from Hay & Kilner, while Russell Hall left for an in-house position.

Practice head(s):Charlotte McMurchie

Other key lawyers:Jennifer Pearson; Sarah Barratt


'Charlotte McMurchie is sensible practical advice and sound commercial focus'

'The balance in the team is excellent with Charlotte and her very capable team always on hand to provide the practical and legal advice in a cost effective manner'

'Jennifer Pearson is always on-hand to give the best advice in a concise and swift manner'

Key Clients

Grainger plc

Castles & Coasts Housing Association

North Tyneside Council

Residential Management Group (RMG)

The Football Association

Diocese of Durham & Newcastle

Work highlights

  • Represented Castles & Coasts Housing Association in obtaining access to property for annual gas safety check, including in enforcement proceedings.
  • Provision of advice to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne regarding liabilities for replacement of plant within shared buildings
  • Advising Vertu Motors plc on forfeiture of premises
  • Represented Karbon Homes Limited in obtaining an anti-social behaviour injunction against a tenant’s partner.
  • Advising BPT (Bradford Property Trust) Limited in relation to a possession claim arising out of rent arrears on a regulated tenancy, and counter-claim for disrepair.

Led by Angus Ashman, the team at Sintons LLP handles a wide variety of property disputes, including contested lease renewals, high-value dilapidation claims, interpretation of covenants, landlord-tenant matters and property-related professional negligence claims. Practitioners have experience in both commercial and residential property matters, in addition to instructions from the public sector.

Practice head(s):Angus Ashman

Other key lawyers:Graeme Ritzema; Lewis Couth; Aimee Hubbard

Key Clients

Newcastle upon Tyne YMCA

The Pen Shop Limited

Hadrian Estates

JG Windows

JGW Patterson Foundation

Work highlights

  • Representing trustees of a recognised religious/Christian Church in possession proceedings against a licensee who claims to occupy under a protected lease.
  • Advising a landlord client in relation to the implications on their property portfolio of the Homebase CVA.
  • Advising a residential housing developer in relation to an expert determination of the market price payable for development land.
  • Litigating on behalf of a large national mining company to remove environmental protesters from the site of a new open cast mine.
  • Representing an owner of licensed premises in a dispute with its landlord who was attempting to avoid the rights granted to the client tenant to participate in the landlord’s public music events under the terms of a side letter to the client’s lease.

Swinburne Maddison's property disputes matters are handled by David Low, who services the wider firm's property clients, including  on a range of contentious commercial and residential property matters (including property developers, landowners, freeholders and landlords) before tribunals, county courts and at the High Court.

Practice head(s):David Low

Other key lawyers:Rachel Stapleton


'David Low is a first class lawyer who has an attention to detail and a commonsense and thought out approach to matters'

'The team is thoroughly professional and utterly reliable and takes a client-centred approach'

'The key partner keeps tab of progress, so even complex matters never lose momentum'

Key Clients

Durham Cathedral

Beyond Housing

The Esh Group

East Durham Homes

TJD Properties

Work highlights

  • Acting for a large regional registered provider of housing in relation to various court proceedings including obtaining a Part 1 injunction and success conviction for breaches thereafter.
  • Conducting multimillion-pound High Court litigation in relation to a disputed property matter held in trust.
  • Representing client in a fully contested First-tier Tribunal case relating to rectification of title.
  • Representation in First-tier Tribunal proceedings opposing an adverse possession claim.
  • Dealing with long-running and complex contested lease renewal proceedings.

Social housing

Index of tables

  1. Social housing
  2. Leading individuals

DWF's practice advises a number of registered providers of social housing (RPs) and local government on matters including the sale of units on the open market and mixed use schemes. The group is on panels for, most notably, Homes England and Places for People Group. Lee Pickett, deputy head of the housing team, leads on social housing work and specialises in development, regeneration and investment, with clients including local authorities and RPs.

Practice head(s):Lee Pickett

Other key lawyers:Kelly Pearson; Phil Dunn


'Accessible, responsive and very receptive to queries'

Key Clients

Homes England

Places for People Group

Riverside Group

Together Housing Group

Stockton Borough Council

Darlington Borough Council

Sunderland City Council

Work highlights

  • Represented Homes England in its innovative disposal of three sites for new homes under its pilot Accelerated Construction and Delivery programme.
  • Represented Home Group in high value grant supported acquisitions of 'off the shelf' units from various housebuilders to be sold on shared ownership terms.
  • Acted for Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust on the voluntary first registration of the extensive parcels of land on which its 2,500 homes are located which had not to date been registered at the Land Registry.

Social housing is a real area of expertise for Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP, which advises a wide variety of stakeholders, including large-scale voluntary transfer housing associations, councils and arms-length management organisations on the spectrum of contentious and non-contentious matters. The team is also on the panel for Homes England. Residential property specialist Nigel Emmerson leads the team.

Practice head(s):Nigel Emmerson

Other key lawyers:David Hambler; Samantha Pritchard; Tracy Walsh; Simon Rowland; James Wilders

Key Clients

Places for People Homes

Karbon Homes

Accent Housing Group

Bernicia Group

Derwent Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Advising Karbon Homes in relation to its ongoing development programme, including the acquisitions of sites, development agreements and the acquisition of units from house builders fulfilling their section 106 obligations.
  • Acting for Bernicia Group on a range of tenancy management issues including claims to possession, injunctions to tackle anti-social behaviour, committals for breach and defending housing disrepair claims.
  • Advised Places for People, one of the largest property management, development, regeneration companies and leisure companies in the UK, on a members' agreement to incorporate and govern its joint venture with Surrey County Council.

Based across Leeds and Newcastle, the social housing team at Ward Hadaway handles housing management litigation; volume housing disrepair claims for local authorities and housing associations; planning advice; funding, acquisition, sale and shared ownership of social housing; and disposals by RPs. The Newcastle team is co-led by Julia Thomson and Colin Hewitt, while John Murray heads the department nationally.

Practice head(s):Julia Thomson; Colin Hewitt

Other key lawyers:Helen O'Neill


'A solid team which provides sound advice on social housing development structures and property related transactions'

'Julia Thomson is a trusted expert, providing extensive knowledge of real property. She has a great understanding of the social housing property and development market'

'The practice delivers on time and to budget'

Key Clients

Livin Housing

Thirteen Group

Byker Community Trust

Home Group

Mosscare St Vincent's

County Durham Housing Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Mosscare St Vincent's Housing Group Limited on a loan consolidation exercise with Orchardbrook.
  • Acted for Livin Housing Limited on its acquisition of affordable homes throughout 2018; including s.106 acquisitions and land-led development. This has necessitated planning advice and land assembly.
  • Acted for Impact Housing Association in connection with its combination with The Riverside Group.

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