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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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Commercial property: Newcastle

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property: Newcastle
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial property: Newcastle clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


The β€˜knowledgeable team’ at Bond Dickinson LLP is β€˜second-to-none; it isn’t afraid to take on a challenge, going above and beyond to achieve exactly what the client wants’. John Ralph and Nigel Emmerson jointly head the β€˜impeccable’ practice, which advises developers, investors and corporate occupiers such as Standard Life, Bellway Homes and Arriva on a regional and national level. Grainger is a key client for Emmerson; he recently advised it on multiple residential property portfolio acquisitions totalling Β£220m and handled the property due diligence of a Β£325m sale of a retirement solutions business to Turbo Group Holdings. β€˜A leader in the field’, Barbara Painter focuses on the education, chemical and manufacturing sectors and is singled out for her β€˜incredible attention to detail, flawless advice and sheer determination’. Other key individuals include urban regeneration and residential development specialist Ian Ward; Michael Brown, who is highly regarded for his transport expertise; housebuilding expert Duncan Fisher, who recently advised Kingston Property Services on several open space acquisitions; and managing associate John Booth, who β€˜always gets the job done’.

DWF’s β€˜superbly committed team’ has β€˜incredible strength and depth in the region’ and β€˜a no-nonsense approach; it adds value on every level’. Adam Heather heads the practice and β€˜provides pragmatic advice combined with an excellent understanding of clients and their needs’. He recently led advice to Arch Commercial Enterprise on its Β£78m purchase of Manor Walks Shopping Centre and its Β£36m acquisition of Westmorland Retail Park. Heather also advised Hanro on the sale of various assets at Strawberry Place to Kier Developments and handled the completion of a building lease for a Β£92m housing scheme for Homes and Communities Agency. Also recommended are Lee Pickett, who made partner in 2016 and specialises in housing and public-sector developments; senior associates Richard Lomax and Sarah Crone, who are β€˜best in class’; and senior associate Mark Tait, who focuses on development and financing work. Benjamin Done joined Cornerstone Law Limited and Gavin Jackson retired.

Muckle LLP β€˜excels on all counts’ with clients singling out the practice’s β€˜technical and in-depth knowledge, exceptional response times and very practical approach’. Areas of expertise for the group include real estate acquisitions and disposals, portfolio management, residential developments, real estate finance and joint ventures. Practice head and property development specialist Jonathan Combe is advising Newcastle University on the development and construction of Newcastle Science Central, and is assisting Sunderland Music, Arts & Culture Trust with its acquisition of the former Sunderland Fire Station. Will McKay is acting for McAleer & Rushe Group on the Newgate Centre redevelopment and the β€˜straight-talking’ Gail Bennett (who made partner in 2016) is assisting Swedish building company Trivselhus with UK development plans. Other clients include Atom Bank and Home Group; McKay advised the latter on the sale of a private rented sector portfolio to William Pears Group. Adrian Hill joined Cornerstone Law Limited.

Under the leadership of Mark Dobbin, Sintons LLP’s practice handles the full gamut of real estate issues including commercial and residential developments, portfolio management and property investments, with particular emphasis on the healthcare, energy, leisure, hospitality and agricultural sectors. Dobbin is advising the Freehold Income Authorised Fund on multiple portfolio acquisitions, including the acquisition of a freehold reversion in a block of flats in Milton Keynes. Other clients include Banks Group, The Church Commissioners for England, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Lloyds Bank. Dobbins’s team includes Paul Liddle, who regularly acts on high-profile developments and investment projects; Victoria Armstrong, who specialises in the healthcare sector; Alok Loomba, who advises leisure, hospitality and healthcare clients; Laura Peace, who focuses on landlord and tenant matters; and Tom Wills, who is the β€˜go-to’ name for agricultural mandates. Consultant Alan Harkness leads the firm’s residential development team, which acts for major housebuilders including Barratt Homes and Cussins.

β€˜A truly excellent firm to deal with’, Ward Hadaway provides β€˜a service that is hugely proactive, responsive, commercial and professional’. Neil Robson leads the nine-partner group, which includes property development expert Alex Cox, the β€˜highly experienced’ Simon Errington (who β€˜always goes the extra mile’) and the β€˜extremely accessible’ Heather Markham. Recent highlights include advising multiple housebuilders (including Barratt Homes, David Wilson Homes and Linden Homes) on plot sales, all of which were led by development team head Lesley Fairclough and included the firm’s specialist plot sales team. In other key mandates the team handled the development of a new campus for City of Sunderland College and assisted Foundation of Light with the development of an education and sports facility. Newcastle International Airport and Newcastle Science Central are also clients; commercial partner Colin Hewitt advised the latter on the property issues relating to the transfer of land for development purposes.

Nicola Tiffen leads the four-partner department at Hay & Kilner and handles the full range of commercial property issues; she recently acted for Westway Veterinary Group and Value Vets on the sale of the partnership’s assets and is acting for Ken Brown Agencies on a new lease for a premises in York. Richard Freeman-Wallace, who specialises in development, investment and property management work as well as property finance matters, recently advised Robertson Simpson on the refinancing of a portfolio of residential properties and assisted Pinlee Investments with the financing for the expansion of its property portfolio. Persimmon Homes, Hellens Group and Anvil Homes are also clients. The highly regarded Paul Taylor advises on matters concerning freehold and leasehold properties.

Short Richardson & Forth regularly acts for owner-managed property companies, SMEs and high-net-worth individuals on portfolio issues, property sales, investments and landlord and tenant matters. In a recent highlight, the team advised High Gosforth Park on the redevelopment of part of the Newcastle Racecourse, which involved planning and lease renewal issues. The department also handled a lease renewal for Morplan relating to a retail park in Bristol, and assisted C&R Stevens Estates with the purchase of a property in Stoke. Peter Stevens Estates, Wordie Properties and Lowrie Foods are also clients. Paul Earnshaw leads the practice, which includes Peter Hall and assistant solicitor Claire Devapal.

The β€˜extremely efficient and excellent’ team at Watson Burton LLP is β€˜always an asset in property transactions’. Libbie Henderson heads the practice and specialises in commercial and residential developments as well as land-based energy projects and mines and minerals issues. She recently led advice to Bellway Yorkshire on the acquisition of land at Spofforth Hill and advised Bellway North East on the acquisition of land at Killingworth, which will be used for an affordable housing development. Henderson also assisted Camerons Brewery with the property elements of its acquisition of the Leeds Brewery Company. Other clients include Northern Powergrid, Wellspring Academy Trust and Wear Inns. Julie Farrell-Knowles has notable expertise in academy conversions, social housing issues and development work.

Stephanie Green leads the practice at Hempsons and focuses on advising clients in the health and charity sectors, including GP practices, for whom she handles the acquisition of new premises and the assignment of property interest following partnership retirements. The team’s experience also encompasses the education sector, where it acts for local authorities, academy trusts and sponsors. Further areas of expertise include estate management, landlord and tenant issues, acquisitions of freehold and leasehold properties, joint ventures, and property development matters.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s department is headed by development expert Ryan Bannon, who also handles investments and landlord and tenant mandates. The group regularly advises hotel owners, property investors, retailers, care home owners and leisure-sector businesses. Clients include Lugano Group, Northern Bear, David Morgan and Perfect Image. Malcolm Wood joined the practice from Square One Law in late 2016; he has notable expertise in landlord and tenant issues, portfolio management, property investments and the property elements of corporate transactions.

Commercial property: Elsewhere in the North

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial property: Elsewhere in the North clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


β€˜One of the standout practices in the North East’, Archers Law LLP’s β€˜truly excellent, competitive and professional team’ attracts praise for its β€˜ability to turn around substantial and complex matters without affecting the quality of work’. β€˜Exceptional in all areas’, the department is β€˜a genuine pleasure to work with’ and regularly advises on development work, property sales and acquisitions, and landlord and tenant issues for a client base of private individuals, local authorities, charitable institutions and regional businesses. Recent highlights include advising the owners of a former pub on its refinancing for retail redevelopment, and assisting a client with the purchase of three care homes. The β€˜very knowledgeable’ Christopher Todd leads the group, which includes associate Rachel List, who β€˜consistently proves herself as one of the best property solicitors in the region’. Patrick Quigley joined Samuel Phillips Law Firm.

Baines Wilson LLP handles the full range of real estate issues, with notable expertise in development projects through department head Sean Logue. Logue acts for commercial businesses, lending institutions, housebuilders and developers, particularly those active in the North West. The department also handles landlord and tenant matters, option arrangements and property sales. The well-regarded Duncan Harty specialises in acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant transactions, secured lending and renewable energy matters. Laura Barnfield’s expertise includes developments, regenerations, site assembly, portfolio management, landlord and tenancy matters, and restructuring issues. Other noteworthy individuals include associates Elizabeth Sewell, who regularly advises on the property elements of corporate transactions; and Lynne McFaul.

Richard Miller leads the β€˜unfailingly excellent’ team at Burnetts, which is noted for its β€˜well-informed advice and local knowledge, which is second-to-none; it can always be relied on to give the best support, irrespective of the situation and complexity’. Clients single out the β€˜genuinely invaluable’ Robbie Mather, who β€˜provides outstanding support and an unmatchable energy alongside an ability to communicate difficult legal matters in plain English’, and Helen Hayward, who is β€˜absolutely brilliant, easy to get on with and who takes a no-nonsense approach’. Key areas of focus include planning and development, real estate finance, with emphasis on the education, leisure, tourism and energy sectors. Hayward’s recent highlights include advising H&H Group on the pre-let development of a retail food hall. In another key mandate, Mather assisted Washington Homes with a Β£20m acquisition of a residential development site, while associate Susan Scott handled Amsric’s Β£1.5m acquisition of six Starbucks franchised coffee shops. Tony Lake retired.

Endeavour Partnership LLP has a highly regarded commercial department recognised for its development expertise, banking work and agricultural and healthcare practices. Practice head Simon Wake regularly acts for developers, owners and managers of licensed premises as well as primary healthcare providers, and is assisted by Jamie Brown, who is recognised for his agricultural and renewable energy experience and regularly advises on high-value agricultural transactions; and associate Helen Roberts, who joined the firm in 2016 from Square One Law and has extensive expertise in real estate finance (including secured lending) and property sales. Key clients include Benchmark Leisure, Atkinson Northern, Stockton Riverside College and Ryedale Estates. Recent work includes advising on the development of a large-scale visitor attraction in North Yorkshire, assisting with the redevelopment of the Grangetown Hub and acting for Middlesbrough FC on its acquisition of the freehold reversion to the Riverside Stadium.

Under the leadership of senior associate Mike Little, Cartmell Shepherd’s team recently advised a substantial landowner on a promotional agreement for a residential development, acted for a high-net-worth individual on the purchase of a commercial river front property and was instructed by a large landed estate on a commercial refinance agreement. The team regularly acts for large country estates, especially in property portfolio issues; other strengths include acting for development builders, handling property finance mandates, advising on the sale of partnership assets, assisting with commercial and residential leases, and landlord and tenant mandates. Little is recommended for commercial property sales and purchases, commercial leases and land development; director Jonathan Carroll focuses on farm sales and purchases, and associate Andrew Marquis regularly acts for developers.

Jacksons Law is a β€˜highly professional outfit’ that β€˜instils confidence in clients through its service level and exceptional knowledge’ as well as through its β€˜pragmatic, commercial and practical approach’. Department head Geoff Skeoch has notable experience in development work and regularly acts for investment clients; highlights included advising on multiple property acquisitions and land disposals. Managing partner Jane Armitage is praised for her β€˜approachable yet no-nonsense attitude’; she counts Ravensworth Property Developments and Carlton Power Group as clients. Erica Turner recently advised Green Parks (Holdings) on the sale of multiple newly constructed holiday apartments at Westward Ho! Devon. The firm also has a Newcastle office, which includes associates Rebecca Dawson, who is β€˜able to provide solutions to any problems that arise’, and John Bewick, who has β€˜exceptional attention to detail’.

Latimer Hinks Solicitors fields β€˜an exceptionally professional and pragmatic’ group, which includes Neil Stevenson, who is recommended for agricultural and renewable energy property issues; Nicola Neilson, who focuses on agricultural work; and the β€˜very diligent and trustworthy’ Martin Williamson, who is the key name for residential property matters. Investment acquisition and disposal expert Adam Wood also advises on landed estates, mineral leases and secured lending mandates. Consultant Tim Haggie advises on landed estate acquisitions and management, mineral options, development contracts and promotion agreements.

Swinburne Maddison is β€˜a very professional and accomplished firm’ that β€˜provides a high-quality service with a friendly approach’. The team’s client roster includes individuals, developers, commercial property portfolios and charitable entities such as Atom Bank, Durham Cathedral, Coast & Country Housing and Handelsbanken. In a recent highlight, department head Victoria Walton advised TJD Properties on the refinancing of a portfolio of 18 properties. Other highlights included assisting Prince Bishops Homes and Derwentside Homes with the acquisition of seven separate sites for residential developments, and handling the refinancing of a Grade II listed building for AKV (Cladding Fabrications). Simon Robinson is recommended for agricultural, development and landlord and tenant work, and the β€˜extremely competent’ Kate Stephenson attracts praise for her β€˜incredible knowledge of landlord and tenant issues’; she β€˜always goes the extra mile to ensure the best result possible’ and is recommended for property portfolio work and residential matters.

Martin Levinson heads the β€˜friendly, prompt and efficient’ practice at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, which β€˜consistently goes above and beyond to find solutions to problems that appear insurmountable’. β€˜Top-notch’ associate Andrew Beattie has particular expertise in agriculture transactions; he recently advised Holme Mills Properties on the sectional disposal of a 17-acre industrial site and acted for Stellprop and its related companies on a number of site disposals in Hertfordshire and the Isle of Wight. Clients also praise the β€˜exceedingly good and incredibly helpful’ Sara Garnett, who β€˜combines formidable knowledge with outstanding service’; she recently handled an industrial unit acquisition for a client and assisted a developer with the acquisition of a development site. Barnard Castle School, Janus International (UK) and IPM Personal Pension Trustees are additional clients.

BHP Law’s experience spans regional, agricultural and industrial developments, disposals and acquisitions, landlord and tenant law, mineral leases and licensing issues. It acts for a wide range of clients including developers, high-net-worth individuals, farmers and landowners. Associate Jane French leads the group, which includes the well-regarded Peter Blackett, who is acting for Bussey and Armstrong on the West Park Development in Darlington. French’s highlights included advising Maden Properties on its acquisition of a listed building and site for residential development; handling multiple property transactions for Peron; and assisting Nifco UK with its phase 3 factory development of its factory facility in Eaglescliffe. Associate Mark Clayton is recommended for agricultural transactions.


Index of tables

  1. Construction
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Construction clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


β€˜One of the best firms out there’, Bond Dickinson LLP is β€˜a real pleasure to work with’ according to clients, who praise its β€˜first-rate services’ and its β€˜perfect combination of intelligence, tactical prowess and personality’. Practice head Simon Lewis, who is β€˜skilful at identifying the nub of any problem’, is highly praised for his contentious expertise. The team also fields non-contentious specialist Simon Rowland and newly promoted partner Ian Atkinson, who β€˜has a real depth of experience that gives clients a sense of confidence’. Rowland and Atkinson are advising the Education Funding Agency on the delivery of new and refurbished schools on a national level, Atkinson is assisting Newcastle City Council with the Science Central project, a 24-acre mixed-use development in Newcastle City Centre; and Rowland is acting for Beamish Museum on the delivery of a construction programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for its Remaking Beamish project. Skanska, Sembcorp Utilities and Hargreaves Services are also clients. Managing associate Andrew Clough is another key name.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s β€˜unbelievably committed’ and β€˜incredibly user-friendly’ group combines β€˜breadth of expertise and efficient service with an exceptionally helpful approach’. Its client base spans housebuilders, insurance companies, public-sector clients, contractors and renewable energy companies such as Vinci Construction, Aviva, Jones Engineering and Colas. Warren Kemp, who is praised as β€˜simply the best around’, and the β€˜superb’ James Harrison β€˜have a great partnership’ and jointly lead the department, which includes the β€˜outstanding’ Roddy Gordon and β€˜very user-friendly’ senior associate Stephen McLellan. Key highlights included advising Bellway Homes on the construction aspects of the sale of its interest in a joint venture with Greater London Authority relating to the regeneration of Barking Riverside; assisting Ponton Road with the sale of affordable housing to London and Quadrant Housing Trust; and acting for Bellway Homes on a development project, which is part of the Nine Elms development in South London.

The β€˜incredibly knowledgeable and experienced’ Keith Bishop leads the β€˜fantastic’ three-partner team at Muckle LLP, which β€˜punches well above its weight’ and is noted for its β€˜faultless service’. Other key team members include litigator Robert Langley and non-contentious specialist Lucilla Waugh. Langley recently advised Guernsey Electricity on the tender documents and contract negotiation relating to the procurement of a diesel generator, while Waugh’s recent highlights include advising Newcastle University on the acquisition, design and construction of its urban sciences building, assisting Trivselhus with the construction issues of two residential sites in Milton Keynes and Cambridge, and assisting Stephenson Quarter Developments with the redevelopment and refurbishment of a music and food venue. Port of Tyne and Aura Newcastle are also clients; Waugh is advising the latter on a hotel development in Teesside, a commercial laboratory project, and multiple academy conversions. Senior associate Mark Smith and associate Adam Aston focus on contentious and non-contentious mandates respectively.

The β€˜responsive, knowledgeable and experienced’ department at Ward Hadaway is led by Tim Craig, who has β€˜a real depth of understanding and a clear client focus’. Key strengths for the practice include commercial developments, public-sector projects, construction disputes, housebuilding mandates and funding matters. Highlights included assisting McAleer & Rushe Group with hotel, office, student accommodation and residential development schemes; advising Foundation of Light on the development of an education, training and sports facility in Sunderland; and acting for the Co-Operative Academies Trust on the refurbishment and extension of the Co-Operative Academy of Manchester. The University of Buckingham and Newcastle University are also clients; Paul Reekie, who is β€˜great at seeing the big picture’ and at β€˜grasping the fundamental issues at stake’, is acting for the latter on the construction of a Β£70m student accommodation block. Clients also single out associate Alan Ross, who β€˜always provides sound and commercial advice’.

At Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, highly regarded litigator and practice head Mary Anne Roff is β€˜strong tactically, legally and commercially’ and has a β€˜down-to-earth approach and a pragmatism that makes her great with clients’. The team, which is cited as β€˜exceptionally strong with a great eye for detail’, works across the firm’s Newcastle and Leeds offices and includes non-contentious expert Michael Conroy Harris and associate Lucy Frith, who has β€˜excellent instincts’. In a recent mandate, the group represented John Sisk & Son in adjudication enforcement proceedings which raised new legal issues pertaining to whether defendants can resist enforcement of an adjudicator’s decision for bias on the grounds of pre-determination. Other representative clients include Wartsila, UK Grid Solutions, EDF Energy Renewables, Severn Trent Water and Allied Irish Bank.

Graeme Ritzema leads Sintons LLP’s practice and specialises in contentious construction matters and engineering issues. Associate Kevin Anderson represented Orca in a dispute against Angus James Contractors relating to liquidated and ascertained damages, time extensions and final account issues. Associate Alex Rayner advised High Point View on the construction of 14 townhouses in Whitley Bay and assisting Dalton Homes with the development of a new care home. The firm’s client roster spans developers, contractors, sub-contractors, funders, healthcare clients and consultants such as Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Greggs, Aspire Healthcare and Meldrum Construction Services. Alok Loomba ia also noted.

Watson Burton LLP β€˜quickly understands the real issues at hand and provides sound advice based on experience and expertise’. Department head Richard Palmer is recognised for his litigation experience, particularly in professional negligence issues; other key members include Sarah Wilson, litigator David Spires, Anne-Marie Knight and associate Bal Manak, who focuses on non-contentious issues and β€˜provides good, solid assistance’. Areas of expertise span contractual advice and pre-contractual reviews, dispute resolution and professional negligence issues. Highlights included advising Lucion Services on a contract review; assisting Heck Foods as employer and Lloyds Bank as funder with the construction of a sausage production factory in Northallerton; and acting for DRPT Birmingham and DRPT Properties on the construction contract elements of the refinancing of the development of a new Holiday Inn Express in Birmingham.


Who Represents Who

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Bond Dickinson LLP handles compliance advice, enforcement prosecutions, market development and business risk management for a range of companies, particularly those in the chemical, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, waste management and oil and gas sectors. Recent enforcement and prosecution highlights include advising on investigations and prosecutions relating to water pollution, trade effluent discharge, waste management, habitat protection and hazardous chemical leakage. The team also provides liability management advice related to corporate and property risk. Representative clients of the group are General Motors, Huntsman, Innovia, Lotte Chemical and Chemoxy International. Stuart Wardlaw, who specialises in environmental compliance and project risk management, leads the group, which includes Leeds-based planning expert Claire Brook, and associate Ruth Wintersgill who handle contentious and non-contentious issues.

Ward Hadaway’s practice head Neil Robson regularly acts for clients in the conservation, minerals and waste sectors. Recent highlights include assisting Northumberland National Park Authority with The Sill Visitor Centre, which involved complex environmental issues arising from the land’s status as a World Heritage Site; and advising on a successful objection to a compulsory purchase order for the regeneration of Seaton Carew. New Mill Biogas, Limelight Energy Cleveland Potash are also clients. The group’s expertise encompasses landfill, quarry and opencast development matters, financial provision arrangements for waste management licences, environmental crime mandates, contaminated land issues and negotiations of environmental indemnities. Other key figures include Stephen Graham, who is an environmental litigation and regulatory compliance specialist with expertise in environmental permitting, water pollution and contaminated land; Robin Atkin, whose expertise spans sewage treatment works, village green issues and environmental conditions; and Colin Hewitt, who regularly acts for local authorities on public sector waste management work.

Key environmental law figures at Clyde & Co LLP’s Newcastle office include James Thompson, who specialises in environmental, health and safety and regulatory law, and Kirsty Gomersal, whose primary focus is assisting clients with investigations, prosecutions and other enforcement actions brought by regulators. The national department handles the full gamut of environmental issues with niche expertise in enforcement and environmental crime for clients including the Environment Agency (EA), as well as local authority investigations. Clients of the practice range from SMEs and FTSE-listed corporates to public bodies and individuals. The team also advises global insurers such as Aviva, Axa and NFU Mutual Assurance. Rod Hunt and Chris Morrison jointly lead the national practice from Manchester.

At Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, contentious environmental specialist Tim Hill regularly advises on compliance breaches, enforcement challenges and challenges to abatement notices. In a recent highlight, Hill advised Sims Group on multiple issues including permit compliance, issues relating to transfrontier shipment of waste regulations issues, EA visits and investigations, noise and nuisance matters, and European waste classification mandates. Other clients include Halliburton Company, Severn Trent Water and MacFarlan Smith.

Sintons LLP’s environmental practice sits within the firm’s energy group and regularly acts on biofuel projects, wind farms, energy-from-waste projects and energy contracts. The group also has regulatory experience and defends rural community clients and farmers against EA prosecutions. Key figures include real estate specialist Paul Liddle, who often handles issues relating to environmentally sensitive schemes, and Karen Simms, who heads the firm’s company and commercial department and sports team.


Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Planning clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Bond Dickinson LLP’s β€˜outstandingly brilliant’ team is headed by the β€˜exceptional’ Frank Orr and excels in infrastructure projects, regeneration schemes, compulsory purchase issues and planning litigation. Managing associate Stephen Dagg, who is noted for his β€˜meticulous attention to detail’, advises on issues arising from development consent orders, particularly in the energy and transport sectors. Orr was part of the team advising Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey on the planning aspects of a development which will feature residential, retail and recreational properties, while Dagg acted alongside Bristol-based Jonathan Bower for Intu Properties on the proposed redevelopment of a shopping centre in Milton Keynes. Dagg also acted for the Society of Merchant Venturers with Leeds-based Claire Brook in an objection to a proposed definitive map modification order involving land owned by the client. Other clients include Grainger, Sabic UK Petrochemicals and Standard Life.

The β€˜brilliant’ team at Ward Hadaway features β€˜incredibly competent individuals, who are geared towards going above and beyond clients’ expectations’. Joint practice head Robin Atkin (who has a niche specialism in village green and highways matters) recently acted for Persimmon Homes in its objection to a village green application, assisted Northumberland Estates with its objection to a scheme by Highways England to upgrade a road junction that will impact an area adjacent to the client’s land, and handled the planning aspects of Barratt Manchester’s residential development in Ribble Valley. Fellow practice head Neil Robson, who is β€˜calm, realistic and holds the confidence of the client’, regularly advises on town planning and compulsory purchase inquiries and also specialises in energy-related planning matters. A recent highlight for Robson involved advising Newcastle University on the completion of a section 106 agreement relating to a site development involving new student accommodation, an extension to the University’s sports centre and a new sports science building.

Property litigation

Who Represents Who

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β€˜An extremely professional and high-quality’ firm, Bond Dickinson LLP β€˜can hold its own against any rival’ and β€˜fields one of the best property litigation teams outside London’. Department head Jen Smurthwaite is noted for her β€˜hardworking attitude and thorough approach’; she recently led advice to a transport operator on a dilapidations claim arising out of two commercial property leases, and defended Places for People Group in proceedings issued following the partial replacement of a roof over a residential block of flats. She also acted for an individual in a dispute relating to the extent of a right of way and handled various disputes for Airwave Solutions including site termination issues, rent review disputes and lease renewal litigation. The team’s other clients include residential long leasehold portfolios, private and social landlords, tenants, developers and investors such as FirstPort, Network Rail, Commercial Estates Group and Bellway Homes. Smurthwaite is ably assisted by associate Elspeth Moncrieff, who is β€˜diligent, knowledgeable and a real pleasure to work with’; managing associate David Hambler, who is β€˜intelligent, conscientious and measured in his approach’ and β€˜is not afraid to argue complex legal points’; and β€˜enthusiastic and unstuffy’ managing associate Fiona Graham in Leeds.

Ward Hadaway has a β€˜solid, reliable and personable’ practice that β€˜sits at the top of the tree’ and β€˜provides an exceptional service’. The firm’s specialist team of β€˜true professionals’ is led by Sharon Mathieson, who splits her time between Newcastle and Leeds and has expertise spanning landlord and tenant litigation, dilapidation disputes and property-related professional negligence claims. Mathieson’s highlights included defending a developer in nuisance claims brought by the owner of land neighbouring the client’s residential development; advising a public-sector client on proceedings relating to the use of land previously designated as a village green; and handling multiple property disputes for a national insurer. Clients range from landowners and developers to charities and local authorities; Virgin Money, Canal & River Trust, Eurocamp and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust all feature on the client roster. Key associates include Jeremy Hardy, who β€˜thinks tactically and always see the bigger picture’ and focuses on agricultural land disputes; estate management specialist Victoria Lowrie; and Leeds-based Simon Thirtle, who has expertise in commercial property litigation.

Watson Burton LLP’s department β€˜is on par with any other firm in the region and has an exceptionally strong reputation for solution-oriented advice’, according to clients. Gavin Winter, who is noted for his β€˜strong client focus and ability to consider every commercial outcome’, leads the practice and is recognised for his dilapidation claim and contested lease renewal expertise. He recently advised a developer on disputes relating to complex rent review provisions, acted for a client in a contested business lease renewal application, and represented a client in disputes relating to lift failures and outdated fire safety equipment. Associate Jill Dalkin is also highly regarded and has notable expertise in disputes concerning breaches of lease covenants. She was part of the team that advised a client on a rent review dispute. Other areas of expertise for the group include possession claims, service charge disputes, option agreement enforcements and boundary disputes. The construction, engineering, education, energy and leisure sectors are key areas of focus; representative clients include Yorkshire Electricity Group, Camerons Brewery and Bellway.

Martin Soloman leads the practice at Hay & Kilner, which includes commercial litigators Rodney Jones and Lucy Gray, who is highly regarded for her agricultural law expertise. Key areas of strength for the group include breach of covenants, boundary disputes, forfeiture, dilapidation claims, rent arrears and business tenancy renewal litigation. Recent highlights include advising on a contractual dispute, assisting with a termination of occupancy and representing a client in litigation arising from option agreement terms.

Dubbed by clients as β€˜a competent and professional organisation’, Mincoffs Solicitors LLP is an β€˜all-round, excellent firm’ and fields β€˜understanding, knowledgeable and responsive’ associate Susan Roberts as practice head. Roberts is highly regarded for her expertise in landlord and tenant cases, and the team also has experience in contentious lease renewals, dilapidations and option agreement litigation. Other key practitioners include commercial litigator Stewart Irvine and solicitor Robyn Shepherd. The group acts for property investors, developers, licensed establishments, estate agents and national retailers such as Lugano Group, The Works Stores and Cairn Hotel Group. Recent highlights include advising a property leaseholder on issues relating to repairs and property maintenance, assisting a freeholder with breaches of covenant, and handling multiple dilapidation claims.

The β€˜impressive, insightful and highly commercial’ team at Muckle LLP is highly regarded for its residential leasehold management expertise. The β€˜responsive and enthusiastic’ Charlotte McMurchie leads the practice and has β€˜an easy-going and friendly manner’. She recently advised key client Grainger on a complex property recovery matter. Other highlights included assisting Bernicia Homes with injunctions relating to anti-social behaviour and defending North Tyneside Council in claims brought by a tenant alleging property disrepair. The group also has substantial expertise in lease renewals, landlord service changes and dilapidation issues. Other clients include Isos Housing, Two Castles Housing Association and North Star Housing Group. Solicitor Julie Adams is another key name.

Angus Ashman leads the team at Sintons LLP, which includes Graeme Ritzema, who focuses on commercial property disputes. The group’s expertise spans contested lease renewals, high-value dilapidations claims, landlord and tenant matters, professional negligence matters and possession claims. Clients range from private individuals to commercial entities such as Newcastle upon Tyne YMCA, Hadrian Estates, JGW Patterson Foundation and Sanderson Young. Other key figures include associate Scott Cable, whose recent highlights include business lease renewals, covenant interpretation and forfeiture issues.

The β€˜exceptional’ team at Swinburne Maddison is β€˜very professional at all times and is always cognisant of clients’ needs’. David Low leads the group and handles issues for registered providers and private clients; he recently led advice to East Durham Homes on a breach of an anti-social behaviour injunction and assisted a private individual with a contested lease renewal. Jonathan Moreland, who leads the firm’s dispute resolution department, is recommended for agricultural property litigation and matters relating to housing disrepair; he recently acted for a local authority in a housing disrepair claim. Solicitor Jennifer Pearson attracts praise for her β€˜speed of communication, business understanding and friendly demeanour’.

Social housing

Who Represents Who

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Bond Dickinson LLP’s β€˜excellent’ department is β€˜up there with the best for social housing work’ and β€˜stands out in the region for its knowledge of the field’. The team, which is β€˜highly commended by those who have experienced its exceptional service levels’, acts for traditional and large-scale voluntary transfer (LSVT) housing associations, local authorities, charities, for-profit registered providers and affordable housing providers; Places for People Homes, Home Group and Plymouth Community Homes all feature on the firm’s client roster. Recent work includes acting for Four Housing Group on various tenancy management matters, including reviewing tenancy agreements and bringing possession claims and injunctions with the ultimate aim of tackling anti-social behaviour; assisting Three Rivers District Council with the regeneration of South Oxhey; and advising Luton Borough Council on the formation of a company with a focus on building affordable homes for sale and rent. Residential property specialist Nigel Emmerson heads the department, which includes associates Ian Hellawell and David Hambler; Hambler is recommended for contentious issues.

At DWF, Lee Pickett focuses on development, regeneration and investment mandates; his recent highlights include advising Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) on the development agreement for a Β£92m housing scheme, and acting for Stockton Borough Council on a scheme to create an urban retirement village in Stockton. He also assisted Riverside Group with conditional development agreements for affordable housing units across the North. The practice acts for a host of registered providers and local authorities, including Together Housing Group, Derwentside Housing and Durham County Council. It is also on the HCA and the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) panels. Other areas of coverage include social housing finance, housing management and disputes. Senior associate Kelly Pearson focuses on affordable housing and regeneration matters, including development programmes and large-scale stock rationalisation.

Clients of Muckle LLP’s β€˜excellent’ team cite its β€˜exceptional service levels, commercial approach and pragmatism’ as key strengths. Russell Hall, who β€˜brings an unmatched insight to every problem’, leads the β€˜well-known and respected’ practice, which includes the β€˜bright, enthusiastic and helpful’ Charlotte McMurchie; large-scale social housing development expert Will McKay; and banking partner Louise Duffy. Clients include Four Housing Group and Home Group; McKay recently advised the latter on its national asset management and stock rationalisation project. The team also recently assisted Amethyst Homes with a multi-phase development in Consett and is handling new lease arrangement negotiations for YMCA North Tyneside.

Leeds-based John Murray leads Ward Hadaway’s β€˜highly impressive, responsive and client-focused’ team, which includes the β€˜strategically excellent’ Helen O’Neill and β€˜outstanding’ associate Julia Thomson in Newcastle. In a recent highlight, O’Neill advised Inclusion Housing on issues concerning more than 40 national housing schemes, including multiple developments and acquisitions. She also acted for the newly established County Durham Housing Group on its first property acquisitions, assisted Bernicia with its North-focused investment and development programme, and provided development and property advice to Thirteen. The firm also acts for a number of registered housing providers. Other key clients include Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association, Notting Hill Housing Trust and Muir Group Housing Association. Kamran Hyder is recommended for planning matters.

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