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One of the best firms out there’, Bond Dickinson LLP is ‘a real pleasure to work with’ according to clients, who praise its ‘first-rate services’ and its ‘perfect combination of intelligence, tactical prowess and personality’. Practice head Simon Lewis, who is ‘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 ‘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 ‘unbelievably committed’ and ‘incredibly user-friendly’ group combines ‘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 ‘simply the best around’, and the ‘superbJames Harrisonhave a great partnership’ and jointly lead the department, which includes the ‘outstandingRoddy Gordon and ‘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 ‘incredibly knowledgeable and experienced’ Keith Bishop leads the ‘fantastic’ three-partner team at Muckle LLP, which ‘punches well above its weight’ and is noted for its ‘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 ‘responsive, knowledgeable and experienced’ department at Ward Hadaway is led by Tim Craig, who has ‘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 ‘great at seeing the big picture’ and at ‘grasping the fundamental issues at stake’, is acting for the latter on the construction of a £70m student accommodation block. Clients also single out associate Alan Ross, who ‘always provides sound and commercial advice’.

At Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, highly regarded litigator and practice head Mary Anne Roff is ‘strong tactically, legally and commercially’ and has a ‘down-to-earth approach and a pragmatism that makes her great with clients’. The team, which is cited as ‘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 ‘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 LLPquickly 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 ‘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.

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