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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 > Property litigation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

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

Leading individuals

  1. 1

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.

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