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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

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Who Represents Who

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Ward Hadaway is ‘one of the best property litigation teams in the North East’. It is rated as being ‘professional and friendly’, providing ‘accurate and realistic advice’ and ‘effectively fighting its clients’ interests’. Acting for commercial and public sector clients, team head Sharon Mathieson, who divides her time between Newcastle and Leeds, represented a local authority in court proceedings that sought to limit the use of land previously designated as a village green, and acted for the tenant in a dispute with the landlord over a lease renewal for a large industrial site. In other significant work, she represented a landowner in a dispute with an adjoining landowner pertaining to ownership issues for a significant area of land along the edge of a waterway. Clients also single out associate Jeremy Hardy, who has a ‘reassuring presence’ and ‘a good commercial sense’. He is also‘astute at finding solutions to difficult legal positions’ and ‘consistently obtains good results’, while associate Victoria Lowrie is noted as being ‘tenacious and knowledgeable’. Associate Simon Thirtle is another key individual of the team.

Considered by clients as ‘one of the strongest regional firms with the reach and expertise of a national firm’, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP covers the gamut of contentious property work with ‘great accuracy’, including commercial, residential and agricultural property disputes, and frequently acts for landlords, tenants, developers and investors. Noted for her expertise in handling commercial property disputes, team head Jen Smurthwaite, who divides her time between Newcastle and Leeds, acted for a large transport operator in its pursuit of a dilapidation claim arising from two commercial leases. Managing associate David Hambler advised Standard Life Trustee Company on various property disputes across its self-invested personal pension plan (SIPP) portfolio. This included recovering unpaid rent and handling forfeiture matters and a dispute with freeholders concerning consents for alterations by a sub-tenant. He also acted for a developer in a dispute with the adjoining landowner. Other clients include Airwave Solutions, the Bernicia Group and Akelius.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s ‘very prompt, proactive and knowledgeable’ team provides ‘good advice’ and acts for commercial and individual clients such as property investors, developers, national retailers, licensed establishments and estate agents. Recently, the team handled various disputes between neighbours, residential possession claims, breach of lease covenants and dilapidation matters, among others. ‘Outstanding’ associate Susan Roberts, who ‘always has a plan of action and is keen not to waste funds’, heads the team, which includes associate Robyn Shepherd and dispute resolution team head Stewart Irvine. Clients include the Lugano Group and the Cairn Group.

Noted for its ‘very good commercial awareness’, the ‘strong team’ at Muckle LLP also receives praise for its ‘excellent level of service’ and ‘sound advice’, which is designed to ‘guide clients through very complex and challenging cases’. Acting for commercial and residential landlords and tenants, the practice covers dilapidation, property insolvency and possession claims alongside break notices, lease renewals and rent reviews, among other matters. Charlotte McMurchie heads the team and is ‘particularly impressive in landlord and tenant disputes’, while her ‘sound commercial focus’ ‘enables her to cope with challenging situations’ and translates into ‘sensible and practical advice’. She acted for Bernicia Housing in an application for an anti-social behaviour injunction against a tenant, and advised the housing association Gentoo Group on housing disrepair allegations brought by a tenant. ‘Professional’ associate Jennifer Pearson is particularly experienced in residential freehold and leasehold disputes as well as social housing issues, and is rated by clients as ‘providing timely advice’.

Sintons LLP is ‘very efficient’ in providing ‘extremely quick and effective responses’. The practice is ‘friendly and easy to work with’ and handles a wide range of commercial and residential property matters with a specialism in charities and trusts. Regular instructions include contested lease renewals, dilapidation and possession claims alongside the interpretation of covenants and various landlord and tenant matters. Team head Angus Ashman acted for a client in seeking an injunction against the owner of a neighbouring property, who was preventing the client’s use of an express easement, and pursued a dilapidation claim for a different client against the occupier of commercial premises. Graeme Ritzema and associate Aimee Hubbard are recommended. Clients include YMCA Newcastle upon Tyne, the JGW Patterson Foundation, the regional travel agent Dawson & Sanderson and Hadrian Estates, a provider of residential leased accommodation.

Swinburne Maddison demonstrates ‘great breadth and depth’ in the real estate sector, working closely with the firm’s commercial property department. The team has a focus on acting for registered providers but also counts various private individuals, commercial entities and local authorities within its client base. ‘Vigorous and consistently professional’ team head David Low continues to act for a local authority in defence against various claims of housing disrepair, and, in a different matter, he assisted a tenant and business owner with contentious lease renewal matters arising from repairing obligations under the terms of the original lease. He also acted on land registry matters and possession claims following the client’s application to the Land Registry to rectify the title of a significant parcel of farmland, and assisted a different client with an application for possession as a result of breach of tenancy and anti-social behaviour. Jonathan Moreland is another name to note.

The ‘professional and very approachable’ team at Watson Burton LLP is ‘swift at dealing with enquiries’ and ‘particularly good at handling dilapidation matters’. Clients also appreciate its ‘sensible and commercial advice’ as well as its ‘ability to assimilate and process large quantities of information leading to focused overviews’. Commercial litigator Christopher Graham now heads the team following Gavin Winter’s move to Gateley Plc in October 2017. Graham acted for a client in a rent review dispute, and, in a different matter, he acted for an assignee of a lease to a substation in a dispute over land access. Commercial litigator Anthony Rance advised a client on a high-value terminal dilapidation claim. Other recommended individuals include ‘very friendly, approachable and professional’ solicitor Mark Egner, whose ‘thoughtful approach gives clients confidence’, and ‘extremely approachable, tenacious and determined’ associate Jill Dalkin, whose ‘particular strength is her professionalism and her ability to manage large volumes of data and documents and retain a focus on the key legal points’.

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