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TIME CENTRAL, 32 GALLOWGATE, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, NE1 4BF, ENGLAND
Tel:
Work 0191 211 7777
Fax:
Fax 0191 211 7788
DX:
61011 NEWCASTLE U TYNE
Email:
Web:
www.muckle-llp.com

North: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and commercial: Newcastle
Corporate and commercial: Newcastle - ranked: tier 1

Muckle LLP

The sizeable team at Muckle LLP is ‘not easily phased by unusual challenges and provides good, timely advice’. The practice is regularly involved in the region’s most significant transactions and has particular expertise in corporate finance work. Anthony Evans and team head Andrew Davison acted for longstanding client Quantum Pharma on its £150m takeover by the Clinigen Group by way of a scheme of arrangement, while Philip Clare, who is noted for his ‘good technical skills and strong commitment’, assisted the Fairstone Group with a number of strategic acquisitions: in 2017, the team advised the client on its acquisitions of McParland & Partners, DHD Wealth Management, Hase Osborne Asset Management and Professional Partners. Clare also advised the shareholders of O’Brien Waste Recycling Solutions on the sale of their entire share capital to Biffa, and acted alongside Mike Spetch for LDC Private Equity - one of several private equity firm clients - on acquiring the share capital of the Parsons Group. The team subsequently acted for Parsons Group on the acquisition of the share capital of THDA. On the commercial side, the practice regularly handles commercial arrangements for the supply and distribution of goods. Alan Grisedale assisted EDMI Europe with its contractual supply and software licensing agreements with national utility providers. Hugh Welch and associate Adam Rayner are other names to note.

Leading individuals

Andrew Davison - Muckle LLP

Anthony Evans - Muckle LLP

Next generation lawyers

Adam Rayner - Muckle LLP

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North: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Newcastle
Commercial litigation: Newcastle - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP is noted for its expertise in warranty claims, and also benefits from George Festing’s expertise in contentious IT and IP. Team head Susan Howe continues to defend Celtic Aerospace Ventures (CAV) against a multimillion-pound warranty claim following the acquisition of its business, while Festing acted for Quantum Pharmaceutical and the Quantum Pharma Group in warranty and deceit claims against the sellers of the NuPharm Group, which the client acquired in July 2015. In an illustration of his IP credentials, Festing defended the songwriter Robert Barton against copyright infringement claims brought by Barry McKay, former manager of the folk rock band Lindisfarne. Senior associate Leah Heatley is singled out for her procurement expertise and represented the First Contact Clinical Community Interest Group in a public procurement dispute against South Tyneside Council based on the client’s exclusion from the evaluation stage of a public tender for substance misuse services.

Leading individuals

Susan Howe - Muckle LLP

Next generation lawyers

Leah Heatley - Muckle LLP

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Debt recovery
Debt recovery - ranked: tier 1

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP is noted for its ‘quick response times’and ‘good level of knowledge and advice’. Clients benefit from the team’s strong links with local enforcement officers and insolvency practitioners as well as its close co-operation with the firm’s robust dispute resolution, insolvency and property litigation departments. Team head and legal executive Beverley Oliver is experienced in debt recovery and enforcement procedures; she regularly acts for Wear Referrals on debt recovery matters relating to unpaid veterinary invoices. Anglia Telecoms and Tutti & Co are also clients.

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North: Finance

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 1

Muckle LLP

Noted for its ‘first-rate service’ and ‘fair pricing’, Muckle LLP ‘has a very good reputation in the North East business community’. The team, which is ‘easy to deal with and commercially sensible’, provides the full range of services to banks and other financial institutions, but also assists corporate clients with banking, finance and fundraising matters. Additional areas of expertise include ship finance, social housing finance and education and healthcare sector finance work. ‘Very experienced’ team head Louise Duffy, who is ‘always willing to help in a timely manner’, and senior associate Nicola Nutley advised Lloyds Banking Group on a £60m revolving credit facility and related security and priority arrangements for a growing housebuilder client. Other highlights included assisting Newcastle University with matters pertaining to its £100m property development loan provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which will be used for the redevelopment of student accommodation and the construction of the urban sciences building at the Newcastle Science Centre. The ‘approachable’ Kevin Maloney is noted for his ‘business acumen’ and ‘in-depth knowledge of banking law combined with a firm grasp of property and commercial law’. Stephen McNicol joined Ward Hadaway.

Leading individuals

Louise Duffy - Muckle LLP

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Insolvency and corporate recovery
Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Muckle LLP

Assisting clients with the sale and purchase of assets out of administration constitutes a key element of Muckle LLP’s practice, while other areas of expertise include acting on behalf of insolvency practitioners, advising businesses in distress and assisting secured lenders and other creditors with debt recovery matters. Following the insolvency of specialist plant hire group Hewden Stuart, associate Kelly Jordan advised John Nixon on structuring the proposed purchase of three sites alongside associated businesses and assets, previously operated by the insolvent company. In a separate matter, she acted for the liquidators of Hawkins Solutions in a section 110 reorganisation; the transaction involved the distribution of various assets to two newly incorporated entities. The team is now led by banking and finance expert Louise Duffy after former practice head Andrew Cawkwell moved to Newtons Solicitors Limited in October 2017.

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North: Human resources

Employment
Employment - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP provides an ‘excellent service’ alongside ‘clear and constructive advice which balances the legal position with the client’s commercial reality’. With a focus on acting for employers, the ‘very responsive and highly competent’ team receives a steady flow of instructions from owner-managed businesses, educational institutions, sporting clubs and organisations as well as charities and other third sector clients but also handles work for senior executives. Its contentious and non-contentious employment law expertise spans executive terminations, TUPE matters and employment tribunal representations. As a transactional highlight, the team advised South Tyneside College (STC) on a number of employment law matters pertaining to its merger with Tyne Metropolitan College (TMC) to create Tyne Coast College, including collective redundancy and transfer of undertakings matters, while, in different work, the practice assisted a North East-based domiciliary care business and a sports organisation with HMRC national minimum wage investigations. In litigation, the ‘superb’ Tony McPhillips, who is also noted as being ‘down-to-earth and approachable’ and having ‘strong commercial acumen’, acted for a trainee consultant in a claim for disability discrimination against the client’s lead employer NHS trust. Chris Maddock heads the team.

Leading individuals

Tony McPhillips - Muckle LLP

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North: Private client

Charities and not-for-profit
Charities and not-for-profit - ranked: tier 1

Muckle LLP

The ‘excellent’ team at Muckle LLP handles the full remit of charity sector work including corporate governance, fundraising, employment, property, regulatory and tax matters, and is particularly rated for its strength in the community sports sector. This specialist expertise is reflected in the team’s client roster, which includes various professional and amateur sports clubs alongside national sports governing bodies. Advising education sector clients on charity law and governance matters constitutes another key element of the practice, which is led by the ‘exceptional’ John Devine. He continues to advise parkrun Global and its subsidiaries on various matters, and, in 2017, he assisted the client with its corporate restructuring and registration with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Joanne Davison advised Auckland Castle Trust on various trading, governance and property issues in order to preserve the castle as a visitor attraction. Other clients include Alnwick Garden Trust, the Football Association and Children’s Heart Unit Fund.

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North: Projects, energy and natural resources

Energy
Energy - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

‘Providing a very good standard of service’, Muckle LLP acts for oil and gas, nuclear and renewable energy clients as well as businesses in the energy supply chain and frequently assists them with corporate matters and commercial contracts alongside construction, real estate and corporate finance issues. In recent work, the team assisted NG Bailey with an energy cost avoidance framework agreement, while the ‘very knowledgeable’ Alan Grisedale continues to assist EDMI Europe, a major smart metering solutions provider, with several contractual arrangements with national utility providers and meter asset finance organisations. Development expert Libbie Henderson joined the firm from Watson Burton LLP in December 2017 and specialises in energy, waste and minerals work including land-based wind, solar and nuclear energy projects. Property expert Will McKay is another key individual for renewable energy sector work, while construction and engineering team head Keith Bishop has notable expertise in energy sector litigation, arbitration and mediation. Andrew Davison heads the cross-departmental energy practice.

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North: Public sector

Education
Education - ranked: tier 1

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP has carved out a strong practice acting for higher and further education institutions in academy conversions, college mergers and the development of multi-academy trusts alongside HR, corporate and commercial matters. Anthony Evans continues to assist Newcastle University with the development of the Science Central project, which includes advice on the acquisition, design and construction of its £43.5m Urban Sciences Building alongside acquisition, development and infrastructure works agreements and pre-construction services agreements for two further projects at the site. Together with Joanne Davison and senior associate Jill Donabie, he also advised Newcastle College Group (NCG) on various matters arising from two mergers. The team also acted for the Diocese of Durham and Newcastle on the formation of a multi-academy trust, and for South Tyneside College (STC) on its proposed merger with Tyne Metropolitan College. Tony McPhillips heads the practice, which includes Alan Grisedale and Lucilla Waugh.

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North: Real estate

Commercial property: Newcastle
Commercial property: Newcastle - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP is a ‘truly modern law firm’ that ‘is respectful but not constrained by the conventions of a traditional commercial law firm which can needlessly delay progress’. The ‘exceptionally commercial’ team ‘is genuinely committed to helping businesses in the region’ and provides a ‘high-quality, friendly and efficient service’ as well as ‘practical solutions’. Key areas of expertise include real estate transactions, portfolio management, joint ventures and real estate finance, where it works in conjunction with the firm’s banking and finance team. Will McKay acted for McAleer & Rushe in a forward funding transaction concerning the sale of a major Newcastle city centre development, and the ‘highly professional, experienced and technically excellent’ Gail Bennett, (who is praised for her ‘straight-forward, no-nonsense approach’) advised the housing association Home Group on portfolio funding matters with Lloyds, HSBC and Bank of Tokyo. In another highlight, James Armstrong assisted Sunderland Music, Arts & Culture Trust with the acquisition of a site within Sunderland’s cultural quarter from Sunderland City Council. Jonathan Combe heads the team, which includes Libbie Henderson, who joined from Watson Burton LLP in December 2017.

Leading individuals

Jonathan Combe - Muckle LLP

Next generation lawyers

Gail Bennett - Muckle LLP

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Construction
Construction - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

Singled out for its ‘incredibly prompt response times’, the ‘very good’ team at Muckle LLP provides ‘pragmatic advice’ on contentious and non-contentious construction and engineering project work. The ‘very knowledgeable and responsive’ Lucilla Waugh has been assisting the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with various matters pertaining to its Newcastle Science Central development, including acquisition, development and infrastructure works agreements, pre-construction services agreements and the design and construction documentation for two further projects at the site. Keith Bishop heads the practice, which includes consultant Rob Langley, who specialises in contentious work, and ‘very helpful and responsive’ associate Adam Aston, who is rated as being ‘very concise and clear in all communication’. Senior associate Mark Smith joined DAC Beachcroft LLP in June 2017.

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Property litigation
Property litigation - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

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’.

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Social housing
Social housing - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP's ‘extremely well-prepared’ team stands out for its ‘excellent client care’ and ‘considered and practical advice’. Clients include registered providers and other organisations, for which the team handles a wide range of real estate and development matters, including governance and regulatory issues in addition to transactional advice and housing litigation. ‘Extremely approachable, attentive’ team head Russell Hall continues to advise the Gentoo Group on several transactions including a scheme at Broomhill in Houghton-le-Spring. Hall also acts alongside the ‘very approachable’ Charlotte McMurchie for Karbon Homes and Bernicia Homes on various contentious and non-contentious housing management issues, including anti-social behaviour injunctions and possessions, gas access actions and housing disrepair management. Other names to note are Will McKay, ‘good listener’ and senior associate Nicola Nutley, who is ‘always helpful in raising other relevant issues that might also benefit the client’, and ‘practical and approachable’ associate Jennifer Pearson. The North Star Housing Group, Prince Bishop Homes and YMCA North Tyneside are also clients.

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North: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

IT and telecoms
IT and telecoms - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

Thanks to its ‘excellent technical knowledge’, the team at Muckle LLP is able to provide clients with ‘very good advice’ on various contractual and compliance matters and also handles contentious work with George Festing in the lead. As non-contentious highlights, Alan Grisedale provided the smart metering solutions provider EDMI Europe with advice on contractual supply and software licensing agreements with national utility providers, meter asset finance organisations and national infrastructure bodies, while team head Alex Craig advised Stellium Datacenters on various contractual arrangements including key company governance documentation and its co-location arrangements with third parties. Associate Jill Dovey, who is ‘very strong on IT and data protection’, assisted the Fairstone Group with information security requirements, contractual negotiations for IT procurement and service level agreements.

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Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

Rated for its ‘excellent level of service’, Muckle LLP handles various contentious and non-contentious trade mark and copyright mandates and has particular expertise in the music, entertainment, sports and charity sectors. George Festing is a ‘pleasure to work with’ and provides ‘sensible and pragmatic advice’, ‘going beyond the call of duty for his clients’; he continues to act for Andy Taylor in copyright matters pertaining to the ongoing litigation between the members of Duran Duran and Gloucester Place Music, and continues to handle a number of trade mark issues for IMMAT, including trade mark opposition proceedings concerning the registration of the trade mark Attractiontickets.com, which was opposed by ATD Travel Services. The ‘tough and clear’ Alex Craig heads the team and is the key contact for non-contentious instructions.

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Media and entertainment
Media and entertainment - ranked: tier 2

Muckle LLP

With particular expertise in the music and sports sectors, the ‘very good’ team at Muckle LLP includes ‘smart, pragmatic and personable’ music entertainment specialist George Festing, sports experts John Devine and Tony McPhillips as well as Alex Craig, who specialises in non-contentious IP matters and routinely assists clients with publishing agreements, format licences and option agreements. Festing continues to act for Andy Taylor in ongoing litigation between the members of Duran Duran and Gloucester Place Music, and acted for the songwriter Robert Barton in a songwriting credit dispute. McPhillips is experienced advising professional football clubs and players on national media coverage issues.

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Sport
Sport - ranked: tier 1

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP is a respected player in the sports arena and acts for national governing bodies, professional and amateur clubs, managers, agents and professional players in various sports including football, rugby and cricket. John Devine leads the team, which is well versed in advising clients on club structures, tax matters and facilities projects alongside regulatory and contractual issues. Recently, he advised the Football Association on its Parklife project and, together with colleagues from the corporate department, assisted Durham County Cricket Club with its corporate restructuring, refinancing and related recovery issues. He also continues to advise England Athletics on governance issues and various commercial contracts, and assisted parkrun Global with a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters including data protection issues, various commercial agreements with sponsors and other contractual issues with former sponsors and overseas franchise holders. The Premier League Charitable Fund and the Rugby Players’ Association are also clients. Employment specialist Tony McPhillips assisted members of the latter with various contractual disputes with their clubs. Associate Jess Swindells left the firm for an in-house role in November 2017.

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