The Legal 500

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North: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and commercial: Newcastle
Corporate and commercial: Newcastle - ranked: tier 3


DWF stands out for its expertise in corporate finance, including flotations and fundraising. Recent highlights include advising Cenkos Securities on a £6.5m placing for UK Oil & Gas Investments, and acting for the Cloudcall Group in a secondary AIM placing. In co-operation with colleagues from the firm’s other UK offices, the Newcastle team also handles joint ventures, M&A and private equity transactions. Team head Jeremy Swift is particularly rated for his private equity expertise and acts for a number of clients in the financial services industry alongside energy and TMT sector players.  Anne Spetch left in June 2017 for an in-house position.

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North: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Newcastle
Commercial litigation: Newcastle - ranked: tier 3


DWF handles a wide range of commercial and contractual disputes, including shareholder and partnership disputes, for various national and international corporates. It is best known for IP, technology and media litigation, thanks to team head Ed Meikle’s expertise in this field and ‘impressive’ senior associate David Summerhayes’ niche in privacy and defamation matters. Summerhayes defended Northern Gas & Power against a number of claims brought by Utilitywise including an alleged breach of the restrictive covenants of the claimant’s former employees, a breach of undertakings provided in earlier proceedings and defamation arising from statements posted on Facebook. Other highlights included damages claims pertaining to the purchase and installation of boilers for North Eastern YWCA Trust.

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North: Human resources

Employment - ranked: tier 4


DWF provides ‘solid, timely and relevant advice’ and demonstrates ‘good commercial acumen and awareness’. The practice is led by senior associate Stephen Cairns, who is ‘good at listening to the problem in hand and converting it to a sensible legal solution’, and noted for his ‘professional work ethic and sense of empathy’. He acts for public and private sector employers in employment tribunal proceedings, and in the non-contentious sphere, he advises clients on restructuring-related issues such as redundancies, cross-border TUPE transfers and HR processes.

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North: Private client

Personal tax, trusts and probate
Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 3


Clients benefit from DWF’s close co-operation with its corporate and tax departments which enables the ‘very responsive and knowledgeable’ team to advise business owners, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth families on various tax and succession planning vehicles including those with international elements. Other areas of expertise include the preparation of wills, lasting powers of attorney and estate and trust administration mandates as well as probate matters involving business and agricultural assets. Team head Jon Gould ‘provides an excellent service’ and is particularly noted for his ‘first-class manner with clients’ and for ‘taking particular care to understand his clients’ needs in a very empathetic way’. He advised two high-net-worth families on tax-efficient wills, lifetime trusts and lasting power of attorney matters alongside the possible set-up of a family investment company, and handled the administration of an estate involving complex property ownership, pension and insurance matters.

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North: Real estate

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


DWF regularly handles investment and property portfolio management matters, regeneration and development projects as well as landlord and tenant issues. Team head Adam Heather acted for Newcastle-based property group Hanro on the purchase of a number of investment properties in and around the North East, and advised Arch Commercial Enterprise on the redevelopment of Ashington town centre including a new leisure centre, supermarket, petrol filling station and bus station. In other development work, senior associate Mark Tait assisted Northumberland Estates with the development of a new motor retail facility at Vroom Car Retail, North Tyneside, which included various lease matters. Other key individuals include national housing specialist Lee Pickett and housing litigation expert Jonathan Smith.

Leading individuals

Adam Heather - DWF

Next generation lawyers

Lee Pickett - DWF

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Social housing
Social housing - ranked: tier 2


DWF covers a broad range of social housing work: on the non-contentious side, team head Lee Pickett specialises in development, regeneration and investment matters, and senior associate Kelly Pearson is routinely called upon to advise on social housing finance issues, while Jonathan Smith, who made partner in November 2017, is the main contact for housing litigation; he is adept at handling rent review and dilapidation disputes as well as disputes relating to development land. Pickett advised Bernicia Homes on the acquisition of a development site for the proposed construction of 11 dwellings, and regularly assists the Riverside Group with development agreements including procurement issues and development risk assessments. South Tyneside Homes Ventures instructed the team to advise on its property development programme which included, among other matters, a golden brick structured development agreement with Bellway Homes and grant funding advice. In litigation, Smith defended the Manningham Housing Association against a claim for breach of public law obligations following an application for possession of a property, and assisted Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust with obtaining an emergency anti-social behaviour injunction against one of its tenants.

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North: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 1


Praised for its ‘unparalleled industry knowledge’, the team at DWF is ‘excellent in all factors’ and advises on the full spectrum of the development, commercialisation and protection of brands and technology. Longstanding clients include Newcastle United, for which the team handles various brand protection and brand management issues including anti-counterfeiting matters, trade mark and domain name disputes, copyright claims and IP licensing. Ed Meikle heads the team and is best known for his sector expertise in retail, sport, food and consumer products; he continues to assist Poundworld Retail with claims against third parties and routinely defends the client against threats of IP infringement, while also advising new client Village Hotels on a number of trade mark and copyright disputes as well as non-contentious copyright issues.

Leading individuals

Ed Meikle - DWF

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Further information on DWF

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Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
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