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Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the North in North

Baines Wilson LLP

The full-service corporate offering of Baines Wilson LLP encompasses management buy-in and buy-out transactions, joint venture and shareholder agreements, private equity transactions and corporate governance issues. The firm is a particularly suitable destination for clients seeking assistance with corporate acquisitions and disposals. The practice is led out of Carlisle by Andrew Hill who ‘is able to grasp the issue and give his advice simply and succinctly’. Jennifer Bell specialises in work in the logistics and transport sectors, though the team has wider-ranging expertise including healthcare, retail, IT and leisure. Clients recommend Kate Parker for her GDPR advice.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Hill

Other key lawyers:

Kate Parker; Jennifer Bell


‘The team is small but very nimble. By dealing directly with partners we get to the right answer quickly and get first-class service each time.’

‘Kate Parker took time to understand our organization and how we work. Has a good sense of what is priority and what is not. Grasps the key issues well and gives good briefings. Very motivated and great at keeping you up to date.’

‘I have used the services of Baines Wilson’s corporate and commercial department for more than 20 years. The department clearly has a client-centric culture. The advice that I have received over many years and on a variety of contractual matters has never been challenged by other law firms and the quality of the department’s service and advice adds up to extremely good value for money.’

‘The main individual whose advice I seek is Andrew Hill. Due to the number of years that I have sought Andrew’s advice, he has an in-depth knowledge of both the firm and its contracts. That makes matters seamless. Andrew breaks down his advice such that it is easily understood and does not leave me confused. He is able to grasp the issue and give his advice simply and succinctly. He recently assisted me in a very complicated area of the law and guided me expertly through a maze of complex regulations. I know that when I require advice and guidance on a contractual matter, I can rely on Andrew.’

‘Kate Parker has guided me expertly through the complex regulations of the GDPR.’

Key clients


Lloyd Motor Group

Cumberland Building Society


Penrith Farmers’ & Kidd’s plc

James Brearley & Sons Limited

Hollyblue Healthcare Finance Limited

Ecorenew Group

A W Jenkinson


Burnetts specialises in corporate and M&A transactions in the travel, pharmaceutical, property development sectors. Vaughan Jones (‘looks at proposals from the client's perspective’) leads the practice and splits time between Newcastle and Carlisle. ‘Extremely knowledgeableMichael Walby is also a standout corporate specialist in Carlisle, where he maintains strong work relationships with accountants. Further, the group has been undergoing recent changes: in the summer of 2020, Penrith-based Caroline Redhead departed to pursue a career in the education sector, while senior associate Melissa McManus left to accept a local government position. Building upon the firm’s established strength in the healthcare industry, senior associate Caroline Swift joined from Hempsons in the spring of 2020.

Practice head(s):

Vaughan Jones

Other key lawyers:

Becky Brook; Caroline Swift


‘Michael Walby is very responsive, he will always come back to you. he will provide you with pragmatic advice and suggestions that help get a deal done that both sides are happy with.’

‘Everyone in the team is approachable; they come back in good timescales and have solutions to problems; they keep you informed with progress on cases. Overall excellent.’

‘Michael Walby genuinely wants to help clients. He has a very calm manner about him and is extremely knowledgeable.’

‘Strengths – Personal service, considered approach, expertise, depth of knowledge over a broad range of topics, efficient.’

‘Vaughan Jones is very knowledgeable; he looks at proposals from the client’s perspective. Considers the “what-ifs” and accounts for these in his proposals. Very responsive to requests and easy to talk to.’

Key clients


Cubby Construction Limited

Armstrong Watson LLP

Harrison Leisure Group Limited

ECM (Vehicle Delivery Service) Limited

Amsric Foods Limited

English Lakes Ice Cream Limited

Border Group Limited

Innovia Films Limited

J Dixon & Son Limited

H & H Group Plc

Warrendale Wagyu Limited

Cumbria Waste Limited

First Bridge Group Limited

PaR Systems Limited

Cumbria Community Foundation

Oakhill Veterinary Group

Mitchell Dryers (Kingmoor) Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted Otaq Plc with its admission to the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.
  • Advising Border Group Limited on the acquisition of Border Barriers.
  • Advised Oakhill Veterinary Group on the sale of Oakhill Veterinary Group to VetPartners.

Endeavour Partnership LLP

The ‘results-oriented and focused’ team at Endeavour Partnership LLP specialises in small and mid-market M&A transactions, which are among the key areas of expertise of Stockton-based practice head Nik Tunley. Nigel Williams is adept at handling corporate reorganisations, including shareholder arrangements for family-owned businesses. The client’s portfolio includes small and medium-sized enterprises as well as larger multinational entities, with a recent increase of instructions from clients in the technology and e-commerce sectors, for which Martin McKinnell is a key contact. The practice is also gaining ground in the private equity transactions space; it bolstered its capabilities with the appointment of consultant Peter Clark from a consultancy firm in the early spring of 2020.

Practice head(s):

Nik Tunley

Other key lawyers:

Nigel Williams; Martin McKinnell; Peter Clark; Sean Jackson; James Butler; Jessica Lenham


‘The size of the team and strength in depth is what sets this practice apart from others.’

‘I find the skill mix within the team to be exceptional and all of the partners are approachable and practical and knowledgeable. They are all locally based as well.’

‘A strong team with strength in depth. Results-oriented and focused. Have the ability to take complex matters and lead and simplify such issues for the benefit of the client. ’

‘Nigel Williams is knowledgeable, commercial and has the experience to make clients feel they are in the best hands. A well-respected statesman who manages clients expectations and delivers commercial solutions to get the deal done. A true partner to the client and a first-rate M&A lawyer.’

‘Endeavour has a large and experienced corporate and banking team with many partners available to assist.’

‘Nigel Williams and Nik Tunley are experienced, approachable and very capable professionals that you would commonly expect to see at City firms.’

Key clients

Racz Group Limited

Visualsoft Limited

Adavo Limited

AV Dawson Limited

Leader Online Holdings Limited

ABCA Systems Group Limited

Topp Holdings GmbH/RTS Wind AG

The Clinkard Group Limited

Tees Valley Combined Authority

South Tees Development Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised the shareholders of Visualsoft Holdings on their sale and reinvestment into a private equity-backed management team.
  • Advised the shareholders of Key Sports on the sale of the company to Wasserman Media Inc.
  • Advised the Tees Valley Combined Authority on its provision of infrastructure funding required to unlock a proposed £200m development at Teesside International Airport.

Swinburne Maddison LLP

At Durham-based Swinburne Maddison, the ‘incredibly knowledgeable’ corporate and commercial department led by Martyn Tennant is consistently engaged on large corporate finance mandates at regional and national level. The team also has a solid track-record assisting clients with general corporate governance and restructuring issues, as well as with commercial agreements and other matters concerning the sale of both goods and services. It also has a strength in venture capital work as a result of the expertise of Alex Wilby. The team’s varied sector-specific expertise includes transport, retail, manufacturing, healthcare and technology, among others. Associate Mike Ward has expertise in e-commerce.

Practice head(s):

Martyn Tennant

Other key lawyers:

Alex Wilby; Mike Ward


‘The team is incredibly knowledgeable and give a great service. But this isn’t the reason that I believe they are such a unique practice. It’s the mix of the team’s experience, everyone is highly capable, but most importantly it’s the manner in which they deliver their work. Everyone from trainee to partner is easily reachable, good natured and really nice to work with. No query is too small for anyone and there are no ideas of grandeur within the team as both Martyn Tennant and Alex Wilby are always available and happy to discuss even the smallest point on the smallest transactions. Other firms have capable individuals but it’s the mix of experiences of knowledge that mean Swinburne Maddison are so good to work alongside.’

‘Martyn Tennant is very approachable and very knowledgeable. I think what makes Martyn stand out is the fact that nothing is below him to deal with. Every client gets the same level of attention and contact that enables him to build a relationship and ensure the delivery of the transaction is correct. He is very hands-on which calms clients. I would highly recommend Martyn and have historically.’

‘The partnership has evolved in recent years to be regarded as one of the premier firms in our area. We find the partners and their staff to be approachable, knowledgeable and skilful on a wide variety of specialisms. The corporate team is particularly strong – with a great team of partners and staff – providing a quality service to a range of industries. They have also invested in the infrastructure and IT in recent years to improve their offering. Overall – nice people to deal with and a professional service – good to have in the area.’

‘The partners (and their support staff) are straight-talking knowledgeable professionals who take a keen interest in the projects they are involved with. They are responsive to the clients’ needs and communicate well via verbal and email correspondence. They are clear in the advice they offer and clients appreciate this assistance.’

‘Very efficient at delivering projects. Very friendly and knowledgeable. Always available and easy to discuss any issues. Down to earth but professional and get the work done under pressure.’

‘Swinburne Maddison is the predominant legal firm in Durham City. It works with some very large clients and is able to meet deadlines and lead corporate finance transactions with dedicated teams led by Martyn Tennant.’

‘Martyn Tennant went to great lengths to ensure our company sale went smoothly and made himself available at all times. He was in constant contact with the opposite numbers and ensured any potential problems were met and resolved in a timely manner.’

‘Alex Wilby is very knowledgeable; he brings a calm, balanced voice of reason.’

Key clients

Durham Cathedral

The Esh Group

Atom Bank plc

Hargreaves Services plc

Sirius Engineering Limited

Beyond Housing Limited

Handelsbanken plc

Hadrian Technology Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the shareholders of Silent Games Limited on the company’s sale to a multinational Swedish acquirer, Amplifier.
  • Acting for a client on a matter concerning the assignment of IP rights relating to the development of complex and high value software.
  • Assisted a client with the acquisition of a politically sensitive and regionally important area of industrial real estate, along with the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of a limited company.


BHP Law is best known for its work on sale and acquisition transactions, management buyouts and buy-ins, various share schemes and general corporate governance issues. The team has recent stand-out instructions in the retail, engineering and energy sectors. The practice is based in Darlington and is led by Dermot Winters.

Practice head(s):

Dermot Winters

Other key lawyers:

Gary Copeland


‘Dermot Winters is an exceptional partner that always goes above and beyond, nothing is too much trouble.’

‘BHP Law has a history in Darlington going back almost 200 years and is a very respected local law firm. It has modern premises in a very convenient location on the outskirts of the town with easy access. The practice has a wide variety of specialist lawyers who regularly consult with each other on issues where another partner has more experience and knowledge. As a client I find this to be of great benefit in that, whilst consulting with one partner, I have the availability of specialist skills of the others… in other words great synergy flows. Another great asset is their attitude towards communication – I am always kept fully informed as to progress on any particular issue, sometimes formally, but more often on an almost casual basis. As a client I find this to be most reassuring, and feel that I always know exactly what is going on in any particular matter.’

‘My personal lawyer is Dermot Winters. I regard our association as being both friendly but also very professional. He always makes time available for consultations, sometimes at a very short notice and for giving advice or updates or answering queries. It is invaluable to know that help and advice is there whenever I may need it. The relationship between lawyer and client which they have developed is absolutely of great importance and one which I am very appreciative of.’

‘The whole team are very professional but friendly.’

‘Dermot Winters is very professional, friendly and extremely good at anything.’

Key clients

TJR Properties Limited

Sherwoods Motor Group Limited

Ward Bros Steel (UK) Limited

CG Fixings Limited

Glass Assist Limited

Castle Kindergarten Limited

Nano Purification Solutions Limited

Cenergist Limited

Connor Group Limited

Tilly Bailey & Irvine

Tilly Bailey & Irvine has carved out a reputation for its work on asset- and share-based acquisitions and disposals, restructuring work and commercial contracts. The team also regularly collaborates with the firm’s insolvency, property and private client groups. Wynyard-based Craig Malarkey sits at the helm of the practice, where he is ably assisted by associate Michael Stevens.

Practice head(s):

Craig Malarkey

Other key lawyers:

Michael Stevens

Key clients

Hart Biologicals Limited

Eden Academy Trust

Bondgate IT Services Limited

Phavour Ltd

Wisemove Land and Property Consultants Limited

Ad Astra Academy Trust

Aurora Care Group

Carntyne Care Home Limited

Focus Cladding Limited

Exploration & Testing Associates Limited

Vapourlites Limited

Hyperdrug Pharmaceuticals Limited

Spacecover Limited

Carver Commercial Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised the sellers of Langely Care Home on the disposal of its entire issued share capital.