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Commercial litigation: elsewhere in the North

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Baines Wilson LLP has a wide-ranging commercial litigation practice headed by Elizabeth Black, who is experienced in handling breach of contract claims, claims arising from commercial supply and distribution agreements, warranty claims as well as partnership and shareholder disputes. Associate Caroline Rayner is best known for dealing with employment-related work. Recently, the team represented a shareholder in a claim for unpaid dividends, and acted for a landlord of a commercial property in a dispute over terminal dilapidations and break notice provisions. In March 2018, Katherine Sibley moved to Napthens LLP and barrister Nigel Gowling joined Wayman & Long.

Burnetts is a ‘good-quality regional firm’ that fields a team of ‘excellent lawyers’ who provide ‘a very strong service’ and ‘excellent commercial advice’. Senior associate and team head James Johnston is singled out for his ‘great legal knowledge’ and is praised as being ‘good at seeing ways through a client’s problem and achieving a good outcome’. Recently, he represented a West Cumbrian businessman in a shareholder dispute, and advised a Lake District school on its construction claim pertaining to a defective roof. Consultant Sally Johnson advised a property developer on a multimillion-pound claim for arrears brought by a private finance company, while senior legal executive Rob Winder acted for a public sector client in the recovery of over £30,000 from a commercial client. Winder is also experienced in property litigation work.

The ‘strong’ team at Endeavour Partnership LLP stands out for its ‘commercial acumen’. The team has experienced particular growth in disputes in the construction sector where ‘sharp mind’ Alex Smith, who is also noted as being ‘hardworking and tactically astute’, regularly leads on construction and real estate-related disputes. He acted in a number of adjudications and enforcement proceedings arising from disputes over several developments. ‘Highly intelligent and business-focused’ commercial disputes and insolvency team head Lee Bramley is ‘well connected in the Teesside business community and gets to the nub of a case quickly’; he is best known for handling contentious insolvency work, including winding up petitions, as well as advising on claims against directors and assisting company directors faced with disqualification proceedings. The ‘experienced and well-respected’ Ged Flanagan is the key contact for contractual and tortious disputes; he was promoted to the partnership in August 2017 and also handles international arbitral proceedings, including those pertaining to Iran business matters, and mediation. Other instructions include family partnership and shareholder disputes.

Jacksons Law acts for for a wide range of clients, spanning individuals and SMEs to national organisations in the energy, IT, agriculture, manufacturing, property, finance and healthcare sectors. Commercial litigation and debt recovery team head Toby Joel acted for acted for the UK’s largest cable producer, in pursuing claims against a foreign cable manufacturer following the delivery of defect cables to several of the client’s customers, and represented Northern Powergrid in liability claims against Network Rail resulting from the damage occurred to some of its riverbed cables as part of an exploratory drilling exercise undertaken by the defendant. As well as its expertise in dealing with contractual disputes and damage claims, the team also handles partnership and boundary disputes, negligence claims and contentious landlord and tenant matters. In the property space, the team has been acting for two landowners in several ongoing disputes with a neighbouring landowner over the access to pheasant shooting grounds. Solicitor Angie Papprill is singled out for her ‘friendly and professional manner’ as well as for her ‘outstanding knowledge and quick response times’.

Archers Law LLP’s ‘high-quality and responsive’ team is led by the ‘very calm, professional and personable’ Kenton Bazeley, who provides ‘robust advice’ and joined the firm from Tilly Bailey & Irvine in 2018. He is best known for his property and insolvency litigation capabilities including landlord and tenant work. ‘Very knowledgeable and experienced litigator’ Angela Torrance ‘has the ability to anticipate the likelihood of problems occurring and provide solutions against them’. She handles a diverse mix of disputes for claimants and defendants including professional negligence claims (particularly against solicitors and accountants), shareholder and breach of contract disputes, as well as contentious probate matters. In other work, the team assists insolvency practitioners with various matters including wrongful trading, retention of crown monies and preference claims, and advises lenders on the recovery of debts. Solicitor Richard Flounders ‘is always willing to work hard for clients’.

With five offices in Cumbria and Northumberland, Cartmell Shepherd utilises its extensive regional reach to act for commercial, private and agricultural clients, including large companies and high-net-worth individuals. In conjunction with the agriculture and commercial property departments, the team frequently handles contentious property, trusts and probate work, while the practice is also well versed in dealing with negligence claims and contractual disputes alongside disputes between shareholders, directors and partners. ‘Bright, personable and experienced’ team head Mark Aspin acted for a director and shareholder in a dispute with other directors over a shareholders agreement, and, with a specialism in insolvency-related work, he also acted for a number of directors of an insolvent company, in defence against a breach of contract claim brought by a former client. ‘Extremely experienced’ managing director Peter Stafford is another key individual of the team.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine acts for public and private sector clients in a wide range of commercial disputes such as breach of contract and tax matters, injunctions and judicial reviews as well as professional negligence claims. Clients praise the ‘strong’ team for its ‘excellent service level’ and ‘very good response times’. Recent instructions include pursuing claims for damages arising from the wrongful termination of a contract, assisting a client with the application for a judicial review of a VAT exemption, defending a client against the claim of breach of competition law, and defending another client against claims of the unlawful and illegitimate use of confidential information. ‘Shrewd and practical commercial litigator’ Alison Leith heads the team ‘with a disarmingly relaxed style’. Kenton Bazeley moved to Archers Law LLP  in 2018.


Commercial litigation: Newcastle

Index of tables

  1. Commercial litigation: Newcastle
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial litigation: Newcastle clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Covering a broad range of commercial litigation, Ward Hadaway’s ‘very professional, knowledgeable and honest’ team ‘is one of the big players in the Newcastle and North East commercial disputes market’ and stands out for its ‘good communication skills, well-prepared advice and careful analysis’. Acting for a number of NHS trusts, Martin Woodford represented Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust in a dispute with the Bank of Scotland pertaining to a termination notice for a multimillion-pound PFI agreement, while, in other work, team head Peter Hornsey represented Ebac in a manufacturing dispute with STMicroelectronics pertaining to faulty dehumidifiers manufactured by the defendant. In another key mandate, Robert Glassford defended the family-owned energy and property development business, the Banks Group, against a claim concerning a joint venture company and the acquisition of land for residential development in Durham, while the ‘very approachable’ Russell Ward, who divides his time between Newcastle and Leeds, defended the Newcastle College Group (NCG) against defamation and professional negligence claims brought by a former employee. The ‘very responsive’ Tim Toomey has particular expertise in insurance and IT disputes and professional negligence matters. Consultant Ian Collinson and associate Joe Kelley are also recommended.

Commended for its wide-ranging expertise, Womble Bond Dickinson’s ‘highly experienced and knowledgeable team’ ‘stands out from the crowd’. It acts for various corporate and commercial clients in matters related to the transport, chemicals, pensions, procurement, financial services, retail and oil and gas sectors. Team head Paul Stewart attracts praise for his ‘forensic attention to detail’ and the ‘ability to explain complex legal issues in straightforward terms’; according to clients, he is ‘the man for a crisis’ and has ‘a tenacious litigation style that makes the stress of litigation more bearable’. Stewart continues to act for IBM in a pensions-related Court of Appeal case involving employer’s duty of good faith, while the ‘clever, hardworking and immensely practical’ Richard Collins - who heads the procurement and public sector disputes group and ‘is exactly the partner you would want to have on your side in a tough case’ - advised West Berkshire District Council on its successful defence of a judicial review and procurement challenge brought by Faraday Development, an unsuccessful bidder for a redevelopment opportunity valued at £125m. ‘Very organised’ managing associate Joanna Bromhead heads the pensions litigation team.

Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd stands out for its expertise in banking and finance litigation as well as arbitration, which is reflected in a strong financial sector client base including ING Bank, Union Bancaire Privée UBP and Credit Suisse. Jane Gibson, who jointly heads the team with Toby Gibson, defended Credit Suisse against a claim over introduction fees, and is acting for the same client in the recovery of monies from a former employee. She also represented Superdrug in a number of contractual disputes with suppliers, while Gibson acted for Union Bancaire Privée UBP in a claim brought by a customer for the reimbursement of fees, which involved a number of fraud allegations. In other work, Michael Reed acted for Scott Tynan, a retired professional goalkeeper and now designer, in an IP dispute pertaining to the design of new goalkeeping gloves. Other areas of expertise include handling insolvency-related disputes and contentious matters involving mineral rights and succession planning issues.

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.

Claire Collinson Legal has a specialism in financial services, insurance and professional negligence disputes and frequently acts for claimants including large corporations, SMEs and individuals. The team is headed by‘realistic and steely negotiator’ Claire Collinson, who attracts praise for her‘astonishing level of attention for detail’ and ‘extremely well-informed, pragmatic and sensible advice’. She acted for the owner of a SME business in a dispute with a large bank over a property participation agreement and fee arrangements, and acted for a client in mis-selling claims pursued by a claims management company on behalf of hundreds of individual consumers who received poor pension-related advice. Also in the finance space, Collinson acted for a client in pursuing a complaint relating to a fixed-rate loan granted by a large bank, while, in insurance-related litigation, she represented a client in a dispute concerning an income protection policy provided by an insurance company.

The team at Clyde & Co LLP stands out for its ‘thoroughness and international outlook’ and is led by ‘outstanding litigator’ Anthony Brown, who is ‘extremely diligent and professional’ and ‘a pleasure to deal with’; he also scores highly with clients for ‘letting nothing go and spotting every slip along the way’. Recently, he acted for a client in defence against negligence claims, handled contractual disputes for a client in the tourism industry, and defended a claim arising out of failed litigation. Insurance disputes constitute another key area of his expertise. Clients include insurers, companies and individuals.

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.

The ‘professional and commercially aware’ team at Hay & Kilner has been increasingly active in handling manufacturing claims, particularly in the automotive industry. Recently, team head and consultant Martin Soloman acted for a client in a commercial dispute with a car manufacturer. Other areas of expertise include contract litigation and shareholder disputes with a focus on the technology, financial services, agriculture and rail industries. The recommended Rodney Jones acted for a director and shareholder in a dispute pertaining to a life policy, and Lucy Gray, who also handles contentious IP, property and trust work, represented an energy sector client in a contractual dispute, and, in a similar matter, Soloman acted for a client in a dispute over the terms in an energy contract. Other key individuals include Neil Harrold, who is best known for his experience in insolvency and restructuring-related work, and main contact for professional indemnity claims and insurance disputes Ros Sparrow.

The ‘very good team’ at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP >provides ‘excellent advice and great value for money’ and has been handling an increasing number of disputes with an international angle. Recent work includes defending a client against a breach of contract claim, acting in a dispute over the interpretation of a trust deed, and defending a client against claims for damages following the termination of a distribution agreement. ‘Level-headed, professional and pragmatic’ team head Stewart Irvine represented a company in a number of contractual disputes and is well versed in dealing with partnership and shareholder disputes alongside contentious insolvency, IP and property-related matters. Associate solicitors Susan Roberts and Robyn Shepherd are key members of the team. Clients include Holystone Civil Engineering, Clifton Engineering and Springs Roofing.

The ‘very client-friendly’ team at Sintons LLP is ‘very responsive and offers competitive rates’. As well as its broad commercial litigation expertise, the team is particularly well versed in handling disputes in the healthcare and infrastructure sectors and routinely deals with disputes arising from estates, trusts and IP matters. In recent work, Graeme Ritzema defended a client against a claim for inducement to breach restrictive covenants, breach of confidentiality and conspiracy, and handled a claim arising from the mis-selling of financial products. Team head Angus Ashman acted for a client in pursuing breach of copyright claims, and, in a separate matter, defended a construction sector client against claims for damages arising from the use of low-quality material. Associate Lewis Couth is recommended; he joined the firm in December 2017 from Wilkin Chapman LLP.

Watson Burton LLP’s ‘very professional, experienced and knowledgeable’ team has particular expertise in the energy and education sectors with clients including ENGIE and the University of Leicester. The former instructed Anthony Rance, who is praised by clients for his ‘extensive procedural knowledge’ and as being ‘very pleasant to work with’, to act in a number of claims concerning unpaid debts arising from contractual arrangements. Other areas of expertise include handling contractual disputes in the construction and engineering sectors and contract claims relating to distressed implementation projects in the TMT sector. Team head Christopher Graham is ‘hugely experienced and completely unflappable’ and ‘has a sense of how litigation affects his clients’ commercial interests’, while Jacqueline Turner is recommended for employment-related litigation. Gavin Winter moved to Gateley Plc in October 2017.

TT Law’s client base includes a number of independent hotel groups, entrepreneurs and SMEs including the Cairn Hotel Group and ClickMechanic. Founder Neville Takiar is ‘excellent and extremely bright as well as very responsive and entrepreneurial in his approach’; he is known for his broad sector expertise covering retail, manufacturing, hospitality, engineering, technology and media, among others, and is well versed in dealing with breach of contract claims and shareholder disputes alongside insolvency and commercial property-related litigation. Recently, the ‘reliable, astute and very responsive’ team represented a client in a shareholder dispute, acted for a company in a dispute over payment, and sought the recovery of monies for another client. ‘Technically superb and brilliant tactician’ Kevin Turnbull is another key member of the team.


Debt recovery

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Debt recovery clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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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.

The team at Ward Hadaway is led by Steven Petrie, who is adept at defending individuals and companies and particularly experienced in advising insolvency practitioners and accountants on a wide range of corporate and personal insolvency matters. Paralegal Debbie Bird regularly receives instructions from a broad range of clients including electrical and construction suppliers, property management companies, surveyors, private schools, nurseries, car dealerships and letting agents.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP covers the gamut of debt recovery from asset investigation and reporting, tracing absconder debtors, drafting and issuing claims and enforcement as well as corporate insolvency matters. The team is led by Bristol-based Stephen Dilley and includes senior debt manager Sue Pattie and legal executive Helen Vaughan, who are both key figures in the Newcastle office. Vaughan is well versed in guiding clients through mediation and negotiation proceedings, summary judgment applications and enforcement procedures. Clients include Tyneside Foodservice, A-One+ Integrated Highway Services, the Insolvency Service and British Gas Trading.

The team at BHP Law is led by associate Graham Tyler and works in close conjunction with the firm’s commercial litigation practice, which makes it well equipped to deal with contract agreements, credit management and contentious debt recovery matters. Besides its litigation capabilities, the department is also well versed in providing preventative compliance advice and mediation assistance. Landlords and companies frequently instruct the team to assist with the recovery of debts from tenants and guarantors, while Tyler is also adept at acting for insolvency practitioners. Recently, he assisted an insolvency practitioner with pursuing liabilities from debtors and for outstanding sums under insurance policies. Niven Architects and construction company Cedar Building Company are also among the clients. Associate Leigh Ferguson is another key individual of the team.

Jacksons Law’s client base includes individuals, public limited companies and utilities which frequently call upon the team to act in various debt recovery matters including possession and mortgage arrears recovery claims. Solicitor Michael Sproates has notable experience in handling commercial property-related work and recently represented a client in recovering outstanding rent under a commercial lease, while legal executive Alison Binns assisted a client with the recovery of payment from an outstanding invoice. Darlington Building Society appointed the team led by litigator Toby Joel to handle all mortgage possession and arrears recovery work.

Working in conjunction with the firm’s dispute resolution and insolvency practices, Short Richardson & Forth acts for firms of solicitors, recruitment agencies, construction hire and supply companies alongside letting agencies, private landlords and SMEs and predominately handles claimant instructions. In recent work, team head Tim Berg represented a law firm in pursuing outstanding invoices; he also advises on insolvency law matters. Associate Alexandra Withers  is another key member of the team.

The ‘efficient and effective’ team at Sintons LLP is ‘good at keeping the client informed’ and is adept at providing assistance to limited companies, individuals and partnerships, with pre-action letters, statutory demands, bankruptcy and winding-up petitions as well as county court claims. Its debt recovery expertise spans handling high volume debts, rent arrears, unpaid invoices, one-off debts and the over-payment of wages. ‘Responsive’ team head Colin Churchward ‘provides straightforward and jargon-free advice’ and receives regular support from colleagues in the dispute resolution department including Angus Ashman and Graeme Ritzema.


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