Commercial litigation: elsewhere in the North in North

Baines Wilson LLP

Baines Wilson LLP utilises its ‘very good understanding of the law’ to represent local as well as national corporate names in an array of commercial disputes, including contractual, shareholder and partnership litigation. In addition, the group is recommended by clients for work on insurance coverage issues; with acumen in handling professional liability claims and directors’ and officers’ liability cases. Carlisle-based Elizabeth Black (‘brings a calm air and reassurance to litigation’) sits at the helm of the department, where associate Imogen Duck is also singled out.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Black

Other key lawyers:

Imogen Duck; Caroline Rayner


‘I have found everyone I have dealt with at Baines Wilson to be very committed to securing the best outcome for their clients and to be prepared to go the extra mile to do so.’

‘I have worked most recently with Elizabeth Black and Imogen Duck, both of whom are very effective.’

‘Liz Black is a very experienced litigator with an excellent client manner. Good communication in letters etc and brings a calm air and reassurance to litigation.’

‘City firm ability with partners who are visible in the handling of the case.’

‘Elizabeth Black is an excellent lawyer and tactician.’

‘We have had fantastic service from Baines Wilson for over 20 years now; they are very reliable and have a very good understanding of the law. Great team of people and a pleasure to work with. Our standout people  are: Elizabeth Black, Tom Scaife and Joanne Holborn who help us with employment and insurance litigation. All are experts in their fields.’

‘What we like about this team is they don’t see litigation as a chance to make lots of money for their firm. A measured and cautious approach with a view to obtain strong evidence. A good strategic thinking.’

‘Elizabeth Black – I would not want to play chess against Elizabeth. Clearly thinks through all the moves and counter-moves well in advance. Very pragmatic in her approach and consider cost to the client as part of the strategy.’


Based primarily in Carlisle, Burnetts houses ‘a highly successful dispute resolution team within the firm's broad-based offering’. The department’s recent workload demonstrates excellence in high-value professional negligence claims, shareholder disputes and disputes concerning the performance of contractual obligations and director duties. Practice head James Johnston keeps ‘an eye on sensible commercial outcomes’ and specialises in litigation in the agriculture sector, among other industries. Associate Georgina Nicholls has expertise in construction sector and insolvency disputes. Penrith-based senior associate Rob Winder is also a key contact.

Practice head(s):

James Johnston

Other key lawyers:

Georgina Nicholls; Rob Winder


‘Burnetts have a highly successful dispute resolution team within the firm’s broad-based offering.’

‘James Johnston is intelligent, great with clients, level-headed and effective as a commercial litigator.’

‘One of, if not the, leading commercial litigation team in Cumbria. James Johnston is calm, measured and very effective.’

‘Professional, knowledgeable and quick to respond to emails and queries.’

‘We have used Burnetts for one case as we required English law expertise. We were represented by James Johnston. We found James excellent and very knowledgeable; he explained the various options available to us in a clear manner.’

‘James Johnston is great with clients and is an excellent litigator. His approach is incisive and robust without engaging in pointless posturing. He handles matters quickly and with an eye on sensible commercial outcomes.’

‘I have worked mainly with James Johnston and Georgina Nicholls. They are both excellent lawyers in the first place, which makes for productive discussions on the merits and tactics of the case. They are also thorough and organised.’

‘Our work was handled by Rob Winder of Burnetts. He had a complete grasp of the case and the applicable law, as well as a wealth of experience. He also had excellent communication and personal skills which keep us on the level when dealing with a very difficult case.’

Endeavour Partnership LLP

The Stockton-based dispute resolution specialists at Endeavour Partnership LLP handle a wide spectrum of tortious, shareholder and contractual disputes. Department leader Ged Flanagan is ‘very effective at finding practical solutions to difficult issues’ and has additional expertise in alternative dispute resolution. Managing partner Lee Bramley is recommended for insolvency litigation, while Alex Smith is a key contact for both tenants and landlords for contentious property matters. Recently promoted senior associate James Craddock is also singled out by clients.

Practice head(s):

Ged Flanagan

Other key lawyers:

Alex Smith; Lee Bramley; James Craddock


The litigation team holds, above all, an incredibly good sense of judgment. They operate collaboratively to analyse, evaluate and deliver a commercial and common-sense approach to their cases.’

‘Ged Flanagan has an enviable list of client contacts which is a tribute to the respect in which he is held by those he has worked with. Very effective at finding practical solutions to difficult issues.’

‘A strong and very well-respected team in the Teesside and Stockton region. Well-managed and motivated fee earners with good administrative support.’

‘Lee Bramley offers a high standard of client care and displays common sense and pragmatism in making appropriate suggestions to quickly progress insolvency litigation cases. I value his support across my cases.’

‘James Craddock is a wonderful solicitor. James approaches his cases as a commercial adviser, a lawyer, a peer, and a develops a strong sense of what is needed to achieve a client’s objectives. I cannot fault him or his judgment.’

‘Alex Smith deals with construction and property litigation. He is devoted to getting to the detail of a case and works tirelessly to ensure the best results for his clients.’

‘A strong commercial minded litigation team, centred on client results and out-of-the-box thinking.’

‘Ged Flanagan is client focused, commercial and cuts through the legal red tape. An astute negotiator, tells it as it is and a friendly responsive partner to work with. He has the ability to simplify complex matters to a level that clients can understand and grasp.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a high-net-worth individual on an unfair prejudice petition.
  • Advised an insolvency practitioner as to jurisdictional matters relating to the liquidation of a UK company with an office in France.
  • Acting for a utility construction sub-contractor in a dispute concerning telecom sector works in the North West.

Swinburne Maddison LLP

Swinburne Maddison is regularly retained by both claimants and defendants; its varied client portfolio includes companies, partnerships and private individuals. The group’s caseload includes contractual disputes, shareholder litigation, professional negligence claims and contentious debt recovery issues, among others. Durham-based Jonathan Moreland leads the department, where clients also highly recommended David Low and recently promoted managing associate Abigail Zuk.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Moreland

Other key lawyers:

David Low; Abigail Zuk


‘From the start we were dealt with by a partner and were kept personally updated throughout.’

‘Jonathan Moreland ensured our case was dealt with expertly and efficiently. His knowledge of the sector and appropriate expert witness and barrister selection ensured that we had a good outcome to our case. During a stressful process, it was always reassuring to know that Jonathan was there to answer our questions empathically and provide the reassurance we needed.’

‘I believe that the service I received was second to none, the advice I was given was entirely appropriate and perspicacious. Following actions were prompt and effective.’

‘Jonathan Moreland was friendly, approachable and instantly grasped both the essence and the detail of an issue which had been active many years ago but had recently emerged from dormancy. His expertise enabled me to achieve all of the objectives that I set out, as well as identifying and avoiding potential legal and administrative pitfall on the way to an entirely satisfactory conclusion.’

‘One of the key standout attributes of the team is their ability to think very strategically about litigation issues and then explain them to the client in very clear and concise language wrapped-up in a very personal approach. This analytical but warm approach is the reason I have continued returning to the practice for many years. Further, their very personal service has provided much comfort and reassurance when dealing with litigation matters which are often emotionally charged and unsettling.’

‘David Low has a very personable and friendly approach which puts you at ease immediately. His use of jargon-free language means everything is explained clearly and concisely. At the same time, he doesn’t shy away from speaking frankly about the challenges ahead and the likelihood of success with any litigation matter. He’s always accessible and responsive and does not need chasing.’

‘The practice seems genuinely interested in providing a positive, realistic outcome. They provide realistic expectations. They are very personable, yet professional, maintaining a good understanding of your case.’

‘David Low is a joy to work with. He will always go the extra mile to provide an outstanding service. He is able to take complex legal matters and simplify them to enable non-legally trained personnel to understand. He is able to judge the needs of the client and advise accordingly.’

Key clients

Ramside Estates Limited

The Esh Group

Durham Cathedral

Durham School

The Enquire Learning Trust Limited

Martin Gray Football Acadamy

Baker Tilly Creditor Services LLP

Smart Office Systems Limited

Teescraft Engineering Limited

Allure Developments Limited

Sound Intention Limited

JEM Road Construction Limited

Northern Freight Services Limited

Trutec Pools and Leisure Limited

West Nautical Limited

Eurovent Purifying Systems Limited

Evenmore Properties Limited

Durham County Council

Ingleford Scaffolding Limited

AKV Cladding Products Ltd

Aetrio Holdings Ltd

Box. North East Ltd

Work highlights

  • Representing a local authority in a £1m claim for the removal and replacement of defective equipment.
  • Acting for a Dutch company in enforcing a “pre-judgement seizure” order obtained in the Court of Amsterdam.
  • Successfully representing a regional construction company in the resolution of breach of contract claims and unpaid debts.


BHP Law represents clients in shareholder, property, contractual and professional negligence disputes, among others. Contentious probate and trust work is also a forte for the practice, which often acts in conjunction with the firm’s wills, trust and probate specialists. Recently promoted partner Phil Masters in leads the Darlington-based practice; associate Rosie Woodward is also a key figure.

Practice head(s):

Phil Masters

Other key lawyers:

Rosie Woodward; Guy Barr


‘I think that what makes this practice unique is that there is a very client-centric approach by the team. I think that the team’s strengths lie in the breadth of knowledge and experience that they have across the team and there is higher degree of dedication to their clients: they are prepared to go over and above for even the most demanding clients to assist in getting the optimal outcome.’

‘I think that a particular strength of the team is the ability to build strong relationships with local counsel. This fosters a more collaborative approach from earlier in cases which leads to better outcomes.’

‘A developing team with promising junior solicitors and a bank of experience to call on.’

‘Rosie Woodward embodies the ethos of the team and what they are trying to achieve. In my experience, she is very client-focused, has good commercial judgement and is very pragmatic. She is an asset in any commercial dispute and I would not hesitate to recommend her.’

‘Phil Masters provides a very capable pair of hands.’

‘What I have valued most is that Rosie Woodward has worked with us throughout. She has really listened to us and taken time to explain and support us in issues we have very little understanding of.’

Key clients

Stone Tech (Cleveland) Limited

The Opportunity Group Limited

Temple Brown Consulting Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for the tenant of a commercial property who sought to purchase the land under an option to purchase clause within the lease.
  • Acted for Temple Brown Consulting as respondents of an application for pre-action disclosure filed at Central London.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine

Led out of Wynyard, Tilly Bailey & Irvine's commercial litigation group specialises in contractual, corporate and professional negligence disputes. Alison Leith sits at the helm of the practice, where Nigel Broadbent is also a key figure.

Practice head(s):

Alison Leith

Other key lawyers:

Nigel Broadbent