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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.

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