Commercial litigation: Newcastle in North

Muckle LLP

According to clients, Muckle LLP ‘punches above its weight, handling a range of high-value and extremely complex commercial disputes’ for a client roster of national and global companies including the Caribbean Premier League and Persimmon Homes. Key areas of expertise encompass construction, real estate, IP, technology and professional indemnity claims and the team also handles alternative dispute resolution, emergency applications and regulatory work. Susan Howe heads up the team and acts in complex financial asset tracing claims and freezing orders; George Festing is a key contact for IP and technology litigation; and Leah Heatley excels in public procurement disputes. At associate level, Alex Speirs is active in retail and commercial banking litigation.

Practice head(s):

Susan Howe

Other key lawyers:

George Festing; Leah Heatley; Alex Speirs


‘Muckle punches above its weight in this sector handling a range of high-value and extremely complex commercial litigation disputes often involving an international element.’

‘Susan Howe provides excellent leadership and brings a wealth of commercial experience to this very strong team.’

‘This is a responsive, costs conscious and regionally focused team of very talented individuals who have a much wider breadth of commercial disputes experience and specialism than any others in the region.’

‘I have worked with Susan Howe for years now and not only is she technically excellent but she understands the commercial realities of business better than any litigation lawyer I have ever come across.’

‘The team are able to cut through the noise and provide sound commercial advice, without the need for legal jargon.’

‘Alex Spiers and George Festing are two key individuals that we deal with. We value their commercial judgment and practical advice.’

Key clients

Caribbean Premier League Limited

J. E. Laidler (North East) Limited

Sanlam Private Investments (UK) Limited

Trivsel UK Limited

Specialist IT Services Group Limited

NG Bailey Limited

Persimmon Homes Limited

Mandale Construction

The Station Hotel (Newcastle) Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in various litigation matters including IP issues concerning unauthorised use of CPL’s name and registered marks and contractual disputes with franchise holders and related entities.
  • Defending Sanlam Private Investments (UK) Limited in a High Court claim brought by a former employee alleging breaches of data protection legislation, confidence and privacy.
  • Advised Specialist IT Services Group Limited on various sets of proceedings and threatened proceedings arising out of the departure of a former director, shareholder and employee from the business.

Ward Hadaway LLP

Ward Hadaway LLP’s ‘highly collaborative’ team is led by Peter Hornsey, who regularly acts in professional negligence, contract and IP disputes. The wider practice also counts corporate litigation, procurement disputes, financial litigation, shareholder claims, judicial reviews and insurance litigation among its areas of expertise. ‘Direct, straightforward and logical thinkerRobert Glassford is a key name for public sector clients, Martin Woodford focuses on trust and contentious probate mandates, and Tim Toomey handles technology claims. Legal director Lucy Cleghorn ‘instils great confidence’.

Practice head(s):

Peter Hornsey

Other key lawyers:

Robert Glassford; Martin Woodford; Tim Toomey; Lucy Cleghorn; Russell Ward


‘The team has all the technical and technological capabilities required in its sphere of work and as a client I have always felt fully supported on a technical and personal level.’

‘Rob Glassford I have always found to be a direct, straightforward and logical thinker who is an excellent source of advice. He is cool and clear minded. I believe the team is extremely capable in the highly pressurised arena of commercial litigation.’

‘Robert Glassford and Lucy Cleghorn have been very personable and professional at all times.’

‘Russell Ward – always willing to go the extra mile for his clients. Technically able but particularly adept at putting the client at ease and understanding their interests.

‘The commercial litigation team in Newcastle is extremely strong in every respect. They are excellent lawyers with a very practical and commercial outlook. They are very hardworking and always determined to achieve the best outcome for their clients. In so doing, they are imaginative, flexible and pragmatic. They are also charming people to work with. I cannot recommend them more highly’

‘Robert Glassford (partner) – very clever but also practical, always unflappable, good with clients, a first rate team leader who excels at framing both longer term strategy and short term tactics. Tim Toomey (partner) – very experienced, personable, very focused on the client’s interests, good at seeing the wood for the trees, a great sense of what is practicable. Russell Ward (partner) – very commercial, hardworking and an excellent communicator. Lucy Cleghorn (partner) – a very able lawyer who instils great confidence.’

‘Great technical knowledge while also commercially aware. Fantastic support for the counsel team and excellent client handling.’

‘Robert Glassford: an experienced and tactical litigator. Sound strategic approach backed up with robust legal analysis. Lucy Cleghorn: a robust litigator with a commercial approach to litigation.’

Key clients

The Banks Group Limited

Tees Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Royal Canada Bank

Story Homes Limited

Nico Labs B.V.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is a go-to name for high-profile clients in the region including Northern Powergrid, Arriva and Go Ahead; the practice also leverages the firm’s wider network to handle national and cross-border litigation. The team handles the full range of commercial litigation and particularly excels in the transport, manufacturing and leisure sectors. Group head Richard Collins is a key name for financial services litigation including pensions disputes and professional negligence claims; Paul Stewart acts in contractual and tortious disputes and claims in the rail sector; and Jonny Gribben focuses on the manufacturing, technology and energy sectors. Legal director Francesca Hodgson is recommended for enforcement advice and managing associate Joe Kelley joined the group in mid-2022 from Ward Hadaway LLP.

Practice head(s):

Richard Collins

Other key lawyers:

Paul Stewart; Jonny Gribben; Francesca Hodgson; Joe Kelley


‘The people I worked with were diligent, hard working and analytical. They focused on identifying the important issues and addressing them in ways which most benefitted the client.’

‘The partner I worked with was Paul Stewart. Paul managed his team with skill – ensuring they were approaching issues correctly. He was also good with the client – managing their expectations and giving sound advice throughout.’

‘We found the team’s response to be well-pitched to the query we had raised and appreciated their attitude to the issue, in that they brought lots of energy and support for us whilst understanding our business and needs very well.’

‘Jonny Gribben – pragmatic and commercial advice, available when needed, no query was too big or too small.’

‘Richard Collins was excellent and is a proactive, commercially minded lawyer.’

‘The team has good expertise and understand technical concepts easily, which makes instructing them simple. The team also has an in-depth knowledge of the business and this means we receive advice that’s been thought through and has been tailored to our specific needs. This is invaluable for an in-house team and takes away a lot of the burden, which is key when outsourcing work. The team are friendly and work well with the business. The team has good depth and deals easily with a variety of matters – from complex litigation to financial services litigation.’

‘Jonny Gribben makes dealing with litigation extremely easy. He has a great knowledge of the business – as well as great expertise – and he does all of the heavy lifting on our matters. This is exactly what you want in an external lawyers and it makes outsourcing litigation much easier for a very busy in-house team. His advice is well thought through and extremely practical.’

‘Richard Collins is superb and provides a stellar service. Has helped work through a number of very complex matters with a great sense of pragmatism. Digests matters comprehensively, great use of external counsel and efficient advice given swiftly and sensibly.’

Key clients

Northern Powergrid (Northeast) plc

Arriva plc

Progress Rail Services UK Limited

Atom Bank plc

Go-Ahead Group


North P&I

Parkdean Resorts UK Limited

Draeger Safety UK Ltd

Goffs UK Limited

Government Legal Department

Work highlights

  • Acted for Draeger in challenging the award by the London Fire Brigade of a contract for respiratory protective equipment to another bidder.
  • Acted for PRS in challenging the outcome of a public procurement exercise for the granting of three separate contract frameworks for the provision of switches and crossings, which are a key component of the infrastructure of the rail network.

Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd

Clients praise Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd’s ‘ability to understand a client’s business quickly’ and ‘exceptional skills in coming up with the right strategies to help with any litigation’.  While lead practitioners Toby Gibson and Jane Gibson are notable lauded for the banking litigation and international dispute expertise, acting for a broad range of lenders including Credit Suisse and ING Bank, the wider group’s work also spans mineral rights litigation, property disputes and partnership claims. Michael Reed is a key name for a wide variety of claims including IP work and shareholder issues, and Ashley Shickle excels at associate level.

Practice head(s):

Toby Gibson

Other key lawyers:

Jane Gibson; Michael Reed; Ashley Shickle


‘Toby Gibson has a level of skill and experience that is rare outside of London. He is a class act with a lovely manner and a “can do” attitude. He is also not afraid to deliver difficult messages, so his advice can be trusted.’

‘A great litigation service.’

‘Toby Gibson is a star individual, Jane Gibson is a powerhouse.’

‘I think what makes Gibson and Co unique is their ability to understand a clients business quickly. I think the team have exceptional skills in coming up with the right strategies to help you with any litigation. The case that was handled by the firm was very complexed with lots of moving parts. Gibson and Co have always gone above and beyond.’

‘Magic circle quality litigation services at North East prices. The best commercial litigators in the area by some distance.’

‘Toby Gibson and Jane Gibson are commercial litigators with vast experience of substantial litigation. They also have experience of the local market and industries. Associates Ashley Shickle works closely with the partners and delivers an excellent service to clients.’

Key clients

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Marketing Position Limited

North East Grains Ltd

Credit Suisse


The Forestry Commission

MR Finn Trust

Can-Am Chains Limited

Warcup Partnership

Altus Media

Work highlights

  • Acting for a group of 53 veterinary surgeons, all of whom are in partnership with the same entity – Medivet, which sought to impose over £10m of costs on the vets. The dispute concerns the terms of the partnership agreement and Medivet’s entitlement to impose the costs.
  • Instructed by a local farming family in proceedings based on propriety estoppel seeking declarations as to the entitlement(s) relating to the Farm and the Farming Partnership.

Sintons LLP

Under the leadership of the ‘outstandingHilary Waters, who specialises in tax disputes, Sintons LLP is ‘very regionally focused which gives it in-depth knowledge of the needs of the local market’. The team is highly active in representing local and regional clients in commercial contract and warranty claims, and is increasingly present in IP, data protection, regulatory and property litigation. Angus Ashman is singled out as ‘the consummate professional’ and Graeme Ritzema acts in the healthcare sector, while associate Cristina Falzon has notable experience in the manufacturing industry. Aimee Hubbard departed to DAC Beachcroft LLP in 2022.

Practice head(s):

Hilary Waters

Other key lawyers:

Angus Ashman; Graeme Ritzema; Cristina Falzon


‘They are always attentive and explain in a clear, easy to understand way. Refreshing. Cristina Falzon in particular stands out.’

‘Leading commercial litigators in the North one of whose USPs is the unusually high number of female solicitors. They are very regionally focused which gives them in-depth knowledge of the needs of the local market with an unusually broad range of expertise for its size – commercial property, warranties, IP, data protection, health care and construction.’

‘Hilary Waters has outstanding expertise in indirect tax.’

‘They take time to listen and to understand the issues.’

‘Angus Ashman and his team were very professional, managed our expectations and were able to deliver us a positive outcome.’

‘Angus Ashman was the consummate professional who was able to guide and advise us through our litigation. He was clear, concise and delivered news, whether good or bad, in an understandable way.’

Key clients

Quanta Services Group Limited

Zynk Software Limited

Matrix Health Services UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted successfully on behalf of a farming business in its £1.5m claim for professional negligence for its lawyer’s alleged failure to serve a Counter Notice to prevent the loss of its secure Agricultural tenancy.
  • Represented a charitable trust in opposing a trade mark application.
  • Advising a large European Catalogue Company in respect of a multi-million pound VAT recovery case as well as challenging the statutory provisions for interest with national impact, pursuant to European Law.


With ‘a refreshing willingness to collaborate’, Weightmans’ Newcastle practice sits as part of the firm’s wider litigation North team, which acts for national and global corporations in data theft and fraud issues, boardroom disputes, contract litigation and claims in the energy and TMT sectors. Andrew Cox leads the group from the firm’s Birmingham office; key names on the ground in Newcastle include regional office head and fraud specialist Christopher Graham, principal associate Jill Dalkin and Anthony Rance, who splits his time between Newcastle and Leeds.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Cox

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Graham; Jill Dalkin; Anthony Rance; Mark Reeves


‘Anthony Rance (partner)- superb on IT and employment disputes – including urgent injunction applications in these areas; very effective solicitor who always gets results for his clients; a hands-on partner; excellent knowledge of commercial court procedures.’

‘Jill Dalkin has been (and still is) exceptional in every possible way. Her professionalism and thoroughness to detail is outstanding. Always a warm welcome, always ‘on the ball’, fair and practical approach with modest yet very strong determination for the best results for her clients, not portraying any degree of overconfidence or giving one hope of the impossible yet explaining the options and making one comfortable with relevant factors.’

‘Their willingness to collaborate has been refreshing.’

‘Chris Graham – very experienced litigator with substantial experience and knowledge.’

‘Mark Reeves – impressive operator.’

‘I worked with Anthony Rance who helped us deliver an exceptional result. Anthony was creative, detail oriented, responsive and proactive throughout the process.’

Key clients

Northern Powergrid

Tanfield Group Plc

Crafter’s Companion

Millbrook Proving Ground Limited

Satcom Global Limited

David Allen Chartered Accountants

Leighton Corporation Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for AIM-listed Tanfield Group plc in a multi-million pound professional negligence claim against a major UK firm and a US-based firm.
  • Advising a client with significant shareholdings in numerous property investment companies in a dispute worth £10m+.
  • Acting for one half of a family in a shareholder dispute concerning a deadlocked family-owned business.

Hay & Kilner

Hay & Kilner’s clients single out its ‘people as a key USP – skilled, personable, pragmatic, trustworthy and available’, led by Lucy Gray, who specialises in IP disputes and automotive sector work. The group also has experience in professional negligence claims, energy and utility sector litigation, shareholder disputes and insurance litigation. Professional negligence specialist Tom Whitfield, construction expert Jan Rzedzian and insolvency practitioner Neil Harrold are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Gray

Other key lawyers:

Tom Whitfield; Jan Rzedzian; Neil Harrold


‘The practice offer local advice to local clients but maintaining the very high levels of service and quality of advice you would expect from a national player.’

‘Tom Whitfield is exceptional. His dedication to providing accurate advice and looking for innovative solutions is unrivalled in my opinion.’

‘Tom Whitfield is quick and effective and will stand no nonsense from his opponents. Lucy Gray will leave no stone unturned.’

‘Key USPs for Hay & Kilner are their people. Skilled, personable, pragmatic, trustworthy, and available when I’ve needed their support.’

Key clients

Indigo Software

Barrier Limited

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended a retired solicitor with no insurance in a claim for professional negligence.
  • Acting for various cattery and kennels owners in a challenge of insurers declinature of cover for losses arising from Covid.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

With ‘a unique way of engaging’, Stewart Irvine heads up the department at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP, which is active in contentious probate work and has recently seen an uptick in cross-border work and IP and defamation litigation. At associate level, Susan Roberts excels in contractual and property disputes, while Robyn Aisbitt handles employment litigation.

Practice head(s):

Stewart Irvine

Other key lawyers:

Susan Roberts; Robyn Aisbitt


‘Mincoffs have assisted me with their expertise in a professional and friendly manner, fully explaining all the processes that have been applied and guided me through all the ‘legal jargon’ that has come my way. The team handling my case have kept me informed at every step of the way.’

‘All of the individuals I have dealt with are professional, courteous and know what they are doing. They fully explain processes and advise what routes should be taken. Stewart Irvine and Robyn Aisbitt have kept me informed at every step of the way and more importantly, know what they are talking about.’

‘We have worked with Mincoffs for several years and on one particularly complex case lasting 18 months. Mincoffs consistently delivered an extremely prompt and responsive service, sensitive to the fact that, as clients, we would be anxious to reach a satisfactory outcome.’

‘All individuals within Mincoffs are professional, helpful, responsive and competent. We have dealt primarily with Stewart Irvine, Partner, who has a unique way of engaging, is approachable, sets out all possible options in a language that is easy to understand. He is positive and has a presence that makes a difficult situation much easier to bear. He is not obtrusive or overbearing but is clear and assertive in the way he presents options. He inspires confidence and provided unstinting, genuine support for us as a client. His expertise no doubt steered our position to a successful outcome.’

‘In all the dealings I have had with the team at Mincoffs, I have always been impressed with the consistently high levels of service across all areas of the business, and the pragmatic approach they take in helping us resolve disputes in a clear and transparent way. Each team within Mincoffs has a good working relationship with other departments, so if the work expands into other areas, there is always someone on hand and up to speed to hit the ground running.’

‘Great firm, always adaptable to what ever we throw at them. They’ve always managed to get a result from what we need.’

Key clients

LB Foster Rail Technologies (UK) Limited

Schiedel Chimney Systems Limited

Lingotot Limited

Hadrian Real Estate Plc

Wellway Accountants Limited

Clark Homes Limited

Collaborative Design Limited

Consultiv Utilities Limited

First Fix Plastics Limited

Steamforged Games Limited

Key Training Limited

Metec Cathodic Protection Limited

Ovington Boats Limited

Portland Consulting Engineers Limited

North East Care Homes Limited

Northern Bear Plc

Johnny’s Entertainments (Tyneside) Limited

Templeman Retailing & Vending Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising a Construction Client in relation to a negligence claim and breach of contract claim asserted against it in respect of losses suffered by its client in respect of damage to property and stock.
  • Advising an IT company in respect of an alleged patent infringement raised by a US company.
  • Advising a UK-based retail client in relation to claims involving an international manufacturer based on trade mark infringement, and passing off and the client’s cross claims against that manufacturer involving economic torts and defamation.