Commercial litigation: Newcastle in North
Muckle LLP ‘offers soundly judged, rational and calculated advice’ and handles a wide range of commercial disputes by utilising advanced technology, with one example being the technology-assisted review software used during the disclosure stages. The team is commended for its specialist litigation expertise in the technology, music and media sectors, where IP litigator George Festing is a key contact. Department head Susan Howe has experience acting in multi-party and cross-border proceedings, placing a particular focus on financial asset-tracing issues and freezing orders. Leah Heatley assists contracting authorities, utilities and bidders with challenging public procurement decisions.
‘Muckle’s dispute resolution team is unique in the region due to the quality of its advice and service. The lawyers are strategic, commercial and always prepared to go the extra mile for clients.‘
‘Muckle is clearly a forward-thinking, business-minded and tech-focused law firm that I would recommend to any business. Its advice is always practical and personal, brought by genuine specialists in IP, IT and corporate matters.‘
‘The litigation team at Muckle offers soundly judged, rational and calculated advice. Its expertise and guidance helped us through a challenging litigation process with an ultimately successful conclusion, notable for the measured and expert approach that was applied to the final stages of the negotiation. Nothing is too much trouble and the team provides a highly efficient and detailed service.‘
‘I found the team at Muckle able to adapt and anticipate situations which could negatively affect our business. Ultimately, the lawyers became a key member of my commercial team, minimising business risk and helping position us for the best outcome. This is above and beyond what I have previously experienced with legal support.‘
‘Susan Howe is exceptionally clever and strategic. She just seems to make things happen, regardless of how difficult the situation is.‘
‘Susan Howe leads a multi-talented and highly charismatic team which has expertise across multiple commercial fields.‘
‘George Festing has been my main point of contact throughout the last 12 months. He leads by example and naturally adapts his approach to suit the situation. George is a calming influence on even the most stressful of situations, thanks to his ability to distil complex IP and IT issues and principles into practical, relatable and progressive solutions.‘
‘Leah Heatley was exceptional in terms of her dedication and support, working out of hours and during festive holidays to assist with a particularly urgent issue. This was not demanded, nor did the issue directly affect her, yet she did this because she understood the risk and urgency that we found ourselves in. This went above and beyond what we expected and the support was always professional.‘
Caribbean Premier League
Winn Solicitors / On-Medical / On-Hire
- Acting for Mandale Construction in a group action brought by homeowners in the Technology and Construction Court in relation to alleged defects at properties built by the client.
- Acted for a high-net-worth individual in a high-value shareholder dispute over multiple businesses, assisting with litigation proceedings and complex multi-party settlement negotiations.
- Acted for an utility company in defending a high-value claim brought by a large US software corporation in respect of alleged breaches of a licensing agreement.
Led by Angus Ashman, Sintons LLP’s dispute resolution group has particular strength in the areas of commercial contracts and warranty claims, professional negligence and financial services litigation, among others. Known for its healthcare sector work, the department benefits from its strong relationships with NHS trusts, care home providers, pharmacies and clinical commissioning groups. It also strengthened its offering with the appointment of David Summerhayes, who joined in September 2019 from DWF; Summerhayes has niche expertise in defamation and reputation matters. Apart from its litigation strength, the team is noted for its skill in mediation, in which commercial contracts specialist Graeme Ritzema is routinely involved.
‘Our general experience working with Sintons was initially that we were put at ease and confident that we had taken the work to the right firm. The firm’s advantage is definitely the strength in depth of its partners and associates. Everyone we have had communication with has been polite and efficient. Calls and messages were replied to within reasonable time frames. My overall impression of the firm is one of professionalism, accompanied by an ability to recognise when the issues were serious, but also when they were not. The firm allowed us to do as much preparatory work as we could to be ready for the next stage of the process.‘
‘I was confident that Graeme Ritzema would be able to understand our position and provide a quick, accurate and realistic summary of what our options for success (or otherwise) would be. Our communication was handled with a level of heightened competency, depth of knowledge, and tactically very well-played. Graeme guided us to select an appropriate mediator who was instrumental in facilitating the proposed settlement agreement. During the mediation process, Graeme was accurate, able to interpret rapidly changing information, and had the presence of mind to keep us aware of our own position.‘
Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust
Northern Gas and Power
Cussins (North East)
- Advised Northern Gas and Power on an injunction application and subsequent proceedings to protect its business, following the movement of employees to a rival business.
- Advised a regional water utility provider on contentious issues concerning the client’s contractual position with a joint venture partner and the Government of Gibraltar.
- Assisted an individual with bringing a professional negligence claim against a surveyor who had failed to note the presence of asbestos in the ceilings of a property.
The sizeable practice at regional market leader Ward Hadaway offers a full range of commercial litigation services to both public and private sector clients. Peter Hornsey sits at the helm of the department, which has particular strength in professional negligence, procurement disputes and claims arising out of private finance initiative (PFI) projects. Robert Glassford specialises in IP disputes, judicial review claims, and PFI litigation, where he acts for NHS trusts. Martin Woodford is very active in the financial services and tax sectors, and recently handled a £2.5m joint venture dispute on behalf of 260 retail investors — a matter on which he was assisted by standout associate Joe Kelley.
Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
The Banks Group
Providence Bonds Investor Action Group
Manna Pro Products
Mr Terry Huang
Contract Natural Gas
NH International (Caribbean)
- Successfully acted for approximately 260 separate retail investors into the collapsed mini-bonds which were launched by Providence Bonds.
- Assisting Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust with complex PFI litigation arising out of the termination of a PFI agreement.
- Representing The Banks Group in defending a claim relating to a joint venture company and the acquisition of a substantial area of land for residential development in Durham.
The Newcastle-based commercial disputes practice at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP draws on the considerable strength of the firm’s dispute resolution group spread across five other offices nationwide. The team also benefits from the use of WBD Advance, an in-house team handling tasks such as extensive document reviews as well as project and risk management issues. National commercial disputes group leader Paul Stewart is particularly focused on the transport and manufacturing industries. Richard Collins heads the national contentious procurement group. The department is active in the firm’s traditional areas of expertise: chemicals, technology, financial services, retail, and oil and gas, to name a few.
‘Very friendly, thorough and competent‘
Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council
Bombardier Transportation UK
- Defending Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council against a challenge brought by AEW Europe LLP in relation to the client’s award of a contract for the redevelopment of an existing leisure park in Basingstoke.
- Assisted Bombardier Transportation UK with a claim challenging an unsuccessful procurement bid.
- Defending the Post Office against a collective action by over 500 claimants resting on a claim that the Post Office’s IT accounting system is defective.
The recent work of Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd cements its market-leading position in international banking and finance litigation. Led by Toby Gibson, the team appears before multiple English courts, but is also increasingly active in high-value arbitral proceedings concerning IP, property, trusts and professional negligence issues. Manorial mineral rights litigation is another area of recent focus for the firm. Jane Gibson continues to be regularly instructed by key longstanding clients of the calibre of ING Bank and Credit Suisse. Michael Reed is another key team member, whose high-profile work is prominent in the IP space.
ING Bank N.V.
Martin Baker Aircraft Company
Total Resources (UK)
M R Finn Trust
AA Construction Utilities
North of England Mining Institute
- Acting for ING Bank in relation to the recovery of over $700m lent to a fuel bunker trader.
- Acting for 53 veterinary surgeons, who have entered into different partnerships with Medivet, in a £10m dispute over the validity of the terms of the partnership agreement.
- Acting for Gilbert Thompson in a case involving promissory and proprietary estoppel issues arising in relation to a family farm.
Hay & Kilner
Hay & Kilner regularly handles litigation involving tort and contract law, and is increasingly active in director and shareholder disputes. Of recent note, the group is acting in an increasing number of disputes in the car manufacturing sector. Department head Lucy Gray also has niche expertise in the fashion and software sectors, and Rodney Jones has considerable professional negligence experience. In addition, the practice places an emphasis on mediating commercial disputes, with Martin Soloman noted for his mediation skills. The team bolstered its ability to act for insurers and professional partnerships with the addition of professional indemnity specialist Tom Whitfield, who arrived from DAC Beachcroft LLP in December 2019.
‘The team stands out for the range of subjects which it is able to cover as well as its depth of expertise.‘
‘The team is professional, honest, open, reliable, down-to-earth, and willing to listen and understand the issues and concerns.‘
Park Lane Healthcare
- Advised a large supplier of safety products and geodetic technology in relation to a complex dispute with a minority shareholder.
- Advising the UK subsidiary of an Asian chemical manufacturer in relation to a dispute with officials in a European country regarding the levies applied to shipments passing through the European Union.
- Advised an innovative international technology company in relation to a dispute regarding product fitness and terms of purchase.
Weightmans has carved out a notable reputation for high-profile fraud and data theft matters. The team also handles complex shareholder and boardroom litigation, alongside disputes in the energy, education and TMT sectors. Practice head Christopher Graham has a wealth of experience handling disputes concerning competition issues, fraud and misuse of information. Splitting his time between Leeds and Newcastle, Anthony Rance is noted for his wide-ranging expertise in data theft, commercial contract and professional negligence disputes. Employment litigator Jacqueline Turner departed to St James' Square Law Firm in April 2019.
‘A strong construction and commercial disputes team‘
‘The team provides a great suite of services, combined with a professional approach, and a keen understanding of our business. Quick to respond and flexible to meet our needs.‘
‘The team at Weightmans is extremely professional, knowledgeable in its respective fields of expertise, and works collaboratively with clients to ensure the best outcome.‘
‘Anthony Rance is exceptional, very commercial and great at working out a solution.‘
Northern Powergrid (North East)
Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire)
University of Sunderland
Spectris/ Millbrook Proving Ground
David Allen Chartered Accountants
Diabetes Care Technology
- Acting on behalf of an accountancy firm in relation to injunctive proceedings in the High Court against a former employee and his new employer to enforce restrictive covenants.
- Acting for an AIM-listed public limited company in a professional negligence action against a large law firm relating to a transaction that transferred the client’s majority interest in a global manufacturer of aerial work platforms.
- Acting for a leading independent utility cost management consultancy in a case involving the misappropriation of valuable confidential data by a competitor business.
Claire Collinson Legal
The ‘highly specialist’ team at Claire Collinson Legal garners praise from clients for its expertise in financial mis-selling litigation; its experience in pension fraud and fraudulent banking transactions is particularly noteworthy. The practice also counts professional negligence and insurance litigation among its key strengths. Founding partner Claire Collinson leads the group and is praised for having ‘the steely self-confidence necessary to take on even the toughest of institutional opponents’.
‘This is a highly specialist practice which deals essentially with claims about financial services products and practices. It has an outstanding litigation pedigree. Claire has developed exceptional skills in handling civil litigation.‘
‘The firm was acting on our behalf over a push payment fraud. The team demonstrated extensive knowledge of the area and of the world of financial fraud generally. The lawyers acted with alacrity and were tremendously professional in everything they did.‘
‘The practice has a small team with strong capabilities in consumer financial and investment mis-selling litigation and has an excellent coverage of the key sector issues.‘
‘Claire Collinson has very deep knowledge and the steely self-confidence necessary to take on even the toughest of institutional opponents.‘
‘Claire Collinson was outstandingly good in her knowledge of the sphere and in the advice she gave. She was also vigorous in pursuing our interests.‘
‘Managing partner Claire Collinson is extremely responsive and engaged across a number of projects and matters. She allocates work across her team efficiently to manage larger projects. The quality and depth of legal review work undertaken is consistently of a very high standard.‘
Mactech Engineering & Inspection
- Advised Augusta Ventures on the development and review of high-value claim portfolios in relation to pension mis-selling claims.
- Acting as the sole panel legal adviser to Broker Network members in the UK, dealing with a variety of disputed insurance and insurance-related negligence claims.
- Advised MacTech in relation to a credit protection insurance dispute.
Mincoffs Solicitors LLP
Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s dispute resolution team utilises its ‘excellent understanding of the detail of a dispute’ in handling contractual disputes, professional negligence claims, contentious probate matters, and shareholder and partnership disputes. The group is also known for its work on IP-related claims – a space in which its client roster of IT sector clients continues to expand. Stewart Irvine leads the practice and comes in for praise for his team management skills.
‘Team members were really friendly and you could tell they show an interest in your case. They make you feel at ease with their advice and are very honest with you throughout the process.‘
‘Extremely thorough in its approach to dispute work, demonstrating an excellent understanding of the detail of a dispute and ability to identify both suitable strategy and desired outcome.‘
‘The team of Stewart Irvine exuded confidence, knowledge and understanding of my situation right from the start. This left no doubt that the team was professionally competent and experienced to deal with the problem efficiently and promptly, which also brought about a positive outcome. The group was fully in command of the situation. Everything was done to my total satisfaction. Stewart’s management was excellent.‘
‘I find that both Stewart Irvine and Robyn Aisbitt provide a balanced view in open litigation cases we have as a business. They both have an excellent understanding of the commercial environment which makes their advice very valuable to our business.‘
‘Stewart Irvine acted as both a sounding board and a voice of reason when things became difficult.‘
Newcastle Great Park Estates
LB Foster Rail Technologies (UK)
Team RH Fitness
Schiedel Chimney Systems
Holystone Civil Engineering
Short Richardson & Forth
At Short Richardson & Forth, Tim Berg sits at the helm of the practice and specialises in contentious insolvency recovery actions, fraud claims and disputes arising out of breaches of contracts. Another particular area of strength for the team lies in shareholder and director litigation, as well as in opposing the enforcement of restrictive covenant injunctions. The department’s client base includes small and medium-sized enterprises, directors, shareholders and high-net-worth individuals.
Other key lawyers:
‘I have dealt with Short Richardson & Forth for some years now and find its professionalism, prompt responses and advice to be second to none.‘
‘A tight-knit team which packs a punch.‘
‘From pure technical professionalism to the interpersonal skills needed to brighten the darker days of a particularly tragic dispute, the team maintained a measured equilibrium throughout, as they fought a tough battle for a full eight years before delivering an excellent result.‘
‘Tim Berg has a great eye for detail and marshals complex litigation with ease.‘
‘Alex Withers is a proactive, knowledgeable and practical litigator.‘
- Acting on behalf of defendants to a misrepresentation claim and successfully resisting a freezing injunction.
- Dealt with a substantial unfair prejudice petition with warring family member shareholders and successfully negotiated a favourable settlement.
A significant strength for dispute resolution boutique TT Law lies in the area of pensions litigation, but the team’s workload also features shareholder disputes and IP-related claims. ‘Technically superb’ department head Kevin Turnbull has also accrued extensive experience in high-profile public investigations. The team's sector-specific expertise includes the retail, leisure and hotel industries, among others. Neville Takiar departed to gunnercooke LLP.
‘TT Law is an outstanding commercial litigation firm, providing services and skill associated with far larger firms. The team members are master tacticians as well as proven litigation strategists.‘
‘TT Law has provided us with an exceptional service this year. The lawyers make a point of really understanding our business and the uniqueness of the challenges we face, which really gives us the confidence to proceed.‘
‘The team is personable, approachable and very effective.‘
‘Kevin Turnbull has a deep and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of commercial litigation. He is that rare combination of being highly technically competent and yet commercially pragmatic.‘
‘Kevin Turnbull really knows his stuff and technically superb.‘
Cairn Hotel Group
SSG Property Developments
MPS 8 Limited
Concept Eye Clinic
- Defending a client against a pre-action disclosure application, with the potential claim arising out of an aborted sale of a London-based hotel.
- Representing multiple individuals in respect of tax liabilities arising from Employment Benefit Trust schemes challenged by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
- Representing an equal shareholder in a shareholder dispute brought pursuant to section 994 of the Companies Act 2006.