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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > North > Finance > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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Leading individuals

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Noted for its ‘first-rate service’ and ‘fair pricing’, Muckle LLP ‘has a very good reputation in the North East business community’. The team, which is ‘easy to deal with and commercially sensible’, provides the full range of services to banks and other financial institutions, but also assists corporate clients with banking, finance and fundraising matters. Additional areas of expertise include ship finance, social housing finance and education and healthcare sector finance work. ‘Very experienced’ team head Louise Duffy, who is ‘always willing to help in a timely manner’, and senior associate Nicola Nutley advised Lloyds Banking Group on a £60m revolving credit facility and related security and priority arrangements for a growing housebuilder client. Other highlights included assisting Newcastle University with matters pertaining to its £100m property development loan provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which will be used for the redevelopment of student accommodation and the construction of the urban sciences building at the Newcastle Science Centre. The ‘approachable’ Kevin Maloney is noted for his ‘business acumen’ and ‘in-depth knowledge of banking law combined with a firm grasp of property and commercial law’. Stephen McNicol joined Ward Hadaway.

The ‘strong and proactive’ team at Ward Hadaway stands out for its ‘excellent response times’ and ‘tenacious approach to solving challenging issues’, while ‘maintaining high standards at all times’. Team head Julie Harrison (who ‘regularly goes the extra mile for clients') advised Santander UK on the provision of term loan facilities to North East Property Fund, which included assisting with fund structuring and state aid matters. The practice also advised Bannatyne Fitness on various funding issues, including acquisition funding and funding arrangements, while the ‘skilled’ Imogen Holland assisted Newcastle City Council with a loan facility to Eagles Community Foundation to support the development of new stadium facilities. Other high-profile work included advising Total Capital Partners on the debt funding for the acquisition of Weird Fish, assisting Hyperdrive Innovation with growth finance matters, and advising Sunderland College on the restructuring of its multi-tranche facilities with Lloyds Bank. Other clients include the Mosscare St Vincent Housing Group and the Vodat Communications Group. Associate Jonathan Yates‘communicates in a clear jargon-free manner and offers timely advice’.

Sintons LLP handles real estate and corporate finance work for lenders and borrowers, including a large number of commercial portfolio landlords, and is noted for its deep expertise in the leisure, healthcare, property and environmental services sectors. Jane Meikle, who heads the ‘strong and customer-focused’ team, advised the Sandman Hotel Group and other companies within the group on various facilities to refinance hotel premises in Newcastle upon Tyne, among other UK locations, while Adrian Dye assisted Eagles Community Foundation with a loan agreement with Newcastle City Council and a grant funding agreement with the Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North and South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland combined authority. Other highlights included advising longstanding client Dhillon Property on the restructuring and incorporation of several general partnerships into a limited company, which involved property refinancing matters. Senior associate Emma Pern is recommended alongside senior associate David Ferguson, who joined the team from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in January 2018 and focuses on real estate finance.

The ‘fair, open and honest’ team at Watson Burton LLP ‘provides excellent value for money’ and attracts praise for its ‘very good response times’. Clients include clearing banks, building societies, asset financiers, venture capital firms and educational institutions. ‘Very experienced’ team head Duncan Reid is ‘very good at communicating in a clear, concise and jargon-free way’; he has particular experience in venture capital and private equity funding structures. Reid advised Accelerated Digital Ventures on a number of investments in technology businesses totalling £18m. Other key individuals include the ‘very personable and hardworking’ Paul Wigham, who provides regular advice to clients in the venture capital, development capital and lending sectors; and real estate team head Naren Deen, who joined the firm in summer 2017 from Samuel Phillips Law Firm and routinely advises on ground rent portfolio transactions alongside funding and security structures.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP focuses on borrower work and handles frequent instructions pertaining to commercial loan facilities and investment transactions. Highlights included advising the investment and development business Lugano Property Group on a secured mezzanine financing round with the lenders Topland Jupiter and Matterhorn Capital, assisting Northern Bear with various banking arrangements including a revolving credit facility with Yorkshire Bank, and acting for the Parsons Group in its private equity investment from Lloyds Development Capital. Paul Hughes heads the team and is experienced in secured and unsecured facilities pertaining to acquisition finance, asset finance, property and project finance, structured debt, trade finance and leveraged deals.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has significant expertise in the transport, retail, leisure, hotel, manufacturing and real estate sectors as demonstrated by advising paint-pigment maker spin-off Huntsman Corporation Venator Materials on negotiating a bank guarantee pertaining to pension liabilities as part of the group’s UK business reorganisation. The practice is jointly led by John Ralph and Leeds-based John Connor: Ralph also heads the real estate sector group and specialises in property finance work, acting for lenders and borrowers, while Connor is well versed in assisting banks, non-traditional debt funders and various corporate borrowers as well as investors with a wide range of secured lending transactions.

Hay & Kilner receives regular instructions from banks and other financial institutions to advise on mortgage and securities matters, transactions and compliance issues. In significant work for the latter, ‘prompt, reliable and straight-forward’ team head Phil Broadhurst assisted a small regulated payment services provider with various regulatory issues including money laundering compliance. Advising on re-financing property portfolios is another key area of expertise for the team.

Frequently working in conjunction with the firm’s commercial property team, Jacksons Law is noted for its expertise in assisting lenders and borrowers with secured loans pertaining to investment property portfolios and the acquisition of land for residential and commercial development. Geoff Skeoch receives regular instructions from a number of lenders including Clydesdale Bank and Handelsbanken and is well versed in handling property security lending work, while managing partner Jane Armitage routinely provides advice on the mortgage financing of development properties and property portfolios. Erica Turner is another key member of the team. Lloyds Bank and Darlington Building Society are also among the clients.

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