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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 > Real estate > Property litigation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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An extremely professional and high-quality’ firm, Bond Dickinson LLPcan hold its own against any rival’ and ‘fields one of the best property litigation teams outside London’. Department head Jen Smurthwaite is noted for her ‘hardworking attitude and thorough approach’; she recently led advice to a transport operator on a dilapidations claim arising out of two commercial property leases, and defended Places for People Group in proceedings issued following the partial replacement of a roof over a residential block of flats. She also acted for an individual in a dispute relating to the extent of a right of way and handled various disputes for Airwave Solutions including site termination issues, rent review disputes and lease renewal litigation. The team’s other clients include residential long leasehold portfolios, private and social landlords, tenants, developers and investors such as FirstPort, Network Rail, Commercial Estates Group and Bellway Homes. Smurthwaite is ably assisted by associate Elspeth Moncrieff, who is ‘diligent, knowledgeable and a real pleasure to work with’; managing associate David Hambler, who is ‘intelligent, conscientious and measured in his approach’ and ‘is not afraid to argue complex legal points’; and ‘enthusiastic and unstuffy’ managing associate Fiona Graham in Leeds.

Ward Hadaway has a ‘solid, reliable and personable’ practice that ‘sits at the top of the tree’ and ‘provides an exceptional service’. The firm’s specialist team of ‘true professionals’ is led by Sharon Mathieson, who splits her time between Newcastle and Leeds and has expertise spanning landlord and tenant litigation, dilapidation disputes and property-related professional negligence claims. Mathieson’s highlights included defending a developer in nuisance claims brought by the owner of land neighbouring the client’s residential development; advising a public-sector client on proceedings relating to the use of land previously designated as a village green; and handling multiple property disputes for a national insurer. Clients range from landowners and developers to charities and local authorities; Virgin Money, Canal & River Trust, Eurocamp and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust all feature on the client roster. Key associates include Jeremy Hardy, who ‘thinks tactically and always see the bigger picture’ and focuses on agricultural land disputes; estate management specialist Victoria Lowrie; and Leeds-based Simon Thirtle, who has expertise in commercial property litigation.

Watson Burton LLP’s department ‘is on par with any other firm in the region and has an exceptionally strong reputation for solution-oriented advice’, according to clients. Gavin Winter, who is noted for his ‘strong client focus and ability to consider every commercial outcome’, leads the practice and is recognised for his dilapidation claim and contested lease renewal expertise. He recently advised a developer on disputes relating to complex rent review provisions, acted for a client in a contested business lease renewal application, and represented a client in disputes relating to lift failures and outdated fire safety equipment. Associate Jill Dalkin is also highly regarded and has notable expertise in disputes concerning breaches of lease covenants. She was part of the team that advised a client on a rent review dispute. Other areas of expertise for the group include possession claims, service charge disputes, option agreement enforcements and boundary disputes. The construction, engineering, education, energy and leisure sectors are key areas of focus; representative clients include Yorkshire Electricity Group, Camerons Brewery and Bellway.

Martin Soloman leads the practice at Hay & Kilner, which includes commercial litigators Rodney Jones and Lucy Gray, who is highly regarded for her agricultural law expertise. Key areas of strength for the group include breach of covenants, boundary disputes, forfeiture, dilapidation claims, rent arrears and business tenancy renewal litigation. Recent highlights include advising on a contractual dispute, assisting with a termination of occupancy and representing a client in litigation arising from option agreement terms.

Dubbed by clients as ‘a competent and professional organisation’, Mincoffs Solicitors LLP is an ‘all-round, excellent firm’ and fields ‘understanding, knowledgeable and responsive’ associate Susan Roberts as practice head. Roberts is highly regarded for her expertise in landlord and tenant cases, and the team also has experience in contentious lease renewals, dilapidations and option agreement litigation. Other key practitioners include commercial litigator Stewart Irvine and solicitor Robyn Shepherd. The group acts for property investors, developers, licensed establishments, estate agents and national retailers such as Lugano Group, The Works Stores and Cairn Hotel Group. Recent highlights include advising a property leaseholder on issues relating to repairs and property maintenance, assisting a freeholder with breaches of covenant, and handling multiple dilapidation claims.

The ‘impressive, insightful and highly commercial’ team at Muckle LLP is highly regarded for its residential leasehold management expertise. The ‘responsive and enthusiastic’ Charlotte McMurchie leads the practice and has ‘an easy-going and friendly manner’. She recently advised key client Grainger on a complex property recovery matter. Other highlights included assisting Bernicia Homes with injunctions relating to anti-social behaviour and defending North Tyneside Council in claims brought by a tenant alleging property disrepair. The group also has substantial expertise in lease renewals, landlord service changes and dilapidation issues. Other clients include Isos Housing, Two Castles Housing Association and North Star Housing Group. Solicitor Julie Adams is another key name.

Angus Ashman leads the team at Sintons LLP, which includes Graeme Ritzema, who focuses on commercial property disputes. The group’s expertise spans contested lease renewals, high-value dilapidations claims, landlord and tenant matters, professional negligence matters and possession claims. Clients range from private individuals to commercial entities such as Newcastle upon Tyne YMCA, Hadrian Estates, JGW Patterson Foundation and Sanderson Young. Other key figures include associate Scott Cable, whose recent highlights include business lease renewals, covenant interpretation and forfeiture issues.

The ‘exceptional’ team at Swinburne Maddison is ‘very professional at all times and is always cognisant of clients’ needs’. David Low leads the group and handles issues for registered providers and private clients; he recently led advice to East Durham Homes on a breach of an anti-social behaviour injunction and assisted a private individual with a contested lease renewal. Jonathan Moreland, who leads the firm’s dispute resolution department, is recommended for agricultural property litigation and matters relating to housing disrepair; he recently acted for a local authority in a housing disrepair claim. Solicitor Jennifer Pearson attracts praise for her ‘speed of communication, business understanding and friendly demeanour’.

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