Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Property litigation

Newcastle-based Hay & Kilner‘s property litigation team – led by Lucy Gray and supported by senior associates Guy Barr and Julie Adams – works on a range of property disputes, including rent arrears, occupancy issues, disrepair claims, unregistered easements, and surrender of lease issues.

Property litigation in North

Muckle LLP

A ‘very well run, responsive and competent litigation team’, Muckle LLP routinely acts for property developers in the region on a wide range of disputes, involving tenant issues, cladding, and unsafe habitation leading to injunctions. Head of the Newcastle team Charlotte McMurchie handles disputes concerning leases, in particular professional negligence claims against conveyancing solicitors. Jennifer Pearson advises clients in the telecoms sector on landlord and tenant matters, and vacant possession mandates; she is also a key name for residential, social housing and agricultural property disputes. Promoted to partner in March 2023, Sarah Barratt works on residential tenancy, commercial property dilapidation and break matters, as well as intersecting trusts and land work.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte McMurchie

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Pearson; Sarah Barratt


‘I have been impressed with Muckle, and they deal with enquiries promptly and professionally’.

‘Sarah Barratt stands out. She is very professional; she always takes time to discuss matters in a clear and understandable way to non-legal clients.’

‘We have used Muckle for property disrepair claims. We are impressed with the level of knowledge and understand that they provided. The main strengths provided were the specific point of contact provided for all cases and also the ability to speak personally with whoever was dealing with the case at short notice.’

‘We are particularly impressed with the availability of individuals at short notice and the willingness to meet in person or on calls when needed. Sarah Barratt has been our main point of contact and we have found the work she has done for us to be excellent.’

‘I think that this is a very well run, responsive and competent litigation team. There are strong individuals who work well together and work very well indeed with counsel to deliver a very commercial and well focussed outcome for clients.’

‘Jennifer Pearson is outstanding. Her clarity, forensic attention to detail and common sense are second to none.’ 

‘Charlotte McMurchie and Sarah Barratt are both very approachable and very experienced and understand social housing as well as our objectives.’

‘Team leader Charlotte McMurchie is a smooth operator with a great set of skills. A joy to work with and always a laugh.’

Key clients

Hardwicks RTM Company Limited

Bernicia Group

Karbon Homes Limited

3T Energy

Grainger plc

McAleer & Rushe Group

MRI Software Limited

Wildheart Residential Management Limited


Newcastle College Group

Prime Property Management Limited

Gentoo Group Limited

Retirement Bridge Management Limited

Hays Travel Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Karbon Homes Limited in regards to recovery of possession of their properties on a number of Housing Act grounds, including relating to access and where the tenant has been involved in a riot and dealing with potential defences.
  • Advising Hardwicks RTM Company Limited on many issues related to cladding and its remediation, the funding of the remediation and the provisions of the Building Safety Act 2022, its liabilities and those arising through s.124 of the Act.
  • Acting for Bernicia Group in connection with their commercial property portfolio in respect of all estate management issues including lease renewals, forfeiture, dilapidations, rent arrears recovery and advice regarding complex title issues.

Ward Hadaway LLP

With the arrival of Helen Hill from Knights plc in January 2022, Ward Hadaway LLP continues to expand its Newcastle-based property-related telecom law offering. The team also routinely acts for NHS trusts across the nation, assisting on hospital-related property litigations. The team, headed by Sharon Mathieson, is known for taking on landlord and tenant disputes, advising landowners on contractual matters, easements, covenants and trespass issues. Mathieson is a specialist in advising public and third sector clients, while Simon Thirtle focuses on defending clients in housing disrepair and unlawful eviction claims. Jeremy Hardy is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Sharon Mathieson

Other key lawyers:

Simon Thirtle; Jeremy Hardy


‘Unique in that they possess the specialist knowledge in the area of telecom and electronic communications property.’

‘The firm’s team is both friendly whilst remaining extremely professional.’

‘Helen Hill is friendly and willing to go the extra mile.’

Work highlights


Based in Newcastle, Weightmans’ property litigation team is known for its sector-focused expertise, advising clients in the energy, utilities, construction, education, licensing and leisure sectors. Steered by employment law specialist Christopher Graham, and supported by legal director Jill Dalkin, the team takes on various disputes concerning accrual of significant arrears leading to the disconnection of supply to commercial premises, as well as breach of covenants involving building works. Dalkin is also an expert on trespass, adverse possession, rights of access, dilapidations and injunctive relief. Mark Reeves, a member of the commercial litigation team, works on high-value franchise disputes and is frequently sought out by energy and utilities sector clients for advice on dilapidations, breach of lease covenants, business lease renewals and forfeiture issues.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Graham

Other key lawyers:

Jill Dalkin; Mark Reeves


‘The firm has an ability to handle complex matters with vast amounts of data while staying focused on the issue.’

‘Jill Dalkin is very personable and efficient. She communicates well, clearly and readily deals with complicated issues with ease.’

‘Weightmans are very approachable and explain matters in clear language without an over-use of legal jargon. They take time to explain the process and the background of the issue as well as the overall approach.’

‘Jill Dalkin is very knowledgeable and has the ability to clearly explain matters. She takes time to foster relationships and engender good working relationships.’

Key clients

Bellway Plc

Bellway Homes Limited

Northern Powergrid Plc

Northern Powergrid Plc

Camerons Brewery Limited

Northern Electric Plc

South Shore Developments Limited

AND Group Limited

University of Sunderland

Northern Trust Company Limited

Yorkshire Electricity Group Plc

Nucleus Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted the Electricity distribution business in an application for rectification in the First-tier Property Tribunal with subsequent permission to appeal refused by the Upper Tribunal.
  • Assisting the Elictricity distribution business following receipt of various notices to remove apparatus impacted by a major rail infrastructure project.
  • Advising Bellway Plc on a claim for damages arising from a developer’s breach of planning conditions.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s Newcastle-based property litigation team assists clients across commercial, residential and agricultural land disputes. Senior counsel and head of the team Jen Smurthwaite handles a range of disputes, including intersecting trusts and land matters, easement and building repair disputes. Associate Elspeth Moncrieff is an expert in commercial landlord and tenant litigations. Lease renewals, break notices, dilapidation disputes and contractual disputes involving misrepresentations are routine instructions for Moncrieff. Elizabeth Allen is noted for her focus on residential property litigation matters. Allen also represents social housing companies in anti-social behaviour and possession claims.

Practice head(s):

Jen Smurthwaite

Other key lawyers:

Elspeth Moncrieff; Elizabeth Allen

Key clients

Mobile Broadband Network Limited

Bernicia Group


Standard Life Trustee Company Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Mobile Broadband Network Limited on a range of property disputes across their portfolio of telecommunications sites.
  • Acting for Akelius on a range of tenancy management issues including claims to possession, injunctions to tackle anti-social behaviour, committals for breach and defending housing disrepair claims.
  • Advising Standard Life Trustee Company Ltd in a full range of property disputes across its SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension plan) portfolio.

Clarke Mairs LLP

Newcastle-based Clarke Mairs LLP’s property litigation team is led by James Godden, known for taking on contentious landlord and tenant disputes and enfranchisement work as well as first-tier tribunal matters. Promoted to partner in June 2022, Louise Ager is recommended for property litigation and contentious insolvency mandates - she routinely receives instructions from residential block management companies seeking advice on the interpretation of lease covenants and forfeiture claims. Ager also advises London-based property investment clients on leasehold disputes, arrears recovery, and possession claims.

Practice head(s):

James Godden

Other key lawyers:

Louise Ager


‘Quick to act and specialists in debt recovery and looking at different options to achieve a settlement. They take a very commercial view on cases.’

‘A small but dedicated team that pay close attention to even the smallest case and provide advice which is high quality value for money.’

‘James Godden is always thorough and provides advice of the highest standards. He has a dedicated and loyal team that work with the same dedication and ethos.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for respondent leaseholders in a recent appeal concerning procedural fairness and the construction of residential charge provisions in the First-tier Tribunal.


DWF is known to have a ‘team of experienced litigators with good legal knowledge and expertise in all manner of real estate litigation disputes’. The firm is known for assisting regional clients across a range of sectors - including industrial, retail, public, telecoms, social housing and transport - on leasehold consultation and pre-emption rights. Newcastle-based Jonathan Smith leads the real estate litigation team, handling rent review disputes and technical advice on REL issues such as break notices. Additionally, Smith frequently addresses public law challenges and housing litigations. Lana Imrie is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Smith

Other key lawyers:

Lana Imrie


‘DWF has a team of experienced litigators with good legal knowledge and expertise in all manner of real estate litigation disputes. The team also display a strong grasp of commercial issues.’

‘We have worked with DWF for a long time. They know how we operate and what our priorities are.’

‘Jonathan Smith has the rare combination of excellent technical legal knowledge with the commercial and strategic nous to apply this to meet our objectives.’

Key clients

Hanro Limited

Capital Park Leeds Plc

BT Plc

Grainger Plc

PD Teesport Limited

Northumberland Estates

Wigan Council


Custodian REIT

Advance Northumberland

Work highlights

  • Instructed by PD Teesport Limited to deal with an attempt to prevent emergency access routes out of the port and to frustrate access to key port sites by the neighbouring public body, STDC.
  • Acting on behalf of Grainger PLC in the defence of a claim it faces for allegations of breach of contract and duty, relating to the sell-off of a significant property portfolio in receivership.
  • Assisting Maymask (228) limited on a further claim brought in the High Court seeking remedies for unfair prejudice having occurred and claims of breach of duty.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

Newcastle-based Mincoffs Solicitors LLP takes on both residential and commercial property disputes. The team, led by the experienced Susan Roberts, also works on break notices, dilapidations, repair issues, re-entry and forfeiture problems, as well as disputes between freeholders and leaseholders. Roberts works on the full remit of landlord and tenant cases, and often collaborates with Ryan Bannon, head of the Newcastle real estate team.

Practice head(s):

Susan Roberts

Other key lawyers:

Ryan Bannon


‘I have had advice from several members of the team at Mincoffs. It was obvious that they work as a coherent team across the business. Everyone I had contact with was very helpful and substantially enhanced my understanding of the issues we were covering.’

‘Ryan Bannon had the imagination when discussing a development on the plot next to my home to review the title deeds of the plot which identified restrictive covenants that I have the benefit of. As a lay person I would not have even considered looking at my neighbours deeds. He was extremely helpful and also pointed me in the direction of a planning consultant.’ 

‘The team who dealt with my litigation were excellent communicators, keeping me updated at very regular intervals and explaining matters in terms that I could understand since I had never had to use litigation previously.’

Key clients

The Works Stores Limited

Lugano Group Limited

A1 Industrial Trucks Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for a national retail chain, who is a tenant in relation to contentious matters in respect of their commercial property leases including lease renewal and tenant breaks.
  • Acting on behalf of a manufacturing company in relation to disputed service charge claims by landlord.
  • Representing individual client in relation to claims of misrepresentation in connection with sale of residential property.

Sintons LLP

Sintons LLP acts for well-known local and national organisations involved in disputes concerning commercial and residential land developments. The range of work the real estate litigation team takes on includes property development agreement disputes, commercial lease renewals, dilapidation claims, forfeitures, easements, and breach of covenants. Hilary Waters specialises in intersecting litigation and regulatory matters, working with a diverse client base that spans the retail, leisure, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, education, and sports sectors. Dispute resolution expert Angus Ashman draws on experience of working on the full gamut of property issues, including professional negligence claims arising out of real estate issues. Graeme Ritzema specialises in providing real estate advice to clients in the healthcare space. Cristina Falzon is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Hilary Waters; Angus Ashman

Other key lawyers:

Graeme Ritzema; Cristina Falzon


‘One of the reasons myself and my immediate family have used Sintons over the years is that whichever department you employ, the advice received is laid out in a clear fashion which the layman can understand.’

‘In the property litigation department, I have always used Angus Ashman. Angus follows the ethos as described above with clear and concise advice. You know immediately that Angus is very much on your side and will fight to the end if so instructed. One of his great traits is his preference to pick up the telephone and discuss the case rather than simply email you.’

‘From the first moment I spoke to the team members, I felt comfortable that they understood the issue. Too often lawyers go along with the client’s wishes even if they may have qualms about the direction. That is not the case with Sintons and it is something I truly appreciate.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a corporate landlord in the leisure and retail sector against a novel argument regarding delay in responding to an application for permission to assign a tenancy resulting in the landlord waiving its right to an Authorised Guarantee Agreement under the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995.
  • Assisted a property owning and management company landlord in the chemical industry in establishing the sub-tenant’s use of unauthorised service media onto a very large industrial site.
  • Advised a large owner of brownfield sites in a matter with an international corporate tenant who had breached their covenants to carry out significant infrastructure works and instal culverts to allow road access over cables and pipes.

Swinburne Maddison LLP

Swinburne Maddison LLP’s property litigation team provides a niche specialism in handling disputes involving tenant issues, namely nuisance and disruption in the social housing space. Durham-based practice head David Low – also a key figure within the social housing team – is experienced in residential, commercial and agricultural disputes, acting on behalf of individuals, small businesses, large corporate bodies, landlords and tenants. Also based in Durham, Lewis Brown is a key point of contact for clients seeking advice on housing disrepair matters, neighbour disputes, construction litigation, and contractual issues.

Practice head(s):

David Low

Other key lawyers:

Lewis Brown


‘The administrative side of the practice is well organised. Communications are dealt with promptly, efficiently and courteously.’

‘I was pleased to have David Low’s personal attention at the precise moment that it was required. His work has been intelligent, measured, efficiently directed, productive and effective.’

‘We believe that the major selling point for this firm is the way their staff fulfil their roles in an outstanding professional manner.’

‘We have primarily dealt with Lewis Brown. He has impressed us with the timely manner in dealing with correspondence, keeping us abreast of any developments.’

‘The approach by Swinburne Maddison is entirely customer-focussed with strong client relationships and a genuine ambition to understand the customer needs, as well as being accessible and responsive throughout case management.’

‘David Lowe has a wealth of legal knowledge and experience, complemented by common sense. He is always approachable, quick to respond to enquiries, and it is a pleasure to work with him. Instructions are always clear, commendably brief and given in good time.’

‘David Low gives excellent advice, with a big dose of common sense and realism.’

‘Lewis Brown is excellent. He is responsive, across the issues and commercially minded.’

Key clients

Durham Cathedral

Beyond Housing Limited

The Esh Group

Believe Housing Limited

TJD Properties Limited

University of Law

MC Lettings

Gilesgate Properties Limited

Derwent Angling Association

St Cuthbert’s Walk Limited Partnership

The Empress Bar Limited

Livin Housing

Leeds City Council

Claxton Estates Limited

Moving On Limited

The Liquor & Restaurant Group Limited

Kiss the Moon Limited

H&H Land & Estates Ltd

Arrow Commercial Limited

Beyond Leisure Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of a client in connection with a proprietary estoppel dispute concerning the transfer of two properties valued at £500,000, which were allegedly promised in settlement of services rendered.
  • Continuing to act for a large local authority in connection with ongoing housing disrepair claims, with more than 2800 matters being handled to date.
  • Acting on behalf of a longstanding client in connection with a mines and minerals dispute over land which is designated for residential development.