Muckle LLP > Newcastle upon Tyne, England > Firm Profile

Muckle LLP
TIME CENTRAL
32 GALLOWGATE
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
NE1 4BF
England

Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Newcastle Tier 1

Clients regard Muckle LLP’s sizeable team as ‘quick, competent and value-enhancing’. The group handles a full scope of corporate and commercial work, including significant transactions within the region, spanning sectors such as IT, manufacturing, transport, financial services, hospitality and education. The practice also collaborates with the firm’s banking, IP, real estate, dispute resolution and employment specialists. The team’s client portfolio includes large acquirer companies and private equity houses; it is also increasingly gaining instructions from overseas clients investing in the UK. Andrew Davison heads up the corporate and energy teams, while Alex Craig leads the commercial group. Anthony Evans stands out for his work in the IT sector. Adam Rayner is singled out for being ‘cool-headed and very calm in dealing with transactions’. Corporate finance expert Matthew Walsh and senior associate Amy Wanless are also highly recommended by clients.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Davison; Alex Craig

Other key lawyers:

Anthony Evans; Adam Rayner; Philip Clare; Matthew Walsh; Sarah Forster; Amy Wanless; Stuart Grieve

Testimonials

‘We are generally impressed by the responsive nature of the team and the ability to have one focal client partner who leads the delivery of advice by their team. We are also impressed generally by the quality of advice in complex unique situations. We were impressed by their seamless transition to efficient working practices and its lack of impact on us as a client.’

‘Forward-thinking lawyers. Very collaborative, contactable and transparent. The whole team is excellent. Andrew Davison, Phil Clare, Adam Rayner, Matthew Walsh all stand out. It is excellent working with them on all types of transactions.’

‘Adam Rayner is available and responsive; nothing is too much for him. Cool-headed and very calm in dealing with transactions and the parties on the other side of those transactions.’

‘Speed with which they can mobilise when situations demand or unexpected events occur. Dedicated team which gives the matter the urgency and attention it deserves when time is of the essence, especially regarding corporate matters relating to sales process. We have needed to lean on Muckle for a variety of matters over the past couple of years in particular; they are very much our trusted and valued adviser. They have strength at all levels of the hierarchy, so whoever you deal with is quick, competent and value-enhancing. They seem to invest well in young people coming through the organisation which I like to see. The team also provide excellent training courses which have been done via Zoom during the Covid era.’

‘They are truly our advocate and will help us work our way through an issue in a pragmatic way. They help us direct our focus to the important points and not waste time on the minor issues. I feel they do keep the company’s best interests at the heart of what they do. Standout partners and associates I have dealt with are Philip Clare, Adam Rayner, Stuart Grieve, Amy Wanless.’

‘Alex Craig is very friendly, very capable, great at putting a point across. Exceptionally good at gathering and consolidating a lot of information into a single, simple and clear message.’

‘Matthew Walsh is knowledgeable, committed and strong at building relationships. He has significant experience which he brings to bear on each engagement as necessary, and is a trusted advisor to the business on a range of issues. I would have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone.’

‘Anthony Evans and his team make the legal side of our business seem very straightforward with the clarity and simplicity of their advice. Their understanding of our business is excellent and approach very amiable, reducing formality where possible.’

Key clients

Kitwave Group

Fairstone Group

LDC Private Equity

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Mandata Group

Newcells Biotech Limited

Thunderful AB

The Lakes Distillery Company plc

Simpsons Malt

Orchard Information Systems Limited

Meiyume (UK) Limited

Caribbean Premier League

Leo Vegas Gaming plc

CAV Advanced Technologies Limited

The Algorithm People Limited

Thomas Swan and Co Limited

City Football

Northern Gas & Power

Tea Venture Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised global gaming business Thunderful Group AB on its 100% acquisition of the development studio Coatsink Software.
  • Advised Mandata Group on two acquisitions: the acquisition of the business and assets of the online freight exchange, Return Loads; and the acquisition of Stirling Solutions and its two subsidiaries, Branall and Stirling Maintenance.
  • Advised the selling shareholders of Orchard Information Systems Limited on the sale to US private equity-backed consolidator, MRI Software.

Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Newcastle Tier 1

The litigation experts at Muckle LLP ‘consistently provide advice of the highest legal order’. The team’s caseload is varied and includes anything in the range of general commercial, construction, property, IP and professional indemnity disputes. The practice has niche expertise in the music and media industry, which is among the areas of focus of George Festing. Highly regarded department head Susan Howe is noted for her cross-border experience in financial asset tracing. Contentious public procurement work remains a field of focus for the team; and Leah Heatley is widely recognised as a strong public procurement litigator, the practice has also recently grown its junior level offering.

Practice head(s):

Susan Howe

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘I have always found the firm to consistently provide advice of the highest legal order. I trust their advice without question. They have always shown sound judgement and they know which points need to be pushed and which points need to be conceded. Their cross-referrals internally have been seamless and each department exhibits the same high standards.’

‘I would in particular recommend Leah Heatley, who is a dream to work with. She is prompt, attentive to both detail and client, and successfully navigates her way through matters with a combative spirit and good humour.’

‘Muckle have a strong team with excellent strategic know-how and expertise across a wide range of areas.’

‘Susan Howe is the standout individual at Muckle; she offers a reassuring presence to clients throughout their litigation journey; whilst having an excellent overview on where the client wants to get and how to get there.’

‘The Muckle team is by far the most talented and commercially focused set of litigation lawyers in the North East and, in my experience, one of the best nationally. Their approach is all about individual service and hands-on client care with very transparent billing and value for money. Their range of contentious specialisms is also quite unique in Newcastle. They really do deliver results.’

‘Susan Howe is simply unrivalled in the region for litigation experience and strategic expertise and she’s put together a team of very talented individuals.’

‘Both Leah Heatley and John Devine are excellent, providing first-class advice and support on what are often complex, fast-moving matters.’

Key clients

Caribbean Premier League Limited

Spurgeon’s College

Specialist IT Services Group Limited

NG Bailey Limited

Persimmon Homes Limited

Mandale Construction

Leovegas Gaming Plc

Work highlights

  • Assisting the Caribbean Premier League with various IP litigation matters concerning the unauthorised use of CPL’s name and registered trademarks.
  • Advising multiple small- and medium-sized enterprises on contentious claims for losses through their business interruption insurance policies.
  • Acting for leading mobile gaming company Leovegas Gaming Plc in claims relating to GDPR and intellectual property issues.

Dispute resolution > Debt recovery Tier 1

Muckle LLP prides itself on its high success rate in a full range of commercial and consumer debt recovery work. The 'very helpful and professional' group acts for a varied portfolio of regional and national sole traders and public limited companies. Clients also benefit from the team’s use of Liberate B2C, a case management software enabling the clear and speedy tracking and monitoring of progress on matters; in the words of a client, ‘each case is tracked and easy to follow’. The department’s work benefits significantly in terms of credibility due to the reputation of Beverley Oliver, whose wealth and 'great breadth of knowledge' span close to three decades. Insolvency specialist Kelly Jordan is also highly involved in the group’s advice on asset protection and recovery.

Practice head(s):

Beverley Oliver

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Very helpful and professional.’

‘Beverley Oliver is always prompt with her actions and responses.’

‘The debt recovery team always act quickly and they review their standard approach if they think another approach will be more successful. They have a very high rate of success with their letter before claim because if necessary they simply do not just send one letter they cover all angles to make sure that the letter gets to the right person to action it. Their initial preparation is excellent and flows into the success of the recovery of the debt.’

‘Beverley Oliver who is head of debt recovery has great breadth of knowledge and vast amounts of experience within this field. She is always very professional and provides a rapid response to all queries. Beverley recently successfully recovered a high value debt for us by going over and above the expectations of service delivery for debt recovery. The chances of the debt being recovered were low, but her never-give-in attitude approach thankfully meant that the debt was paid in full.’

‘Beverley Oliver is our main contact. Bev and her team are always professional and keep us informed of developments with all cases. I can ask any question and I always get a response, no matter how silly the question may be. I appreciate their honesty as well as their dedication in achieving positive results for our claims.’

‘Person-to-person contact with both their clients and debtor. Each case is tailored to suit the specific circumstance and each case is tracked and easy to follow allowing us to easily following the debt recovery process.’

‘All the staff are consistent, very reliable and chase us for a response if we forget to reply! Beverley Oliver is our key contact and we know that once the debt has been passed to her, we can be assured that she will do everything within her means to recover the debt in a professional manner.’

Key clients

Soil Environmental Services Limited

Nigel Wright Employment Services Limited

Quantum Sports Limited

Kans and Kandy Wholesale Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted Kans and Kandy Wholesale with its debt pre-action letter and chasing strategy.
  • Advised Quantum Sport on a repayment proposal.
  • Successfully assisted Nigel Wright Employment Services with initiating debt proceedings and collecting owed debt.

Finance > Banking and finance Tier 1

Muckle LLP’s full-service team garners praise by clients for being ‘hardworking and able to meet challenging deadlines’. The practice is a regional top performer in advising financial sector clients including banks, private equity houses, funds and other funders; it also benefits from multiple bank panel appointments; Kevin Maloney maintains a close relationship with numerous financial institutions. On the borrower side, the team is gaining additional ground through financing and refinancing work in the acquisition and project finance space. In addition, the department relies on the firm’s real estate team for property finance transactions, with Gail Bennett being among the key contacts in that respect. The practice is led by Louise Duffy, who is ‘highly competent, trustworthy and always puts the interests of her clients first’.

Practice head(s):

Louise Duffy

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Extremely experienced and knowledgeable. Also approachable and friendly. Definitely one of the top banking teams in the region.’

‘Louise Duffy is an excellent team leader, well-respected and very easy to work with. Kevin Maloney is highly experienced and good to deal with.’

‘Louise Duffy is a standout banking partner. After working with Louise on many transactions, I can categorically confirm she is one of the best banking lawyers you could hope to work with. Highly competent, trustworthy and always puts the interests of her clients first.’

‘Very engaging and hands on in terms of supporting us (as lenders) proactively with advice and guidance. Louise Duffy, Kevin Maloney and Philip Clare all stand out for their proactivity. I would say they are amongst the best in their field locally.’

‘Great collaboration across business lines to work together to find solutions for the clients.’

‘The key word is practical in dealing with Muckle you always know they will provide a first-class and timely service always in a pragmatic and practical manner. The clear collaboration within the firm is clear to see. The key driver and my main point of contact in this regard is Louise Duffy.’

‘Very strong and collaborative team to deal with that is always very responsive to formal and informal queries. Very quick to bring in support from across the firm if the work requires input from outside the banking and finance team. Approach is very commercial with a can-do attitude. Hardworking and able to meet challenging deadlines.’

‘Louise Duffy is a very knowledgeable banking lawyer with a deep understanding of bank processes and all associated documents both LMA and non-LMA. Adam Rayner is a proactive lawyer with good knowledge of equity transactions both mid-market PE and earlier stage VC.’

Key clients

HSBC UK Bank plc

Lloyds Bank plc

Santander UK plc

The Lakes Distillery Company plc

Clydesdale Bank plc

Mandata Group Limited

Atom Bank plc

Hampshire Trust Bank plc

The University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Kitwave Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Santander UK on new loan and revolving credit facilities to Broadband Satellite Services Group.
  • Advised The Lakes Distillery Company on a range of facilities during the course of the year to support the group’s growth aspirations.
  • Advised The University of Newcastle upon Tyne on facilities provided by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for a heat networks investment project on campus.

Private client > Charities and not-for-profit Tier 1

The team at Muckle LLP provides a full service to over 400 active charity clients nationwide; John Devine focuses particularly on those in the sporting sector while Joanne Davison takes the lead on instructions from the education industry. Work handled by the firm ranges from advising on corporate governance matters, restructuring, fundraising, trading and mergers, to assisting with commercial, employment, property, construction, regulatory and tax issues. Samantha Roberts acts as the lead adviser to parkrun Global, and advises this core client on a range of charity, commercial and data protection matters.

Practice head(s):

John Devine

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Excellent range of expertise available within the team. All team members we have dealt with have had a very thorough understanding of our entity and of our sector (faith charity).’

‘Muckle are able to provide the full range of advice we need as a regional charity, with their knowledge of charity law being especially beneficial. They also have good links with other local professional advisors so if we need, for example, employment and tax advice, they will work collaboratively with external advisors to help us develop considered solutions. The provision of up front cost estimates and full transparency in billing allows us to manage our costs and ensure value for money for the charity.’

‘I have received advice, guidance and support from John Devine and Samantha Roberts from Muckle for many years now. The personal touch in all matters is exemplary, along with sound legal advice.’

‘Without exception, every person I have dealt with has been responsive, efficient and provided high quality advice.’

‘Always respond to queries swiftly, always willing to meet (virtually). Listen closely to ascertain our concerns, so that they are specifically addressed alongside the giving of broader legal advice.’

Key clients

The Great North Air Ambulance Service

The Alnwick Garden Trust

The Greggs Foundation (official affiliated charity of Greggs PLC)

The Premier League Charitable Fund

North Music Trust (The Sage Gateshead music venue)

Chelsea FC Foundation

Tyneside Cinema

St Cuthbert’s Care (incorporating The Alan Shearer Foundation)

Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF)

Newcastle University Students’ Union

Mental Health Concern (Concern Group)

parkrun Global

The Football Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advising The Football Foundation on the national roll out of the £200m Parklife facilities project launched initially by The Football Association.
  • Advised City Football Group, owner of 10 professional football clubs worldwide including Manchester City FC, on the global implementation of its charitable “Cityzens Giving for Recovery” fundraising programme in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Advising parkrun Global and its UK and overseas subsidiaries on all legal matters.

Public sector > Education Tier 1

Muckle LLP's education offering stands out for its 'clear understanding of and passion for the sector'. Numerous FE and HE institutions, independent and maintained schools, single and multi-academy trusts have 'benefitted from the variety of experience the team offers'. The firm remains at the forefront of the academy conversion programme; to date, the group has advised on over 250 academy conversions and transfers in the North East alone. Along with practice head Tony McPhillips, the department also fields commercial expert Robin Adams, employment specialist Jill Donabie and 'consummate professionalJoanne Davison. In early 2020, Alison Walton joined from DAC Beachcroft LLP, bringing with her a wealth of experience in public procurement, state aid and contractual issues.

Practice head(s):

Tony McPhillips

Testimonials

‘Really pro-active team with good response times and an excellent understanding of local context and issues.’

‘Jill Donabie’s knowledge of the education sector is invaluable.’

‘Individuals within the team are approachable, supportive and knowledgeable. They are able and willing to spend time explaining things to you and providing the hands on support that is often required. Over the months they have proven valuable advisors.’

‘Joanne Davison is the consummate professional. Joanne’s warmth of personality, tied to her passion to provide excellence, makes her a superb fit in the education sector.’

‘Muckle LLP are unique in their ability to communicate with clients. My company operates in the field of education and we have have an incredibly productive relationship with regard to developing processes and products which can bridge the gap between legal and educational practice.’

‘There is a clear understanding of and passion for the sector which allows legal decisions and advice based on the reality of the situation. The people make it, the human touch and the way they know our academy trust and how it works. They listen, understand and work together, with the right colleagues, to ensure we get the best possible advice. Having a range of experts who they draw from helps.’

‘They are keen to know about us. They want to know what makes us tick as individuals and as an organisation to get the right support to the right places. Tony McPhillips and Joanne Davison have been amazing with us and have tailored the communication and support to our best interests. ‘

‘Muckle LLP as a firm is very approachable. We gain confidence from the friendly and clear manner in which they provide advice and support.’

Key clients

NCG

Tyne Coast College

Bishop Auckland College

Newcastle University

University of Northumbria

Sunderland University

SMART Multi Academy Trust

Sedbergh School

Dame Allan’s Schools

Three Rivers Learning Trust

Emmanuel Schools Foundation

River Tees Multi Academy Trust

East Durham College

Park View School

Balmoral Learning Trust

Southmoor Multi Academy Trust

NEAT Academy Trust

Durham & Newcastle Diocesan Learning Trust

Tyne Coast Academy Trust

Trinity Academy Newcastle

Hadrian Learning Trust

Kenton Schools Academy Trust

Cramlington Learning Village

Pele Trust

Castle View Enterprise Academy

Teesside Learning Trust

Tyne Community Learning Trust

Advance Learning Partnership

Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust

Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust

Melrose Learning Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising on the implementation of the academisation plan of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.
  • Providing a full service legal retainer to the Three Rivers Learning Trust, a growing MAT, including advising on all legal day to day issues and providing a full clerking service.
  • Providing all legal day to day support to NCG, including advising on employment, student affairs, property issues, governance, commercial matters, data protection and dispute resolution.

Real estate > Commercial property: Newcastle Tier 1

In 2020, Muckle LLP experienced an uptick in real estate-related joint venture transactions; in this regard, it routinely pairs up with the firm’s corporate finance practice. Will McKay and Gail Bennett are noted for their recent property investment work. Department head Jonathan Combe leads the firm’s strong long-term relationships with multiple key clients, traditionally in property development mandates, but also in the retail sector. The group is equally experienced in portfolio management realm, where it counts companies such as Hays Travel among its clients; recently promoted partner Deborah Lazenby is adept at assisting owners and occupiers. Property development specialist James Armstrong  is recommended for being an ‘exceptional lawyer’.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Combe

Other key lawyers:

Will McKay; Gail Bennett; James Armstrong; Libbie Henderson; Richard Nixon

Testimonials

‘Broad team with relevant skills. Always keen to assist. Can deal with all aspects of property. They always respond quickly and we feel like a priority; this is important as our work is important to us but it also shows they feel as much about it as we do. Not afraid to give honest advice.’

‘We have used the services of Richard Nixon and his team for the last five years. Muckle provide a full range of services when dealing with land issues. Despite a complex case involving easements and drainage, the team managed the situation from start to finish with a result that kept our reputation in tact yet achieved a fair outcome for all.’

‘Richard Nixon does not rely on Google; he will visit each of the sites where we request detailed work and ensures he fully understands our needs in great detail. We have found this to be vital for us with academy conversions. We have also used Richard for complex easement issues where a common-sense approach is vital in order to protect reputation. Richard is able to communicate in an efficient and understanding manner which leads to swift and efficient conclusions.’

‘James Armstrong stands out to me personally. He is honest, on the ball, clued up, always has the answers to hand. Exceptional lawyer. I can’t recommend him enough.’

‘I think what makes Muckle stand out is their client care and communication. They have all of the competencies required and a broad base of expertise to work from but in comparison to others they are more client-focused and easier to engage with.’

‘Jonathan Combe and Richard Nixon are both professionals who are very knowledgeable on property matters and are easy to access  and contact.’

‘Our main contact is Gail Bennett whom we have worked with for a number of years. The advice we get from Gail is practical, with a focus on solutions to help us get the deal done as efficiently as possible.’

‘We have begun working with Deborah Lazenby who has an excellent knowledge of the education sector. She is very approachable and can explain issues in a way which is easily understood by our lay colleagues, which minimises the support required from our internal legal team where resources are stretched. The result is that we all work as if we were part of one team as the internal/external barriers are reduced to a minimum. We have been very happy to deal with Deborah as our one point of contact.’

Key clients

McAleer & Rushe

Hays Travel

Home Group

Persimmon plc

Mandale Group

NG Bailey

Gentoo Group

Trivselhus

Port of Blyth

Newcastle College Group

Connection Flooring

Advance Northumberland

Luxury Leisure

Dysart Group

Amethyst Homes

Vistry

Believe Housing

Livin Housing

Work highlights

  • Advised Hays Travel on its acquisition of 555 properties from the Thomas Cook portfolio following its liquidation.
  • Advised MRP Land on its development forward funding of Cannon Park to Vita of its purpose-built 808 bed student accommodation campus.
  • Advised Home Group on the development of its new 80,000 sq. ft. headquarter building.

Real estate > Property litigation Tier 1

Muckle LLP’s ‘approachable and knowledgeable’ team acts for a mix of regional and national clients in a full gamut of contentious property issues, including commercial property disputes, land law matters, and freehold and leasehold disputes in the residential property market segment. Charlotte McMurchie heads up the wider real estate department and brings 'a great combination of expertise with commercial and clear approach to property litigation'. Further, clients also praise associate Sarah Barratt for her ‘incredible legal mind’; she is noted for her recent work on boundary disputes. Senior associate Jennifer Pearson is also a key figure and stands out for her niche expertise in agricultural property litigation and insolvency-related property issues.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte McMurchie

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Muckle LLP’s great strength is looking at any matter we instruct on from a strategic point of view, asking what it is that we want to achieve and why. Their residential property team always thinks more widely around the issue. Once we have established what is required, a strategy is developed and we work in partnership to achieve that common goal. This is not a common trait amongst other lawyers that I have worked with previously.’

‘They are approachable and knowledgeable and very helpful in providing property litigation services.’

‘Sarah Barratt has an incredible legal mind and is an absolute star – I cannot speak highly enough of her. She provides excellent advice. In the event that any ambiguities arise, she removes them to go straight to the core of the legal issue.’

‘My experience of dealing with Muckle LLP has been very positive, they have provided excellent support and guidance particularly when it comes to assessment of liability and legal advice on disrepair claims and all in a very timely manner.’

‘The team has been supportive and reassuring as well as being quick to respond and react to any issues as they arise.’

‘Charlotte McMurchie has a great combination of expertise with commercial and clear approach to property litigation.’

‘Charlotte McMurchie is our main point of contact and is easy to talk things through with and bounce ideas off. She is always available when we need her and makes sure that she gives us the time that we need working things out with her. The rest of her team share her work ethics and client commitment. They always want to do what is best for the client and deliver not only top-quality legal advice but also very sound commercial judgment. Each of the lawyers and administrators in the team is highly adept in dealing with the issues we regularly face as a large residential landlord.’

‘Jennifer Pearson has dealt with a number of end of lease issues for me and understands how I prefer to operate. Her legal advice always comes with a commercial consideration and she has probably helped me save money on more than one occasion.’

Key clients

Grainger plc

Karbon Homes

Bernicia Housing

Castles & Coasts Housing Association

North Star Housing Group

Hays Travel

Welbeck Estates

O’Brien Group & Family

Trivselhus

McAleer & Rushe Group

Wildheart Residential Management

The Football Association

Retirement Bridge Management

Gentoo

Nexus

Newcastle College Group

Persimmon Homes

Home Group

Northpoint (Bromley) Management

Vertu Motors Plc

Work highlights

  • Acting for Hays Travel on matters relating to the acquisition of 550 stores from the liquidators of Thomas Cook.
  • Advising Northpoint (Bromley) Management on its ACM cladding remediation work.
  • Assisting Karbon Homes with a number of contentious tenancy management issues, including anti-social behaviour issues.

TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > Intellectual property Tier 1

Muckle LLP's intellectual property group is equally focused on contentious and advisory work; litigation expert George Festing oversees the former while commercial specialist Alex Craig leads on the latter. Trade mark portfolio management also continues to be an area of strength and growth for the team. The firm has considerable experience of tackling matters with a nexus to the TMT, education, retail, travel and leisure, industrial engineering and pharmaceutical industries. John Devine is particularly noted for his exclusive work with sports clients, on behalf of whom he handles a wide range of non-contentious IP issues.

Practice head(s):

Alex Craig

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Great team, broad spectrum of knowledge, very pragmatic, always willing to offer the best advice (even if it may not be what we want to hear, but need to hear).’

‘Alex Craig is very friendly and knowledgeable. Strong character. Has offered clear advice, and gained additional input from other sources when/where required.’

Key clients

Meiyume (UK) Limited

Caribbean Premier League

Leo Vegas Gaming plc

CAV Advanced Technologies Limited

The Algorithm People Limited

Thomas Swan and Co Limited

City Football

Northern Gas & Power

Simpsons Malt Limited

Tea Venture Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted Thunderful Group with its acquisition of 100% of the development studio Coatsink Software.
  • Acting for LeoVegas Gaming on active litigation relating to contract, data protection and trade marks.
  • Advised CFG, owner of 10 professional football clubs worldwide including Manchester City FC, on the global implementation of its Cityzens Giving for Recovery programme in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > IT and telecoms Tier 1

Muckle LLP fields a core group of highly specialised practitioners, who are noted for their expertise in various areas, including fintech, commercial contracts and information security. 'Smooth operator' George Festing is widely known for his contentious IT practice, while Alex Craig brings her extensive knowledge of technology, data and intellectual property issues to the team. The firm also continues to advise numerous tech businesses on various corporate matters, including M&A transactions and investments, and remains sought after for its knowledge of GDPR compliance and technology development programmes.

Practice head(s):

Alex Craig

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Alex Craig has consistently and authentically taken a real interest in the value that her team can bring to our business. They have been dependable, responsive and flexible when needed, quickly bringing the appropriate people and skills to conversations and delivering advice, guidance and keeping promises.’

‘George Festing is very switched on, both commercially and from a legal standpoint. I would describe him as a “smooth operator”. He gets on very well with clients on a personal level, giving them a lot of confidence that they are getting a good and cost-effective service.’

‘The team at Muckle are pragmatic, thorough and very professional.’

‘All the individuals I have worked with at Muckle are extremely professional and competent. They explain complex legal issues in layman’s terms extremely well and are not arrogant.’

‘High speed and efficiency of service delivery. Good knowledge sharing resources. Appropriate use of technology. Up to date legal guidance, particularly around the impact of Brexit/Covid.’

‘Alex Craig provides sound and relevant advice and, most importantly for me, is able to challenge thinking and ensure the advice provided is relevant to the desired business outcome.’

‘Muckle are our trusted partner – they have a breadth and depth of legal offerings, an approachable, knowledgeable team and importantly, are there when needed. They are responsive to our needs, have anticipated challenges and ensure contact is meaningful and appropriate rather than constant and unsolicited.’

‘A commercial and cost-effective team which punches above its weight and can hold its own against larger firms.’

Key clients

Mandata Management and Data Services Limited

Leo Vegas Gaming plc

The Algorithm People Limited

Arbor Education Limited

Zytronic Displays Limited

Beyond Digital Solutions

City Football

Waterstons Limited

MRI Software

Atlas Cloud

Work highlights

  • Advised Mandata Group on its acquisition of the business and assets of the online freight exchange, Return Loads.
  • Advised Okkulo on the development and commercialisation of an innovative science-based indoor ball-sports training apparatus.
  • Acting for LeoVegas Gaming on current active litigation relating to contracts, GDPR and trade marks.

TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > Media and entertainment Tier 1

Muckle LLP's offering is known for handling high value matters for a wide range of clients in the entertainment industry, ranging from Premier League footballers to international music artists. George Festing's broad practice encompasses the full roster of contentious and advisory work, including press and reputation management, rights infringements, shareholder disputes, royalty claims, sponsorship, celebrity endorsement and licensing. The firm is also noted for its expertise in issues with a nexus to the sports sector; John Devine is the key contact for such work. 

Practice head(s):

George Festing

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘George Festing is considered, articulate and personable. He consistently delivers pragmatic and reliable counsel. A pleasure to deal with.’

Key clients

James Lavelle

Caribbean Premier League Limited

England Athletics Limited

North Music Trust

Tyneside Cinema

Guernsey Electric

Magnetic North East

Durham County Cricket Club

Sunderland AFC

The Football Association

The Northumbrian Pipers Society

Work highlights

  • Assisting Leovegas Gaming, one of the leading mobile gaming companies worldwide, with a range of IT and IP matters, both advisory and contentious.
  • Advising the Caribbean Premier League on their media rights agreements, including new media rights, image rights and licensing for video gaming and worldwide betting rights.
  • Advised Thunderful Group, alongside its Swedish legal counsel, on the English law elements of the client’s acquisition of 100% of the development studio Coatsink Software for an upfront consideration of £23m plus an earn-out component potentially resulting in a maximal total consideration £65.5 million.

Employment Tier 2

Under the leadership of 'invaluable adviser' Chris Maddock, the team at Muckle LLP advises employers across all sectors on the full range of employment issues, including TUPE and corporate transactions, regulatory issues, business immigration and data protection matters. The firm also continues to provide a fixed price retainer arrangement to over 100 clients, ranging from small charities and owner-managed businesses, to national companies. Tony McPhillips is noted equally for his expertise in complex litigious work and his focus on clients from the sports sector, while associate Lisa Kelly is recommended for her experience with discrimination and equal pay issues. For education providers, Jill Donabie is a key contact.

Practice head(s):

Chris Maddock

Testimonials

‘Muckle LLP provide a first-class service in every respect. Their advice is always considered, timely and proffered from as fair a perspective as possible. The employment team is notable for their low turnover of staff, which I think reflects extremely well on the leadership and the organisation. Nothing is ever too much trouble and I cannot commend them highly enough. In addition, they provide excellent communications and seminars to provide updates on key legislative changes, which are always extremely helpful to attend.’

‘Chris Maddock has an exceptionally clear understanding of how our business works and his advice is always given with that in mind. It is pragmatic, thoughtful and fair. Lisa Kelly also provides a first class service. She is incredibly efficient and prompt to respond and will always offer a well thought out and robust perspective. Both Chris and Lisa are a pleasure to work with and their guidance and advice is greatly appreciated.’

‘The employment team at Muckle have a depth of knowledge and experience which is more than capable of covering all the employment law needs of our business. The Mi Shield retainer that Muckle offers allows our management team to concentration on delivering business objectives safe in the knowledge that the ever increasing complexity of employment matters is covered in a professional and cost effective way.’

‘Chris Maddock has been my go-to for employment advice and support for a number of years and is an invaluable adviser to the business. He manages to translate the often complex area of employment law into clear actionable strategy which ensures we are able to achieve our ongoing business objectives. I would have no hesitation in recommending Chris to cover any employment advice needed.’

‘The team is very responsive and handovers are seamless from one practitioner to another. Knowledge of our business is key and an abundance of legal practical common-sense advice is given.’

 

 

Key clients

NCG (Newcastle College Group)

University of Northumbria

Hays Travel Limited

END. Clothing

Education Development Trust

The Football Association

Gentoo Group Limited

Newcastle Building Society

Port of Tyne

A & P Group

Work highlights

  • Advised a registered social housing provider on changes to local government terms and conditions of employment for over 1,000 employees following a TUPE transfer.
  • Led an investigation into allegations of financial impropriety and other potential career-ending allegations on behalf of a multi-academy Education Trust.
  • Defending an employment tribunal claim which arose out of concerns about safety at work during the pandemic on behalf of a global ship building and repair business.

Finance > Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

Muckle LLP is sought after by insolvency practitioners for pre-pack administrations and asset realisations. The team’s client portfolio also includes distressed companies, lenders and creditors in need of debt recovery assistance. Further, clients benefit from the team’s use of artificial intelligence technology during document review processes, as well as from Muckle Collect – the firm’s online system used for debt collection work. Practice head Kelly Jordan garners praise for being ‘technically brilliant but always with an eye for commerciality’; she has additional experience in the charities sector.

Practice head(s):

Kelly Jordan

Testimonials

‘Kelly Jordan is one of the best insolvency lawyers in the city and I would highly recommend her. She is technically brilliant but always with an eye for commerciality. She is always contactable and I would go to her for any difficult assignment.

‘Great technical knowledge and friendly approach to clients.’

‘Very partner led approach. I really enjoy working with Kelly Jordan – I feel the relationship is very much a team with the FRP team.’

‘Muckle LLP is an extremely high-quality insolvency and corporate recovery practice. It has a major focus on advising directors of companies in financial difficulty and undertaking transactional restructuring work, such as buying and selling businesses in administration. This rock-solid core of technical expertise and speed of execution is rarely found in practices in the region.’

‘Kelly Jordan is the standout solicitor in this area.’

‘Muckle’s team are in the top echelon of solicitors for business law in the North East. Their insolvency and corporate recovery team reflect that quality.’

‘I’ve worked closely with Kelly Jordan on a complex and sensitive case over the past year. Her advice has covered insolvency law, trust law and large portions of practicality so that we were able to achieve the desired outcomes in a sensible time frame. I look forward to working with her again soon.’

Key clients

FRP Advisory Trading Limited

RMT Accountants and Business Advisors

Grant Thornton UK LLP

Hays Travel Limited

Brave Bison PLC

Armstrong Watson LLP

Azets Holdings Limited

KPMG LLP

NCG

Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP

Manolete Partners PLC

Work highlights

  • Advised Grant Thornton UK LLP, administrator of The Cylinder Service Centre Limited, on its appointment and the sale of the business and assets of the company.
  • Advised Hays Travel on the acquisition of the business and assets of Tailor Made Travel Limited operating across 18 stores in South Wales.
  • Advised Brave Bison on the acquisition of The Hook channel and related intellectual property, including a number of websites and media channels.

Projects, energy and natural resources > Energy Tier 2

Muckle LLP’s cross-departmental energy group brings together energy law  experts and lawyers with specialist knowledge of finance, property, construction and engineering, and commercial law. The team’s recent workload also demonstrates its strength in energy infrastructure contracts and related claims. Corporate law expert Andrew Davison heads up the practice.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Davison

Other key lawyers:

Lucilla Waugh; Libbie Henderson

Testimonials

‘A relatively small practice locally based which ensures a fast response and a good awareness of issues affecting the local area.’

‘A lot of experience and provides excellent advice.’

Key clients

Edmi Europe

Port of Blyth

Port of Tyne

Guernsey Electricity

Penultimate Power UK Ltd

Jersey Electricity Plc

The Banks Group

Jersey Water

Blue Water Energy

Morrison Data Services

Smulders BV

Avid Technology

TSG Marine

3T Energy

Newcastle University

SK Utilities

ExaMotive SA / Oply UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Darlington College on its NEC3 option contract for the design and construction of a fully controlled modular combined heat and power system, solar photovoltaic panels, battery storage, conventional boilers, plate heat exchangers and a building management system.
  • Advising the University of Newcastle on funding for a heat network investment project with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  • Assisting a landowner with the negotiation of four separate solar 5-year options and 35-year leases.

Real estate > Construction Tier 2

Muckle LLP is recognised by clients for inspiring ‘full confidence in the team’ and ‘the ability to call in specialist advice from other offices as required’. The practice handles construction disputes by acting hand in glove with the firm’s dispute resolution team. Its non-contentious work also stands out in relation to a full range of services relating to complex contractual arrangements. Notably, the department has increased its work flows with respect to work in the education, housing and energy industries, as well as instruction from contractors in administration. Practice head Lucilla Waugh and Adam Aston are a highly regarded duo, which ‘always understand the question and can provide detailed responses to a lay client in an understandable way’.

Practice head(s):

Lucilla Waugh

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘The breadth of knowledge available and the approach that Muckle bring enable full confidence in the team. They have the ability to call in specialist advice from other offices as required to respond to sometimes very specific legal issues.’

‘Lucilla Waugh and Adam Aston are particularly noteworthy as I have worked with them both recently. They always understand the question and can provide detailed responses to a lay client in an understandable way to allow decisions to be made and progressed. This has continued throughout the pandemic’

‘Excellent team, very experienced and helpful. Always available to help with those urgent questions.’

‘The team is relatively small and personable which is great if you seek that continuity as a client.’

Key clients

The University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Guernsey Electricity Limited

Aura Newcastle Limited

NCG

McAleer and Rushe

Trivselhus

PD Ports

Gentoo Group Limited

Bowmer and Kirkland Limited

Home Group

Work highlights

  • Advising Home Group on the construction aspects of the development of its new national headquarters.
  • Acting for the developer arm of the McAleer and Rushe Group on the construction elements of the £100m GDV development of a large student accommodation building and multi-storey care park at Cannon Park, Coventry.
  • Acted for the University of Newcastle on the design and construction contracts for its new £16m indoor sports facility in Richardson Road.

Private client > Agriculture and estates Tier 3

In April 2020, Muckle LLP‘s agricultural offering joined with the firm’s private client team to form a new agriculture, estates and private client department, allowing an even stronger collaboration between the two specialisms. In other recent developments, the group welcomed Kathryn Boyd, formerly of BHP Law; she brings her experience of handling complex first registrations, high value property sales and purchases and estate management issues to the practice. Practice head David Towns and recommended associate Elizabeth Earle are the other key names to note.

Practice head(s):

David Towns

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘The team we worked with demonstrate a very can-do attitude and deliver extremely prompt service and represent value. We have worked closely with David Towns and Kathryn Boyd. Muckle, through David Towns’ experience in particular, have a very good grasp of some unusual land law principles.’

‘Elizabeth Earle is very capable, commercially aware and a pragmatic problem solver.’

 

 

 

Key clients

Allendale Estates

Church Commissioners for England

Lonsdale Settled Estates

Chatsworth Trustees

Muncaster Estate

Banks Property Limited

Boughton Estates Limited (part of Buccleuch Group)

Naworth Castle Estate

The Lees Court Estate, Kent

Work highlights

  • Advised a longstanding commercial client on the sale of a country house and farming estate, in a deal worth approximately £14m.
  • Advised a large landed estate on a £2.5m refinance and inter-trust loan, secured on complex, agricultural property subject to Settled Land Act settlements.
  • Managed the legal arrangements for a new spring-fed water supply pipe system for a landed estate client, including the drafting of a deed of easement from over 15 grantors to serve more than 15 individual properties.

TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > Sport Tier 3

Based in Newcastle, Muckle LLP notably provides full-service advice to a number of national governing bodies including The FA, Sport England and England Athletics. The team is especially active in terms of regulatory, disciplinary and contentious matters and also supports several prominent football clubs on contractual, transfer, image right and agency issues. John Devine, cited for his ‘strong client management’, fronts the offering and is able to leverage broad sector expertise, having advised over 130 professional clubs from sports as diverse as football, rugby union, rugby league, cricket, basketball and ice hockey.

Practice head(s):

John Devine

Other key lawyers:

Tony McPhillips; George Festing

Testimonials

‘John Devine’s client management is strong and the ability to signpost us and connect us to specialists within their team is good. Friendly, customer centric, quick and responsive.’

‘They are responsive, offer practically applicable advice, and demonstrate an understanding of our business.’

Key clients

The Football Association

England Athletics

parkrun Global

The Caribbean Premier League

Chelsea FC Foundation

The EFL Trust

The Premier League Charitable Fund

Sport England

Durham County Cricket Club

The Rugby Players’ Association

The Football Foundation

British Wheelchair Basketball

British Skydiving

Work highlights

  • Advising The Football Association on the £200m national charitable facilities Parklife project, now managed by The Football Foundation.
  • Retained as sole legal adviser to England Athletics, the national governing body of the sport of athletics.
  • Retained as sole legal adviser to Caribbean Premier League (CPL), a major international televised club cricket competition.

Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 4

Muckle LLP's offering is best known for providing bespoke private client services to business owners, company directors and senior executives, as well as to former business owners who have exited by sale. Practice head Keith Hately and senior associate Julie Garbutt are the team one client would 'reliably recommend for more complex and challenging estate, succession and inheritance tax planning cases'. For landed farming clients, David Towns, who heads up the firm's agriculture, estates and rural property group, is the key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Keith Hately

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Excellent team work and clever caring individuals make it a pleasure to deal with the firm.’

‘Keith Hately and Julie Garbutt are reassuringly competent and are very good communicators who we reliably recommend for more complex and challenging estate, succession and inheritance tax planning cases.’

‘Exceptional experience and understanding, especially with reference to trusts. Approachable and friendly.’

‘We work most closely with Keith Hately and Julie Garbutt. Both provide strong client service and are straightforward communicators.’

‘Strong client service. Regional focus. Approachable and engaged partners.’

‘They carry out the tasks efficiently, promptly and professionally – outstanding is Julie Garbutt for the work we ask her to do on clients’ wills, trusts and Power of Attorneys.’

‘Muckle LLP have built a strong private client offering to serve company owners/directors and other clients, and they bring their professionalism and understanding to it.’

‘Strong technical knowledge and willingness to share knowledge.’

Work highlights

  • Advising the owner of a national business and a family investment company on a full review of the family wills, trusts and other related arrangements.
  • Advising a well-known local property investor and entrepreneur on the establishment of family trusts and the preparation of wills for himself and his family, comprising a number of individuals including some who are resident overseas.
  • Assisting the executors of the estate of the deceased owner of a nationally known business.

Muckle LLP is the North East’s leading independent law firm for businesses. The firm has specialists in every major area of commercial law looking after a vast range of clients, from small businesses to PLCs and global organisations.

The firm: Over the past 102 years, since Robert Muckle formed the partner-led practice in 1920, Muckle LLP has developed a national reputation as a highly responsive North East law firm, with lawyers who are leaders in their field.

Being independent allows the firm to spend time getting to know clients properly and provide a genuinely personal experience. It helps it to be flexible and do whatever it takes to support businesses. Muckle is also committed to supporting its local community and has given 1% of profits to local charitable causes each year for almost 20 years.

Clients find the firm easy to do business with and say it reacts to their needs quickly. This is why having all of its specialist lawyers based at one site is key, allowing for rapid response, especially on complex issues that involve different departments.

Muckle LLP’s client base now ranges from small businesses to PLCs, international corporates to FTSE 100 companies, and includes such names as McAleer & Rushe, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, NCG, Clouston Group, Fairstone Group, Kitwave, the Caribbean Premier League and the English Football Association.

Being proactive and responding quickly has helped the firm become one of the most prolific dealmakers in the North East. It is also well-known for its innovative approach to technology, being a first adopter of AI for dispute resolution and launching new products to save clients time and money on debt recovery and client onboarding.

When the firm was crowned Corporate and Commercial Regional Law Firm of the Year at The Legal 500 UK Awards in 2017,  judges were impressed by its ability to handle UK-wide transactions from its North East base.

Types of work undertaken: Muckle LLP has specialist lawyers and dedicated teams for all key areas of commercial law, including banking and finance, corporate finance, real estate, real estate dispute resolution, commercial, construction and engineering, employment, restructuring and insolvency, charities and social enterprise, education, energy, financial institutions, insurance, manufacturing, social housing, sports and private client.

DepartmentNameEmailTelephone
Managing partner Jason Wainwright
Senior partner Hugh Welch
Banking and restructuring Louise Duffy
Commercial Alex Craig
Construction and engineering Lucilla Waugh
Corporate Andrew Davison
Dispute resolution Susan Howe
Education Tony McPhillips
Employment Chris Maddock
Real estate Jonathan Combe
Real estate dispute resolution Charlotte McMurchie
Sports and charities John Devine
Number of UK partners : 35
Number of other UK fee-earners : 63

Our commitment to CSR, diversity and equality is fundamental to our culture – it’s not something we do, it’s something we are.

At the heart of our business lies a genuine passion for our region and a deep desire to have a positive impact on our community. From giving back to local causes to driving change that promotes equality inside and outside our
business, being a responsible business is important to us.

Each year we donate 1% of our annual profits to our charitable fund. And that soon adds up; we’ve donated over £560,000 to local causes offering support in three key areas – young people, disadvantage, and social mobility, as well as
supporting causes close to the hearts of our people.

Our approach isn’t limited to our fund. We have a huge amount of talent in our business, and we encourage our people to give their time and skills to local charities, schools and community organisations who can benefit from their practical support and expertise. Whether that’s our lawyers carrying out pro-bono work or our employees using their 2 days paid volunteering leave to help local organisations.

Social and environmental sustainability runs deep through everything we do, and we’re committed to using our resources as efficiently as possible to reduce our environmental impact. Our award-winning team promote environmental policy and practices internally and externally. We run regular events, publish energy eNews, provide social media coverage and work
with local councils on their net-zero initiatives to promote in-home sustainability.

We’re committed to investing in the health and wellbeing of our people, and as we learn to live, work and interact in a different way it’s important that we consider innovative solutions that reach all our staff. As a company we’ve been working Agile for over 3 years now, giving our employees the freedom to work as they work best has had a really positive impact on employee engagement and productivity. Remote working also brings with it less congestion on our roads, more public transport capacity for those who need to travel, and cleaner air for all of us.

We’re a people business, and we want the best people to work for us. You can’t really be certain of finding the best people unless you give everyone a fair chance, no matter their background. We support equal opportunities for all and in 2017 started the UK’s first regional solicitor apprenticeship programme. Now aspiring lawyers can earn while they learn and qualify without the burden of rising university costs.

This is all part of a broader approach to responsible business practice which includes work on environmental and social mobility agendas and a commitment to being a healthy, happy and agile workplace.

For more information on what we’re doing to be a responsible business, please check out our Corporate Social Responsibility Review.


CLIENT: David Brind
COMPANY/FIRM: Kitwave
TESTIMONIAL: “I’d like to express my thanks to the whole team at Muckle, who worked tirelessly to complete the work that was required for our admission to trading on the London Stock Exchange. The feedback from our other advisors has been equally as positive, commenting how easy Muckle were to work with and how seamless they made the experience.”

“Muckle have been a true supportive partner, for both legal and business support, and we look forward to continuing our successful relationship as we move forward with our growth plans.”


CLIENT: Taj Kassam
COMPANY/FIRM: Sandman Hotel Group
TESTIMONIAL: “The advice Will and the team at Muckle LLP provided was outstanding. The level of service they gave was exceptional and they were an integral part of our team to ensure the success of the acquisition. They worked tirelessly for us, regardless of the time difference between us in Vancouver. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. We are looking forward to bringing more Sandman Hotels to the UK, so I am sure we’ll be working with the team at Muckle LLP again.”


CLIENT: Grahame Pickering MBE
COMPANY/FIRM: Great North Air Ambulance
TESTIMONIAL: “John Devine has advised GNAAS for 12 years on a range of legal issues, from charity governance to the purchase and sale of our helicopters. I’ve enjoyed working with the team at Muckle immensely. They understand the key issues facing charities and their trading structures, so they can help to realise the full benefits of charitable status. They’ve always provided clear, pragmatic advice in relation to any legal issue we’ve encountered, and John has always made himself available to chat through issues, even out of hours, which I find reassuring as CEO. I’d be happy to recommend Muckle to any charity.”


CLIENT: Gareth Davies
COMPANY/FIRM: Sunderland University
TESTIMONIAL: “The Muckle team will always be my first choice. I wouldn’t recommend any other firms/lawyers in preference. The firm consistently does what it says it is going to. Client relationship and satisfaction is paramount, and this really shows.”


CLIENT: Mike Eggleston
COMPANY/FIRM: CAV
TESTIMONIAL: “CAV have worked with Muckle for legal advice and support for many years. Most recently, we have used their commercial team for support with customer contract negotiation and IP protection. The support and advice provided has been excellent, always provided within our time constraints and enabling us to reach successful conclusions. We will undoubtedly continue to work with the team!”


CLIENT: Louise Richley
COMPANY/FIRM: Beyond Digital
TESTIMONIAL: “I’ve worked with Chris Maddock and his team at Muckle for over ten years and I simply cannot recommend them more highly. I know I can turn to them for pragmatic, sensible and reliable advice that gives me confidence in dealing with any situation. We’ve covered the full cycle from recruitment and induction, to disciplinaries and dismissal – situations that can be emotive and highly charged. Chris always approaches matters in a considered, supportive and professional manner that considers the wider commercial issue.