Muckle LLP > Newcastle upon Tyne, England > Firm Profile

Muckle LLP

Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Newcastle Tier 1

Muckle LLP leverages its ‘diverse portfolio of expertise’  to advise a range of clients in the automotive, technology, food, healthcare, retail, energy and financial services sectors, on both corporate and commercial mandates.  The corporate team, led by Anthony Evans, is known for advising clients on equity investments and acquisitions. Additionally, Evans deals with a range of corporate governance and compliance matters. Corporate finance practitioner Adam Rayner assists private equity investors and tech-centric companies with M&A transactions. Sarah Forster, Philip Clare and Matthew Walsh are also key contacts in the corporate team, while associates Sara Worsick and Stephanie Brown are key supporting members. The firm also benefits from the experience of Andrew Davison, who is now a consultant. Head of the commercial team Alex Craig focuses on non-contentious IP matters pertaining to acquisitions, disposals, collaborative ventures, development agreements and licensing deals. At associate level, Tom Justice supports IP, digital tech and data-driven companies.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Evans; Alex Craig


‘There is a real commitment at Muckle to working collaboratively with the client to execute an instruction with precision, diligence and commercial awareness.’

‘Anthony Evans, who heads up Muckle’s Corporate Finance team, sees the big picture and small details, advising concisely, pragmatically and with an exceptional ability to understand the instruction. Working collaboratively he leads strategically and executes brilliantly.’

‘Matthew Walsh very quickly grasps and understands your requirements and adopts a calm and pragmatic approach, keeping a keen and focused overview of projects whilst ensuring his team are well briefed and coordinated throughout the process. He is well supported by Sara Worsick, who is very dedicated and hardworking and demonstrates a clear and concise knowledge of current business law picking up on complex matters and highlighting where templated documents are out-of-date.’

‘Muckle provide a diverse portfolio of expertise and has assisted us on issues ranging from noise abatement orders to contractual disputes and business sales/acquisitions.The firm always provides sound advice, in a very timely manner and at a reasonable rate.’

‘From the junior team to the senior partners, the people at Muckle genuinely care and are invested in maintaining a close relationship with their clients. As a client, I certainly feel valued and working with Muckle is always easy; dare I say it, it can even be fun at times.’

‘Tom Justice was appointed to support me in developing the license. I cannot recommend Tom and Muckle more highly – I’d definitely go back.’

‘Alex Craig is extremely client focused with exceptional technical knowledge. She takes the time to ensure she understands what we need on a matter-by-matter basis and uses this information to tailor her advice. I know that the advice Alex provides is always well thought out, rather than just going with the standard approach.’

‘Stephanie Brown is technically brilliant with the detail.’

Key clients

Kitwave Group plc

Mandata Group

Stellantis N.V.

3T Energy Group Limited

Vertu Motors Plc

Growth Partner LLP

Foresight Group LLP

NorthEdge Capital

Hadrian Healthcare

Elmtronics Limited

Aspire Technology Solutions

Simpsons Malt Limited

Arbor Education

Everflow Limited

England Athletics Limited

Parkrun Limited

Thomas Swan & Co Limited

The Algorithm People Limited

Mercia Asset Management PLC

Thunderful Group AB

John Nixon Limited

Fairstone Group Limited

Tees Valley Combined Authority

Caribbean Premier League

CAV Advanced Technologies Limited

Meiyume (UK) Limited

University of Newcastle

LDC Private Equity

The Lakes Distillery plc

Trivselhus UK Limited

PX Group

HC One Limited

Tekmar Group plc

Newcells Biotech Limited

Houghton International Electrical Services Limited

Samuel Knight International

The Port of Tyne

NG Bailey Limited

Sofina Foods Group

Banks Group

Work highlights

  • Advising Vertu Motors plc on its acquisition of Helston Garages Group Limited for £182,000,000. The transaction also involved the negotiation of new debt facilities of £65m and the simultaneous sale of two franchise dealerships to two separate third party buyers.
  • Advising Aspire Technology Solutions on LDCs’ £85m growth capital investment. The investment included debt provided by Five Arrows and Clydesdale Bank.
  • Advising Foresight Group LLP on its investment in Quanta EPC Holdings Limited.

Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: Newcastle Tier 1

Muckle LLP’s Newcastle-based dispute resolution practice, led by ‘stand-out partnerSusan Howe, advises international clients on a range of matters, not limited to contractual disputes concerning land, IP issues in the media space and data protection breach defences. George Festing is the key contact for clients in media industry, while Leah Heatley specialises in cross-jurisdictional disputes and public procurement challenges. Associate Alex Speirs is the go-to for contentious probate work and is experienced in working on high court claims, which includes breach of warranty disputes.

Practice head(s):

Susan Howe

Other key lawyers:


‘Muckle provides an excellent in-depth service which combines expert legal knowledge with genuine commercial acumen.’

‘Susan Howe is the stand-out partner in the practice. She provides thoughtful and highly strategic leadership on every case.’

‘The firm combines a depth of knowledge with genuine commercial insight resulting in an exceptional client service experience. Put simply we would not consider going elsewhere’

‘Head of department Susan Howe has created the standout commercial litigation team in the North East. I wouldn’t go any where else for sound commercial, business focused litigation advice.’

‘What you get from Susan Howe is very clear legal analysis combined with a strategic commercial approach, and someone who doesn’t give up in a fight.’

‘Muckle has an excellent litigation team. It is responsive and able to adapt its litigation styles to the personalities involved in disputes to facilitate and achieve resolution before disputes escalate to full litigation.’

‘Leah Heatley is fantastic. She is our go to dispute advisor in the UK. Able to unpick complex problems, suggest strategies for resolution, and delivers difficult advice in way which is easy to understand to get buy in from the client. Also, able to put up a good fight!’

Key clients

Sunningdale House Developments Limited

Caribbean Premier League Limited

Atomos Investments Limited

Trivsel UK Limited

County Football Association

The Station Hotel (Newcastle) Limited

Hays Travel Limited

parkrun Limited

MRI Software Limited

BDW Trading Limited (trading as Barratt Homes)

Work highlights

  • Instructed by Sunningdale to advise on a high value dispute with a county council regarding a conditional agreement to purchase a plot of land for development.
  • Providing ongoing advice to the Carribean Premier League (CPL) on various IP-related litigation matters.
  • Defended Atmos Investments Limited in a high court claim brought by a former employee alleging breaches of data protection legislation, breach of confidence and privacy.

Dispute resolution > Debt recovery Tier 1

Newcastle-based Beverley Oliver heads Muckle LLP‘s debt recovery team; she is experienced in assisting clients, ranging from sole traders through to PLCs in recovering unpaid invoices, and focuses on both commercial and consumer debts and instructions include recovery of arrears and debt reducing payment plans. Oliver is hailed as having ‘lots of experience in her field and has a great team supporting her’. The firm also leverages its bespoke Muckle Collect platform.

Practice head(s):

Beverley Oliver


‘Through the Muckle Collect service we have achieved recovery of arrears and implemented debt reducing payment plans, to numerous accounts across the group. We have found the services provided by Muckle Collect to be of the highest order’.

‘Collections, advice and legal help are exemplary; the services timely, beneficial, and professional; the people friendly, efficient and always willing to assist; the financial benefits quickly sourced, and the costs in recovering to be fair and clearly defined from the outset.’

‘We have always received good service from Muckles from starting the debt collection procedure to keeping us informed of progress’.

‘Beverley Oliver and all colleagues have been informative on all stages with customers collections’.

‘Muckle Collect is great to use. Very simple and straight forward.’

‘The team are great and very responsive.’

‘Muckle Collect is a user-friendly portal and the team at Muckle are on hand to assist with any queries.’

‘Beverly Oliver has lots of experience in her field and has great team supporting her, they are excellent at following up claims and keeping us update.’

Key clients

SM Building Surveyors

Dysart Residential Group

Quantum Sport Limited

NBS Enterprise Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Dysart Residential Group on the recovery of arrears and implementing debt reducing payment plans to numerous accounts across the group.
  • Advised NBS Enterprises Limited on recovery of late payments, compensation and interest.
  • Sent a 7-day letter of demand to the debtor on behalf of SM Building Surveyors Limited.

Employment Tier 1

Muckle LLP’s employment law team advises a range of employers, including international clients, listed companies, large groups and owner managed businesses, across a number of sectors such as education, sport and leisure, on the full remit of instructions. Leading the Newcastle team, Chris Maddock focuses on executive severance, TUPE, reorganization projects, enforcement of post-termination restrictions and confidential information obligations, while Tony McPhillips specialises on employment related litigation in the sports and education spaces. Lisa Kelly is an expert on discrimination and equal pay issues, acting for employers in employment tribunal claims, with Jill Donabie serving as a key contact schools, colleagues and universities for day-to-day employment instructions. Amy Sergison is likewise integral to the team which also supports clients on business immigration and data protection within an employment law context.

Practice head(s):

Chris Maddock


‘The team demonstrate a good understanding of our business and how HR matters impact the organisation.’

‘Chris Maddock is excellent, knowledgeable and he cares. He ensures that any legal jargon is simplified and makes any process understandable.’

‘Lisa Kelly is friendly, knowledgeable and gives business-focused advice.’

‘The people we deal with are very responsive, practical, informed and down to earth. Chris Maddock is excellent in terms of his technical knowledge and his approach to us as clients. I couldn’t praise him enough.’

‘Constantly good availability, followed up by strong, pragmatic advice.’

‘The employment team at Muckle are approachable, pragmatic and commercially minded.’

‘I value the firm’s directness and ability to provide practical advice.’

‘Engaging, friendly and very professional. The lawyers make the process of working with them enjoyable. Very good at building relationships too. Every single employee of Muckle LLP that I have met or engaged with have been memorable and great to work with and meet.’

Work highlights

  • Appointed by Home Group and instructed by them to undertake all employment law-related support.
  • Appointed to the Tees Valley Combined Authority panel for the provision of employment advice.
  • Advised on the acquisition by Vertu Motors PLC of Helston Garages Group Limited, including employment law aspects.

Finance > Banking and finance Tier 1

Muckle LLP’s banking and restructuring team assists an array of clients with with banking, finance, and fundraising advice. The team in Newcastle is led by the ‘outstandingLouise Duffy, who provides 'excellent sector knowledge, sound commercial judgement and exceptional client service’. The recent arrival of Andrew Coddington, a specialist in project finance, trade and acquisition finance, as well as energy finance, adds a dimension to the practice. Associate Zoe Ditch supports on both lender and borrower projects. The team regularly collaborate with the real estate finance team, co-led by Gail Bennett and Claire Naughten, for property finance transactions.

Practice head(s):

Louise Duffy


‘Muckle has a relatively small team, but they are top class. They take the time to understand complex issues and to fund pragmatic solutions. In terms of Real Estate Finance, the integration with property and construction teams is seamless’

‘Louise Duffy and Zoe Ditch are excellent lawyers. Very easy to work with.’

‘The team at Muckle LLP are very proactive in the local market and have a very good reputation. Within their Banking team, they have a broad range of experienced individuals with specialisms in a number of different sectors.’

‘I find all of the individuals within the Banking team very easy to work with. They all have a can-do attitude and are willing to share ideas & solutions to get the best outcomes for clients. A lot of my interaction tends to be with Louise Duffy who is very approachable.’

‘Excellent interaction with their professional partners, good levels of support and guidance through a transaction.’

‘Louise Duffy is outstanding. She has excellent sector knowledge, sound commercial judgement and provides exceptional client service.’

‘Andrew Coddington is reassuringly responsive and provides great technical support on complex deals.’

‘The whole team is excellent. Everyone gives a quick & practical answer as well as making sure transitions are on track and managed. The team are always proactive, approachable and professional. Louise Duffy has been exceptional, and we would not have achieved completion on land acquisition and bridge funding without her attention to detail, commitment to driving the projects forward along with her expertise and knowledge.’

Key clients

Kitwave Group plc

HSBC UK Bank plc

Santander UK Bank plc

Hampshire Trust Bank plc

The Lakes Distillery Company plc

Vertu Motors PLC

The English Sports Council

Wilton Engineering Services Limited

National Westminster Bank plc

Vertu Motors plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Vertu Motors plc on its acquisition of Helston Garages Group Limited, including all associated funding requirements.
  • Assisted Kitwave Group plc with two acquisitions (M J Baker Foodservice Limited and West Country Food Holdings Limited) as well as the funding and diligence associated with those.
  • Supported the Lakes Distillery Company plc on a refinance with Beechbrook Capital, redemption of bank facilities, conversion of future fund investment and purchase of freehold property.

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

Muckle LLP’s charities practice demonstrates a strong profile advising on charity law and governance in the sports and education sectors. Samantha Pritchard leads the charities team since joining in December 2022 from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. She has particular expertise advising charities on mergers, collaboration, governance issues, operational and Charity Commission compliance matters. Joanne Davison draws on her wealth of experience in governance and project work, regularly advising on restructuring and joint ventures as well as establishing social enterprises. Chris Hook, promoted to partner in April 2023, is the key contact for sports clubs on not-for-profit structures, mergers, governance, trustee duties and commercial matters. While John Devine  left the firm in October 2022 to go in-house, he remains a consultant solicitor.

Practice head(s):

Samantha Pritchard

Other key lawyers:


‘The team are friendly, approachable and explain legal issues and their advice in clear and accessible terms.’

‘People make the difference! Despite everyone being busy time is taken to get to know you as a client, understand the issue you need help with and then to discuss the different approaches that can be taken. A good blend of commercial, legal and common sense.’

‘Joanne Davison always has time, cares about people, charities and communities and you never feel you are wasting her time.’

‘Very client-focused and detailed with regard to taking on board client concerns and ensuring clarity of assessment and issues. In depth knowledge of the subject based on experience and knowledge. Significant client and issue support within a diverse professional team. Reasonable cost giving a very good value for money.’

‘Worked closely with Samantha Pritchard who’s attention to detail and assessment skills are excellent. Sam has a personal approach based on an empathetic character enabling her to deal with tricky issues and subjects sympathetically but in detail.’

‘Highly personable team who always leave you with a sense that they really care about their clients and will go above and beyond to deliver a quality service which meets a clients needs and exceeds expectations. Always found Joanne Davison and Richard Nixon to be incredibly approachable, thorough and efficient. Had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Douglas a promising Paralegal on the team who was supporting the work of David Towns from the Estates Team and it was great to see Junior staff encouraged and supported to deliver quality work as part of the team.’

‘The team are excellent, I would highly recommend as their knowledge of the charity sector and regulatory requirements is second to none. There is a genuine culture of collaboration and a strength in depth, drawing upon the relevant expertise across the firm in order to make sure we get the best advice possible. As well as providing excellent technical advice, they’ve invested time in and developed a real understanding of our organisation.’

‘Chris Hook has a clear and refreshing approach, and his advice is always prompt and focused. He has a strong an understanding of charity governance and the key issues for charities.’

Key clients

The Football Foundation

parkrun Global

Great North Air Ambulance Service

The Alnwick Garden Trust

The Greggs Foundation

The Premier League Charitable Fund

County Durham Community Foundation

Chelsea FC Foundation

Tyneside Cinema

St Cuthbert’s Care

Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF)

Newcastle University Students’ Union

Mental Health Concern (Concern Group)

Rape Crisis England and Wales

CSIS Charity Fund

Hospital of King James Gateshead

The Little Theatre Gateshead

Dame Allan’s Schools

Newcastle Dog & Cat Shelter

Work highlights

  • Advising the Football Foundation on the national roll out of the £200m Hubs Programme facilities launched by The Football Association (FA).
  • Acting for parkrun Global Limited, advising on all legal matters including corporate governance, data protection issues, various commercial agreements with sponsors, contractual issues with former sponsors and overseas franchise holders.

Public sector > Education Tier 1

Based in Newcastle, Muckle LLP’s public sector education team takes on a range of matters for universities and further education providers, both regionally and nationally. Head of the sport, education and charities group Tony McPhillips is known for advising FE and HE institutes, schools and multi-academy trusts on major reorganisations, restructuring and employment processes. Joanne Davison is sought out by multi-academy trusts and FE institutes for advice on governance structures, frequently working on academy conversion, transfer and college merger projects. Employment law expert Jill Donabie is a key contact for clients on employment-related education matters. The trio often work together on matters involving employment law, data protection mandates and discrimination disputes. Real estate specialist Richard Nixon provides key support on property and land law issues related to academy conversion and school transfer projects.

Practice head(s):

Tony McPhillips; Joanne Davison; Jill Donabie

Other key lawyers:


‘Muckle’s education team is superb. They are highly knowledgeable of the education sector, very professional in their approach, and they are both compassionate and clear when dealing with sensitive issues.’

‘Joanne Davison is always a very positive and solution-focused individual. She has a depth of knowledge in the sector and where issues cross over into other legal areas she always finds answers for us. She is highly professional, courteous and goes the extra mile.’

‘Working with Muckle is always a pleasure, the team make things very clear to us which is helpful when dealing with complex issues. The respond very quickly and are always available to support.’

‘Richard Nixon is very responsive and progresses land issues with a problem solving and determined approach.’

‘Joanne Davison is responsive, pragmatic and always prepared to discuss a complex situation to come up with the most appropriate advice and solution.’

‘Jill Donabie is our lead partner and is very knowledgeable and helpful. She always responds quickly with a view of making our job a lot easier.’

‘Joanne Davison is great to work with. She is very knowledgeable of the education sector and the local education landscape and is also very approachable and an excellent communicator.’

‘The team at Muckle is always very helpful and knowledgeable. We have always had our queries and requests addressed promptly with professionalism. The team know our sector very well and have the skills to help us address our issues.’

Key clients


Tyne Coast College

Bishop Auckland College

Bournemouth and Poole College

New College Durham

Newcastle University

University of Northumbria

Sunderland University

Spurgeon’s College

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

Aspire Multi Academy Trust

Northumberland Church of England Academy

NEAT Academy Trust

Durham & Newcastle Diocesan Learning Trust

Tyne Coast Academy Trust

Northern Leaders Academy Trust

Cramlington Learning Village

Pele Trust

Castle View Enterprise Academy

Tyne Community Learning Trust

Advance Learning Partnership

Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust

Nicholas Postgate Catholic Education Trust

North Tyneside Learning Trust

Work highlights

  • Providing day to day legal support to the FE provider, NCG. This includes employment, student affairs, property, governance, commercial and data protection and dispute resolution guidance.
  • Advised on the implementation of the academisation plan of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. This involved advising 2 MATs on the conversion into and transfer of all Catholic schools within the defined area.
  • Advising Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust on a range of day-to-day legal issues ranging from employment matters, commercial and data protection. We have also supported with strategic growth and completed significant projects for the MAT.

Real estate > Commercial property: Newcastle Tier 1

Muckle LLP’s real estate team frequently provides property developers, house builders, occupiers and owners with commercial and residential development advice, as well as portfolio management assistance. Practice head Jonathan Combe regularly advises clients in the healthcare, renewable energy and leisure sectors on acquisitions, developments, lettings and forward fundings. Will McKay takes on acquisitions, forward funding, planning consent and construction mandates, in particular. Gail Bennett is a go-to figure for real estate finance advice, while James Armstrong notably deals with transactions involving housing, commercial and residential sites. Deborah Lazenby focuses on property finance, multiple occupier and investment work.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Combe


‘The team is very responsive to client requirements with extensive knowledge of the social housing sector.’

Key clients

McAleer & Rushe

Home Group

Kans and Kandy

Persimmon plc

Mandale Group

Sandman Hotels

Gentoo Group


Port of Blyth

Newcastle College Group

Connection Flooring

Advance Northumberland

Maddison Cairn

Luxury Leisure


Tarras Park Properties

Vaulkhard Group

Barratt Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised Maddison Cairn on the forward funding of a Build-to-rent scheme comprising 374 homes as well as 94 affordable homes in Bristol acquired by Grainger plc.
  • Assisted Home Group with its acquisition, planning consent, development and construction package for Woodlesford, Leeds.
  • Supported Monkwearmouth Development Limited with its acquisition, development, letting and forward funding of Monkwearmouth Hospital.

Real estate > Property litigation Tier 1

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:


‘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.

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

The intellectual property team at Muckle LLP provides the full spectrum of IP support with specialist IP know-how in the tech, media, sport and charity industries. While esteemed practice head Alex Craig is the team’s key name for advising high-profile clients on non-contentious IP, data and tech matters, litigator George Festing oversees the contentious side of the practice and is regularly instructed to act in leading music industry matters. He is assisted by associate Alex Speirs who advises both individuals and corporates on contentious IP issues including passing off and rights infringement, cross-jurisdictional distribution agreements and debt recovery. John Devine left the firm in October 2022 to go in-house.

Practice head(s):

Alex Craig

Other key lawyers:

Key clients


Version 1

I Portalis

Caribbean Premier League Limited

Meiyume (UK) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Swedish game development company Thunderful Groupon in its acquisition of British development studio Jumpship Ltd.
  • Acted for leading Irish technology and digital transformation provider Version 1 on three acquisitions in the qualifying period, Evoco Digital, Instinctive BI, and Automation Logic.
  • Acting for Meiyume (UK) Limited supporting its internal team with its contract negotiations.

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

With strength across the TMT sectors, Muckle LLP‘s IT team is comprised of litigator George Festing, handling the contentious side of the practice while practice head Alex Craig advises on non-contentious matters with intersecting expertise in tech, data and IP. Anthony Evans, Adam Rayner and Matthew Walsh advise numerous tech businesses on corporate M&A and investments with expertise in digital corporate, edtech, fintech commercial contract and information security. The group’s client portfolio spans across a variety of sectors, including automotive, food and drink, manufacturing, financial services, IT, venture capital and private equity.

Practice head(s):

Alex Craig


‘Size, familiarity with our market, strong female partner team, good all round knowledge and clear on where their advice will stop- but then who we might want to talk to too’

‘Alex Craig- customer service, knowledge, and I feel like she wants us to be successful, is trying to find solutions that will allow our growth in a complex and highly regulated sector.’

‘The team work very quickly and efficiently, but not at the expense of service. They genuinely feel like an extension of our team due to the in-depth knowledge they have of our organisation. They look to develop a partnership with their clients, and really understand the business they are advising; that’s why we’ve had such a strong working relationship for many years.

‘In all our dealings, Alex Craig is responsive and provides considered and pragmatic advice and guidance which goes beyond just legal support. She cares about her clients and works hard to make sure they get the best experience and insight. She leads a strong team that provides us with an excellent service at all levels.’

‘George Festing offers pragmatic and solutions-focused advice, he is an excellent litigator with a deep technical and legislative knowledge. I would recommend anyone engaging in commercial litigation to instruct George.’

‘Alex Spiers always takes a through and hands on approach, combining strong legal knowledge with a practical approach to clients’ needs. You can be confident that Alex will always look for solutions to avoid disputes if possible and resolve issues in an alternative way to get the best results for her clients.’

‘The team at Muckle are always diligent, capable and engaging. Most importantly, they know when to balance commercial needs with legal judgement.’

‘The individuals we deal with are calm, capable and highly experienced. Muckle tends to offer London quality legal advice within the North East. This isn’t common.’

Key clients

Sanlam Private Investments (UK) Limited (now Atomos Investments Limited)

A County Football Association


Version 1 Solutions

I Portalis

Caribbean Premier League Limited (CPL)

MRI Software Limited

The Algorithm People Limited

Great North Air Ambulance



Arbor Education Partners Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Swedish game development company Thunderful Groupon in its acquisition of British development studio Jumpship Ltd.
  • Acted for leading Irish technology and digital transformation provider Version 1 on three acquisitions in the qualifying period, Evoco Digital, Instinctive BI and Automation Logic.
  • Acted for an international investment business, Sanlam Private Investments (UK) Limited (now Atomos Investments Limited) in defending a high court claim brought by a former employee alleging breaches of data protection legislation, confidence and privacy.

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

With new practice head George Festing, Muckle LLP has become a specialist music and media litigation team with particular focus handling sensitive and high-profile reputational damage and defamation matters. Clients have praised Festing for being ‘tremendously astute’. His cross-disciplinary intellectual property, media, and technology practice includes press and reputation management, rights infringement, and sponsorship expertise. Alex Craig, practice head of the commercial team, has a wealth of experience in advising on non-contentious IP matters including licensing deals, media rights agreements, and IP reviews. Associate Alex Speirs is an experienced litigator in relation to breach of warranty claims and negligent advice. Associate Tom Justice focuses on the sports sector, notably currently advising the Caribbean Premier League.

Practice head(s):

George Festing

Other key lawyers:


‘I have worked closely with George Festing, a partner in the Muckle Media and Entertainment team. George is tremendously astute – and has a depth of knowledge relating to contentious music matters, in particular, which is on a par with any of the London firms operating in that market sector.’

‘George Festing is the stand-out partner. In addition to my comments above, George is a real pleasure to work with. He is extremely bright, personable and charming. George’s advice is considered, commercial and pragmatic. A real star.’


Key clients

A County Football Association

MRI Software Limited

Parkrun Limited

Atomos Investments Limited

Caribbean Premier League

Work highlights

  • Acting for a gaming plc in dealing with allegations of copyright infringement in relation to the use of sound recordings in foreign language poker footage available on-line.
  • Advising a television production company on the negotiation of an option agreement for exploitation of rights in a series of novels based in the North East.
  • Advising a university in relation to ongoing defamation proceedings in relation to which it is claimed the University is vicariously liable for the actions of an employee.

Finance > Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

The cross-disciplinary expertise of Muckle LLP’s banking and restructuring team enables the firm to handle a wide range of areas of restructuring and insolvency, such as financial preparedness, insolvency investigations and asset recovery. Head of the banking team Louise Duffy is a key contact for financial institutions, while the recent arrivals of practitioner Sarah Farish and Laura Keegan strengthens the firm’s expertise in litigious insolvency, including post-insolvency investigations, asset recoveries and directors’ duties. Georgia Sproat is a key name to note for clients. The team, based in Newcastle, routinely guides directors on insolvency risks when moving assets.

Practice head(s):

Louise Duffy


‘Muckle LLP’s insolvency team is made up of a group of experienced lawyers who specialise in advising clients on a range of insolvency and restructuring matters.’

‘The team has a strong reputation for providing practical and commercial advice to insolvency practitioners, creditors, debtors, directors, and other stakeholders in a variety of sectors, including construction, retail, manufacturing, and healthcare.’

‘Muckle LLP’s insolvency team is known for taking a collaborative and pragmatic approach to their work, working closely with clients to understand their specific needs and goals.’

‘The insolvency team strives to find innovative and cost-effective solutions to help clients navigate the complexities of insolvency and restructuring situations. Additionally, the team works closely with other departments within the firm, such as banking and finance, dispute resolution, and corporate, to provide a comprehensive service to clients.’

Overall, Muckle LLP’s insolvency team is highly regarded in the legal industry for their technical expertise, commercial awareness, and client-focused approach.’

‘Laura Keegan and Sarah Farish are the key lawyers. I have worked with both previously and would recommend them to others.’

Key clients

Begbies Traynor

FRP Advisory Trading Limited

Interpath Advisory

Leonard Curtis Recovery Limited

Manolete Partners PLC

RMT Accountants and Business Advisors

Work highlights

  • Advised Begbies Traynor Group in respect of the post liquidation investigation and asset recovery work against directors of a recruitment company.
  • Advised FRP Advisory Trading Ltd in the post-liquidation sale of intellectual property assets of a beverage company.
  • Advised Leonard Curtis Business Recovery Group regarding the administration application and pre-pack sale of an online gaming company.

Projects, energy and natural resources > Energy Tier 2

Corporate, financing and property-based instructions make up much of the workload for Muckle LLP‘s Newcastle-stationed projects, energy and natural resources team. Following the 2022 arrival of Andrew Coddington - a partner in the banking and restructuring team - the firm has deepened its expertise in the project finance space. Coddington also possesses significant international experience, which he brings to bear on a mix of water, desalination, solar, green, and blue hydrogen project finance mandates. Corporate adviser Andrew Davison assists clients on IPOs, takeovers, M&As and governance issues, while energy and real estate development specialist Libbie Henderson specialises in the regeneration of greenfield and brownfield sites as well as land-based wind, solar and nuclear projects. Lucilla Waugh, head of the construction and engineering team; David Towns, head of the agriculture, estates and rural planning team; and Louise Duffy, head of the banking and restructuring team, are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Coddington

Key clients

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

Aura Newcastle Limited

Aura Project Company

Aura Project Company Phase 2

Work highlights

  • Advised the lender, national Westminster Bank, on its facilities to the buyer, PDQ22 Limited, in its management buyout of PDQ Engineering, a Washington-based precision engineering company.
  • Advised Wilton Engineering on its funding arrangements and the purchase of a new facility in connection with the acquisition of a site adjacent to their existing facilities to allow for expansion into renewable energy projects.
  • Advised WSG Eftech, a wholly owned subsidiary within the WellServices B.V’s group, on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Eftech International.

Real estate > Construction Tier 2

Muckle LLP is known for providing ‘a full legal service on construction matters from land acquisitions, through planning, construction and letting’. The construction and engineering practice in the Newcastle office is headed by Lucilla Waugh, who takes on both regional and national level projects, including residential, mixed-use and holiday home developments. Waugh advises a range of clients on industry contracts involving public and private partnership models as well as design, build, and facilities management agreements, and its interface with equity and funding documents. Adam Aston regularly works alongside Waugh.

Practice head(s):

Lucilla Waugh

Other key lawyers:


‘I get a full legal service on construction matters from land acquisition, through planning, construction and letting. The team is experienced and works well as a collective on complex projects and issues.’

‘Adam Aston is an expert in his field; diligent and very client-focused.’

‘The lawyers provide an excellent value-for-money service.’

Key clients

Cairn Group

McAleer and Rushe Group

Strawberry Place Developments Limited


Tees Valley Combined Authority

Arriva UK Bus Limited

Monkwearmouth Developments Limited

Aura Newcastle Limited

Persimmon Homes Limited

Hampshire Trust Bank Plc

Work highlights

  • Advising Madison Cairn, in its capacity as development manager, on procuring a build-to-rent and affordable scheme in Bristol.
  • Advising the development division of McAleer and Rushe on the procurement of a purpose-built student accommodation scheme in the centre of Belfast for Vita Group involving cross-jurisdictional issues.
  • Advising an experienced developer and development manager in relation to a landmark, Newcastle city centre development comprising build-to-rent, hotel and office accommodation, with ancillary public realm and infrastructure works.

Private client > Agriculture and estates Tier 3

Rural property expert David Towns heads up the growing and dynamic team at Muckle LLP with particular focus on landed estate management, sporting rights and minerals rights. The team stands out for adopting ‘a hands on/’muddy boots’ approach’ and is praised for being ‘approachable and immensely capable – quickly reactive.’ Thanks to the group’s commercial offering, they are able to provide holistic advice to their diverse client base drawing on employment, real estate and financial expertise. Charlotte Patterson-Ryan and new additions Rachel Stephenson and Tim Boardman, who joined from Burnetts in summer 2022 add significant strength to the group who is adept in handling complex high-value matters.

Practice head(s):

David Towns

Other key lawyers:


‘Charlotte Patterson-Ryan is exceptionally efficient and is able to drive deals and meet tight deadlines. Her pragmatism and practical approach are stand out qualities in addition to her technical knowledge.’

‘The team at Muckle LLP stand out because they adopt a hands on/’muddy boots’ approach with face to face meetings and on site visits. They are responsive and proactive. They want to understand what they are dealing with and be able to provide clear and focused advice specific to the job in hand. This makes my job as an agent much easier and instills confidence in my clients who like their pragmatic and commercial attitude.

I use Muckle for general rural and commercial property matters: sales/purchases; landlord and tenant; disputes; taxation; trusts. In respect of minerals and associated property matters, I believe Muckle are unrivalled in dealing with: first registration; landlord and tenant for operational mining/quarrying; disputes requiring both legal and commercial remedies.’

‘David Towns is a brilliant mind. I rely with regularity on David’s responsive and proactive approach to finding a pragmatic solution efficiently. He has the ability to distil down complex legal issues and present solutions in a very human way. My clients view David as a genuine and trusted adviser.’

‘A competent, professional, commercial and friendly team who clearly work well together.’

‘Approachable and immensely capable – quickly reactive’

‘Very good expertise in the Landed Estate Sector and a drive for good , prompt service and an enthusiasm to deliver solutions.’

‘Speed of response and an ability to organise themselves within the team so that there is case familiarity between more than one professional acting which is useful when working with wider teams from our side.’

Key clients

Allendale Estates

Church Commissioners for England

Lonsdale Settled Estates

Chatsworth Trustees/Duke of Devonshire

Muncaster Estate

Banks Property Limited

Boughton Estates Limited (part of Buccleuch Group)

Naworth Castle Estate

The Lees Court Estate, Kent

Viscount Lowther’s Trust

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

Muckle LLP‘s Newcastle-based team advises a range of governing bodies and other organisations on various investment programs, data privacy and safeguarding issues, as well as sponsorship and IP advice. The group is led by employment law expert Tony McPhillips, who assists a wide range of clients, including football, cricket and rugby clubs as well as governing bodies and competition rights holders. Charity law and governance expert Samantha Pritchard, who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in December 2022, procurement practitioner Alison Walton, and sports finance specialist Louise Duffy are further key names to note. John Devine now serves as a consultant solicitor at the firm, having departed for the general counsel role at Newcastle United FC.

Practice head(s):

Tony McPhillips


‘Muckle are always on hand to provide advice and guidance, and you always know who you are dealing with, they provide a personal touch and value you as a client.’

‘Jennifer Pearson is a terrific solicitor. She has an amazing grip on detail and the law, case management and how to manage complex multi party litigation, working well with clients and other lawyers.’

‘Dedicated and dynamic team within the practice who take time to understand the nuances within the industry. Advice is given in a practical way, allowing solutions to be implemented making a difference to the sport.’

‘Each individual offers valuable advice and great attention to detail, and our partnership with Muckle goes from strength to strength as a result. An extended member of the team!’

‘Very knowledgeable and capable.’

‘They gave considered advice in relatable language. Very pleasant to deal with.’

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

The Rugby Players’ Association

The Football Foundation

British Wheelchair Basketball

British Skydiving

English Ice Hockey Association

Work highlights

  • Advised The Football Association (The FA) on providing a legal support service to clubs in tiers 4 to 7 of the national game pyramid as part of the Club Programme piloted in 2022 and launched with 380 clubs in 2023.
  • Assisted The Football Foundation from concept to realisation with the national charitable hubs programme.

Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 4

Muckle LLP’s personal tax, trusts and probate team deal with the higher-level succession planning needs associated with complex family arrangements in particular high net worth clients. Newcastle-based Julie Garbutt heads up the team, with particular expertise in all estate planning aspects. The team was joined by the experienced Tim Boardman and Rachel Stephenson who handles cases of vulnerable beneficiaries and second marriages, both joining from Burnetts, in June and September 2022, respectively. Former practice head Keith Hateley retired in December 2022.

Practice head(s):

Julie Garbutt

Other key lawyers:

Tim Boardman; Rachael Stephenson


‘Rachael’s team is proactive in client care, and always go the extra mile to deliver on exceptional client service. The team is well run and second to none when it comes to dealing with technically complex issues. It has a range of private client specialists who work effortlessly and seamlessly together, complement each other effectively. As a client you are assured and comprehensively advised; as an intermediary you know you can trust that your clients will be understood, looked after and, very importantly, charged fairly.’

‘Rachael herself stands out to be an absolutely pragmatic and strategic lawyer. She possesses unrivalled talent in handling the most complex situations with utmost ease, humanity and skill. She is very approachable and provides excellent, timely service- very client focused and exceptional on detail. By illustration perhaps, I have noticed how Rachael treats each client as if she’s known them their whole lifetime – they trust her to the hilt, no stone goes unturned and the result is robust, pragmatic advice, leading to comprehensive but workable solutions. She instils confidence and reassurance in her clients without leading them to the obvious.’

‘The individuals get to know their clients fully and ensure that they are looking at their circumstances holistically as opposed to just considering any one particular area. They are friendly and approachable and clients are always comfortable dealing with them. Both Rachael Stephenson and Tim Boardman have been introduced to some of my clients and both have provided excellent service which has also been commented on by my clients.’

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 the past 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.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing partner Jason Wainwright
Senior partner Hugh Welch
Banking and restructuring Louise Duffy
Commercial Alex Craig
Construction and engineering Lucilla Waugh
Corporate Anthony Evans
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
Procurement Alison Walton
Agriculture, Estates & Rural Property David Towns
Number of UK partners : 39
Number of other UK fee-earners : 60

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
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
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.