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Yorkshire and the Humber: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and commercial: Leeds, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire
Corporate and commercial: Leeds, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire - ranked: tier 5


Lester Wilson leads DWF’s department and specialises in M&A work, equity capital markets issues and corporate finance mandates. His clients span listed companies, SMEs, entrepreneurs, private equity houses and venture capitalists. Other noteworthy individuals include banking partner Chris Ramage and corporate tax specialist John Toon.

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Corporate tax
Corporate tax - ranked: tier 3


DWF‚Äôs ‚Äėdedicated practice‚Äô provides ‚Äėa great service with a responsive and knowledgeable team of individuals who give the best commercial guidance‚Äô. John Toon¬†leads the group and specialises in property fund work and private equity issues; he is closely supported by senior associate James Cashman¬†in Manchester who handles employee incentives, and Birmingham-based¬† Jon Stevens. Toon‚Äôs recent work includes advising Tatton Asset Management on its pre-IPO reorganisation, assisting Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority with the tax elements of the termination of the Greater Manchester Waste PFI project, and acting for Assura on the tax aspects of its acquisition of multiple property SPVs. Learning Technologies, Wm Morrison and Cornwall Council are also clients.

Leading individuals

John Toon - DWF

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EU and competition
EU and competition - ranked: tier 1


DWF‚Äôs ‚Äėtop-tier practice‚Äô is led by ‚Äėstar performer‚Äô Jonathan Branton, who splits his time between Leeds and Manchester and is ‚Äėone of the foremost experts nationally for state aid and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) advice‚Äô. Branton ‚Äėprovides technically sound and pragmatic, solution-based advice‚Äô; he recently represented Mexichem Group in an European Commission (EC) investigation into alleged anti-competitive behaviour between two US automotive refrigerant companies, assisted Cornwall Council with the state aid funding for the Space Port and Newquay Airport, and acted for Dransfield Properties on two major development projects including ERDF funding support. Other work includes advising East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council on investments in the Green Port area and related state aid rules, and handling funding matters for Leeds City Region LEP. The practice is also highly regarded for its public procurement expertise. The group works closely with senior associate Jay Mehta¬†who is based in Manchester and Brussels-based Vassilis Akritidis.

Leading individuals

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Yorkshire and the Humber: Dispute resolution

Debt recovery
Debt recovery - ranked: tier 2


DWF‚Äôs ‚Äėimpressive‚Äô department is ‚Äėefficient in processing and delivering the best possible service to achieve the best results for its clients‚Äô who single out team head David Scottow whose ‚Äėknowledge of volume-based consumer and commercial debt is outstanding‚Äô; other names include regulatory expert James Perry, who has ‚Äėa great deal of practical experience and applies it in a way that is truly invaluable‚Äô; Kevin Feehan, who handles debt collection and civil recovery work; and Neil Jinks, who has experience in the credit industry and developing and managing debt recovery operations. Recent highlights include acting for Hillsborough Steelstock in the recovery of unpaid invoices and assisting LGSS with the recovery of social care costs for two local authorities. Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Anglian Water Services and the High Court Enforcement Officers Association are also clients.

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Yorkshire and the Humber: Finance

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 5


Chris Ramage is the key contact in DWF’s Leeds office and regularly acts for lenders and borrowers on domestic and international debt-related matters. His expertise encompasses acquisition finance, real estate finance and debt capital markets work. Lucinda Peters joined Ward Hadaway in 2018.

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Insolvency and corporate recovery
Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 4


Matthew Brown heads DWF’s team and specialises in restructuring, turnaround and insolvency work acting for financial institutions, investors, borrowers and insolvency practitioners. In a recent highlight, Brown acted for Deloitte as adviser and the SES Group on its restructuring; he also assisted Begbies Traynor with the restructuring and insolvency of Ingrams Solicitors and advised AlixPartners on the administration of Trongate. RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Close Brothers, PwC and RSM Restructuring Advisory are also clients. Key sectors for the team includes the retail, energy, real estate and transport sectors. Other names to note includes senior associates Ashley Jaques and Danielle Bennett; Jaques handles property-based insolvencies and Bennett is experienced in personal insolvency work.

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Yorkshire and the Humber: Human resources

Employment: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
Employment: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire - ranked: tier 3


The employment law team at DWF is noted for its 'good strength in depth' and 'pragmatic' advice. The Glasgow-based Michael McLaughlin heads the national employment practice, which has particular experience advising clients in the education, healthcare and retail sectors. The group has advised employers on investigations relating to worker status and national minimum wage, in unfair dismissal claims, as well as advising on day to day employment and HR matters including settlement agreements and terminations. Based in the Leeds office, Philippa O’Brien has experience assisting the corporate team in providing employment advice including in relation to M&A transactions. Clients of the practice include the Grammar School at Leeds, Yorkshire Building Society and LSS Waste. Former practice head Rob Riley left the team to join Ernst & Young Global Limited > London.

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Health and safety
Health and safety - ranked: tier 2


Paul Matthews heads the regulatory, compliance and investigations team at DWF, which has been instructed in some of the most high-profile health and safety investigations and prosecutions in the UK. The team handles matters for national companies such as Kwik-Fit and Poundworld as well as regional clients such as Electricity North West. It has also acted for a charity in a corporate manslaughter investigation, and routinely represents individuals. The practice recently advised a senior manager in relation to an investigation by the police, in conjunction with the HSE, for corporate manslaughter, health and safety and fire offences. Other key names to note include senior associates Sarah Smith, who joined the team in March 2018 from Irwin Mitchell, and Mark Thompson. Thompson is a criminal defence lawyer and since joining the team in January 2017 has represented individual directors and employees, in addition to assisting in defending high-value claims and investigations. 

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Yorkshire and the Humber: Insurance

Personal injury: defendant
Personal injury: defendant - ranked: tier 1


Considered 'a premier league defendant insurance firm' DWF has a 'strong regional centre' in Leeds. With a 'high level of knowledge and tactical acumen in dealing with large injury claims', the department defends clients in catastrophic injury cases, occupational health matters, fast track and multi track matters. The group also includes dedicated insurance fraud practice led by Paul Holmes, who, alongside associate +Marsha Crosland, successfully acted for LV in contempt of court claims against nine individuals for conspiracy to defraud the insurer. 'Excellent lawyer' Glyn Jones heads up the practice which has been instructed by insurers Aviva, Tesco Insurance, as well as the Department of Transport. For 'clear, concise and robust advice' David Rogers is a key name to note in catastrophic injury claims.

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Yorkshire and the Humber: Public sector

Local government
Local government - ranked: tier 1


The multidisciplinary local government department at DWF attracts praise for its 'quality of service, knowledge and response times'. The 'very pragmatic and result-focused' Jonathan Branton heads up the public sector practice which includes the local government team led by Colin Murray. The group regularly advises on public procurement and related disputes and has a reputation for handling infrastructure projects and local government insurance work. Branton led a team acting for East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council on a major investment project, which included advice on EU state aid rules. Instructed in another notable project, the department advised Leeds City Council on the state aid aspects of its investment in the Headingley cricket and rugby stadium. The team is also able to draw on the expertise of its significant national practice.

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Yorkshire and the Humber: Real estate

Commercial property: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
Commercial property: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire - ranked: tier 2


Notable areas of strength for DWF‚Äôs practice include development work, private rented sector (PRS) schemes and investment issues. Highlights included acting for Leeds Cricket Football and Athletic Company on the redevelopment of the South and North-South stands at Headingley Stadium, advising Custodian REIT on multiple investment acquisitions and disposals totalling ¬£75m and assisting Sterling Capitol with its sale ¬£18m sale of Capitol Park West to Squarestone. Moda Living and Moorfield group are also clients; the group advised the latter on the raising of finance against four of its PRS and student accommodation developments. Key names in the ‚Äėbrilliant‚Äô team include practice head Andrew Flounders, Nic Crocker, who stands out for his car park expertise; development specialist Jim Speed¬†and director Guy Rusling¬†who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson¬†in 2017. -Simon Meek¬†joined Shoosmiths LLP.

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Construction - ranked: tier 3


DWF‚Äôs department, which is ‚Äėexcellent in all aspects‚Äô is led by Andrew Symms, who ‚Äėconsistently provides sound and thoughtful advice that the client can always rely on‚Äô. The team recently advised on the construction of a combined-cycle gas turbine project in Kent for ScottishPower; it also assisted Caddick with the redevelopment of Headingly Stadium, represented Doosan Power Systems in a dispute relating to the conversion of a coal-fired power station to biomass, and acted for Wrenbridge on its involvement in the development of sports and leisure facilities in the new York Community Stadium. Clients also single out recently promoted partner Christian Hellmund, who focuses on the energy and renewables sectors, and director Shaun Hill, who handles non-contentious matters for retail sector clients.

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Property litigation
Property litigation - ranked: tier 3


Key sectors for DWF’s practice include the retail, care, parking and development sectors with clients including Q-Park, Moorfield, Bupa, Sterling Capital and Magnet. Group head Stephen Green  regularly acts in commercial landlord and tenant disputes and development issues; he acted for Capitol Park Leeds in a dispute with the Coal Authority relating to the liability for capping an old mineshaft that opened up, and represented a private individual in proceedings for the modification and discharge of a restrictive covenant relating to planning permission to build a second house on their land. Jonathan Smith also handles landlord and tenant work, and made partner in 2017.

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Further information on DWF

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Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
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    From 1 January 2021 everyone except for British and Irish citizens will be subject to immigration control in the UK.   Gulbenkian Andonian solicitors has already published an article on this topic of post- Brexit immigration and has discussed the case of EU nationals and family members after Brexit, you can find that article here as one of many in our blog .

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