Commercial Litigation

Article excerpt

NEWCASTLE

Dickinson Dees has a broad disputes practice, advising corporate clients and many public authorities on property disputes, complex contract and warranty claims and shareholder disputes. Guy Harvey and John Marshall are both recommended, with Marshall now head of commercial litigation. Big-ticket work in 2005 included advising on several multi-million-pound contractual disputes within the chemical industry and handling a multi-million-pound professional negligence claim brought by a bank against valuers.

Eversheds LLP's dispute resolution team is headed by the 'adaptable and diligent' Susan Howe, ably supported by Claire Frater, with previous practice head Elizabeth Speed having left the firm for an in-house position. A recent landmark instruction for the firm was acting for the Argo Fund in a case which made new law, clarifying the meaning of the term 'bank or other financial institution'. The practice has seen an increase in financial services, banking and pensions litigation.

The 'industrious' Ian Collinson heads the seven-partner practice at Ward Hadaway, which regularly handles disputes in the fields of professional negligence, insurance, trusts and IT; capability for the latter is ably provided by former in-house lawyer Tim Toomey, who receives rave reviews from clients. Highlight instructions included acting for Sunderland AFC on a sponsorship dispute.

Watson Burton LLP's four-partner dispute resolution practice is led by Allan Henderson, with Mark Heath, Julian Gill and regulatory specialist Tristan Meears-White completing the team. A varied workload encompasses shareholder and boardroom disputes, white-collar crime, partnership disputes and commercial fraud. Mark Heath regularly advises on NHS cases, recently winning five Welsh health boards as new clients and new contracts with NHS trusts in Dorset, Devon, Avon, Gloucester and Wiltshire.

Crutes law firm's new managing partner Helen Ager and Tim Wallis are leading lights in dispute resolution. The firm has acknowledged skill in insurance litigation, but its practice extends to partnership disputes and other instructions; highlights in 2005 included settling an IT contract case valued at pounds 1m through mediation. Clients include various high-net-worth individuals and plcs and also the Civil Service.

Hay & Kilner's Martin Soloman (who is a trained mediator) heads a four-partner team, which advises on cases ranging from insurance disputes and professional partnership wrangles, to railway litigation, judicial review and minority shareholder claims. The firm regularly provides advice to rail industry heavyweights.

Tony McPhillips' team at Robert Muckle LLP acts across the spectrum of commercial litigation, and also works closely with the firm's property services group. Recent successes include defending a claim at trial for damages for breach of contract and commission and compensation under the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993, and acting for a major shareholder and director in a minority shareholder action involving allegations of breaches of fiduciary duties.

Blackett Hart & Pratt LLP's range of experience includes product liability, construction, partnership and contract disputes for high-profile local businesses. Graeme Ritzema and Robin Winskell have good reputations.

Experienced duo Toby Gibson and Jane Gibson of Gibson & Co continue to win work from London-based and local clients, including Hallmark Cards plc, which joins Northern Rock plc and Superdrug Stores plc on the firm's list of repeat clients. The practice, which was boosted by the addition of Michael Reed from Burnetts, is praised by clients for being 'commercially minded and very responsive'. Jonathon Stokes heads a compact commercial litigation team at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP. In August 2005 the team expanded with the arrival of Susan Roberts from Robert Muckle LLP. …