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Square One Law goes from strength to strength

Senior partner, Ian Gilthorpe reviews some of the firm’s highlights and projects of the past year.

There have been signs of recovery in the region over the last year which has led to more business activity for many of our clients and Square One Law has been fortunate to have been involved in a range of interesting projects not just in the region, but also nationally and internationally. We work with a wide range of clients, across diverse sectors; from large brands and plcs, to entrepreneurs, family run businesses, individuals and start-ups.

During the last year the corporate team advised Utilitywise plc on the acquisition of t-mac Technologies. They also acted for Sir Peter Vardy on his investment in Routetrader (RTX), a global clearing house for voice, data and messaging services and supported the recently created public private partnership ARCC managing the probation service in Durham and Teesside as well as Safe Families for Children a rapidly growing charity that gives support to families in crisis. They worked with the Gateshead based software company, Prismtech, on their sale to multi-national tech giant, Adlink, were involved in the sale of Darlington based, Norchem to Lexon and the sale of Anglo Scottish Asset Finance to Maxxia part of a Australian quoted group. Out of region they worked with Meealofa Development Holdings on the sale of its subsidiary company to London Metric Property plc for £56M.

The property team has been working with Highbridge Properties, developer of Cobalt and Indigo Business Parks. Cobalt, based in North Tyneside, is the largest and most successful office park in the UK and our team worked on the largest letting in the region – 78,000sqft letting to Utilitywise plc. Out of region they acted for London based developer, Landid on the acquisition of Gorsebrook Industrial Park and the subsequent letting of the entire site to Eddie Stobart.

The energy team acted on the sale of two operating PV assets to German funds and is advising a developer of ground based PV projects, on developing over 30MW of consented, grid connected sites. They have also acted for fast growing AIS on a series of projects including several acquisitions.

Working with Teesside based Able UK, highlights include, ongoing site assembly of 3,000 acre Marine Energy Park which will generate thousands of jobs for Humberside, the Port Clarence Biomass project on Stockton on Tees which will result in £160M being invested in the Stockton on Tees site and lead to the creation of 500 jobs as well as Able’s decommissioning contracts for the North Sea Brent Oil field with Shell. Work for Shepherd Offshore involved advising on the development and pre-let of a 28,000sqft manufacturing facility at Neptune Energy Park to Fraser Hydraulic Power and we were involved with JDR Cable Systems in its expansion of its world-class manufacturing facility at Hartlepool Dock, now totalling in excess of 280,000sqft.
Our employment team has seen increased activity surrounding global mobility issues and has been supporting UK businesses establish their routes to foreign markets and advising clients on equal pay and their gender pay gap reporting obligations.

The highlight of our litigation team’s work has been successfully managing multi million pound claims on behalf of syndicates of high net worth individuals arising out of failed property investments in addition to working to resolve the normal and varied run of business disputes to the advantage of our clients.

This year we welcomed two new specialist partners, Neil Warwick and Camilla James, who both bring new skills to the business. Neil is a leading EU and competition lawyer and joined us from Bond Dickinson. Neil’s expertise, particularly in relation to EU structural funding, means Square One Law is the only law firm in the North East specialising in European law. Since joining us he has been involved with forming a national trade association of private hire taxi operators called CAUTION (Campaign Against Unlawful Taxis In Our Nation) and helped them bring multiple regulatory complaints about the behaviour of UBER. They have recently filed a petition with the EU parliament. Neil works with large brands such as Franke and easyBus and is also the firm’s Business Development partner.

Camilla returns to the North East from London. She worked at Ernst & Young, where she focused on the establishment of tax efficient structures for the preservation of assets and for succession planning purposes. Since joining, Camilla has worked on a wide range of structuring advice to high net worth entrepreneurs and advice on personal trusts and the creation of charitable foundations, as well as working out strategic pre-sale share transfer planning to preserve various tax reliefs whilst allowing control to stay with families. She regularly advises clients whose affairs have an international dimension and also has considerable experience in advising on philanthropy matters for individuals, families and business owners.

As a growing firm we’ve invested time in building up trust so we can operate effectively as an extended part of our clients’ management teams and the synergy of combining the client’s extensive knowledge of their business and our commercial experience creates an exceptionally joined-up way of working.

It’s this joined up way of working that we need to see more of in the North East. The first JEREMIE Fund has been a major success in helping the growth of regional SMEs, in sharp contrast to the JEREMIE Funds in other areas – the North East was responsible for delivering 2,600 new jobs, safeguarding a further 3,000 and securing £180m in private sector match. It proves that this region has real fund management expertise and we are delighted that Square One Law has been appointed to help implement the JEREMIE 2 Fund worth £100m-£120m.

Looking forward, the volatility in the global economy, combined with the uncertainty caused by the upcoming EU referendum, means the future will continue to be challenging, but we know from working with our clients that there are opportunities out there.

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