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The Partners

Gary McGonagle

Gary is one of the founding partners of the firm and has specialist knowledge and experience in Corporate, Commercial and Intellectual Property law. He qualified as solicitor in 2001 and was previously a partner in a city law firm and in a media and entertainment firm in London. His previous private practice experience combined with working as an in-house lawyer for a FTSE listed, international fashion company gives him a wealth of commercial and legal experience to draw upon.

 His specialist experience includes advising on:

  • Corporate acquisitions, mergers, MBO’s and disposals
  • Investments, restructuring and insolvency
  • Commercial trading agreements
  • Mainstream intellectual property and general commercial issues for a variety of Technology, Media and Fashion companies

His core specialisms include: –

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Technology and Office Solutions

Author of a chapter entitled, “Buying and selling brands” in The Handbook of European Brand Rights Management (2011).
Author of a chapter entitled, “Business Structures” for a book entitled “Growing Business Innovation” which is endorsed by the Intellectual Property Office (2017).

For any enquiries please contact Gary McGonagle

Ian Robertson

Ian qualified as a solicitor in 2001 and is the head of Howman’s commercial litigation and debt recovery department and has over 30 years’ experience in commercial dispute resolution working at commercial firms in London and Sussex.

Ian specialises in disputes arising out of an asset finance transaction and acts for a number of well-known funders. He frequently advises clients upon issues concerning fraud and misrepresentation, disputes as to quality and fitness for purpose, disputes over title and asset recovery.

Ian also acts in relation to a variety of insolvency claims particularly in bringing proceedings against directors of insolvent companies. Ian’s reported cases include:

  • Armstrong v Onyearu [2017] EWCA Civ 280 (Acting for a Trustee in Bankruptcy in proceedings concerning the principle of equity of exoneration).
  • Singh v Dhanji [2014] EWCA Civ 414 (Concerning whether a landlord was in breach of his statutory duty to consent to an assignment of the lease by imposing an unreasonable condition requiring all alleged breaches of covenant, served under the Law of Property Act 1925, to be resolved).
  • Sunderland Mutual Marine Insurance Co v Wiseman [2007] EWHC 1460 (concerning a conflict of laws in a claim arising out of an alleged insurance fraud).
  • Re Online Rentals Limited [2005] (whether the presentation of a Winding Up Petition amounted to an abuse of process).
For any enquiries please contact Ian Robertson

The Team

Kate Austen

Kate qualified as a solicitor in 2012 and joined Howman Solicitors in July 2012. She is an experienced litigator and dispute resolution lawyer having practiced for many years with a regional practice in Lincolnshire. Kate initially qualified as a barrister in 2008 before cross-qualifying to become a solicitor. Kate can provide clients with a personal tailored service and competitive fee structures having regard to the clients’ needs and financial resources. During her legal career, Kate has acted for a variety of clients including individuals, SMEs and national companies.

Corporate and Commercial
Kate’s experience includes advising on:

  • Acquisitions, mergers and disposals
  • Trading terms and conditions of business, distribution agreements, non-disclosure agreements and joint ventures

Litigation and Dispute Resolution Specialist areas
Resolving disputes between commercial parties, businesses and their customers and between individuals through negotiation, litigation or other alternative dispute resolution methods (such as mediation and arbitration).

Kate can assist with almost any dispute and specialises in the following areas:

  • Claims arising out of breach of contract
  • Debt recovery
  • Disputes within businesses (between partners, shareholder and directors)
  • Construction Disputes
  • Professional Negligence claims
  • Insolvency including Bankruptcy and Winding Up Petitions
  • Restrictive covenant disputes
  • Landlord and Tenant disputes
  • Inheritance Act Claims

Kate’s recent cases have included acting for clients in construction adjudications, an injunction to remove solicitors from acting against her clients, and advising on claims against banks.

For any enquiries please contact Kate Austen

Lynne Burns

Lynne Burns is an Employment Law specialist and has over 20 years’ experience in handling all types of employment law both contentious and non-contentious.

She has worked as in house Counsel and Counsel for EMEA for two global businesses and has been a Partner in West End and City practices.

She deals with all types of Employment litigation in the Employment Tribunal and High Court and non-contentious advice including advice on TUPE, re-structuring, outsourcing, redundancies and the practical realities faced by a business. Litigation experience includes dismissals, discrimination, Equal Pay and breach of contract claims.

Lynne provides practical hands on advice to help avoid issues before they arise and rapidly diffuse them if problems have already occurred. She will advise you when the right time is to settle a case and when it is advisable to pursue the matter all the way to Court or Tribunal.

For any enquiries please contact Lynne Burns

Alex Churcher

Alex joined Howman Solicitors in August 2015 and is an Affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives currently completing his Level 3 Professional Diploma.

As well as assisting the Commercial Litigation Team with various contentious matters, Alex also undertakes debt recovery work for a variety of clients, from multinational companies to small and medium sized businesses and in a number of different sectors.

For any enquiries please contact Alex Churcher

John O’Connor

John is a commercial property lawyer with 24 years’ experience of dealing with a wide range of commercial property transactions including:

  • Development and investment purchases and sales
  • Leasing
  • Charging
  • Residential sales and purchases
  • Planning issues

Leasehold management Projects include:

  • Dealing with property matters relating to takeover by a multinational distiller of a long established UK distiller and subsequent group restructuring.
  • The forward purchase in 5 stages of development of a trading estate and letting the units under occupational lease followed by the sale of the estate to a major pension fund.
  • The acquisition, funding and reletting of a large industrial holding and sale to a pension fund.
  • Purchase of unit an International Business Estate for £6.5 million and dealing with subsequent recession related issues.
  • Sale of former school to a Housing Association for residential development of 92 units (comprising sheltered housing, affordable housing and open market housing), assisting in achieving planning and securing additional planning overage.
  • Relocation of a primary school allowing redevelopment of a football club.
For any enquiries please contact John O’Connor

Victoria Keene

Victoria joined Howman Solicitors as a paralegal in August 2012 and qualified as a solicitor in December 2016.

Victoria practises in litigation and insolvency law. She specialises in contractual disputes between commercial parties and resolving disputes either through negotiation, litigation or alternative dispute resolution.

For any enquiries please contact Victoria Keene

Hugh Mulley

Hugh is a specialist company and commercial lawyer with over 20 years’ experience acting for clients across the business spectrum. He advises on a wide range of company and commercial legal matters, including:

  • Buying and selling companies and businesses
  • Shareholders and joint venture agreements
  • Standard terms of business

Commercial agreements Hugh has a background working in major London law firms and has also spent four years working as a lawyer in the Middle East.

Hugh is recognised for giving direct and common sense advice and has a diploma in Corporate Finance giving an extra dimension to the service that he provides.

For any enquiries please contact Hugh Mulley
Conor Stacey

Conor Stacey

Conor is a Paralegal having joined Howman Solicitors in May 2019. He started his LPC in September 2019, which he is due to complete by June 2021.

Conor assists Ian Robertson and Gary McGonagle with a broad range of matters in the Commercial Litigation and Corporate departments, as well as helping with administrative duties.

For any enquiries please contact Conor Stacey
Alison Dark

Alison Dark

Alison is Howman Solicitor’s legal cashier and joined in October 2019.

For any enquiries please contact Alison Dark
Alison Dark

Kayla McDonald

Kayla joined Howman Solicitors in May 2021 as a Paralegal. Having completed her LLM LPC in January 2021, and her LLB in 2019, she aspires to train as a Solicitor in the near future.

Kayla assists in both Commercial Litigation and Corporate matters, as well as performing additional administrative roles within the firm.

For any enquiries please contact Kayla McDonald
Charlott Harsent

Charlotte Harsent

Charlotte joined Howman Solicitors in September 2021 as a Paralegal. Having completed her LLM LPC in July 2021, and her LLB in 2020, she aspires to train as a Solicitor in the near future.

Charlotte assists with legal matters across the firm, as well as performing additional administrative roles.

For any enquiries please contact Charlotte Harsent