John Ellwood
  • John Ellwood

  • Partner

Year of Admission: 1980
Position: Partner
Specialises in: Conveyancing, Criminal Law
Qualification: LLB hons solicitor/ Higher Rights
Education: Newcastle University and Guilford University

John Ellwood has always posed a prime figure for Tilly Bailey & Irvine, now the Managing Partner responsible for Domestic Conveyancing and its head of department.

Many years ago, John was a full-time Conveyancing Solicitor. He has also been described as a 'formidable' specialist licencing solicitor and is well-respected for his work as a criminal defence lawyer, all involving the management of a large volume of transactions.

John manages departments in such a way as to provide a quality, sustainable service to clients, introducing systems of working which met with modern client’s expectations.

After taking over as Head of TBI's Conveyancing Department, John has - together with Conveyancing Manager, Wendy Frame - introduced systems to make modern conveyancing a quality service.

"In the very old days, clients were expected to visit their solicitors during a conveyancing transaction and have documents of a relatively complicated legal nature explained to them. I would be surprised if many of the clients found that this service was rewarding. Our new systems of working assist clients in a speedy and effective conclusion of a conveyancing transaction.

"Clients do not come to firms of solicitors for the ability of the solicitor to analyse old title documents, but instead come to a firm of solicitors for a speedy and client-friendly service. Communication through modern technology including text messages, telephone calls and emails is key."

John is able to therefore provide a cost-effective service, unrivalled in the North East. We are able to deal with conveyancing transactions throughout the country.

"Simply superb. They responded to all of my enquiries very quickly and accurately. With their help I was able to sell my apartment and buy a new house all within four weeks from start to finish, which is the fastest I have ever known."

Criminal Defence

From the late 1980's onwards, John has worked as a criminal defence lawyer.

At first, he represented large numbers of clients in the Magistrates’ Court predominantly with the benefit of legal aid. He later concentrated on the more serious and complex cases and began to spend more and more time at the Crown Court. 

In 2005, he was awarded the Higher Courts qualification, one of the first solicitors to attain this distinction. This means that he holds rights of audience in the Crown Court in all proceedings and in all other courts likewise.

"Tilly  Bailey & Irvine has grown to become the largest firm in the Tees Valley. We are also now the solicitors of choice for most commercial clients in the area. Our growth has coincided with a change in policy of the government. More and more business people are now prosecuted in the criminal courts for offences which previously would have been regarded as civil matters. My firm’s reputation and my personal reputation mean that I receive a large number of enquiries to represent clients on a private basis - that is without legal aid.

"I decided to offer these private clients the kind of service that I would have liked myself and that is when a client instructs me they get me. I appear in court for them and I am there each time their case is at court. Each client has my personal mobile telephone number and they can ring it 24/7. I am available not just to talk to them on the telephone out of office hours but I am available to see or deal with problems that arise whenever they arise."

As a result of his experience and reputation he has access to the best there are around and, in fact, some senior barristers have actually referred cases to him. The majority of the private clients who John represents are found not guilty and, in these serious cases, paying the costs is a better result than facing the worst case outcome.

John's experience includes:

  • Inferences to be drawn during interviews about offences. This is an ever-changing and developing area of law and I have litigated on behalf of clients who are faced with consequences of allegedly failing to mention facts in interview which are later relied on in court. The leading case on this subject was litigated in the Court of Appeal and subsequently in the House of Lords as it then was. It appears as the leading case in a number of text books on the subject and it was the case in which I was instructed and litigated.
  • Financial Crime and Money Laundering. I am a member of the Solicitors Association of Money Laundering and I have represented numerous clients in connection with applications to seize their assets and to investigate financial crime. My family has a background in accountancy and I have acquired a knowledge of this subject.  I have a distinction in revenue law. I have represented numerous clients where the revenue claim that they have more money than they ought to have as a result of what the revenue claim is either undeclared income or illegal income. I have successfully represented these clients both in relation to criminal proceedings and subsequent Proceeds of Crime allegations. I work closely with specialist accountants in negotiating settlement figures with the revenue and I have expertise and knowledge in relation to money laundering allegations.
  • The Scrap Metal Industry is a particular area of expertise. Prior to recent legislative changes, the police and local authorities decided to tackle scrap metal theft by investigating and prosecuting the scrap metal merchants who received what was alleged to have been stolen property. I have successfully represented a number of large scrap metal dealers who have been investigated and prosecuted in connection with both handling, concealing and dealing in stolen property and the Proceeds of Crime. To explain my involvement references to my experience are necessary.  I have represented clients from the interview stage, through the Magistrates’ hearings, into the Crown Court and during their trials. I have represented clients in relation to interviews, proposed proceedings and negotiated settlement with the revenue and have been present arguing the case at all stages.
  • Taxi Licensing. It is not cost effective for individual taxi drivers to instruct me to represent them on either licensing applications or prosecutions for breaches of regulations. It is however extremely cost effective for operators and owners of large taxi firms.  I have successfully represented large taxi companies who allegedly have breached their licence conditions and who wished to have their licence conditions amended to reflect modern working practices. I have represented a number of clients in these situations such that in the leading text book on the subject my cases appear.
  • Liquor Licensing. I have a large following in the liquor licence trade. I represent clients both in relation to licensing applications and subsequent proceedings alleging breach of licenses or attempts to curtail licenses. Just as with taxi licensing, it is not cost effective for individual licensees to approach me to, for example, apply to transfer their licences but where large premises are seeking either unusual licenses or are being challenged by regulatory authorities in relation to their hours of opening etc then my involvement is essential.
  • Copyright and trademarks. I have represented and am experienced in representing complex copyright issues brought by regulatory authorities and trade organisations against business clients. This is a complex and developing area of law and no-one should tackle it unless they have experience in this field.
  • Expert Evidence. I have a register of experts who can assist me including DNA experts, telephone and cellsite analysts and telecommunications and computer technology experts. I am experienced in understanding and interpreting complex expert evidence. In a recent very serious case we were able to properly analyse and present the developing law and science relating to mixed low level DNA samples.

What clients say:

“Over the years John has helped me a number of times. I do not hesitate in recommending his services. John is easy to contact, in or out of office hours, (his mobile phone is always available, even when he was on holiday). During what was a very stressful time for me and my family, he proved to be a master at firstly calming our nerves and ultimately coordinating and organising all the aspects of my defence. His friendly manner and his perfect timing helped get the result we needed. Thanks again John.”

Simon Foster, Pout & Foster Ltd
Case relating to scrap metal business.

“Having contacted solicitors Tilly Bailey & Irvine regarding a legal case that I was being charged with, I was put in touch with solicitor Mr. Ellwood. Having spoken to Mr. Ellwood at this difficult time I can only say how grateful I was to be able to speak with him anytime day or night. Mr. Ellwood is easily approachable, friendly and very professional. He not only takes into account your case, but also really cares about your wellbeing and gives you faith in difficult situations and how best to proceed forward. After my long and complex case, I took his knowledgeable advice and feel the end result was satisfactory. I would like to say Mr. Ellwood is a credit to Tilly Bailey & Irvine.”

Malcolm Mayes
Case relating to digital satellite TV systems.

“When you find yourself in a situation where the status quo is thrown out of kilter through certain means, you search for solace in someone who gives guidance in a traumatic time. I acquired John's number through a then client of John's, in a similar situation. On telephoning John, I explained the predicament that myself and several colleagues were in, and within less than 2 hours, John arrived at my workplace to listen fully to the fact that our worlds had taken a violent shift. The reason not only that John had had prior experience in successful similar cases was reassuring. The fact that John evokes a compassionate, understanding and caring sense, gives reassurance in a time of need. Our case in question, seemed like it dragged on for far more than normal, but John was always there at the end of his mobile, at any time day, night, and even when on holiday. Having someone with an abundance of experience, as well as a patient demeanour, gives that calming sense that the journey you’re experiencing will be a less traumatic and stressful one. Many thanks John.”

Steve Blackburn

“Tilly, Bailey & Irvine, John Ellwood and his team have been my legal representatives for over twenty years. During this time I have been accused of a very serious charge and I was also accused of drink driving on private land. We have also had some 23 licensed premises over the years and our main company, CBL Cable Contractors Limited, makes in excess of £40 million per year and we have had many overdue debtors which need handling. The crime I was accused of along with the drink driving charge had a successful acquittal that was handled by Mr. Ellwood and I received my costs back which were in excess of £130,000. He and his team have also successfully completed all the premises and alcohol licences on the public houses we have owned. Mr. Ellwood is always available no matter what time of day or night you contact him and, in fact, I even rang him when he was away in Spain on holiday some three years ago and he offered to fly home immediately. In my opinion, you will not find a quicker and more positive response and success rate that with John Ellwood.”

Andrew Haygarth, Managing Director, CBL Cable Contractors Ltd

“I suffered legal problems of a criminal nature at the hands of an unbending bureaucracy with a malevolent investigator adding to my discomfort. I approached TBI initially and made an appointment, but John Ellwood called me directly to come into the office at short notice to get the ball rolling and to mount my defence. John made it plain, in no uncertain terms, that he would get me acquitted and he saw the injustice in the situation. John helped me with police interviews, court appearances, sourced the best possible barrister to argue my case, and saw the holes and lies in the CPS case, sufficient to get the case dropped and me acquitted. I cannot speak too highly of John Ellwood as a defence solicitor and have no hesitation in recommending him for all of your legal criminal problems. I will be forever in his debt and he was a great support and help in my darkest time.”

Professional Memberships:

Recognised experts under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 by being a member of POCLA being the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association.

Accredited with Higher Rights (enabling representation in all criminal courts as lower barrister) a membership of SAHCA (Solicitors Association of Higher Court Advocates).

Accredited to represent clients in interviews in police station or by Health & Safety Executive or Local Authority.

Legal 500/Chambers Mentions:

2016 – “John Ellwood is noted for his extensive experience in regulatory crime matters.”

2015 - "John Ellwood at Tilly Bailey & Irvine defends corporate clients involved in regulatory offences."

Specialist licencing solicitor (described as formidable)