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  1. Commercial property: Norwich
  2. Leading individuals (region-wide)
  3. Next generation lawyers (region-wide)

Next generation lawyers (region-wide)

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The best in the region’ according to some, Birketts LLP is ‘always at the other end of the phone with excellent advice’ The team, which attracts praise for its ‘quick, efficient, very proactive and commercial approach’, not only has a strong regional presence in developer work, strategic land transactions, investment deals and portfolio management, but also acts for several key clients on a national basis. Robert Gibbs leads the strategic land group and is ‘exceptional – he is commercially aware and able to respond quickly’. Head of retail and Melissa Loucas is ‘particularly good and always advises in a commercial manner’. Senior associate Bhargav Trivedi is ‘an excellent lawyer who has a real affinity for clients’. Clients also praise the large team of associates, picking out Greg McCurday who ‘works hard to understand the niche areas in which clients work and the complexities they bring in terms of structuring transactions’, and Andrew Ridout, who is ‘efficient, knowledgeable and very helpful’. Among the firm’s major deals from 2016 was its work for NFC Homes Limited on an option agreement with a landowner concerning the sale of land to a housing association and leasing arrangements for residential units in a new building. The team also acted for Lloyds Bank on an £8.5m financing for a portfolio of residential and commercial sites as part of an incorporation exercise by the borrower.

Howes Percival LLP provides a comprehensive service to developers, banks and investor clients across East Anglia. Its expertise covers a wide variety of sectors including tourism, automotive, energy and education. Newly elected firm chair Tessa Haskey leads the firm-wide real estate team and handles landlord and tenant matters, commercial property deals and finance work. Strategic land expert Tracey Hughes handles complex development projects and Joanna Nicholls is ‘a very good and attentive lawyer’ who regularly acts for clients in the tourism, leisure, energy and healthcare sectors. Director Nicola Curle advises residential developers and landowners on conditional contracts, options and overage arrangements, and has specialist expertise in the education sector having acted for numerous further education institutions in surplus land disposals and student accommodation projects. Director Alice Liddle has extensive experience in strategic land matters, and the drafting of complex bespoke options and collaboration agreements for residential development projects. The team acted for Anglia Maltings in negotiating an option to acquire land to construct a road to enable the expansion of its main UK maltings operation and to facilitate further residential development in the area. Another key deal saw it advise Genatec on its investment in a wind turbine project, which involved the acquisition of a special purpose vehicle with an option to lease a site once planning permission was granted for renewable energy development.

According to one client, Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘the best firm for development work in East Anglia; the service is very good, with strong technical knowledge from partner to associate level’. The firm is a national player in the real estate sector and its Norwich team has a strong reputation of advice to landowners, developers such as Urban&Civic, investors including SUE Developments, a host of corporates and education institutions, and numerous housebuilders and charities. Head of department Caroline Dean advises her landowner client base on development work and is ‘a very high-calibre lawyer’, with clients citing her ‘depth of local knowledge as well as her practical and pragmatic approach’. Carina Cobbold is ‘very bright, able, personable and switched on; she is one of the brightest and hardest-working solicitors around’. Senior associate Anna Aldous is ‘hardworking, decisive, diligent and has the ability to see issues clearly and find solutions’. Also recommended are principal associates Lisa-Marie Kennedy (who is noted for her ‘excellent legal knowledge and client awareness’) and Zoe Cooke, who specialises in high-value residential projects for London-based developers; and associate Lucy Whipps, who handles landowner investment and development matters for clients such as the Centre for Food & Health. Keith Hamilton has retired. Highlights included acting for landowner Kilverstone Trust on the sale of land for a residential development project that will deliver 5,000 homes near Thetford as part of a project to develop a new community that will include three schools, a health centre and 48 acres of employment land.

Ashtons Legal’s team in Norwich team is playing an increasingly central role in the firm-wide practice. Genie Barham is ‘very thorough – her advice is fully considered and pragmatic, and she doesn’t give the impression that a conversation is on the clock’. Barham handles the full spectrum of non-contentious commercial property work, including high-value and complex acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant matters, development projects, options and complex overages agreements. Solicitor Howard Bailey specialises in freehold and leasehold transactions, commercial leases and secured lending. The ‘diligent and polite’ Emma Robinson is also recommended. The team acted for Yarco Properties Limited on the £1.6m acquisition of premises in Great Yarmouth, which had to be concluded within 48 hours to prevent the property being sold at auction. Other highlights included advising Pinnacle Consulting Engineers on a £1m ten-year lease of office premises in Welwyn Garden City.

Fosters has a broad client base of developers, professional landlords and lenders, for which it acts on commercial property sales and purchases, commercial leases and the real estate elements of business sales. The firm is also strong in agricultural land sales and the acquisition of land for development. Team head Simon Button and senior associate Rachel Appleton each have more than ten years’ experience in real estate matters. Highlights included assisting longstanding client Taylor Properties Trading on a new lease arrangement with the local authority for a bin store. Button also acted for a housebuilder on a major residential development project that will include affordable housing.

Leathes Prior has a team of eight fee earners in Norwich led by Robert Sibley, whose work includes leasehold and freehold acquisitions, residential and commercial developments, commercial leases, investment property and a broad range of landlord and tenant issues. Senior partner William Riley has considerable experience in matters concerning conveyancing, trusts and commercial property, on which he advises a number of substantial charitable institutions. Partner David Clarke is also recommended for all aspects of commercial property and residential development work. The firm’s client base predominantly comprises corporations, investors, developers and charities in East Anglia, but its caseload includes transactions across the UK. In 2016, Sibley and assistant Victoria Smith advised AIM-listed veterinary group CVS (UK) on acquisitions in East Anglia, Southampton, Kent and Wales. New clients include The Somerleyton Estate, for which the firm handles the granting and surrendering of commercial leases.

Bruce Faulkner leads the team at Rogers and Norton, which is noted for providing ‘advice that is tailored to meet the complexity of individual cases’. The firm handles freehold and leasehold commercial property acquisitions, including a high number of investment transactions, and is also busy with option agreements for new development projects. Its client base largely comprises local businesses but also includes major landowners, PLCs and pension schemes. Managing partner Richard Etheridge acts for many GP surgeries and healthcare professionals in property transactions and ‘brings a commercial and pragmatic approach that is always well received’. Legal executive Yvonne Benner ‘far exceeds much of the competition in Norwich in respect of commercial conveyancing’. Senior solicitor Lauren Coleman is also recommended.

At Clapham & Collinge Solicitors, ‘pragmatic’ partner Hugh Berridge has more than 25 years’ experience in commercial property deals for investors and corporate clients, including commercial landlord and tenant matters. Solicitor Jade Tinney also handles property matters as part of her broad commercial practice. Highlights included advising on a development agreement and a section 106 agreement for a large residential development, and assisting the purchaser of a partially tenanted office block in Norwich with the subsequent granting of leases.

Cozens-Hardy LLP provides ‘a practical and helpful service with a view to getting deals done’. The ‘friendly, reliable and pragmaticDan Evans and Caroline Linsdell handle commercial property transactions nationwide and across a range of sectors including office, retail, industrial and agricultural properties. The firm’s recent highlights include the £7m disposal of land to a national housebuilder; the purchase of an iconic property in the Norfolk Broads; numerous lettings of land for onshore wind or solar farms; assisting with property aspects of a large corporate acquisition; and the negotiation of promotion agreements for the disposal of development land. The firm regularly advises local charities on commercial investments and acquisitions.

Steeles Law’s team handles property transactions, office and industrial unit leases, option agreements for residential and commercial development, and overage agreements. Senior director and head of real estate Michael Fahy, who is predominantly based in London but also serves an East Anglian client base through the firm’s Norwich office, has more than 30 years’ experience and is ‘quite simply a class act; superlatively good, he makes difficult subjects easy to understand’. Fahy’s highlights included advising The Liberal Democrats on property restructuring matters that included the surrender of leases on existing premises in London. He also acted for A R Hall & Sons in securing an option agreement for a large residential development. The firm recruited newly qualified Lisha Gorsia to the team in 2016 to specialise in commercial property transactions.


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