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  1. Commercial property: Edinburgh and Glasgow
  2. Commercial property: leisure and hospitality
  3. Commercial property: retail occupiers
  4. Leading individuals

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Nick Scott’s team at Brodies LLP acts for institutional funds, developers and local authorities, among other clients. In 2015, it advised Quartermile Ventures on a high-profile pre-let to FanDuel at Quartermile Four in Edinburgh. Kirsty Macpherson moved from Gillespie Macandrew LLP. In other developments, Laurence Douglas, Chris McDaid and Murray Soutar made partner. Other key names include Johane Murray and Richard Whyte.

Burness Paull LLP’s team expanded significantly in 2015 with the additions of consultant Stephen Scott, Robert Binning and Colin Brown from McClure Naismith LLP and consultant Katrina Ovenden from Harper Macleod LLP. In a notable highlight, Richard Rennie led advice to Harbert European Real Estate Fund IV on the Scottish law aspects of its acquisition of Eastgate Shopping Centre. Tamar Tammes’ group includes Nick Naddell, who heads the retail, leisure and hospitality side of the practice. A team led by Michael Wood undertakes English property mandates.

CMS’ expertise in complex and high-value mandates sees it act for developers, investors and public sector property owners, among other clients. Allan Wernham advised Land Securities on the £224m sale of The Centre and Almondvale West Retail Park in Livingston to HSBC Alternative Investments. Angus MacRae and Chris Rae recently made partner, while Deborah Wales joined Brodies LLP. Timothy Pitt and Iain Doran are also recommended.

Gordon Aitken and Simon Etchells head Maclay Murray & Spens LLP’s team, which acts for public sector entities, listed/private companies and institutional clients on acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures and other matters. Etchells is assisting The Light Cinemas with development agreements for multi-screen cinemas throughout the UK. Consultant Wilson Aitken joined from McClure Naismith LLP. Allan Cairns, Barry Edgar and Jo Campbell-Smith made partner, while Iain MacNiven retired.

Noted for its pan-UK coverage, Katharine Hardie’s team at Pinsent Masons LLP handles high-value multi-let property investments, large-scale commercial and student accommodation developments, portfolio transactions, and other matters. Russell Munro led advice to a fund managed by Tristan Capital Partners on its acquisition of The Forge Retail Park, Glasgow. Martin Devine is ‘strong on the development side’ and Ewan Alexander has ‘excellent industry knowledge’. Richard Linton is also recommended.

Rated as ‘one of the best in Scotland’ for commercial property work, Shepherd and Wedderburn acts for investors, developers, retailers and banks. In 2015, David Mitchell led advice to City of Edinburgh Council on the £100m sale of the Atria Edinburgh office development. Elsewhere, Andrew Hall is acting for clients such as Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes in various strategic land sales and acquisitions.

In addition to acting for public sector clients, Drew Morris’ group at Anderson Strathern advises private sector organisations in areas such as retail, energy and healthcare. Anne McGregor and senior associate Fiona McKinnon are advising Intu Properties on the management and development aspects of its Intu Braehead portfolio. Joan Devine joined HBJ Gateley.

DLA Piper Scotland LLP’s wide-ranging practice covers matters such as investment acquisitions, disposals, development and leasing. Noted for its experience in portfolio transactions, Drew Wallace’s team worked with members of the firm’s London and Leeds offices to advise Aviva on the Scottish property aspects of a £2.25bn UK loan book and asset sale. In another highlight, Steve Edgecombe acted for Qatar Airways in its £15m acquisition of the Edinburgh Park Hotel.

Following significant expansion in 2014, HBJ Gateley further bolstered its practice in 2015, hiring Paul Ockrim and Nick Taylor from Leslie Wolfson & Co and Joan Devine from Anderson Strathern. It also increased its headcount at senior associate level, bringing in two practitioners. Miles Ede’s team is active in commercial investments, including portfolio transactions, while other areas of expertise include residential investment and development, and corporate occupier work. Kirsty Nicholson leads on English real estate matters.

Assisting a diverse mix of public and private sector clients, Harper Macleod LLP’s practice covers investment, development, property finance, commercial leasing and structuring work. In 2015, David Bell acted for Bath Resorts on its £6.75m acquisition of the Premier Inn Hotel at Argyle Street in Glasgow. Philip Sim joined from McClure Naismith LLP in 2015. John Meehan leads the team.

Noted for its expertise in commercial development, MacRoberts LLP acts for clients such as BAM Properties, Muse Developments and Carillion. It is also active on the investment side, undertaking high-value transactions for Hamilton Capital Partners and REVCAP, among others. Neil Amner and Robin Corbett joined from DWF.

Jonathan Seddon’s team at Morton Fraser is increasingly active on high-end investment deals, as well as development work involving student accommodation, residential and other commercial developments. Elspeth Carson was lead adviser to Rockspring Hanover Unit Property Trust on its £45m acquisition of EnQuest’s UK headquarters at Annan House, Aberdeen. Other strengths of the practice include portfolio transactions and estate management matters. Hugo Allan joined Thorntons Law LLP, and Brian Macfarlane and David Stewart made partner.

Alan Borthwick and David Gibson head BTO Solicitors LLP’s team, which advises charities, retailers, housebuilders, commercial developers and other clients. Graeme Kelly, who joined from DWF, has 25 years’ experience acting for clients in the hospitality and retail sectors.

Providing UK-wide coverage, DWF undertakes a significant amount of work for clients in sectors such as retail, energy/infrastructure, tourism/leisure and education. In 2015, David Ratter’s team assisted Marks and Spencer with various real estate matters, including three department store acquisitions. Moray Thomson joined from MacRoberts LLP, while Vivienne Stuart retired.

Davidson Chalmers LLP, which has a strong reputation for acting for private development companies, is handling two significant developments in Edinburgh city centre: acting for Chris Stewart Group in the development of The Registers, and advising Peveril Securities on a project at King’s Stables Road.

Dynamic and approachable firmLindsaysdelivers results in a timely and cost-effective way’. As part of a wider practice, Derek Nash’s team acts for corporate occupiers, and assisted FanDuel as tenant with taking up leases at Quartermile Four in Edinburgh. Kenneth Gray and Fiona Linklater are ‘knowledgeable and extremely personable’. Gavin Buchan recently joined from Maclay Murray & Spens LLP.

Shoosmiths’ ‘prompt and reliable’ team acts for national housebuilders in site acquisitions and plot sales. Its investment-side practice is gaining momentum, covering areas such as retail, student accommodation and office properties. In 2015, the firm advised Poundland on the Scottish property aspects of its acquisition of 99p Stores. Associate Jill Turnbull recently joined from Anderson Strathern. Practice head Stephen Dougherty has ‘a wealth of experience’.

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Legal Developments in Scotland for Commercial property: Edinburgh and Glasgow

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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