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  1. Commercial property: Edinburgh and Glasgow
  2. Commercial property: leisure and hospitality
  3. Commercial property: retail occupiers
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Who Represents Who

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Brodies LLP handles a range of property issues for listed and privately-owned property companies, overseas-based investors, lenders and corporate occupiers, among other clients. In addition to advising on investment and development matters, the practice also has extensive experience of related property issues involving real estate finance, planning and environment, litigation, and real estate related tax. The firm, which acts for nine of the 20 largest real estate investors in the UK, is a stalwart figure in the Scottish property market, covering a multitude of sectors including office, industrial, retail, hospitality and leisure, and student accommodation. James Roscoe and Phil Hunter are key advisers in a cross-practice team that is acting for APG Asset Management in a mixed-use urban regeneration project at St James’ Quarter in Edinburgh. In 2016, ‘always available’ practice head Nick Scott, Chris McDaid and senior solicitor Jacqueline McFarlane acted for Brookfield Student Real Estate on its £37m acquisition of Collegelands (a 500-bed student accommodation scheme in Glasgow) and £25m forward-funding of St Mungo’s scheme (also in Glasgow). Scott also led on Varde Capital’s acquisition of a £150m Scottish retail park portfolio. Johane Murraybrings real value to every situation’. Other key individuals include Richard Smith, Richard Whyte, recently promoted partner Helen Abrams. Murray Soutar joined Gillespie Macandrew LLP.

Burness Paull LLP provides ‘a valued and diligent service’ and has a strong track record in high-value property acquisitions and sales (including portfolio transactions), regeneration projects, housebuilding developments and commercial redevelopments, among other matters. The firm’s ability to handle property transactions in England and Wales was further strengthened by the recent recruitment of Nicky Clemence from Brodies LLP. She joins a team that includes Peter Chambers and senior associate Andrew Yule, who are acting for Queensberry Properties on the formation of a joint venture company with Edinburgh St James Residential Holding Company, which is tasked with delivering the high-end residential development that will form part of the new St James’ Centre. In 2016, a group including Ian Wattie and James Forbes acted for Heartlands (Central) and Land Options (West) on the sale of the Heartlands development site in West Lothian to Green Town (Heartlands). Other key figures include practice head Tamar Tammes; Nick Naddell, a specialist in commercial landlord and tenant work with particular experience acting for national and international retailers; Steven McKinlay; Gaelen Doherty; and consultant John Sinclair, who recently joined from Maclay Murray & Spens LLP.

CMS is a regular fixture on the most significant and high-value real estate projects in Scotland. The firm has a strong track record acting for a wide variety of clients, including energy companies, hotels and leisure sector companies, retail landlords, institutional investors, public sector bodies and universities. In a recent highlight, practice head Allan Wernham, Stuart Tait and recently promoted partner Kirsten Partridge acted for TH Real Estate on the flagship St James redevelopment scheme, while Darina Kerr (who ‘never fails to give excellent advice and options both on the immediate matter at hand and on more strategic considerations’) and Lorri Pollock handled the Glasgow School of Art’s purchase of the former Stow College. Other clients of the practice include Aviva Investors, Ziggurat Student Accommodation Providers, Scottish Enterprise, EDF Energy and the University of Glasgow. Brian Donald routinely handles the real estate aspects of renewable energy developments, including transactions involving wind farm sites, and Margaret McLean focuses on purpose-built student accommodation, with extensive experience acting for student residence developers. Paul Carter excels in advising institutional investors on investment and development matters. Timothy Pitt is also highly regarded, as are senior associates Mike McColl and Gary Georgeson.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLP’s practice has broad expertise covering large-scale private rented sector and housebuilding projects, shopping centre sales and acquisitions, as well as leisure and energy sector developments. Other areas of strength include commercial landlord and tenant matters, and property finance. In 2016, Gordon Aitken led a cross-practice team acting for The Prudential Assurance Company on the site acquisition, development and subsequent sale of Quartermile 4 to Triuva, as well as handling pre-lets to FanDuel and Cirrus as part of the process. In another highlight, Allan Cairns acted for Greencoat UK Wind and an infrastructure investment joint venture between Greater Manchester Pension Fund and London Pensions Fund Authority on the property aspects of their £355m acquisition of a stake in the 350MW Clyde wind farm from SSE. Barry Edgar was part of a team acting for Aviva Investers on the sale of its investment in student accommodation at Collegelands in Glasgow, having previously advised the client on its acquisition in 2014. Aitken jointly heads the practice with Simon Etchells, while Gillian Downie, who has more than 30 years of experience in the commercial property arena, heads the Glasgow-based housebuilder and residential units. Also recommended are Colin Keenan (who is experienced in UK shopping centre acquisitions and disposals), Paul Haniford and Barry McKeown. Jennifer Johnson retired from private practice.

Pinsent Masons LLP acts for some of the largest participants in the Scottish and UK commercial property markets, including housebuilders, commercial developers, UK-based and international funds, and banks and retailers. Led by Katharine Hardie, the team handles a broad cross-section of matters, including large-scale cross-border portfolio acquisitions, commercial development and regeneration projects, real estate finance, residential development and high-end acquisitions and disposals. A particular strength is in energy-related property work, which covers all aspects of early-stage development, project implementation and financing; Jennifer Ballantyne heads the UK-wide energy-related property practice, which acts for clients such as DONG Energy, E.ON, FIM Services and SSE. The retail, hotel and leisure, and healthcare sectors are additional areas of strength. Recent highlights include Russell Munro’s advice to EDI Group on the redevelopment of India Quay in Edinburgh, and Alan Cook’s advice to Martin McColl on the Scottish and Northern Irish aspects of its £117m acquisition of 298 convenience stores from Co-operative Group. In another key mandate, Paul Connolly, Adrienne Quin and others acted for HFD Glasgow on the development of Bothwell Exchange in Glasgow and its pre-let to Morgan Stanley.

Also recommended are Martin Devine, who is ‘good on leasing and associated development work’ and Ewan Alexander, who ‘knows how to pull together the strands of a transaction’.

Shepherd and Wedderburn has a first-rate reputation and an extensive track record in commercial and residential development, leasing, property investments and acquisitions, real estate finance and regeneration projects. Its diverse client roster includes names such as John Lewis, Investec, the University of Edinburgh and Hermes. In 2016, the firm acted for City of Edinburgh Council on the £105m sale of Atria One to a German investment company, and also advised Cirrus Logic on the letting of Quartermile 4. Elsewhere, David Mitchell, senior associate Rhona McGregor and associate Hannah Swinton handled a number of mandates for British Land and Hercules Unit Trust, including the sale of Cuckoo Bridge Retail Park in Dumfries to NewRiver Retail, and various retail lettings at Glasgow Fort, Inverness Shopping Park and Fort Kinnaird. Mitchell and Nick Ryden jointly head the practice, which includes distressed property expert John Gallacher, who is experienced in real estate asset recovery and reconstruction assignments; and Caroline Shand, who is recommended for her expertise handling the Scottish aspects of cross-border portfolio investment and finance transactions. Andrew Hall, James Dobie and Scott Ritchie are also recommended. The team was joined in 2016 by Jamie Grant from MacRoberts LLP and Michael Anderson from The Commercial Law Practice LLP, which was acquired by the firm. Stuart Rowson departed for Lindsays.

Addleshaw Goddard established a presence in Scotland through its merger with HBJ Gateley, incorporating a practice with a dedicated English real estate sub-group led by Kirsty Nicholson and a track record in cross-border matters, including large-scale portfolio transactions and high-value property investments. In 2016, Nicholson acted alongside Alastair Cowan, Kirsty Woods and Gary Munro for Harwood Anthony Limited on the £18.5m sale of freehold and leasehold interests in a UK-wide portfolio of ten retail and industrial properties. The commercial property practice also handles residential development and student accommodation schemes, as well as private rented sector matters; Cowan recently acted for Maven Capital Partners on the acquisition and development of three student accommodation sites (consisting of 575 studios in total). Corporate occupier work, asset management and real estate finance are other pillars of the practice. The team generates a significant amount of commercial property work from clients in the telecommunications and leisure sectors, including EE, Malmaison Hotels, City Pub Group, BT and Virgin Media. Miles Ede leads the team, which includes Alison Newton, Neil Addis and Mike Fitzgerald, as well as newly promoted senior solicitors David McClean and Allison Leiper, and Katherine Golding, who made associate.

Anderson Strathern has a dedicated real estate practice with particular expertise in the retail, leisure, healthcare, renewable energy and education sectors, and which can call on specialists in areas such as planning, environment, construction and property litigation. Anne McGregor and senior associate Fiona McKinnon are advising Intu Properties Plc on the development of Intu Braehead Shopping Centre and Retail Park. In another matter, Ruth Maclean, Gillian Anderson and senior associate Neil Fraser are acting for S1 Developments on the redevelopment of Westerlea House in Edinburgh. Practice head Andrew Morris has more than 30 years of commercial property experience. Another name to note is Deborah Lovell, who has expertise in property development, estate management, land tax issues and property matters specific to the renewable energy sector. The Crown Estate, Moyallen Properties and Transport Scotland are among other notable clients.

DLA Piper Scotland LLP acts for a sizeable blue-chip client base, including Mas Plc (Artisan), Blackstone Scottish Water, and Heineken, which recently appointed the firm to handle its UK property work. Drew Wallace leads the team and handles a wide-ranging workload covering cross-border portfolio transactions, acquisitions and sales of high-end real estate assets, commercial leasing, and commercial and residential development projects. Steve Edgecombe, legal director Barbara Dow and senior associate Guy Irving advised Henry Boot on a development funding deal with Aberdeen City Council, in connection with the development of a new exhibition centre, energy centre and hotels. Elsewhere, Wallace, Irving and legal director Carolyne Hair are assisting Hansteen (AIF) with various matters across Scotland, including developments at Gilston, Polmont and Darnley in Glasgow. Sheila Irvine’s recent work includes advice to student accommodation providers and funds on urban development projects. Legal directors Stephen Dick and Edwin Truesdale are also recommended.

DWF has a strong Scottish and UK-wide footprint, making it a strong choice for high-profile property acquisitions and sales, portfolio management, residential and commercial development projects, corporate occupier work and property finance. Although its team undertakes work across a wide range of sectors, it is particularly well known in energy and infrastructure, retail, tourism and leisure, and education and the third sector, and acts for a client base that includes McDonald’s, Virgin Active, Scottish Power, M7 Real Estate and The Ambassador Group. Anthony McEwan, Joanna Hamilton and others are advising Scottish Power Energy Networks on the property aspects of a strategic grid expansion project in Scotland. In another highlight, Iain McHardy assisted retailer Next with its pre-let at the re-developed Edinburgh St James Centre, as well as with out-of-town store acquisitions and general estate management issues. David Ratter, Robin Watt and Geoff Stansfield are other notable practitioners. Hamilton and Paul Mason recently made partner.

Harper Macleod LLP has a particularly strong reputation in the housebuilding space, where it acts for clients including Tulloch Homes, Persimmon Homes and Ediston Homes. The firm also acts as the sole adviser to the Scottish Government on its Help to Buy scheme, and is highlight active for public sector clients including Highland Council, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Courts Service. The firm also acts for retail sector businesses such as William Hill, Caffe Nero and Optical Express. David Bell has a 26-year track record acting for JD Sports on all of its Scottish commercial lettings. Other areas of strength include high-end investment transactions, portfolio management, property finance, advice on property structures and joint ventures, and rural and agricultural sector work. In 2016, practice head John Meehan led advice to shareholders Bruce Linton and Philip Mulholland on the sale of a leisure resort in Angus (as part of the 300-acre Piperdam estate) to Coppergreen Developments. Other recommended individuals include Ken Ross, Chris Noble and Philip Sim in Edinburgh. David Eason and Gary Campbell are the main contacts in Inverness.

MacRoberts LLP’s team attracts praise for its credentials in commercial development and redevelopment projects; in a highlight, Laurence Fraser and Jenna McLean are acting for the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow on its £20m refurbishment and redevelopment. On the residential development side, the practice recently won mandates from major housebuilders such as CALA Homes and Persimmon, and Gillian Campbell, senior associate Mark Quinn and Keith Campbell recently assisted Dundas Estates & Development with a site acquisition in West Lothian for the development of residential housing. Elsewhere, Kelsey Gibson led on a circa £29.5m property portfolio sale for Hamilton Capital Partners. Douglas Lamb heads the highly experienced team, which also excels in high-end office and retail lettings, and property finance transactions. Other recommended partners include John McQuillan, Lisa Frost and David Milne. Clients also single out senior associate Mark Quinn and associate Nicole Cook. Neil Amner joined Anderson Strathern.

Morton Fraser has been an active player in the residential development sector for 30 years, with key figure Robert Swindell acting for a number of the largest housebuilders in Scotland, including Persimmon Homes, Taylor Wimpey and Stewart Milne Group. The team, which is led by Jonathan Seddon, also has an extensive track record in high-end commercial and mixed-use developments, as well as investment transactions, large-scale portfolio deals and corporate occupier work. A team including Seddon, Michael Ramsay, Caroline Docherty and Steven Thomson acted for Green Town (Heartlands) on its £23m acquisition of the mixed-use Heartlands development. The practice also has a strong capability in the student accommodation sector, led by Brian Hutcheson; in a recent highlight, the team acted for Empiric Student Property on its £26m purchase of Ayton House in St Andrews. Elspeth Carson, recently promoted partner Suzanne Hardie, Chris Harte and David Stewart are also recommended.

BTO Solicitors LLP handles a wide range of issues for developers, housebuilders, charities and retailers, among other clients. In 2016 Graeme Kelly led a team, which acted for Rockford Portfolio Limited in its portfolio acquisition of nine office buildings in six separate locations in Lanarkshire. Another highlight involved David Gibson and associate Manjit Hunjan advising Isle of Arran Distillers on the development of a new whisky distiller, which included assisting the client with a site acquisition. The firm also acts for other clients, such as Mactaggart & Mickel Group, The Architectural Heritage Fund and Stena Line group. Gibson jointly heads the practice with chairman Alan Borthwick, who is experienced in strategic land development projects, and is active in renewables sector matters. Jane Steel undertakes a significant amount of work for retail sector clients such as Adidas, Maplin and Superdry. Other key partners include Scott Buchan, Nicolas McBride and Peter Graham. Associates Marieclaire Reid and Donnie Robertson are also recommended.

In an illustration of Davidson Chalmers LLP’s track record handling large-scale developments, Bruce Lancaster and Andrew Chalmers advised Highbridge Properties on a development agreement concerning the development of a new business district in south east Glasgow. In a separate matter, Chalmers and Lisa Graham assisted Chris Stewart Group with negotiating a leasing agreement with Carluccio’s for a new restaurant at The Registers development in Edinburgh city centre. In the housebuilding sector, Andy Drane is leading a team advising Story Homes on all aspects of its flagship 285-unit housing development at Pentland Reach, Biggar. Other areas of expertise for the team include investment and development deals in the student accommodation sector, and healthcare-related real estate work involving medical partnerships, dental practitioners and veterinary practices. Gavin Maclean is also recommended, as are associates Lizzy Enayati and Louise Jones. Jenny Davies left the firm in 2017.

A great firm to know’, Lindsays enhanced its real estate credentials with the recent recruitments of finance experts Gavin Buchan and Stuart Rowson from Maclay Murray & Spens LLP and Shepherd and Wedderburn, respectively; director Stacy Campbell, who joined from Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP; Dawn Anderson, who joined from Anderson Strathern; and professional support director Alison Mackay, who joined from The Law Society of Scotland. The group acts for a range of developers and investors in matters involving sectors such as leisure and hospitality, healthcare, and retail. In 2016, team head Derek Nash led the advice to Glenisla Developments on the acquisition of Glenisla Golf Course for the purpose of redeveloping it into a care centre. In another highlight, Kenneth Gray and Fiona Linklater acted for Edinburgh University as the tenant on the letting of five floors at Argyle House in Edinburgh. Other key figures include Susan Law, Alan McLaren and Alastair Goodman.

The practice at Shoosmiths is led by Stephen Dougherty and has experienced a notable uptick in investment transactions. In 2016, Janette Speed and Shona White advised HPJ Investments on its strategic acquisitions of two industrial estate properties in Scotland. The firm is also active in property development matters, where it acts for national housebuilders, student accommodation providers, investors and landowners, as well as having a strong presence in the retail and leisure sector, where it assists high street and out of town retailers such as Poundland, Clintons and Cineworld, with strategic site acquisitions and portfolio management. The team also acts for social housing providers and is called on to handle property finance transactions by the major UK clearing banks. Also recommended are Robin Mitchell, and senior associates Sheelagh Cooley and Laura Bloxham.

Aberdein Considine’s practice has been significantly strengthened by the arrival of the ‘proactivePaul Jennings from Anderson Strathern in 2015. The practice handles a healthy mix of matters, including high-end investments and disposals, property financing, and commercial developments and lettings. Jennings, who has significant retail and leisure sector experience, recently acted for Greggs in the management of its Scottish portfolio across multiple sites. Investment highlights included advising Westerwood Development Company on prime office investments into properties located in Edinburgh’s New Town. Other new client wins for the group include Skipton Building Society, Colston Trustees and Rentokil. Associate David Orr is also recommended.

Bellwether Green’s ‘attentive and very hands-on’ team is regularly called on to advise on high-value investments and sales, commercial lettings (including those in the retail/office/industrial sectors), and property refinancings. John Bingham and Steven Templeton acted for global real estate asset manager St Bride’s Managers on its £7.55m acquisition of a multi-let property located in central Edinburgh from Imperial Tobacco. In another highlight, the team advised Clyde Property on its lease of a prime retail unit in Morningside, Edinburgh. New client wins include Matador Capital Partners, Manor Investments and Panoramic Growth Equity.

Led by Hazel Tait, Eversheds Sutherland’s team works as part of the firm’s wider UK group, and acts for clients nationally as well as globally. The practice has a notable real estate finance capability, which is complemented by extensive experience in property acquisitions and disposals, development, and landlord and tenant matters. Principal associate Steven Dick, who is dual-qualified in Scottish and English law, and associate Dixcee Fast are other names to note in the group, which is particularly active in work connected with the leisure, retail and renewable energy sectors.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP’s practice, led by David Milne, is praised for its ‘outstanding attention to detail and problem-solving advice in complex transactions’. Its wide-ranging expertise covers property finance, acquisitions and sales of commercial and investment property, commercial development (including retail, office and industrial developments), and landlord and tenant. The practice has experienced a marked uptick in mandates from banks and alternative lenders, as well as corporates in the retail sector. Clients include Clydesdale Bank, Turnberry Homes and Guillemot Green Energy. It also has a dedicated housebuilder sub-group, which is led by Harry Smith, who has ‘a wealth of experience’ of the residential development sector. Also recommended are Kenneth Irons, who attracts praise for his ‘genuine concern for the needs of his clients’, and Greg Peebles, who joined the team in 2016 from DWF.

Leslie Wolfson & Coinspires confidence that all matters are being dealt with efficiently’. Practice head Howard Beach attracts praise for his ‘ability to manage lawyers on the other side very well’. Its expertise encompasses property acquisitions and sales, finance transactions, and portfolio management, for a diverse client base across the UK and internationally, including banks, retailers and property companies. Highlights included acting for Town Centre Securities on the £2m sale of two properties in Edinburgh’s West End, and handling the £48.3m sale of a government-let building at Gyle Square in Edinburgh for a Manchester-based property company. Partners Alan Carlton and Andrew McCowan are highly regarded, as is associate Donna Strong, who joined in 2016 from Pinsent Masons LLP.

At Morisons LLP, Andrew Warren has more than 26 years of experience in the industrial, retail, office and leisure sectors, where he acts for investors, occupiers and funders. Other key figures include Gary Thomas, who leads the team; rural sector expert Sandy McCreath, who handles a range of issues for farmers, landowners and companies, including handling the property aspects of renewable energy projects; Jan Mackay, who has a particular focus on the telecommunications industry; David Jennings; and Robin Valentine.

TLT’s practice covers all aspects of commercial and residential developments, commercial leasing and cross-border portfolio transactions. It also has expertise in property finance, large-scale securitisations and portfolio refinancings. Kenneth Meldrum and Brian Armour undertake a particularly significant amount of work for clients in the leisure sector, while Richard Turnbull specialises in the property aspects of renewable energy projects. Meldrum, Armour and others are acting for Greene King on the sale of various public houses following the client’s takeover of Spirit Taverns. The firm also handles work arising from the financial services, housing and retail sectors. Central Assets (Scotland), Living Ventures and Brewdog are also clients.

Weightmans LLP advises UK-based and international clients on a variety of commercial property transactions, commercial and residential developments, and portfolio management issues. Cassandra Auld, who joined from Pinsent Masons LLP in 2016, has substantial transactional property experience, with a particular specialism in the retail, leisure and hotel sectors. Douglas Gourlay, who is dual-qualified in Scottish and English law, leads the real estate finance team in Scotland. Practice head Bryan Finlayson acts for a wide variety of clients, ranging from SMEs to FTSE 100 corporates, and is advising Edinburgh Airport on a hotel development at the airport. Other clients include Punch Taverns, Ness Clothing, Rexel UK Limited and Dickie & Moore.

Vicki Provan and Colin Brass jointly head the team at the Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, which acts for clients across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, renewable energy and agriculture/rural. Leisure and hospitality is a particular sector strength; Cosmo Restaurants, Cairn Hotel Group and David Lloyd Clubs are all clients. Brass, Neil Darling and associate Joanne Ockrim are all dual-qualified and regularly handle Scottish and English commercial property matters. Inverness-based George MacWilliam joined the team, following the firm’s recent merger with MacArthur & Co. 2016 highlights included acting for The Rasul Property Co. on its £1.5m acquisition of a portfolio of 32 flats in Glasgow.

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Legal Developments in Scotland for Commercial property: Edinburgh and Glasgow

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