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United Kingdom > South East > Real estate > Commercial property: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Commercial property: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Ruth Leadbitter heads the team at Blake Morgan LLP, which is recommended for ‘a great overall level of service and knowledge’ and providing advice ‘with a commercial view in mind’. The healthcare, science and technology, energy, central and local government, and development sectors are particularly important for the practice. Leadbitter is particularly experienced in the public sector and acts for clients from the healthcare and local, central and devolved government sectors, with one ongoing matter seeing her advise Harwell Innovation Centre on the continuing development of its science park. Andrew Miscampbell is known for his experience in the healthcare and renewable energy sectors, with key clients including Barclays Bank and MedicX/Octopus. Michael Ward advises numerous medical practices on all aspects of surgery development and assists healthcare developers with the provision of care home facilities, while senior associate Deryn Bassett is well regarded for her expertise in the energy sector, particularly with respect to coal and gas power projects. Paul Brame left the team to join Pitmans LLP.

The ‘professional, hard-working team’ at Boyes Turner ‘goes that extra step to meet client needs’, providing a ‘ten out of ten service on all counts’. Commercial practice head Nick Carter handles commercial property transactions for clients operating in many sectors, including media, telecoms, life sciences and retail. Carter recently led a team advising Verifone on the relocation of its headquarters. The development group is led by William Nassau-Lake (‘excellent knowledge and understanding’) and Derek Ching (‘exceptional; he can deal with the most complex contractual issue and offer advice that is clear and easy to understand for the professional and the layman’), with clients of note including Fruition Properties, Spitfire Bespoke Homes and Antler Homes. ‘Highly recommended’ Mark Appleton holds a niche specialism in advising offshore trust companies on UK property transactions and was recently instructed by Curatus Trust Company (Mauritius) in connection with the sale of a substantial waterside site in London for around £60m to an overseas developer. At senior associate level, Rachel Duncan]  is noted for her experience in secured lending transactions and acting for foreign businesses setting up in the UK, while  Bob Daniel and Sarah Webb are other names of note.

Comprising ‘experts in their field’, BrookStreet des Roches' team ‘really understands property’ and is seen as a market leader in the retail and pharmaceuticals sectors, as well as being strong for property investment, development and joint venture work and land development and promotion. Rosie Gibb heads the retail and leisure sector service offering and specialises in technical and high-profile landlord and tenant work, particularly for clients with complex group structures and property holdings. Gibb and associate Amy Brown acted for Parkwood TopShop Athletic, a joint venture between Topshop and popstar Beyoncé Knowles, on the acquisition of office space within a newly redeveloped premises to house the ‘Ivy Park’ sportswear brand. Head of team Martin Billings specialises in property investment, development and asset management work. Billings and associate Ariella Rubenchik assisted MEPC with the variation of a planning agreement at its business and technology park Milton Park. Jamie Barton, promoted to partnership level in April 2017, is noted for his work in the retail sector, servicing big-name clients including Arcadia, The Body Shop, McDonald’s Restaurants and Moss Bros. Charlie Seaward, Justin Winterbottom and Sarah Wildsmith are also noted as key practice members.

The ‘efficient and responsive’ Clarkslegal LLP 'punches above its weight’ and offers a ‘good value for money’ service. Rachel Krol heads the department, which services significant projects and transactions and is particularly strong in the education, healthcare, motor retail, and hotels and leisure sectors. The practice possesses niche expertise in specialist public, procurement, charity and property finance matters, including advising on Islamic finance issues. Krol divides her time between the firm’s London and Reading offices and works for a wide variety of clients, including FTSE 100 companies, large retailers and property developers, in connection with acquisitions and disposals, investment, development and planning. Richard Higgs is a specialist in infrastructure, healthcare and real estate finance matters, while Simon Berry advises property companies and wealthy investors on acquisitions and disposals and leasehold arrangements and Simon Ralphs is strong for franchising arrangements in the food and restaurant sector. Clients of the practice include Lafarge UK Pension Trustees, Crown Packaging Manufacturing UK and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Marcus Francis heads the team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, which acts for a range of occupier corporate clients including Panasonic, Honda, Mencap and Sally Hair & Beauty, as well as lenders including Santander, Natwest, Lloyds and Handelsbanken. Francis acted for United Therapeutics Europe on the sale of Unither House in Chertsey to Runnymede Borough Council for £6.35m, which completed in August 2017. The team’s partners each have their own specialisms: Dean Bickford] focuses on investment and landlord and tenant mandates, farming and estates practice head James Burgess has been advising on property acquisitions and disposals, and Nick Winslet's expertise includes high-value lettings, development and secured lending work. The team has expanded in recent times with the hire of senior associate Anna Zatouroff from Stitt & Co and associates Gaye King and Hazel Eccles from CMS and Freeths LLP respectively.

Freeths LLP's real estate team provides ‘excellent service including prompt responses and well-considered, clear advice’, with specialisms including work for educational institutions, clients in the drinks, hospitality and leisure sectors, transport and logistics companies, and developers, among others. Recent areas of growth for the practice have included projects in the healthcare sector for product providers and nursing homes, construction projects relating to office agreements and industrial schemes, and property support on M&A transactions. Patrick Whetter and director Adrian White jointly head the Oxford real estate team; senior associates Desh Patel and Anna Power and 'personable but straight to the point' associate Laura Hodgson are other important team members.

The 'first-class' Osborne Clarke ‘brings a London perspective and resource to the region’, with ‘an excellent and good value for money service’. Head of department Rebecca Tuffs handles all aspects of commercial property work, with a particular focus on servicing real estate finance and investment work. Tuffs and associate James Law acted for Halo Insurance Services on the acquisition of a new office location in Uxbridge and the negotiation of an agreement for lease conditional on the completion of the landlord’s works, as well as handling QinetiQ’s disposal of a complex legacy site in Weymouth. Elizabeth Sturgess (‘highly intelligent, focused and with a sound commercial approach’) focuses on house building instructions, acting for high-profile clients including market-leading house builders, landowners and funds. Associate director Andrew Annette specialises in residential development and is currently acting for Rectory Homes on its executive development at Fitzgerald Park in Binfield, Bracknell.

Penningtons Manches LLP is strong for work in the retail and leisure sector, large-scale development projects, and education and environmental and planning law, with a client base including multinational corporates, universities and entrepreneur developers such as Frontier Estates, Fitness First and Berendsen UK. Richard Smith] heads the team and leads the environmental and planning law group. Smith advised St Peter's College, Oxford, on the purchase of several properties on New Inn Hall Street and acted for the European Space Agency on its acquisition of a new office at Harwell Science Campus. Simon Knott has assisted White Stuff with the acquisition, disposal and day-to-day management of various high-street stores and warehousing centres.

Shoosmiths LLP specialises in handling high-value, complex real estate transactions, with a focus in recent times on telecoms, development and corporate occupancy instructions. Clients of note include McKay Securities, Calor Gas and Allegro MicroSystems. Alan Corcoran, the head of the firm’s southern real estate offering, led a team advising Mattel group companies as tenant and guarantor in respect of the relocation of its main UK distribution hub to a new facility in Leicester. Head of the Reading real estate team Nathan Rees acts for major property investors on large-scale acquisitions and disposals, as well as asset management for property owners and occupiers. Rees recently advised Mabey Hire on the relocation of one of its key southern distribution depots to a larger site, with support from associate Nick Dalgleish and tax partner Daniel Kennedy. Senior associate Marcus Devanny has extensive experience of acting for institutional investors, property funds and corporate entities in the acquisition and disposal of freehold and leasehold properties and large portfolios.

The 'excellent' Blandy & Blandy LLP team is ‘responsive, commercial and prepared to roll up their sleeves’, with a strong reputation for development work, secured lending and transactional advice. Representative clients include Svenska Handelsbanken, Cove Construction and Asset Advantage. Team head Jane Gunnell handled Austin Fraser’s entry into a ten-year lease agreement for Reading’s newly refurbished landmark Thames Tower and advised the University of Reading on a number of sale transactions and the re-negotiation of documentation relating to previously completed transactions. Departmental manager Katja Wigham has provided advice on the purchase of two freehold properties as part of a corporate transaction in the waste management sector and is noted for her expertise in advising charities and educational institutions. The ‘commercial, responsive and flexible’ John Dingle is ‘a pleasure to work with’, and is recommended for healthcare sector matters and secured lending.

Stephen Baker heads the 'very responsive, commercially minded' practice at CMS. Baker regularly advises institutional investors and funds including Capital & Regional, Kennedy Wilson and Capreon on their acquisitions, disposals and management issues, as well as acting on behalf of corporate occupier clients in their office, industrial and retail property deals. Highlights included assisting Catalent Pharma Solutions with the disposal of two large industrial sites at Deeside Industrial Estate and advising Capital & Regional in connection with its largest letting at Kingfisher Shopping Centre since its acquisition. Baker is recommended as being ‘particularly good at breaking down complex contractual provisions and issues into easy to understand points’. Senior associate Will Bird is noted for his work dealing with a wide variety of commercial property investment and management transactions.

The ‘highly competent, professional and commercial’ Gardner Leader LLP provides a ‘superb overall level of service’ for property matters. Practice head Greg Humphreys (recommended for ‘his patience in explaining the pros and cons of clients’ options and ways forward’) is acting for developer Rivar on the sale of 32 residential flats and the ancillary creation of a management company and leases thereto. Development specialist Suki Hardy (‘relentlessly protects clients’ interests and continuously demonstrates her knowledge and expertise’) acted for Rivar in relation to a section 106 planning agreement for a substantial development of 157 dwellings. Richard Buckeridge handled the sale of two day nurseries and of an eye surgery in Harley Street. The team enlarged with the hire of associate Nadeem Ahmed from Browns Solicitors.

‘The level of service is always great’ at Pitmans LLP, which has a ‘focused, personal and commercial’ approach and is ‘excellent value for money’. The real estate practice is seen as a market leader for residential development work, with the team acting on CALA Homes’ acquisition of various residential sites with an aggregate value above £100m and other substantial projects for Bewley Homes and Montreaux Developments. Practice head Delphine Mehouas' expertise includes contracts and options, strategic land purchase, collaboration agreements and joint ventures; she recently acted for Vanderbilt Thames Valley on the purchase of land in Dunsford with the benefit of planning permission for 42 dwellings. On the commercial side, Mehouas also acted for Waylands Automotive on the negotiation of a 20-year lease with Volvo for a new dealership in Reading with two car showrooms. Other key members of the team include Paul Brame,  Sarah Potter, Marcus McCluggage and 'commercial lawyer with a can-do attitude' Paul Murray.

Brethertons LLP handles transactional, development and freehold matters, along with other work. Practice head Tom Lawrence assists clients with leasehold and freehold sales and purchases, landlord and tenant matters, and option and promotion agreements, while also supporting the corporate team with the property aspects of M&A transactions. Associate Angela Guess has niche expertise in option and promotion agreement casework and renewable energy matters. Solicitor Kelly Earle recently joined the practice, bringing her experience of matters in the healthcare sector.

At Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors, Tim Read acted for timber, building and fencing supplier Lawsons in respect of the sale of one of the client’s depots for development as a student accommodation site, as well as advising Just Eat on its London and Bristol property leases. Other clients of note for the practice include David Wilson Homes, Country Estates and Darcliffe Homes. Ian Graham heads the department, with other significant figures including Chris Baggs and senior associates Lewis Djemal and Jonathan Foulds.

‘Excellent’ boutique firm Plainlaw solicitors is adept in commercial matters and includes the likes of Spectris, XL Catlin and Oxford BioMedica on its client list. The practice handles all types of commercial property transactions, from sale and purchase arrangements to complex refinancing and development work. The ‘extremely diligent and pragmatic’ Philip Horn heads the department and acted for Comland Industrial and Commercial Properties in connection with sale of Mercury Park to Threadneedle Pensions. Other highlights included Brendan Rolle-Rowan acting for Stanley Black & Decker on the sale of its existing warehousing and logistics facility to Exeter Property Group and Stephen Stratton handling significant projects for Clarendon Enterprise Centre.

The Oxford office's property team at Royds Withy King is headed by senior associate Julie Acock, who ‘provides an excellent service’, with ‘timely, cost-effective and practical advice’. The practice is strong for development projects, with recent highlights including advice on option agreements for landowners, the development of a new surgery for a doctor’s practice, and acting for a developer on the acquisition and development of a scheme of 22 new homes. Acock specialises in the retail and leisure sectors, and also acts for several major banks on commercial lending matters. Paul Daniels has been involved in large transactions including mixed-use developments and care home acquisitions and re-financings. Andrew Chalk has a niche area of expertise in rural and equestrian property transactions including the sale, purchase and letting of training establishments, studs and farmland conversion.

The 'experienced team' at Spratt Endicott ‘provides a high level of service, with sound, thorough advice’; it provides ‘excellent value for money and advice which is as good as one would get from a major London firm’. ‘Excellent lawyer’ Andrew Woods] heads the practice and possesses expertise in dealing with development and strategic land transactions. Woods is noted for his ‘depth of knowledge, advice and ability to see transactions through to completion, getting good results but not creating animosity’. Director Howard Meakin is noted for his experience in residential and commercial development projects and landlord and tenant matters, while at associate level Graham Roberts and Andrew Querelle are noted.

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