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Charles Russell Speechlys LLP fields a ‘strong property litigation team’ that provides ‘an excellent service’ and ‘has a very good knowledge of the real estate sector’. The group has a strong track record across the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court as well as in tribunal litigation, and is particularly noted for its expertise in handling mortgage-based compensation claims against banks arising from interest rate hedging products. The group recently acted for the National Crime Agency on the enforcement of property possession orders in relation to £300m-worth of seized assets, a matter handled by ‘tough negotiatorPeter Levaggi. David Haines is the other key figure and is praised for his ‘excellent level of all-round knowledge’.

The team at Cripps LLP is ‘very good on all fronts’, providing ‘solid, well-structured and well-considered advice’. The practice acts for a mix of businesses and private individuals, for which it handles the full scope of issues including property insolvency, land registration disputes, real estate-related insurance claims and compulsory purchase compensation claims. Highlights included representing Hermes in lease renewal proceedings with Boots, and acting for Great Lakes Reinsurance in a claim related to a residential block development. Miles Paffard heads the department, and Mike Scott is the other name to note.

DMH Stallard LLP is praised for its ‘swift, clear and knowledgeable responses, working closely with the client to offer practical and tailored advice’. In a recent highlight, the team represented Cardtronics Europe in an Upper Tribunal appeal against a previous determination, which decided that the client’s ATM machines should be separately assessed for business rates from the premises in which they are situated. The group also acted for London Borough of Enfield in a claim for unlawful subletting and profit, successfully obtaining a favourable outcome for the client. Practice head Tina George specialises in collective enfranchisement claims, and key partner Emily Wood handles dilapidations, rights of light and contested lease renewals.

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) fields a team of ‘top-class property litigators’ that has ‘a wide range of experience and a broad depth of knowledge of the subtleties of property law’. The team is known for its expertise in property finance disputes, and also regularly handles lease renewals and rent reviews in relation to City and West End property. Recent work includes representing real estate fund manager Frogmore in a High Court claim against Nationwide related to wrongful disposal of loans totalling £112m. Jon Mowbray heads the practice, and Andrew Olins is commended for his ‘strong academic knowledge of the law’.

Mundays LLPcombines superior legal knowledge with commercial acumen to ensure that claims are always robust and equitable’, and the ‘reliable and accurate’ team ‘has a good understanding of the risks of legal action’. The firm represents housebuilders, developers and Plcs on matters including rights of way, adverse possession, boundary disputes and restrictive covenants, and also has a strong track record in mediation. Practice head Stephen Morris handles the full gamut of property litigation matters, and is also experienced in dealing with commercial leases. Key active clients include Ahli United Bank, Murailles Properties and Octagon Developments.

Shoosmiths LLP has a ‘user-friendly, responsive and efficient’ group that is particularly active in lease enfranchisement matters, retail-related claims and developer and agricultural issues, and also regularly acts for corporate occupiers in substantial dilapidation and trespassing claims. The team recently acted for Paynes and Borthwick in a £1.4m defended claim regarding alleged breaches of contract terms, a matter related to the freehold purchase of a new London development. The firm is also representing SGR Bicester 2 in a claim for declaratory and injunctive relief arising from the termination of an option agreement. Practice head Zoe Wright handles landlord and tenant matters, and Simon Pestell is ‘very practical and gets excellent results’.

Blake Morgan LLP’s range of expertise includes commercial and residential landlord and tenant matters, property development claims and various work for high net-worth clients including boundary, adverse possession, right to light and flooding claims. The team currently manages Costa Coffee’s national portfolio, including all related contentious matters, and is currently advising J E Beales on its insolvency process, a matter involving dilapidations and liability for business rates. Senior associate Kate New heads the practice, which includes key figures Helen Dickie and Rachel Gimson.

Bond Dickinson LLP retains a strong client base of public and private sector bodies, and has a particularly strong reputation in the rail transport, residential and retail sectors. Practice head Mark Barley advises on mainstream portfolio management and foreshore and mooring issues, and managing associate Vicki Young acts for a range of clients including Addington Capital, B&Q and Specsavers. The team recently represented The Crown Estate in a Supreme Court case regarding the boundary between public and private fishing rights, and successfully acted for B&Q in a dispute over the rental terms of a new lease.

Boyes Turner is ‘a very good regional firm that has longstanding relationships with all the key names in the property sector’; the ‘well-connected’ team provides ‘sound advice on all the risks and probabilities of a case’. In an illustration of its track record acting for blue-chip businesses on leases and litigation related to large property portfolios, the team acted for Thomas Homes in First Tier Tribunal proceedings regarding lease provisions. It also represented a corporate property owner in an opposition to an application for adverse possession of land. Senior associate Russell May heads the practice.

BrookStreet des Roches fields a team of ‘experienced litigation specialists’ that is praised for its ‘great depth of knowledge, excellent response times and commercial acumen’. The team is ‘particularly strong in the retail sector’ and its client base includes a range of high-profile names including McDonald’s, Topshop, Miss Selfridge and The Body Shop, for which it advises on the full gamut of issues including lease renewals, dilapidation claims and occupancy rights. Practice co-head Katy Kirk recently represented Arcadia Group in a dispute brought by a local authority freeholder who sought to recover rates via contractual obligations in the lease, a multi-party litigation which settled on favourable terms. Philip Shaw specialises in disputes arising from property transactions.

Dentons fields an ‘outstanding’ team of lawyers that has ‘a solid knowledge base, is pragmatic and client-focused and always works well as a team and with counsel’. The firm is ‘particularly strong in private client litigation’, and handles cases in the banking, telecommunications, retail and infrastructure industries. Highlights included representing Sainsbury’s in several matters including an expedited Court of Appeal judgment where an appellant’s bid for a decision of unlawful contract termination was successfully dismissed. Practice head Bryan Johnston is ‘ambitious and client-focused’.

Furley Page Solicitors acts for a range of commercial landlords, developers, landowners and private individuals and regularly handles disputes related to lease renewals, rights of way, dilapidations and breaches of covenant. Practice head David Hall’s expertise includes business lease renewals, tenant default and insolvency issues; Hall recently represented Charles Knowles in a breach of covenant and unlawful assignment claim related to a tenant who took occupation of a property without the consent of the landlord, and also acted for The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company in a matter regarding a coastal duty imposed on the Secretary of State.

The ‘pragmatic and helpful’ team at Penningtons Manches LLP provides ‘very clear guidance on the legal principles involved in each case, including how the dispute might develop, what evidence would strengthen the case and the likelihood of succeeding with objections’. The practice is most known for its tenant-side work, particularly in the life sciences and biotechnology sectors, and has also been active in disputes between neighbouring landowners. Practice head John Morrison recently advised Flight Centre (UK) on the contentious and non-contentious issues associated with its retail store portfolio.

Stevens & Bolton LLP’s ‘outstanding’ team provides ‘pragmatic, sensible advice’ and is ‘highly pro-active, with a great depth of knowledge and insight into its clients’ needs’. The firm has seen an increase in instructions from development and investor clients, and also handles the full range of landlord and tenant matters, including easements and covenants. Senior associate Markus Klempa is ‘tenacious and personable’, and is currently acting for Papa John’s in a substantial terminal dilapidation claim. Helen Wheddon heads the practice, and has ‘excellent technical knowledge’.

Brachers advises a diverse range of NHS Trusts, public bodies and local councils on the full spectrum of property disputes, and regularly employs the use of ADR and mediation alongside litigation across all court levels. The team has been increasingly active in development disputes, advising on development agreements and the interpretation of overage provisions along with the enforcement of collateral agreements, and has recently undertaken significant work for the Secretary of State for Health in this capacity. Key clients include Hadlow College, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and James Baird (Home Farm). James Millis heads the practice.

Brethertons LLP is ‘an extremely impressive firm which continually strives to provide its clients with the highest levels of professionalism, excellence and dedication’; ‘it has created an environment where client care is paramount’. The firm advises on a range of mixed-use residential and commercial leasehold litigation, and also handles cases related to enfranchisement, property management and debt recovery at the High Court, Upper Tribunal and Court of Appeal. Highlights included defending Modtec in proceedings related to equipment installed in a managed block, and representing Silber Homes in an application for the restoration of a liquidated company, with the aim of granting an interest in the freehold to various leaseholders. Roger Hardwick and Fiona Hewitt are the key figures.

The ‘competent and forward-thinking’ team at Clyde & Co LLP is acting for Native Land on its £1bn scheme for the development of Bankside Quarter in London, obtaining vacant possession of offices and other commercial units on behalf of the client. Other recent work includes advising Dairy Crest on the removal of a mobile phone mast, initiating proceedings against the operators and successfully leading them to concede to the termination of their lease and the removal of their equipment. Tim Foley advises on breaches of covenant, dilapidations, possession actions and landlord and tenant issues, and Keith Conway has extensive experience in High Court proceedings.

Dean Wilson LLP provides ‘a service that is excellent in every aspect’, offering ‘sound advice and appropriate response times’. The practice is noted for its strength in enfranchisement matters and lease extensions, and is also well regarded for commercial lease renewals in the retail sector. Highlights included defending a private individual in proceedings concerning misrepresentation against sellers of a property, and acting for Quintana Exeter in a professional negligence claim, which settled with damages in the client’s favour. Practice head Claire Whiteman is ‘a very able solicitor who communicates effectively’ and ‘is able to handle complex matters in a clear, concise and practical manner’.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP acts for a mix of charities, housing associations, educational establishments, developers, funders and landed estates, and advises on the full range of high-value property disputes. The group has notable expertise handling High Court proceedings, and regularly appears before specialist property tribunals in leasehold reform cases. Joe Lott heads the practice and specialises in lease extension and enfranchisement claims. Julia Mactear is the other key figure along with Alexandra Dennis, who joined the firm from Bond Dickinson LLP.

Freeths LLP provides ‘excellent value for money’ and ‘always makes sure to understand the client’s business thoroughly, tailoring its advice accordingly’. The group is particularly strong in the licensed leisure sector, acting for pub owners, regional brewers and nightclub and hotel owners on the full range of contentious property issues. Recent work includes acting for SWA Developments in a case concerning substantial dilapidations and other breaches of covenant, and representing Hawthorn Leisure, the owner of the Royal Hunt in Ascot, in an appeal to the Upper Tribunal against the listing of the public house as an asset of community value. Mark Brown heads the practice.

Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP recently acted for Timothy Martin as claimant in an AST possession matter based on arrears of rent. Other highlights included defending Tiber Properties against an application for a new tenancy pursuant to the Landlord & Tenant Act, and representing liquidators Begbies Traynor in a substantial dilapidation claim. Department head Helen Bell deals with high-value dilapidation claims, boundary disputes and rights of way matters. Chairman Dean Orgill is the other name to note.

At Moore Blatch LLP, Sarah Watley specialises in asset recovery litigation, commercial and residential possession claims, as well as debt recovery and professional negligence claims on behalf of major insurers and mortgage providers. The group also advises on commercial landlord and tenant disputes, and undertakes repossession litigation nationwide for its extensive list of lender clients. Highlights included representing Commercial First Business in a claim for the recovery of monies for outstanding mortgage payments.

Rawlison Butler LLP advises on the full spectrum of property-related disputes, and is particularly known for its expertise in complex investment and development site issues. The group also handles business lease renewals, dilapidation claims, alienation and alteration issues, as well as property-related insolvency, along with the full gamut of residential tenancy disputes. Vanessa Joll heads the practice, and recently advised a property investment company in a claim concerning breaches in the terms of an Environment Agency permit.

The ‘excellent, responsive and bright’ team at Blandy & Blandy LLP handles the full range of property and planning litigation, including judicial review work and commercial and residential landlord and tenant matters. Recent work includes advising a property trust with a large portfolio on tenancy agreements and other associated issues, including tenancy terminations and breaches of terms. Philip D’Arcy heads the team, which includes associate Jessica Irwin, who is praised as being ‘very thorough, succinct and precise in her communication’.

High-quality firmBlaser Millscombines the best of the high street with the best of the City’, providing ‘commercial advice within a short timeframe’. The practice has picked up a number of new developer clients in the last year, and is particularly strong in the logistics, healthcare, restructuring and construction sectors. Highlights included acting for Wicker Riverside Residents Association in a service charge dispute. Property ownership expert Alka Kharbanda heads the team.

EMW Law LLP acts for a substantial amount of institutional investors with large commercial property portfolios, and also advises on lease renewals, rights of light claims, break options and dilapidation and contamination claims. Charles Clay heads the practice, and Karen Young specialises in high-value lease renewal cases. Key clients include Santander, Arqiva Services and Milton Keynes Community Foundation.

Gardner Leader LLP’s team is praised for its ‘creative approach’; it is ‘quickly able to assess a complex dispute, implementing an efficient strategy which results in a favourable outcome for the client’. Highlights included acting for a Plc in a breach of statutory duty claim, and representing a religious society in an enfranchisement and lease renewal matter. Alastair Goggins heads the team, which includes Hilary Messer, who ‘is highly approachable and able to plot effective routes through unconventional disputes’.

At Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP, key individuals include practice head Kenneth Stangoe and Mairead McErlean, who deals with applications for relief, leasehold enfranchisements and boundary and right of way disputes. The group has solid expertise across the full range of landlord and tenant work, advising on rent service and charge recovery, rent recovery and forfeiture actions.

Pinney Talfourd LLP’s ‘excellent’ team is ‘always ready to act at a moment’s notice’, and provides ‘solid advice in a timely manner’. Highlights included acting for FRP Advisory in an order for possession and the sale of a bankrupt property, and advising a property developer on obtaining an interim possession order from Romford County Court. Practice head Stephen Eccles is ‘extremely knowledgeable, with an excellent track record in resolving complex cases’.

Pitmans LLP fields a team of ‘highly competent’ lawyers that has ‘a great awareness of the client’s business’, advising on landlord and tenant litigation, insolvency, development and construction-related disputes. The team recently acted for a group of private individuals in a nuisance and negligence claim brought by multiple claimants, and advised Thames Water on a successful claim for possession of a large area of land near the William Girling reservoir in London. David Williams heads the practice where Phil Smith is the other key figure.

SA Law LLP’s Lynsey Newman acts for a range of clients with national portfolios including Mackays Stores, PHS Group and Exertion Media, advising primarily on development disputes, restrictive covenants and rights to light. Highlights included representing Mackays Stores in a claim for a new lease at its Crowborough store, and the team also continues to advise Tulsesense on the contentious and non-contentious aspects of its property portfolio, including several collective enfranchisements.

Thomson Snell & Passmore is noted for its expertise in landlord and tenant disputes, and works closely with its commercial property team to provide input on potentially contentious matters arising from complex property transactions. Key clients include Brake Bros, the British Transport Police and The Association of Conservative Clubs; the team recently acted for the last client on matters involving land recovery, unlawful fund distribution and property damage. Nicholas Horton and Mark Steggles are the main practitioners.

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Legal Developments in South East for Property litigation

  • 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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