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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Commercial property: Bristol

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property: Bristol
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial property: Bristol clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Colin Ligman heads the real estate practice at Burges Salmon LLP, which handles the gamut of commercial property issues across a wide variety of sectors and ‘matches the service and performance of significantly bigger firms’. The ‘proactiveRoss Polkinghorne leads the real estate development group and is acting for Skanska in relation to three office developments in Bristol’s city centre. Other developer clients include Change Real Estate and St Modwen, the latter of which the firm is advising on urban regeneration projects. Real estate finance expert Paul Browne advised HSBC and RBS on a £280m syndicated loan agreement for the acquisition and development of student accommodation in Aberdeen and Portsmouth. Richard Read focuses on portfolio management and acted alongside the corporate team on the property aspects of YTL Hotel’s acquisitions of hotels in Edinburgh and London. The firm also assists on portfolio management issues for Virgin Active and Loungers. In one particularly high-profile matter, Richard Clark advised The Crown Estate on the regearing of the 125-year headlease of Canada House, which overlooks Trafalgar Square and is used as the Canadian embassy in London. Also recommended are Sally Jupp and ‘professional’ senior associate Drew Nesbitt.

Osborne Clarke’s ‘personable’ real estate group handles a range of property transactions, with notable emphasis in the energy, student accommodation and retail sectors. The department regularly works in conjunction with other practice groups; David North worked alongside the tax, planning and construction teams for Palmer Capital and Cubex Land on the forward funding of two towers comprising residential and leisure facilities. Other highlights included advising Global Student Accommodation on the purchase of a portfolio of student accommodation buildings in Germany through the acquisition of a German corporate vehicle. The ‘commercially minded’ Ian Wilkinson advised Texton Property Fund, a listed South African REIT, on the purchase of a portfolio of assets in South Africa and on the acquisition of BVI SPVs holding £25m of UK-based assets. Wilkinson also assisted DTZ Investment Management on the sale of a multi-let site In London’s Mayfair to The Crown Estate for £67m. Dolf Darnton heads the retail side of the property group, and acts for clients such as Marks & Spencer and Homebase/Bunnings. Also recommended are Kate Topp, Michelle McGurl and David Powell, who are in the residential development and regeneration team and act for clients such as Taylor Wimpey. Simon Speirs retired in 2016.

The property lawyers at Bond Dickinson LLP are ‘extremely prompt, proactive and commercial with their advice’. The team’s strengths include transactions related to energy, rail infrastructure, and public sector development, as well as institutional investment and secured lending matters. An ‘excellent lawyer and team manager’, Andrew Harding acted for Sapphire, a real estate fund managed by Tristan Capital Partners, on the acquisition, finance and redevelopment of a town centre development, which involved eight pre-lets to tenants including Starbucks, Nationwide, Holland & Barrett and F Hinds Jewellers. The group also handles portfolio management for Praxis Real Estate Management, RO Group and Clark’s Shoes. On the development side, the ‘extremely efficientKatherine Douglas advised Chelverton Deeley Freed on development agreements with Ceredigion County Council and Tesco related to a £26m development, as well as a lease agreement with Marks & Spencer. Simon Hughes regularly acts for renewable energy developers on the property aspects of multiple large-scale offshore energy projects, and managing associate Mark Li acted for National Rail Infrastructure on the real estate aspects of the grant of the East Anglia Rail franchise to Abellio East Anglia.

Clarke Willmott LLP attracts praise for its ‘deep industry knowledge’ in the housebuilder and commercial development market, where it ‘puts more expensive City firms to shame’. The team is especially active in the telecoms and renewable energy sectors, and also provides investment advice in relation to property portfolios, as well as property acquisitions and disposals. Clare Titchener led a cross-office team handling due diligence on behalf of Bank of America Merrill Lynch related to Digital Realty Trust’s $874m acquisition of eight data centres from Equinix. Working with the firm’s planning department, Beverley Pike is acting for Bath Abbey in relation to its Footprint project – a £19.5m modernisation effort funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The department is also involved in a number of development projects for energy companies and residential developers. Louise Brown heads the experienced practice, which includes Simon Day, Greg Lovett and Laurence Lacey.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s ‘superb’ real estate department acts for corporate occupiers, handles commercial and residential developments, and acts for NHS Trusts and retail and shopping centre clients on their real estate portfolios. Julitta Yates, who specialises in asset management work, is acting for Land Securities on all landlord and tenant issues at Bluewater Shopping Centre. The ‘extremely professional’ property team is acting for the same client on landlord and tenant issues related to the Trinity Leeds shopping centre. Bristol practice head Graham Brothwood has ‘encyclopaedic knowledge of UK real estate law’ and ‘an incredible eye for detail’; he acted for Zurich Insurance on the £46m purchase of a freehold interest in a hotel in Piccadilly. The firm’s residential development work is spearheaded by Ben Pariser, who is recognised for his ‘assertiveness and perspicacious intellect’. Pariser’s clients include Persimmon Homes and Crest Nicholson, the latter of which he advised on the purchase of a 200-unit development site in Oxfordshire. Also recommended are Nick Knapman, who heads the firm’s real estate shopping centre group, and Anne Batanero, who leads the healthcare property team.

The ‘commercial and pragmatic’ real estate team at TLT attracts praise for its ‘continual efforts to improve the way it works’. The real estate department is among the largest at the firm and handles the full range of property matters, including commercial and residential development, investment and finance, and property portfolio management. Julian Mant led a team advising Fitness First Clubs on the real estate, corporate and commercial aspects of its £70m sale of 13 fitness locations to The Gym Group and Greenwich Leisure. In another highlight, David Smithen led a cross-departmental team acting for Matthew Clark Wholesale, Conviviality and A2 Contracting on the site purchase, development, leasing and ongoing investment of a 40,000 sq ft distribution warehouse. Maria Connolly heads the practice and specialises in the property aspects of large energy and infrastructure projects. Andrew Glynn, who specialises in property investment and asset management, advised Cadbury Pension Trust on the multimillion-pound sale of a high-street retail unit in Startford-upon-Avon.

Bevan Brittan LLP is particularly well known for acting for local authorities, but is also ‘as good as any at providing property advice to clients in the health sector’. The Bristol team recently recruited David Hobbs from TLT, who specialises in property portfolio management for clients such as Canal & River Trust. Department head Mark Calverley has an extensive track record advising public authorities on regeneration and development projects, and is advising the London Borough of Newham on the procurement of a JV partner for the redevelopment of Carpenters Estate in Newham. In one of the group’s longest-running matters, the highly regarded Rob Harrison is the sole legal adviser to NHS Property Services on its undocumented lease programme, which aims to address the some 4,800 undocumented health and commercial occupiers across 10% of its estate. David Wardle was promoted to partner in 2016.

Foot Anstey’s Bristol-based property team was strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of the new department head, Martin Hirst, who joined the firm from Blake Morgan LLP. Hirst is acting for a large residential developer on its the high-value purchase of several hundred homes in the UK. In another highlight, Richard Sutton is advising South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in relation to a brownfield regeneration project on the former Berkeley Nuclear Laboratory, which will be redeveloped as a new campus and technology park. The practice works closely with the firm’s corporate and banking teams; Imam Qazi advised Greenridge Investment Management on two separate property investment transactions using an Islamic-compliant structure. The team also acted for Rosette Merchant Bank and Wallace Properties on the £36.9m acquisition of a House of Fraser store in Cardiff.

The Bristol property team at Thrings LLP has a ‘broad spread of skills and knowledge’ and is especially strong in residential development, corporate occupier and investment work and portfolio management in the retail and leisure sectors. The group also acts for a number of high street lenders on secured lending transactions. The team was significantly strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of Ben Tarrant, who joined from TLT and specialises in portfolio management and transactional work for retail and leisure clients. Steve Schofield, who made partner in 2016, is acting for Allied Irish Bank in relation to a multimillion-pound financing of a holiday home development in St Ives. The ‘approachable and knowledgeableColin Stratton heads the practice and is assisting Newlands Homes Limited with a £12m acquisition of a site to provide 35 high-value dwellings in Toddington. David Mears acted for Renrod Motor Group on a multimillion-pound sale of the business and property assets of an auto-dealer. Real estate investment specialist Ben Jones is also recommended.

Noted for its ‘fantastic technical ability, and detailed and easy-to-understand advice’, the real estate practice at VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) acts for a range of property developers, educational institutions, public sector groups and religious institutions. It is one of two firms in the country advising Highways England on property matters; practice head Steven McGuigan has been acting for the client in relation to the A21 motorway dualling projects, including handling land acquisitions and compensation involving more than 30 landowners. The ‘hardworking and technically ableSimon Linnitt has a wealth of experience in the education sector, and is acting for Harpur Trust on a three-phase £45m sale of a site to Bovis Homes and Linden Homes. Recently promoted partner Jessica Booz has handled various development matters, property disposals, and a complex refinancing. Gary Philpott retired.

Ashfords LLP’s Bristol-based team handles a range of commercial property work, from landlord/tenant matters in the retail sector, to acquisitions and disposals. Andrew Worley leads the team in Bristol and acted for Ovo Energy Group on the grant of a reversion of One Rivergate, Bristol, as well as the grant of a new office lease at Temple Back in Bristol. Worley also handled the property due diligence for Curtis Banks Group in connection with the client’s acquisition of Suffolk Life. Nicholas Lykke Dahn has wide-ranging experience of property matters.

Humphreys & Co.’s real estate group handles acquisitions, retail lease agreements and other property portfolio transactions for clients in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors. Senior associate David Morris heads the commercial property group and is acting for a well-known chain of pubs and restaurants in relation to its acquisition strategy nationwide. The team also acts for high-net-worth individuals and corporates on residential property sales. Robert Humphreys is the firm’s managing partner and oversees the property group.

Meade King LLP’s ‘competent, thorough and commercial’ property department handles a host of commercial property matters, from disposals and investment to acquisition and development. The ‘responsiveEdward Langford heads the department, which has built a niche practice acting for dental surgeries and healthcare practices; in 2016, it acted on approximately 120 sales and acquisitions in the sector. Catherine Ainley is the key figure on the development side, while Simon East provides property portfolio management advice, and acts for one of the UK’s largest charity organisations.

Commercial property: Dorset and South Wiltshire

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property: Dorset and South Wiltshire
  2. Leading individuals

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial property: Dorset and South Wiltshire clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


The real estate department at Lester Aldridge LLP comprises ‘high-calibre individuals with a vast breadth of experience and knowledge’. The group, which has strengths in property investment and management, real estate finance and residential development, acts for a number of well-known clients in the telecoms, healthcare and marine port sectors. Mark Benham leads the department’s housebuilder practice and acted for McCarthy & Stone on the £6m acquisition of Churchfield Industrial Estate for the development of assisted living apartments. Benham advised the same client on the acquisition of land from Kent County Cricket Club. On the telecoms front, Suki Samra is providing ongoing advice to EE on network improvement matters. In an example of the team’s real estate finance capabilities, Samra is advising Aldermore Bank on secured lending transactions totalling more than £100m throughout 2016 and 2017. The department is headed by the ‘technically excellent and always availableMatthew Barrow, who splits his time between the Bournemouth and Southampton offices and focuses on secured lending, investment acquisitions and portfolio management. Other key figures include Roger Woolley and Guy Morgan, the latter of whom specialises in healthcare premises development.

The team at Steele Raymond LLP is made up of specialists with expertise in a number of areas, including corporate retail occupier matters, portfolio management, real estate investment and residential developments. Jennifer Rogerson is the group’s ‘diligent and commercially focused’ retail specialist; she advises Premier Coffee Limited, the largest Costa Coffee franchise in the UK, in relation to new site acquisitions and general property portfolio management. On the residential side, Emma Stainwright (who is ‘prepared to put in the extra mile’ for her developer clients) acted for Mildren Homes Limited on the acquisition of a phased residential development site and handles the client’s day-to-day legal needs. Carol Elliott is highly regarded in Dorset, and has a regional track record spanning more than 20 years advising large property developers, as well as commercial landlords such as Birchmere Group. Practice head Chris Twaits is ‘thorough, pleasant and always provides first-class, pragmatic advice’. John Daniels retired in 2016.

Trethowans LLP’s ‘excellent’ commercial property group handles landlord and tenant work for a range of corporate clients and remains particularly active in property transactions for pension schemes. Caroline Probert acts for a long list of pensions trusts, including James Hay Pension Trustees, for which she handled the £3m sale of a factory site conditional on planning permission. PAL Trustees, Rowanmoor Trustees and Sippchoice Trustees are other notable pension fund clients. Garry Treagust leads the real estate department and acts for large corporate tenants as well as pension fund clients. David Jones focuses on real estate finance and secured lending, where he acts for clients such as HSBC and Metrobank.

Laceys Solicitors incorporating HLF has a regionally focused real estate team that specialises in advising developers on commercial and residential development projects. The team also acts for a range of clients in the care home and hospitality sectors, and handles portfolio management for property investors. John Munro heads the department and is acting for a holding company in relation to a purchase option for a site that will be used for the purpose of developing student accommodation. Jonathan Ogden has been involved in some of the group’s highest-value matters in 2016, including acting for a private client on the £15.5m sale of three park-home sites, and a £4.5m hotel acquisition. Mark Preece’s recent highlights include acting for the sellers in several multimillion-pound residential and mixed-use development transactions. Anthony John, who specialises in property transactions and tenant and landlord issues, is also recommended.

Clients of Battens Solicitors Limited rate its ability to provide ‘reasoned advice at an excellent value’. The deeply experienced team specialises in portfolio management and property investment matters, acting primarily for developers and investment companies. Department head Rupert Vaughan is an ‘excellent commercial lawyer’ with four decades of commercial property experience, during which time he has assisted housebuilders and developers across the gamut of property issues, including development agreements, options and conditional contracts, property disposals and site assembly matters. Other key figures include Robert Wright, who handles a range of investment property, development and lease issues, and has handled several real estate acquisitions in 2016 and 2017; Ray Edwards, who acts for public and private sector clients; and Anna Austin, who has particular expertise in development and landlord and tenant work.

Frettens LLP’s real estate department acts primarily for regional developers and corporate tenants in relation to purchase and lease transactions. The team also has experience in portfolio management and real estate finance matters, acting for lenders and borrowers. Practice head Oonagh McKinney has handles multiple matters on behalf of architectural practices in 2016, and assisted Evans & Travers with a number of option agreements for the purchase of development land. McKinney also advised Aspire Architects and HB Holdings on options over land and acquisitions of several plots for development, and provides ongoing advice to Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust on the sales of former NHS premises. Clare Hallett leads the firm’s residential property team and Specialises in residential sale and purchase transactions.

The commercial property team at Wilsons handles property matters across a variety of sectors. Jane Lonergan specialises in acting for charities, with an emphasis on military charity clients. Past clients have included Help for Heroes, Army Sport Control Board and Royal Artillery Museums Limited. Judith Beddow and Alison Bailey have extensive experience of property transactions. Dominic Ogden handles a variety of property transactions, including acquisitions and lease and option agreements.

Commercial property: M4 Corridor and Gloucestershire

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property: M4 Corridor and Gloucestershire
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial property: M4 Corridor and Gloucestershire clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


BPE Solicitors LLP attracts praise for its ‘impressive service’ and the breadth of its coverage of property conveyancing, commercial leases and sale and purchase agreements. Clients range from high street banks and investment companies to corporate occupiers in the retail and leisure sectors and care home operators. Leveraging the firm’s full-service offering, practice head Antonia Shield handled the property aspects of a £9.5m development finance transaction for Boultbee Brooks Real Estate regarding a 50,000 sq ft mixed-use building in Manchester. Jo Bewley, who focuses on real estate investment in the healthcare and retail sectors, acted for Lilian Faithful Homes – a new client of the firm – in relation to its £4.6m acquisition of an operational care home. Rebecca Maxwell was made partner in 2016 and acted for Stobart Group on the initial purchase of a 47-acre site on lease to Ford Motor Company with an option to purchase; the team then assisted on the subsequent sale of the site to Ford. Senior associate Doug Armstrong, whose primary focus is on investment and development matters, is ‘always available’ for his clients. Additional clients include Supergroup, Pure Gym, Tiger, NatWest Bank and Lloyds Bank.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s Cheltenham office has a sizeable real estate group, which stands out in the areas of pension scheme property, land promotion and residential property investment. The team also handles residential and renewable energy related property development, and assists corporate occupiers with portfolio management issues. Ian Brothwood, who jointly heads the department, is acting for a leading SIPP provider on the £5m sale of development land to a national care home provider. Brothwood also advised Topland Henley Healthcare Investments on the sale of a £25m property portfolio – just one feature of the portfolio management services provided to this healthcare client. Fello joint practice head and residential investment and development specialist, Nigel Morton is assisting Cantel Developments with a mixed-use retail and residential development in London. Consultant Geoffrey Jordan specialises in land promotion and development and is advising Colethrop Farm on the restructuring of an option agreement in connection with a 2,000-home site in Gloucester. Also recommended are Jonathan Wilkinson, who has particular experience of transactions for SIPP and SSAS trustees, and senior associate Naomi Nettleton, who focuses on portfolio investment and corporate occupier work.

Royds Withy King’s real estate group handles the full range of property work across a variety of sectors, including social and primary care, wildlife and environmental charities, retail, leisure and hospitality, and pensions. The department includes several partners with experience in secured lending and real estate finance, as well as an active residential development practice led by Edward Cooke, whose developer clients include Kersfield Group and Hullavington LLP. Department head Paul Daniels specialises in the acquisition and disposal of care homes and hotels, and handles property transactions for pension schemes; he acted for The Kaleidoscope Collection on the time-sensitive acquisition of the former Carfax Hotel in Bath. Daniels also led a team advising Balfour Beatty Group on the letting of commercial units at Cheswick Village, Bristol to a number of large retailers. The Swindon-based Martin Evans acted for a regional mobile homes park operator on its corporate reorganisation and subsequent separation of five existing parks between two different group companies. Also recommended are Sarah Sibley in Bath, who specialises in landlord and tenant work and freehold acquisitions and disposals for corporate clients; and Peter Foskett, who leads the property team in Swindon.

Thrings LLP’s commercial property group handles landlord and tenant issues and transactional matters involving pension funds, but is particularly well known for advising landowners and landed estates in strategic land and options agreements. Alan Goulding and Edward Jackman are noted experts in negotiating options and promotion agreements for potential land development; Jackman acts for various landowning clients on land sales and option agreements with residential developers. Specialising in pension fund property and real estate investment, practice co-head Alex Pinhey acted for pension fund clients on several multimillion-pound property purchases as well as a refinancing of multiple London-based retail and restaurant units. Charlotte Barrett focuses on portfolio management and secured lending work for corporate occupiers. The group also has capabilities in renewable energy related property work through associate Iain Mason. Although based primarily in Bristol, Warren Reid works across all of the firm’s regional offices and jointly heads the property team along with Pinhey.

The commercial property team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys has an established reputation for its work in the education and charity sectors and also has an active secured lending practice. Mark Fabian heads the department and has handled multiple real estate acquisitions, including assisting Bruton Knowles Property Consultants, a national surveyor firm, in relation to the property aspects of the relocation of its head office. Fabian’s other clients include regional property investor Cheltine Limited, for which he handles a range of property portfolio matters. Mark Carter leads the secured lending practice and also handles site transactions for The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire; recent highlights included the £1.5m sale of a Gloucestershire site to Lidl, conditional on planning permission for expansion. Carter’s lender clients include Lloyds Bank, HSBC, Santander and Paragon Bank. The department also acts for education sector clients such as Gloucestershire College.

Stone King LLP’s ‘prompt and knowledgeable’ real estate team handles a steady flow of work for a host of longstanding clients and attracts praise for its ‘expertise in what are often quite niche areas of law’, and for its sector specialisms in charity and education. ‘Pragmatic, erudite and responsive’ department head Hugh Pearce acted for Oxford Diocese on the £7.1m sale of an investment estate. The team’s other highlights included advising on the funding of the £7m acquisition of Wentworth Woodhouse, while ‘calm and sensible’ associate Kathryn Williams acted for The Girls Day School Trust in relation to the sale of surplus properties following the merger of two schools and the construction of a new building. Sarah Lane leads the business property unit, which acts as sole legal advisers to No.1 Lounges. Stephanie Howarth specialises in property investment and finance work on behalf of developers and funders.

Clients of Willans LLP rate its ‘sensible, understandable advice’, ‘rounded, commercial understanding’ and ‘first-class client care’, which the firm applies across a wide variety of sectors and clients, including a growing number of corporate tenants and investors. The ‘pleasant and professionalNigel Whittaker heads the practice and provides ongoing transactional advice and landlord/tenant assistance to clients such as Scope, Sue Ryder and Macmillan Cancer Support. In one cross-disciplinary matter, the team acted for Cavendish Homes on the construction of an office extension in Cheltenham; Whittaker handled the agreements for lease and tenant’s work, and ‘the patient and thoroughSusie Wynne assisted the client with the construction documentation. Laurence Lucas joined Lanyon Bowdler in 2017.

Clark Holt’s property department handles development and real estate finance work. The team was strengthened in 2016 with the addition of Rachel Booth from Field Seymour Parkes LLP, who brought a thriving housebuilder practice to the firm and also handles landlord and tenant matters. Booth acted for a landowner in relation to a material variation on an option agreement concerning a multimillion-pound deal with Bovis Homes. Department head Alasdair Kirkpatrick advised Svenska Handelsbanken AB on the surrender of an existing lease and the negotiation of a new lease for office premises. Jonathan Ashbridge advised Westbourne Capital Partners and Meyer Bergman on the high-value acquisition of properties to complete the site assembly scheme for the redevelopment of a large part of Queensway and Bayswater in London.

Knights Professional Services Limited’s Cheltenham office has dedicated partners focusing on a range of commercial property matters. The team is led by Mark Anton-Smith, who has expertise in property investment and retail and acts for clients such as Paddy Power, First Property Group and Yorkshire Building Society. Russell Coddington acts for institutional investor clients such as M&G Real Estate and has experience of property acquisition and disposals in the mining and mineral sectors. Tracy Gibson is another partner in the department and has experience of a range of transactional and development work.

The Cheltenham-based real estate team at Lodders Solicitors LLP acts for national and regional property developers in the residential and commercial sectors, and also handles property finance and investment. The department is led by the ‘diligent, commercial and approachablePaul Mourton, who handles investment property transactions and larger-scale development projects for residential and commercial clients. Mourton assisted Hinton Properties with the £15m purchase of a site in Cheltenham for the development of a supermarket, and handles portfolio management issues for clients such as IM Properties, which he advised on the £205m of a portfolio of 13 distribution warehouses. The team’s other highlights included advising CM Downton Haulage on a 20-year lease of a distribution warehouse. St Modwen Developments, Rybrook Holdings and Spitfire Properties are also clients.

Acting across the firm’s Sherborne, Wells and Bath offices, Mogers Drewett LLP’s commercial property team acts for a range of retailers, investors, developers and funders. In 2016, practice head Justin Hopkins acted for an estate agent in relation to a large, multimillion-pound portfolio restructuring. Hopkins also worked alongside associate Megan Asquith for an educational institution on a multimillion-pound property disposal. In an example of corporate tenant work, the team assisted Monster Energy Europe with an agreement to lease premises that will form part of its UK office operations. Amanda Inch is based in the firm’s Wells office and specialises in acting for landowners and developers in relation to development contracts, options and promotion agreements.

Commercial property: The West Country

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property: The West Country
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial property: The West Country clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Ashfords LLP’s property team has extensive experience of urban regeneration, pension scheme related property and real estate investment matters, and is especially well known for advising on large-scale property development for commercial developers as well as regional and national housebuilders. The firm leverages its prominent regional footprint to provide wide-ranging expertise across its Exeter, Taunton and Plymouth offices, the last of which was strengthened by the arrival of David Ellis from Foot Anstey. He acted for Progress Land in relation to a strategic land acquisition of a major South West development site, which involved negotiating with several different landowners. Taunton-based Michael Gay, who also joined from Foot Anstey, acted for Abbey Manor Developments on the £4m land disposal to multiple developers for future residential development. While the majority of the practice’s clients stem from the private sector, the firm also handles mandates for public sector entities; Andrew Rothwell assisted Exeter City Council with negotiations concerning the development agreement for the redevelopment of the Exeter Bus and Coach Station. In an illustration of its work on secured lending for banks and lenders, James Heath acted for RBS in connection with a grant of security over a long-leasehold city centre building, in addition to advising on the construction documentation related to the planning consent for the redevelopment of the building. Tim Heal heads the practice from the Exeter office, which includes Andrew MacMillan-Scott, who is active on the investment side.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s South West real estate team is noted for its expertise in energy projects, institutional investment, public sector development and secured lending, as well as its track record in LPA receiverships and corporate occupier and tenant work. ‘Commercial and technically sound’ department head Craig Moore manages the legal aspects of Flybe’s real estate portfolio, and acted alongside managing associate Nicola Jonas for Capital Industrial on the £79.5m acquisition of the Heston Airlinks Industrial Estate. Other clients include Plymouth University, for which the team acted on a 15-year lease for a laboratory facility and on the disposal of Rolle College in Exeter. Paul Bramall is also recommended.

Davitt Jones Bould is a boutique real estate firm with a ‘well-established and extremely impressive reputation in the South West’, thanks in no small part to its ‘historic and longstanding knowledge of the public sector’. The group acts for a variety of property investors and private sector occupiers, although the lion’s share of the team’s mandates come from the public sector. A team, led by ‘client-focused’ managing director, Madeleine Davitt, acted for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on meeting property reduction and financial targets. In another noteworthy public sector highlight, Stuart Bould advised the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the £15m sale of the Wave Hub, the world’s largest grid connected site for the testing and development of offshore renewable energy technology. Malcolm Iley, a town and city regeneration expert, splits his time between the London and Taunton offices. Kate Evans is also recommended, as is Tim Sylvester Jones.

Foot Anstey’s West Country real estate team acts for investors, corporate occupiers and developers in the public and private sectors and has a strong housebuilder focus, in addition to specialist knowledge of energy and infrastructure related property matters. Richard Walford heads the real estate department and is acting for Weston College on all real estate aspects of its £20m plan to create a new Law and Professional Services Academy. Walford also advised Screwfix on a forward-funded development agreement to take on a new 562,000 sq ft warehouse distribution centre. Duncan Tringham focuses on energy and infrastructure real estate and is acting for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on its involvement in a three-party joint venture for the £300m regeneration of Blackwall Reach. Simon Gregory acted for Wessex Investors on the development of a new retail park in North Devon. The team also acts for infrastructure clients on high-profile property portfolio matters. Other key clients include Westco Properties, FirstGroup and Cornwall Council.

Noted for its ‘in-depth knowledge of property development’, Michelmores LLP’s real estate team is ‘among the best in the area’ for public sector mandates. In an illustration of its public sector prowess, Richard Honey advised The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime on its phased disposal of 19 hectares of land at Hendon Police College in North London. David Howe (who attracts praise for his ‘wealth of experience across all aspects of commercial property’) acted for St Austell Brewery to carry out property due diligence in relation to the client’s takeover of Bath Ales. The group is led by Emma Honey, who specialises in property development and is particularly active in the education sector; she is handling a multimillion-pound transaction for a development site, and is advising an aggregate supply company on a promotion agreement. The ‘diligent, hardworking and professionalJoanna Damerell focuses on large commercial property projects and is acting for Yelverton Properties Developments on its acquisition of land from Exeter City FC, Exeter City Council and Yeo & Davey for the development of student accommodation. The ‘excellentStephen Newson has wide-ranging experience of transactional and development matters, as well as landlord and tenant issues. The highly recommended Lucy Smallwood leads the residential development team.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s Taunton-based real estate team covers commercial development, investment and housebuilder work, and plays an integral part of ‘the firm’s very well-established agricultural property practice’. Philip Brown acted for Scotsgrove Holdings on the acquisition and leasing of a significant office building in Bath, and assisted Metis Homes Limited with the acquisition of residential development property in Guildford from Waitrose. Roger Seaton specialises in real estate finance and corporate real estate work, and in 2016 acted for an estate agent client in connection with the multimillion-pound sale of land for a highly publicised development project. Nick Francombe handles freehold and leasehold property disposals and acquisitions, in addition to property management issues; his recent highlights include advising local and public authorities on property transactions. Tim Walker, who focuses primarily on residential development, is also recommended.

Stephens Scown LLP handles a range of commercial landlord and tenant work and advises on strategic development for landowners and promoters. The firm also has a very active housebuilder practice, and acts for lenders in real estate finance transactions. The ‘knowledgeable and professional’ real estate team has wide-ranging sector expertise covering mining and minerals, rural housing and agriculture, and renewable energy. Jonathan Hoggett heads the Exeter-based team and acted alongside Toby Pool for an investor client on the acquisition of multiple retail parks. Nigel Coveney has expertise in all aspects of property development and is acting on the negotiation of a planning and development agreement for a substantial number of houses in the South East. Also recommended are Hilary Pitts and Keith Wright, who act for housing associations such as Hastoe Housing Association and Devon & Cornwall Housing; and Simon Harding and Mike Northcott. Other clients include Wolf Minerals (UK), Strategic Land Partnership LLP and Venture Property Development Company.

Among the leading firms for public sector and affordable housing work’, the property team at Trowers & Hamlins LLP is regularly called on by institutional investors, housebuilders and national and local government entities to advise on issues where there is a crossover between public and private interests. In a notable example, Hugh Winterbotham acted for Devonshire Homes on the multimillion-pound acquisition of a residential development site for 100 homes. Similarly, the ‘knowledgeable’ Joseph Acton is acting for Galliford Try Partnerships and Westco Properties as JV partners on the Cornwall Land Initiative, a strategic development of 11 residential sites for the purposes of providing several hundred affordable homes across Cornwall. Christopher Rundle, who specialises in commercial property management and investment portfolios, advised Stage Electrics Partnership on the restructuring of its portfolio in connection with the launch of a new brand; this involved the disposal of an 80,000 sq ft office site, in addition to the acquisition of two separate sites.

The commercial property team at Kitsons LLP has particular expertise in property development and commercial landlord and tenant work in the leisure sector. Split between the firm’s Exeter and Plymouth offices, the department also has specialisms in the health and care and renewables sectors, and works closely with the Torquay-based corporate group. James Lang leads the Plymouth-based team and is acting for the funder of a £1.5m development of the former Prudential Building in Portsmouth. Heading the team in Exeter, Cameron Caverhill has ‘excellent industry knowledge’ and acted for a landowner client on the high-value sale of agricultural land to a national housebuilder. Caverhill also worked alongside the corporate team on the refinancing of two holiday parks for Worldteam Limited. Other notable clients include Teignbridge District Council, Wyse Homes and South West Holiday Parks Limited.

Maitland Walker LLP’s ‘very responsive’ commercial property department is praised for its ‘consistently excellent service’. The Taunton-based group has wide-ranging experience of property matters including acquisitions and disposals in the leisure and hospitality sectors, estate management and agricultural property work. ‘Professional’ department head Ben Slade specialises in property transactions and landlord/tenant law, and in 2016 handled disposals of high street commercial shops, redevelopment sites and motor-way service centres. Slade is also advising a leading gaming company with more than 150 locations nationwide on a variety of portfolio management issues. Hilary Coles, whose experience encompasses both contentious and non-contentious property work, handles land transactions and planning issues for agricultural and development land, as well as acting in landlord and tenant disputes.

OTB Eveling is known in the West Country for acting for commercial and residential developers and investors, and also handles work for landowners. Keith Biggs, who heads the real estate team and has particular expertise in the leisure sector, assisted LED Leisure Management with the conditional lease agreement for a new 11,000 sq ft facility in Seaton. On the lender side, the team advised NatWest Bank on the security aspects of the multimillion-pound financing of the refurbishment of a Georgian manor, which will be converted into a luxury hotel. Biggs is also acting alongside the corporate department on the property aspects of the disposal of Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Course. The firm also has a property disputes practice led by Charlotte Curtis.

Trustworthy, reliable and prompt’, Porter Dodson LLP has developed experience in the retail and medical and care home sectors, and is particularly well known for its work with local housebuilders and developers. ‘Thorough and trustworthy’ practice head Bruce Weir is deeply involved in the department’s development work and is acting for a regional developer in the purchase of a residential development site. Weir also acts for corporate tenants. Other key figures include Louise Sanders, a ‘commercially minded’ partner in the firm’s Yeovil office; and Victoria Walker, who is assisting a medical practice with the sale of its business and assignment of its lease to an entity as part of a national pilot scheme to change the partnership model of GP surgeries. The ‘industriousBen Hingley is assisting a company director in a refinancing involving assets including agricultural land, a complex of holiday cottages and residential buy-to-let property.


Index of tables

  1. Construction
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Construction clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Burges Salmon LLP fields a construction team that is ‘among the best in the region’, while its ‘strength in depth’ makes it a formidable national player. The group has ‘exceptional industry knowledge’ of large transport and energy infrastructure projects, as well as experience of more general investment and commercial development. The ‘unflappable and tacticalMarcus Harling is advising The Crown Estate on construction issues arising from its development portfolio, which includes St James’s Market, Dukes Court and Morley House. Harling also acts for Transport for Wales on all aspects of the Wales and Borders Rail Franchise and the South West Metro. William Gard heads the construction and engineering department and is acting for a client involved in the £4bn Thames Tideway Tunnel project. Steven James focuses on energy infrastructure and assisted Affinity Water Limited with its mains infrastructure preferred supplier framework agreement. Lloyd James handles construction issues for a number of the firm’s largest clients, including Highways England and Marks & Spencer. The firm also handles construction disputes; the ‘talented and enthusiasticRichard Adams is assisting a client in relation with contentious issues arising from the Greater Manchester Waste Project.

According to one client, Osborne Clarke’s team is ‘in a league of its own compared with others working in the same sector in the South West’. The group regularly acts for large developers and engineering companies in relation to major construction and procurement contracts in the energy and infrastructure space, with clients singling out Carl Thompson (‘a robust and commercially astute negotiator with detailed sector knowledge’) for his track record acting on numerous solar project developments for the likes of First Solar. Other key figures include Jonathan Brooks, who splits his time between the firm’s London and Bristol offices and is experienced in contentious and non-contentious construction matters; Philip Davies, who advises funders, developers and contractors across the spectrum of industry sectors; and John Redmond. Other clients include Balfour Beatty, Siemens, Midas Group, Bristol City FC and Aggregate Industries.

Ashfords LLP’s ‘incredibly responsive and commercial’ construction team handles a range of contentious and non-contentious matters – including procurement and development – for public and private sector clients. Stephen Homer, who heads the firm’s adjudication and arbitration team, represented Devon County Council in mediation in connection with an £11.5m claim against a design consultant and contractor regarding the construction of a school. Homer also handles non-contentious work and advised Exeter County Council on the design and build contracts for the new Passivhaus swimming pool and leisure development. Patrick Blake heads the practice acted in a multimillion-pound EPC contract dispute in the renewable energy sector. Other key contacts include Mark Manning, who handles construction disputes and non-contentious matters and has extensive experience of the renewable energy and retail sectors. Viridor Waste Management Limited, South Coast Construction Limited and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are among the team’s clients.

Bevan Brittan LLP’s construction group attracts praise for its ‘concise advice and pragmatic approach’; for some, it is the pre-eminent team for contentious PFI matters. ‘Knowledgeable and creative’ Bristol-based practice head Louise Robling is noted for her ‘essential advice’ to public sector clients and contractors on construction disputes, and also provides non-contentious advice on PPP/PFI procurement contracts. She is representing Peterborough and Stamford NHS Foundation Trust and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in an issue involving the potential termination of rights following the defective construction of fire compartments throughout the clients’ hospitals. On the non-contentious side, Jonathan Turner is advising East Wick and Sweetwater Projects Limited – a development joint venture comprising Places for People and Balfour Beatty Investments – on the procurement and contracting strategy for a regeneration scheme involving a high-profile £500m-plus Olympic Legacy development. Similarly, Turner acts for Places for People and Urban Splash in an incorporated joint venture for the development of the Icknield Port Loop site in Birmingham. Jessica Evans is a highly recommended associate in the department.

The construction group at Clarke Willmott LLP has ‘excellent industry knowledge’ and ‘compares very well’ to other firms in the Bristol area. The team is especially strong in contentious construction matters, including adjudication and mediation, but also has a formidable non-contentious capability spearheaded by Zoe Stollard, who is handling a litany of contract negotiations for Somerset Passenger Solutions Limited in connection with an extremely high-profile national construction project. The ‘deeply experiencedPeter O’Brien heads the contentious construction team and is acting for Bouygues UK’s housing and construction divisions on procurement and contractual issues as well as disputes. O’Brien’s other clients include Westminster City Council and M+W High Tech Projects UK. Michael Craik and AnnaLiisa Blanks-Walden are active partners in the contentious construction group.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s ‘speedy and business-focused’ construction department in Bristol acts for private and public sector clients in large development and procurement matters, and also handles construction disputes. Headed by Ben Thornycroft, the team has experience of regeneration developments and energy and utility projects, with an emphasis on the healthcare and insurance sectors. Thornycroft is advising Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on the procurement and construction of a large commercial space and car park, in addition to the redevelopment of civic offices and a theatre, valued at £30m. He also advised Deeley Freed (Penhalt) on building contracts related to a £40m development of residential units. Phillip Roberts is ‘extremely knowledgeable’ in contentious construction matters and acts for various insurance companies in relation to professional indemnity and construction disputes. ‘Thorough and responsive’ senior associate Benjamin Thomas is also recommended. Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Zurich Insurance and Bristol Water are among the group’s key clients.

For some, TLT’s expertise in contentious and non-contentious work makes it ‘one of the best construction practices in the South West’. The team has noted specialisms in public sector procurement work, and also has experience of the energy and renewables sector. Department head Simon Goss has extensive experience of non-contentious and contentious construction matters and has acted for multiple London boroughs throughout 2016 and 2017. He leads a team that includes ‘excellent negotiator’ Neel Mehta, who handles the gamut of non-contentious issues for a number of large construction companies and developer clients; and construction disputes specialist Tom Wrzesien, whose clients include entities in the energy and education sectors, as well as large construction companies. Galliford Try Construction (UK), EDF Energy and Midas Construction are among the team’s key clients.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) provides ‘a speed and quality of service that is often superior to that of larger firms and at a price that is much more competitive’. The team acts for a number of regional and national contractors and developers across a variety of sectors. Department head and ‘great team leaderHuw Morgan acts for a host of educational institutions; his recent highlights include advising University of Reading on the procurement and construction contracts associated with the client’s new Thames Valley Science Park, and advising University of Bristol on its standard building contracts and associated documentation. In another key mandate, Jason Prosser is acting for Airbus Operations Limited on the construction of the Airbus Wing Integration Centre, a research and testing facility for wing fuel systems. Also recommended are Alice Lang, a ‘pleasant but meticulous’ senior associate who acts for clients in the education sector; and David Arnold, who joined the team from Kennedys in 2016 and specialises in construction disputes.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s Plymouth office acts for a range of regional and national developers and construction companies. Practice head David Skelton (who attracts praise for his ‘unassuming and practical approach’) is advising Midas Construction on a number of significant projects, including the Pendennis Shipyard. He is also acting for the University of Plymouth on various construction projects on its campus and at sites around Plymouth, and is assisting New Look Retailers on the multimillion-pound expansion of its national distribution centre. The team has also negotiated asset protection agreements for well-known clients in the transport infrastructure sector and handles construction disputes for clients such as REG Wind Power.

Michelmores LLP’s ‘outstanding construction department’ was strengthened in 2016 with the addition of new practice head Chris Hoar, who had previously headed the construction and engineering department at Foot Anstey. Hoar’s arrival strengthens the group’s non-contentious offering, supplementing the already formidable contentious practice. On the development side, Hoar has been advising Mount Wise Devon on a £30m residential development on former MoD land in Plymouth, which is currently in the last of four stages. In an example of the group’s public sector work, Brian Hitchcock is acting for Plymouth City Council on procurement, stakeholder, tenant and contractor negotiations in connection with the £34m Plymouth history Centre regeneration project. Similarly, in the healthcare sector, a sizeable team is advising Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust on the procurement for the £486m 3Ts hospital redevelopment programme. The ‘exceedingly tenaciousGerald Offen specialises in construction disputes and is representing Midas Construction in a dispute with the owners and operators of Pendennis Shipyard, which has been referred to adjudication.

The construction group at Thrings LLP is noted for providing development advice to clients in the healthcare and retail and leisure sectors, and is especially active in the student accommodation space. In addition to development work, the team also handles construction disputes and provides procurement advice to utilities companies and corporate occupiers. Practice head Eric Livingston is acting for Fusion Students on the demolition of existing structures and the subsequent development of large student accommodation facilities in Cardiff and Nottingham. He also acted alongside associate Natalia Sokolov for Alford Technologies on a multimillion-pound contract to demolish Didcot (A) Power Station Boiler House in Wiltshire. The team is also advising a US-headquartered law firm in relation to the UK construction aspects and due diligence of the acquisition of a care home portfolio by an American REIT. Steve McCombe is rated for his ‘precision’ in handling construction disputes. Other clients include Wessex Water, Bristol Water and Chait Investment Corporation.

Foot Anstey’s construction team has undergone several personnel changes: Ian Stubbs joined the construction team from Pinsent Masons LLP, while Chris Hoar left for Michelmores LLP in 2016 and Stephen Ovenden joined Pinsent Masons LLP in 2017. Stubbs has more than three decades of experience in construction law and specialises in the funding, procurement and contractual aspects of large construction projects. Other key figures include Zac Spyrou, who has expertise in construction and engineering transactions and acts for major corporates and construction companies in relation to high-value construction projects. Tris Tucker is an active senior associate in the department and is regarded by clients as a ‘great communicator’.

Keystone Law has built an experienced construction and engineering team in its Bristol office, which continues to act for major construction companies and educational institutions in both contentious and non-contentious matters. Highly regarded in the field, Martin Howe has been advising The University of West England on issues relating to the completion of the new £55m business and law faculty building. Howe’s other clients include Blackburn Waterside Regeneration Limited and University of Southampton. The team was recently joined by Jon Close, who joined from BPE Solicitors LLP and advised Dowdeswell Estates on a £10m hotel extension and an £11.9m heritage scheme. Louise Garcia provides ongoing advice to Geoffrey Osborne Limited concerning contentious construction issues and commercial contracts.

For some, Royds Withy King’s ‘sensible and responsive’ construction team is ‘above and beyond’ many firms in the area. The department, which handles contentious and non-contentious matters, was significantly strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of Andrew Ash from Osborne Clarke, who heads the construction department. An ‘experienced and commercial’ litigator, Ash has a strong track record handling national and international construction litigation and arbitration. Graham Street handles non-contentious construction issues and advises a range of developer clients on procurement and contractual issues concerning residential schemes and care home developments. Philip Banks-Welsh also handles construction disputes. Clients include University of Bath, Western Power Distribution and Redcliffe Homes Limited.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s construction practice in Exeter has specialisms in the housing, education and healthcare sectors, and handles a number of mandates for public sector clients. Practice head Alan Tate (who attracts praise for his ‘very good business acumen’) is providing ongoing advice to the Secretary of State for Education on the drafting and negotiation of building contracts for new schools and academies in the region. Tate also acts for clients such as Sovereign Housing Association and Devonshire Homes on a range of contractual matters, and is advising the asset management department of Coastline Housing Limited on procurement issues. The group’s other areas of expertise include construction litigation and insolvency matters.


Index of tables

  1. Environment
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Environment clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Clients of Burges Salmon LLP praise the firm’s ‘unparalleled service, which is on par with London firms’. The firm fields ‘market-leading environmental lawyers who provide tenacious support and integrate seamlessly with the rest of the firm’s practice areas. The team, which is led by ‘tough’ environmental disputes practitioner Michael Barlow, has deep regulatory experience; Barlow is representing Great Yarmouth Port Company in relation to a £15m claim brought by a holiday village operator alleging losses as a result of the environmental impact of the construction of an outer harbour at Great Yarmouth. The practice also advised Canal and River Trust on the environmental aspects of its objection to the proposed CPO by the Greater London Authority for the Southall Gasworks site. In an example of the department’s decommissioning work, Ross Fairley assisted a global energy group with the decommissioning and potential development options for the former coal-fired power station at Rugeley. Simon Tilling is ‘among the best advocates in the market’ and is assisting a US-based multinational with regulatory and commercial aspects of a project aimed at turning waste into a fuel pellet product. Ian Salter and James Phillips handle decommissioning and regulatory issues in the nuclear and oil and gas sectors, respectively.

Osborne Clarke regularly acts for corporates in a variety of industry areas including utilities and infrastructure, waste, property development and energy and renewables. The department’s expertise covers traditional environmental law matters, including remediation, consenting, and regulatory investigations and prosecutions, as well as advising on climate change concerns and commercial contract work. Matthew Germain acts for numerous household name clients on matters such as pollution investigations, regulatory compliance and commercial and environmental regulatory aspects concerning large energy projects. Germain also provides environmental indemnity, remediation and due diligence advice to national housebuilders such as Barratt Homes, Taylor Wimpey and Linden Homes related to land transactions. Other recent work includes advising a Plc client on its potential environmental liability following a large accident, and the environmental due diligence in connection with its proposed acquisition of hydropower land and assets in Scotland. Alan John heads the practice, which includes senior associates Duncan Parker and Georgia Lythgoe. Other key clients include Suez Recycling & Recovery, Western Power Distribution, Wessex Water and Hills Waste Solutions.

Ashfords LLP’s business risk and regulation department is praised for its track record in environmental crime prosecutions and, with clients considering its expertise to be ‘comparable to that of any regional firm in England’. The team also advises on environmental compliance and regularly acts for agricultural clients and public and quasi-public bodies. Department head Richard Voke has a ‘strong technical background in environmental science as well as environmental law’; he has been involved in multiple pollution and contamination prosecutions for clients in the energy and care sectors, in addition to advising on regulatory due diligence issues related to various transactions in the oil and gas sector. Senior associate Jeremy Asher (‘as good as any lawyer in the field’) acted on behalf of various public bodies in Environment Agency prosecutions regarding pollution and breach of environmental permits.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s environment practice acts for a sizeable list of clients in the retail, transport, minerals and conventional and renewable energy sectors. The group provides strategic and regulatory advice, with particular emphasis on environmental impact and habitat regulation assessments, and also advises on environmental issues arising from real estate transactions. Sarah Holmes is acting alongside the planning and infrastructure team on the environmental aspects of a passenger train project between Bristol and Portishead. Holmes is also acting for a well-known national real estate developer in relation to its liability regarding waste disposal on land and sea and related habitat protection issues. Stephen Panton has particular experience defending corporates and company officers in environmental investigations and prosecutions; his key work included several Environment Agency prosecutions. The practice’s client base includes corporates such as Network Rail Infrastructure, The Crown Estate and Shell UK, as well as a number of local authorities.

Clarke Willmott LLP has a highly experienced environment department handling contentious and non-contentious matters in the waste, minerals and agriculture sectors. On the contentious side, the department has expertise in defending against environmental prosecutions and other Environment Agency enforcement matters. Tim Hayden and ‘hardworking’ senior associate Daniel Gill have recently been involved in several Environment Agency prosecutions, and department head Neil Baker and Karen Howe are both deeply experienced in contentious environmental work. in an example of non-contentious highlights, Baker advised Mactaggart and Mickel Homes Limited on the environmental aspects of two planning applications for multimillion-pound housing developments in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Additional clients include corporates such as Bristol Water, property groups including Acorn Property Group and Persimmon Homes, and local authorities such as the Isle of Wight Council.

Noted for its ‘very real expertise in environmental law’, DAC Beachcroft LLP’s practice ‘combines practical experience with practitioners who work to support their clients’. The team is known for advising property developers on environmental liabilities, assisting with regulatory compliance and handling due diligence in relation to public and private sector transactions. Additionally, Neil Scott has experience of environmental crime cases and was involved in multiple Environment Agency investigations and prosecutions in 2016. Anne Harrison (who is ‘excellent at dealing with regulatory bodies’) was recently promoted to legal director and is advising Wainhomes North West on flood risk management regulation and related potential enforcement action by the Environment Agency. Harrison performed a due diligence audit concerning Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust’s compliance with waste management regulations. The team also acted for Hanson Quarry Products Europe and Chelverton Deeley Freed on an appeal against environmental tax charges totalling £1.8m.

TLT’s environment team specialises in domestic and EU regulatory compliance, property-related issues concerning waste regulation and contamination, and renewable energy related issues. The regulatory practice is spearheaded by Kerry Gwyther, who represented Glastonbury Festival 2014 Limited in relation to a negligence claim brought by the Environment Agency. Gwyther also acted for a former director of Churngold Waste and Recycling regarding an investigation and prosecution by the Environment Agency’s national environmental crime team. Katherine Evans has experience of environmental issues arising out of property and planning and also has expertise in mining and mineral work. Associate Fergus Charlton assists clients with the environmental aspects of planning projects and acts for clients in the renewables and minerals sectors. Duncan Reed, who has experience of environmental prosecutions and regulatory compliance, is also recommended. Notable clients include Grid Battery Storage, InfraRed Capital Partners and WELink Energy Investments UK.

The Michelmores LLP environment department routinely assists the projects team with environmental due diligence in relation to energy projects; handles public procurement issues; and is experienced in Environment Agency investigations. The practice is led by Mark Howard, who handles non-contentious issues for clients such as Dorset County Council, and acted for a major aggregates company in relation to a pollution investigation undertaken by the Environment Agency. Andrew Oldland QC, who splits his time between the firm’s London and Exeter office, has extensive experience of procurement and contentious environmental matters.

Stephens Scown LLP has wide-ranging experience of environmental prosecutions and investigations. The practice also provides compliance advice and environmental due diligence to clients in the mining and minerals sector. Christopher Tofts’s clients include Wolf Minerals (UK) and Imerys Minerals, which he advises on the environmental aspects of their landholdings and project developments. Tofts also acted for Burcombe Haulage on the purchase of a landfill site, which at the time was going through the Environment Agency closure process. Brian Dolan is an experienced environmental litigator and successfully settled a multimillion-pound compensation claim for Portland Stone Firms brought against Dorset County Council in relation to stone extraction on the Jurassic Coast.

The planning and environment department at Thrings LLP provides regulatory compliance advice to clients in the public and private sectors and also handles Environment Agency prosecutions. Alex Madden has been acting for a UK manufacturer in relation to a potential prosecution regarding water pollution, and advised a client involved in the waste management sector on the environmental restrictions and obligations in connection with a water supply development. The team is also acting for Bereleigh Estate in relation to potential proceedings being brought under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 regarding noise pollution from game and clay pigeon shooting. Associate Rosalyn Trotman is also recommended.


Index of tables

  1. Planning
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Planning clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Bond Dickinson LLP’s planning team in the South West handles the full gamut of planning work and is ‘as good as any in the area’. The ‘smooth and efficient’ team handles the planning aspects of large regeneration schemes and is particularly experienced of compulsory purchase order (CPO) work. Richard Guyatt heads the Bristol team and is acting for several local authorities, including Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council, on the development consent order in relation to the MetroWest Phase 1 rail project. Kevin Gibbs and Victoria Redman are advising Bristol Airport Limited on consent applications to increase the airport’s capacity and on future planning strategy. Gibbs and Redman act for Linden Homes on planning permissions for large residential developments. In the regeneration space, the ‘thorough and attentiveJonathan Bower is acting for West Berkshire District Council on a number of regeneration projects and is also advising Three Rivers District Council on the South Oxhey regeneration scheme. Taylor Wimpey, Vattenfall, River Island, ESBi and Watford Borough Council are also clients.

The planning team at Burges Salmon LLP plays an integral role in the firm’s strong energy and infrastructure offering. In the contentious space, the group regularly handles judicial reviews and statutory challenges, and has developed considerable expertise in CPO promotion. Gary Soloman heads the department and is advising the Isle of Anglesey County Council on the proposed development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, which has involved handling applications for worker and tourist accommodations and CPOs for highway works. Elizabeth Dunn is acting for YTL Property Holdings in relation to a major commercial, residential and infrastructure development at the Filton airfield site. Julian Boswall handles the planning aspects of large energy projects and acts for clients such as Snowdonia Pumped Hydro, Powersite and BRIMS Tidal Array. On the contentious side, Patrick Robinson is representing Imerys Minerals and a landowner client in arbitration proceedings and a subsequent arbitration appeal regarding the sterilisation of mineral assets by underground pipelines. The partners are assisted by senior associates Laura Fuller and Sarah Sutherland.

For some, Clarke Willmott LLP’s South West planning team is among the few in ‘the upper echelon of the market’ and its clients praise the ‘extensive and robust knowledge of all aspects of planning combinedd with commerciality, brilliant communication skills and positive local relationships’. ‘Industry leaderNeil Baker heads the practice and has extensive experience of urban regeneration projects and infrastructure installations. Baker is advising Curo Places on a major regeneration scheme at Foxhill Estate in Bath. Caroline Waller (‘the best planning solicitor in the South West’, according to one client) has been involved in some of the department’s largest residential and commercial development matters throughout 2016 and 2017. Karen Howe handled the application for North Bristol NHS Trust to register part of its land at Frenchay Hospital as a Town or Village Green. On the residential side, Chris Charlton acted for Persimmon Homes Severn Valley in relation to planning issues related to the client’s proposed residential development in the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood. The team has also been involved in petitions against proposals to amend the highly publicised HS2 bill.

Osborne Clarke’s ‘first-class’ planning practice attracts praise for providing service that is ‘of the very highest order’. The group works across a variety of sectors, but is particularly experienced in handling matters related to energy and infrastructure projects, as well as CPO work, residential and mixed-use developments, student accommodations, and retail-related projects. Bristol-based real estate head Neil Bromwich ‘cannot be recommended highly enough’; he is acting for Scottish and Southern Electricity Distribution on the Claydon-Bicester Electricity Connection project, and is also handling a judicial review in the High Court for Marks & Spencer regarding the planning permission for a new store. The team is also assisting QinetiQ with its development strategy concerning a number of sites, and is also handling planning issues for Foresight regarding its portfolio of solar, wind and biomass sites. On the residential development side, the group is acting for Taylor Wimpey in connection with the planning and environmental aspects of a £20m housing and mixed-use development in Bristol, which will include over 4,500 new homes. Senior associate John Webster specialises in CPO issues and is rated for his ‘phenomenal ability to turn work around in seemingly impossible timescales’.

Ashfords LLP’s planning department handles a range of matters for housebuilders and acts in community infrastructure projects, as well as advising on appeals, CPOs and planning challenges. Graham Cridland specialises in residential development, and acted for Devon County Council in relation to the £70m redevelopment of the Exeter Coach and Bus Station, which will include a mixed-use development. Working out of the Plymouth office, Gareth Pinwell prepared and submitted planning objections for Thames Water Utilities against Hertfordshire County Council, regarding the designation of an area of land as a Town and Village Green. CPO specialist David Richardson joined the firm in 2016 from Michelmores LLP and has experience in the retail, energy and waste, public and agriculture sectors. Legal director Duncan Moors also joined the team from Teignbridge District Council. The group has a developing marine planning offering through senior associate Lara Moore, who handles nationwide marine licensing for Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Wainhomes (SW) Holdings, Stongvox Limited, Shelfside Holdings and Bovis Homes are also clients.

Bevan Brittan LLP’s planning team specialises in acting for local authorities and health sector clients, but is capable of handling private sector work as well. Newly promoted partner Kathryn Lawrance leads the practice and advised London Borough of Hounslow on issues arising from the regeneration of high street and waterside areas in Brentford. In the utilities and energy sector, she is assisting Sedgemoor District Council with a Section 106 agreement related to the development of Huntspill Energy Park. Working alongside the property department, the team acted for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust on planning issues related to the £200m redevelopment of St Mary’s Hospital at Paddington. Lorraine Neve joined the planning team in 2016 from South Gloucestershire Council and has extensive experience of local government planning work.

Clients of Davitt Jones Bouldunreservedly recommend’ its planning lawyers for their experience of public procurement contracts and planning agreements. Robin de Wreede is a ‘first-class’ solicitor with strong public sector relationships; he is advising The Royal Parks on all planning aspects of the new London Cycle Super Highway. De Wreede also provides ongoing planning advice to a list of local authorities. New recruits include Malcolm Iley, who joined the firm as a group director in 2016; Andrew Taylor, who joined from Pitmans LLP; and Sophie Philippon-Thomas, who joined the firm from Freeths LLP. Mark Brumwell left for a legal position at the Environment Agency, and John Qualtrough joined Dechert LLP in 2017.

The planning team at Michelmores LLP is well known for advising public sector clients in relation to planning objections, neighbourhood planning and public law ultra vires issues, and also has expertise in marine licencing and costal development. Department head Mark Howard has ‘unrivalled knowledge in the area’ and is ‘excellent at thinking outside of the box’. Public sector clients include Cornwall Council, which Howard is advising on negotiations with the developers of a large development comprising housing, retail space, a hotel and community space. Howard is advising NDCI Limited on multiple planning applications to North Devon District Council for the development of residential and live/work developments in North Devon. Howard’s other highlights included advising The Met Office on the potential impact of wind farm developments on the client’s weather radar, and acting on planning matters for Yelverton Properties Developments, South Devon College and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. Andrew Oldland QC splits his time between the London and Exeter offices and has handled a number of marine and coastal planning permission matters.

Stephens Scown LLP fields a ‘friendly and highly professional team’ that attracts praise for its ‘pragmatic approach’. The department handles a wide range of contentious and non-contentious planning matters and has particular expertise in the mining and minerals sector. Christopher Tofts has ‘thorough, in-depth knowledge of the planning system’ and provides ongoing planning advice to the firm’s mining and mineral clients, which include Wolf Minerals, Strongbow Exploration and Imerys Minerals. Similarly, Tofts is advising Greener for Life in relation to planning and environmental issues associated with its 19 anaerobic digestion plants throughout the South West. Other key figures include Sarah-Jane Williams, who acted alongside Tofts in multiple judicial reviews in 2016 and 2017; and the ‘exceptionally able’ David Corsellis, who is acting as an advocate in multiple public planning inquiries. Burcombe Haulage and Portland Stone Firms are also clients.

The planning department at TLT has wide-ranging expertise in the renewables, retail and leisure and housing sectors, and also handles CPOs and work involving community assets. Headed by Katherine Evans and working in close co-operation with the firm’s real estate team, the planning department is handling the planning aspects of InfraRed Capital Partners’s disposal of the Twin Rivers Wind Farm. In another key matter, Evans is advising Peabody Trust on planning issues arising from several residential and mixed-use development schemes, and is advising London Borough of Enfield and New Ladderswood LLP in relation to a major regeneration project. On the contentious side, the planning team is acting for a public body in relation to compensation claims following the compulsory acquisition of land for a highly publicised transport infrastructure project. Other key clients include Persimmon Homes, WHSmith, BBC and British Solar Renewables.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s planning department has ‘excellent knowledge of relevant documentation and of the local market’, with a noted specialism in residential development. The group’s clients primarily comprise national housebuilders such as Taylor Wimpey, Crest Nicholson and Linden Homes; in a highlight, the team acted for Taylor Wimpey on multiple section 106 Agreements across the UK in 2016. Rated for her ‘well-thought-out advice on a range of planning matters’ and for her ability to ‘understand and appreciate the commercial context’, Anne Harrison acts for commercial developers and NHS trusts, including North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. The team’s other clients include public sector clients such as Somerset County Council.

The Exeter-based planning department at Foot Anstey specialises in supporting large housing developments and also advises on judicial review claims and other contentious planning issues. Practice head Tim Taylor is representing Ocado Group in a CPO compensation claim regarding the impact of Crossrail 2 on the client’s property. Other 2016 highlights included advising Berkeley Homes on section 106 agreements for multiple housing developments. The team also handles planning agreements in connection with large housing developments for Cornwall Council, Torridge District Council and Exeter College. Taylor is singled out for his expertise advising nightclubs facing closure due to noise complaints, with past clients including Ministry of Sound in London, Eddie’s in Haverfordwest and Sugarhouse in Lancaster. The team also handles infrastructure planning and has advised Devon County Council in relation to highway planning agreements.

Thrings LLP’s ‘knowledgeable and effective’ planning department has experience of contentious and non-contentious planning issues, acting for both individuals and corporates. Headed by Alex Madden, the department has been especially active in the residential and commercial development space. Madden is advising Cherry Tree Farm Campsite on its planning position in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, following an investigation by North Devon Council. The team also advised Aggregate Industries UK on the section 106 agreements in connection with an extension to a sand and gravel quarry in Gloucestershire. On the contentious side, Madden represented a landowner client in a High Court matter concerning a disputes planning permission for the construction of a wind turbine. The ‘pleasant and professional’ Rosalyn Trotman is also recommended.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards)’s planning and infrastructure team regularly handles education and local government work. In an illustration of its specialist pipeline capability, newly promoted partner David Bird (who leads the practice) is acting for two cross-country pipeline operators in relation to the crossing of their pipelines by HS2. He is also providing ongoing advice to Seabank Power in relation to pipeline encroachments, and is assisting University of Bristol with the planning aspects of a student walkway and pedestrian area at a site now used as a major road and bus route. Daniel Hall specialises in CPOs and was promoted to senior associate in 2016, and Thomas Ewings joined the team after a career in transport planning.

Property litigation

Index of tables

  1. Property litigation
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

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Bond Dickinson LLP is ‘a serious property litigation firm that can hold its own with any of its rivals, whether in London or in the South West’. The team acts for public and private sector clients, with particular specialisms in the energy, retail, rail and transport and energy sectors. The Bristol team is led by Patrick Wetherall (‘a tactical litigator, who understands his client commercial needs’), who is handling the contentious aspects of Three Rivers District Council’s £150m South Oxhey regeneration project. Other key matters for the team included representing Ashfield Land in a dispute arising out of the validity of the client’s right to exercise an option to purchase 47 acres of development land; this matter was successfully resolved in mediation, with Ashfield obtaining permission to purchase the development land. The ‘experienced and intelligentJames Rees regularly acts for landlords and tenants in high-value real estate disputes. Also recommended are managing associates Stephanie Doyle and Sasha Hinton. Other clients include Network Rail Infrastructure, River Island Clothing Co, Scottish Power and the National Farmers Union.

Burges Salmon LLP’s property litigation department acts for corporate clients, as well as local authorities and other public bodies, on a range of contentious matters, including property insolvency and ADR. Richard Bedford heads the department and defended Torbay Borough Council in multimillion-pound claims for damages in relation to alleged breaches of a development agreement regarding the Oldway Mansion in Paignton. Bedford also advised Wedlake Bell LLP as LPA receivers of a shopping centre in relation to a dispute over a keep-open covenant in the anchor tenant lease. In addition to his contentious real estate expertise, James Sutherland handles real estate insolvency matters and represented Bristol Rovers (1883) in a £30m dispute with Sainsbury’s concerning the aborted sale of the Memorial Stadium in Bristol. Sutherland also acted for an investment bank in rent review arbitration involving its head office building in London. Clients also single out senior associates David Benjamin and Chris Preston. Other notable clients include John Lewis, Waterstones Booksellers, The Crown Estate and National Trust.

The property litigation lawyers at Clarke Willmott LLP are ‘pleasant and approachable, but prepared to be as aggressive as necessary to get the right answer for clients’. The sizeable practice acts for a wide-ranging client base encompassing the retail, investment, housing and public sectors. Chris Taylor leads the practice and is acting in a multimillion-pound dispute regarding a major housing development. Other key figures include Graham McIntyre, who successfully represented Lidl UK in a multimillion-pound High Court dispute with Generator Developments LLP concerning a development site in Brentwood; the ‘knowledgeable and responsiveNicola Seager, who provides ongoing advice to private equity firm Marcol in relation to contentious issues arising from its UK property portfolio; and Simon Freeman, who acts for Ashtenne Industrial Fund on contentious issues of its property portfolio, and represented Corren Properties Limited in connection with a £2m dilapidation claim concerning an office building in Chiswick. Also recommended are Bonnie Martin, Kary Withers, Neil Ham and Amy Rudrum, who focuses on landlord and tenant litigation.

Osborne Clarke’s property litigation team has specialisms in development disputes in the residential housing, energy and infrastructure sectors. It also acts for telecoms providers on land right issues, handles landlord and tenant disputes across the UK, and provides advice on contentious issues to pension fund and investor clients. Practice head Leona Briggs is representing Western Power Distribution (South West) in a dispute with Network Rail over the costs of diverting existing electricity apparatuses in connection with the electrification of Great Western Mainline and Midlands Mainlines. Briggs also acted for a subsidiary of Heineken in a high-value indemnity claim. David Shakesby, who focuses on property disputes in the energy and infrastructure sectors, is acting for SSE in relation to a CPO regarding land rights related to high-voltage cabling needed for network reinforcement in Oxfordshire. Senior associate Jane Rogers is also recommended. Other notable clients include Marks & Spencer, Wales & West Utilities and BDW Trading.

For some, Ashfords LLP is ‘plainly, one of the best firms for property litigation in the West Country, with strength in depth and a number of talented individuals’. Group head Sian Gibbon (whose ‘property knowledge is second to none’) acted for Exeter City Council on the contentious aspects of its £75m redevelopment of the Exeter Bus and Coach Station. Gibbon acted alongside Victoria Bonnet for Lloyds Banking Group on secured and unsecured lending recovery litigation. Rob Nicholson represented CDS Stores International in a £3m misrepresentation claim against a landlord following the discovery of asbestos in the client’s commercial property in Northern England. One of the firm’s ‘leading talents’, Robert Horsey specialises in trust issues associated with agricultural properties. Other clients include The London Borough of Wandsworth, Majestic Wine and Yorkley Court Farm.

Clients of DAC Beachcroft LLP rate it as a pre-eminent firm in the South West for large retail and shopping centre work, and single the firm out for providing ‘service that is indistinguishable from that provided by any City firm’. The team also handles contentious work for NHS trusts and local authorities. The ‘vastly experiencedNick Knapman was made regional senior partner in 2016 and heads the property litigation team. Knapman is leading a team handling ongoing contentious issues associated with Westfield Europe’s Westfield Stratford City and Westfield London sites. ‘Clever, painstakingly thorough and very easy to get on with’, associate Alison Moore acts for Clark’s Shoe in litigation and contentious asset management issues arising from the client’s national retail portfolio. The ‘proactive’ Richard Marshall assisted North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust with the removal of more than 40 traveller caravans that had occupied a strip of strategic development land. Other notable clients include Zurich Insurance, EE and AXA.

With deep expertise in litigation and ADR, Foot Anstey’s property litigation team is active in development disputes, insolvency matters and contentious agricultural property issues. The department is headed by the highly regarded Richard Bagwell, who attracts praise for providing clients with ‘realistic probabilities of success and alternative approaches’; he regularly acts for landed estates and public authorities. Bagwell also acts for private sector clients, and is representing the tenants of Exeter Fun Park and Arnold Palmer Golf Club in relation to a contested lease renewal in a claim brought under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 against East Devon District Council. He is also acting alongside Daniel Cuthbert for The Mayor and Burgess of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in a right to light claim against Sainsbury’s. St Austell Brewery Company, Berkeley Homes and the Police and Crime Commission for Devon and Cornwall are also clients.

The property litigation department at TLTcompares very favourably’ to other teams in the South West and is singled out for its sector strengths in the areas of leisure, retail, housing, energy and financial services. Mark Routley heads the practice and is noted for his ‘knowledge, professionalism and likability’. Routley advises Covent Garden Market Authority on the landlord and tenant aspects of the redevelopment of a 52-acre site at Nine Elms in London. The practice is also advising Greene King on the introduction of the new Pubs Code, which created an independent adjudicator to arbitrate disputes among the six biggest pub-owning businesses in the UK. The team’s public sector workload has grown in 2016 and 2017; Alex Payne is representing London Borough of Lambeth in a £375,000 County Court claim for damages. Kane Kirkbride, who focuses on housing disputes, and acts primarily for registered providers and housing associations.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards)’s ‘young and talented’ property litigation team shows ‘a lot of promise’. The team has expertise in acting for clients in the education and public sectors and provides advice to a number of private sector clients concerning their property portfolios. ‘Extremely knowledgeable and commercial’ department head Michelle Bendall has a track record providing contentious lease, options and dilapidations advice to private sector clients such as Airbus and PwC. Bendall is acting alongside the ‘methodical’ Daniel Hall for Highways England in relation to a long-running trespassing claim, which was concluded in 2016. Hall’s other public sector clients include Wessex Water and Fareham Borough Council. Also recommended are Naomi Chesterman, who specialises in licencing matters; and the ‘smart and diligent’ Georgina Little, who focuses on landlord and tenant work for public bodies.

Bevan Brittan LLP provides ‘straightforward, no-nonsense advice’ to the firm’s clients in the public sector, and fields a specialised housing disputes team. Steve Eccles heads the practice and acted for the Local Government Association in relation to a dispute with mobile providers EE and Three concerning the redevelopment of the client’s office building in Farringdon. Eccles also provides ongoing advice to NHS Property Services regarding dilapidations, break notices and squatters, among other contentious property matters, and represented London Borough of Hounslow in an arbitration appeal before the High Court regarding the manner in which rent should be paid in accordance with a group of commercial tenants’ leases. Renotkil Initial is among the firm’s private sector clients, and the property litigation team provides ongoing advice to the client in relation to issues such as landlord and tenant disputes and lease terminations.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP acts for public and private sector clients in a wide range of property ownership and agricultural tenancy claims. The Cheltenham office’s property litigation team has undergone some notable changes: David Marsden joined Trowers & Hamlins LLP, while ‘razor-sharp’ senior associate Paul Dench, joined the team from Gordon Dadds LLP. In a highlight matter, associate Emma Preece was part of a team acting for Europa Oil and Gas on the possession of a drilling site which had been occupied by protesters demonstrating against the company’s permission to drill for oil exploration and extraction. Dench and Preece regularly act for clients such as The Ernest Cook Trust, Hackney Joint Estate Charity and The Bathurst Estate on possession and lease renewal actions across their respective property portfolios.

The property litigation group at Davitt Jones Bouldcompetes with the national firms in terms of quality of work and calibre of lawyers’, and is ‘accustomed to dealing with complex litigation’. The three-partner litigation team acts for a host of public sector clients, as well as clients in the private sector. As one of the two firms in the country acting for Highways England, a team including Maeve Bonner has been advising the client on notices to quit in the run-up to property disposals, and also assisted with the removal of travellers. John Smith is a ‘tenacious and hardworking’ litigator who acts for a number of government bodies; he successfully concluded a high-value rent review regarding a significant London property. In an example of the group’s private sector work, Ted Dancey advised Westmorland on the removal of a large group of travellers from one of the client’s service stations.

Michelmores LLP’s property litigation team attracts praise for its ‘pragmatic, first-class advice’. The practice is on the panels of a number of public sector bodies, and also acts for a range of housebuilder and developer clients. Practice head Andrew Baines, who has more than two decades of contentious property experience, has been involved in the relocation of commercial tenants in relation to a large regeneration project, and also acted in a multimillion-pound property finance dispute. Senior associate Naomi Cunningham has experience in cases concerning right to light, restrictive covenants, dilapidations and rent reviews. Michael Langdon retired in 2016.

Stephens Scown LLP is well known in the South West for its ‘substantial property litigation practice’. The team has experience of a variety of contentious property issues in the mining and mineral, waste, leisure and rural and agricultural sectors. The ‘commercial and practical’ Mike Davies is representing a housing association in relation to a service charge dispute with a leaseholder and is also handling a licensing dispute for a waste management client. Toby Claridge is acting for Victoria Parc (Bodmin) Management Company in relation to an application to set aside the transfer of a strip of freehold property. Other key figures include Mark Richardson, who focuses on agricultural and residential landlord and tenant issues, as well as rights of way, leasehold enfranchisement and trespass claims; Davina Haydon, who acted in a substantial right of way dispute in Falmouth; and Ian Thomas, who was involved in a boundary and trespass claim in 2016 concerning a shared driveway.

Thrings LLP’s property litigation team handles commercial tenancy work in relation to corporate portfolio management and also acts for occupiers and landlords in matters such as enfranchisement and dilapidations. Department head Warren Reid acts on portfolio management and property disputes, including boundary issues, and advised on a range of contentious lease renewals in 2016 and 2017. Reid also provides ongoing lease and tenant advice to Waitrose, Countrywide Estate Agents and Michael Tatters assisted a client with a long licence dispute concerning the use of a car park and negotiated a lease agreement with a landlord and co-tenant following court proceedings brought by the co-tenant, which was seeking to sell the entire leasehold. Gemma Featonby also recommended.

According to some clients, Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s property litigation group provides ‘advice that is more practical than others in the area – it finds solutions rather than just regurgitating the law’. Practice head Jason Hobday (who attracts praise for his ‘extraordinary knowledge of the practice area’) acted for Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing in a possession claim against an organised crime organisation operating in the estate in which the client’s property was situated. Hobday’s other key mandates included acting for Knightstone Housing Association in an appeal of the decision to classify certain residential tenants under ‘exemption accommodation’, which affected the financial viability of new housing developments undertaken by the client. Senior associate Jenny Standfast is also recommended.

Laceys Solicitors incorporating HLF is known for handling commercial and residential landlord and tenant disputes and has handles several significant freehold property disputes in 2016 and 2017. Department head Mark Timberlake specialises in contentious work regarding blocks of flats; his recent work includes advised commercial landlords on dilapidations claims and tenant insolvency issues, as well as handling debt recovery matters in relation to tenant breaches. Chris Bright, who joined the firm from Lester Aldridge LLP in 2016, acts for landlords and residential management companies in a variety of residential tenant disputes. Pete Johnson leads the active housing disputes practice and represents tenants in relation to unlawful evictions, possession proceedings and antisocial behaviour injunctions. Brendan Herbert and Rob Kelly’s work included rights of way, boundary and restrictive covenant disputes.

The property litigation team at Lester Aldridge LLP is now led by Kate Stewart, who joined the team from Moore Blatch LLP, following the departure of Jenny Hermer, who left for a general counsel position. Stewart has experience of all areas of contentious landlord and tenant work and recently represented the tenant of a large industrial unit regarding the service of an invalid break notice. Stewart also acts for property investors, and is defending a series of offshore companies in a damages claim resulting from their interest in a property investment in London. Charlotte Wilson is also recommended.

Pardoes Solicitors LLP’s Yeovil-based property litigation group attracts praise for its ‘outstanding legal knowledge and ability to apply it in practical and cost-effective ways’. The team works closely with and regularly receives referrals from the firm’s commercial property and corporate teams. ‘Simply exceptional’ practice head Bhavani Hogarty has extensive experience of all areas of property litigation and advised a prominent estate in West Dorset in relation to a tenant’s claim for tenancy protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 concerning a notice to vacate. Nigel Kinder has acted in a number of residential tenancy disputes and also negotiated a settlement and sale of a parcel of land to a statutory body.

Royds Withy King’s wide-ranging expertise covers leasehold enfranchisement, the enforcement of covenants and easements, and claims relating to the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.The practice is headed by Caroline Preist, ‘a robust litigator’ who is singled out for her track record in high-value property disputes. In 2016, Preist in a number of boundary disputes, dilapidations claims and commercial tenant matters; highlights included acting for the landlord of a substantial residential property regarding the termination of a tenant contract which had been protected under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Other key figures include ‘conscientious and hardworking’ associate Marianne Johns, who has experience of a wide range of property disputes.

The property litigation team at Steele Raymond LLP attracts praise for its ‘modern, forward-thinking approach’. The team primarily acts for local and regional corporates and organisations, as well as individuals. The department is headed by ‘capable and enthusiastic’ senior associate Simone Ritchie, whose experience runs the gamut of contentious property issues, and who is ‘a truly ace litigator’. Ritchie is acting in a matter involving a restrictive covenant for a national beverage chain and is representing various clients in landlord and tenant disputes. Peter Rolph heads the wider litigation group and is also recommended.

Trethowans LLPcompares favourably to other firms in the area’ and covers a range of disputes relating to commercial, residential and agricultural property. The department has particular strength in dealing with rent and service charge arrears claims, and has been involved in a number of landlord and tenant disputes during the course of 2016 and 2017. Department head Ian Singleton is providing ongoing advice to two household name clients in relation to possession proceedings against commercial and residential tenants and arrears claims.

The property litigation team at Willans LLP handles boundary disputes and enforcement of covenants, and has a particular emphasis on commercial landlord and tenant work. Practice head Nick Cox advised Alexandra House Gloucester RTM Company with an application under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 to acquire the management functions of its landlord. Cox also acted for Hampden Property Developments in a claim for unpaid rents due to conflicting dates on a memorandum amending the rent obligations. Senior associate Nick Southwell is involved in a nuisance claim against Tewkesbury Borough Council concerning the removal of land that supported his client’s property.

Social housing

Index of tables

  1. Social housing
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Joseph Acton - Trowers & Hamlins LLP
    • Stephen Burtchaell - Tozers Solicitors LLP

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Isabelle Clement - TLT

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Social housing clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


The social housing department at TLT acts primarily for housing developers and handles social housing related acquisitions and regeneration projects. Department head Paul Butterworth provides ongoing advice to Swan in relation to the £250m regeneration of a 1960s housing estate in Tower Hamlets. He is also assisting Notting Hill Housing with the purchase of 550 properties for the purpose of renovation and use for social housing. Butterworth and associate Isabelle Clement are acting for Aster Communities and Aster Homes on the acquisition of 503 affordable housing units across ten schemes in the South West. The department’s dedicated plot sales practice acts for housing groups such as Knightstone Housing Association, Catalyst Housing and Swan Housing Group on high-volume plot sales. Other clients include local authorities.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has a comprehensive social housing practice in the South West that ‘consistently exceeds client expectations’ and attracts praise for its ‘outstanding sector knowledge and commercial approach’. The team handles every aspect of large regeneration and social housing projects and was further strengthened in 2016 by the arrival of the ‘friendly and professional’ Georgina Savill-James, who joined the team from Foot Anstey. Joseph Acton heads the Exeter offering and is acting for Galliford Try Partnerships and Westco Properties in relation to the Cornwall Land Initiative, which aims to develop 11 sites in Cornwall providing approximately 300 affordable homes. In one particularly high-value matter, Rachel Carter advised Westco Properties on a JV with Devonshire Homes regarding the £50m development of 185 open-market and affordable housing units at Wellspark Crediton. Carter and Acton are providing ongoing advice to The Guinness Partnership on the disposal of its shared ownership sites throughout Southern England. Managing associate Jessica Church was involved in the securitisation of 1600 properties owned by Synergy for the purpose of a bond issuance to Affordable Housing Finance. The team’s other clients include Devon and Cornwall Housing Group, Selwood Housing and Linden Limited, as well as a number of local authorities.

Ashfords LLP acts for some of the largest social housing landlords in the UK and also acts for local authorities in contentious and non-contentious housing matters. Joint department head Sian Gibbon (‘the driving force behind the team’s success’) acts for The Guinness Partnership in connection with contentious housing matters, while fellow head Tim Heal acted for a housing association on a high-value acquisition of land and affordable housing units in Gloucestershire. Mark Moore negotiated a sensitive land acquisition on behalf of Knightstone Housing Association in 2016. The team was strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of Michael Gay, who joined the firm from Foot Anstey and focuses on development acquisition work.

Bevan Brittan LLP acts for large housing groups and local authorities on contentious and non-contentious social housing matters. Alison Buckingham is providing ongoing assistance to Yarlington Housing Group, which entered into an option agreement with Persimmon Homes for the development of affordable units at a large development site in Taunton. Jonathan Turner heads the housing practice and advised Places for People and Urban Splash in a joint venture development partnership in relation to a £150m brownfield regeneration project. The team also handles procurement contracts for maintenance and service in connection with housing schemes, as well as housing disputes.

Clients of Clarke Willmott LLP rate its willingness to provide ‘advice rather than options’. The practice acts for registered providers on a wide variety of housing matters, including site acquisitions, development, financing and securitisation. ‘Invaluable’ practice head Oliver Smedley is advising The Guinness Partnership on a high-value land acquisition and planned development of open market and affordable housing units in Bristol. Smedley also acted for Aster Group on a joint venture agreement with Galliford Try. Other key individuals include Helen Wittram, who focuses on social housing development work and advised on multimillion-pound acquisitions of affordable housing units from multiple national housebuilders. Kary Withers leads the property litigation team and handles a variety of housing disputes.

Stephens Scown LLP provides ‘excellent service at every level, from partner all the way to receptionist’. It has particular experience acting for community land trusts and specialist rural housing associations. The ‘proactive and approachable’ Hilary Pitts acted for Devon & Cornwall Housing on multiple site acquisitions, and provides ongoing advice to the same client on property transactions, standard tenancies and property disposals. Department head Keith Wright (who is praised for his ‘extensive knowledge’) acts as sole legal adviser to English Rural Housing Association. Tim Atkins handles site acquisitions and development work, in addition to property refinancing for Cornwall Rural Housing Association. Hastoe Housing Association, Yarlington Housing Group and Cornwall CLT Limited are also clients.

Foot Anstey’s social housing and housebuilder practice was strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of Martin Hirst from Blake Morgan LLP. Hirst leads the social housing offering from the Bristol office and advises registered providers on the development and funding aspects of large housing schemes. Richard Walford acted for Westco Properties in connection with its JV with Halsall Homes for the acquisition of a development site and subsequent arrangements for a golden brick transfer of affordable units to Devon & Cornwall Housing. Rachel Langley advised Ocean Housing Limited on the £4m acquisition of land for the development of affordable and social housing units in Cornwall.

The social housing department at Tozers Solicitors LLP acts for more than 20 registered providers on a national and regional level, and is experienced in transactional work, portfolio management and refinancing for registered providers and housing associations. The dedicated registered provider team is headed by Stephen Burtchaell, who acts primarily for regional housing associations on site acquisitions and subsequent developments of affordable units. In a highlight, the team is advising a social housing client on the creation of a unique ownership/management agreement concerning the structure of tenant purchase options. Simon Sanger-Anderson heads the social housing practice.

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