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United Kingdom > West Midlands > Real estate > Commercial property: Elsewhere in the West Midlands > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. Commercial property: Elsewhere in the West Midlands
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Higgs & Sons’ ‘intelligent advice and good knowledge of the major issues’ helped it to secure a number of new clients in 2016, including Tatton Hall Homes and Gails. Richard Saxton ‘gets the deal done’ and acted for Talash Hotels on the purchase of Stoke Rochford Hall Hotel, and Sara Shepherd acted on the sale of numerous motor dealerships. The team further developed its capability in the property finance space, where it acts for a range of lenders, including Santander, RBS and Yorkshire Bank. The ‘very unflappable and ablePeter Coleman heads the team. At the junior end, the practice was boosted by the hire of development and investment specialist Ruth Scott from Lodders Solicitors LLP and James Adams from Gowling WLG. Philip Gray left the firm in 2017.

Lodders Solicitors LLP reported an uptick in development and large-scale strategic land matters in 2016, and in one example the team acted for Mark Stroud in the £3m sale of land adjacent to the M40 motorway for a new service area and retail scheme. The practice’s impressive client list includes the likes of St Modwen Properties and IM Properties, and Nick East acted for the latter in the sale of a portfolio of distribution warehouses. East also handled a number of mandates for Spitfire Properties, including advising on the acquisition of a development site in Birmingham city centre to be used as a high-profile private rented sector scheme. In the residential development space, James Mottram acts for major housebuilders such as Cameron Homes. The growing practice was further enhanced by the hires of development specialist Mark Miller and assistant solicitor Daniel MacLeod, both from Wright Hassall LLP. Paul Mourton heads the team and divides his time between the Cheltenham office and the Stratford upon Avon office.

Wright Hassall LLP’s ‘client-centric’ practice has seen some adjustment at the top, with David Slade taking over as head of the practice following the departures of Mark Miller to Lodders Solicitors LLP and Sat Bhandal. Slade, who is ‘very prompt, clear and concise’, focuses on investment work and acted for Queen Street in its £25m sale of Queen Street Apartments in Leicester to Aberdeen Asset Management. Other names to note include retail specialist Gill Worthington, Fiona Martin, who focuses on strategic land development work, and Barry Sankey; Sankey is ‘probably the leading solicitor in the UK practising in the science park sector’, according to one source, and recently he assisted the University of Warwick Science Park in negotiating a set of lease renewals across multiple buildings with aggregate rents of more than £4m. Lucie Byron was active in the secured lending space for HSBC, while Claire Waring, who now leads on development work, represented AC Lloyd in a £32m deal involving the relocation of an operational Stagecoach bus depot from Leamington town centre to a new, purpose-built site, and the redevelopment of the old, brownfield site for residential units.

Ansons is possibly best known for its work in the health sector, where it advises on property relating to pharmacies, as well as specialist builds such as learning disabilities centres, care homes and children’s nurseries. Additional areas of specialism include advising on the property aspects of telecom masts, solar energy farms and wind turbines, and also advising landowners in relation to the proposed HS2 development. Adele Wakefield now heads the practice following Simon James’ move to lead the firm’s agriculture practice. Wakefield focuses on transactional work, but also has expertise in areas such as asset management, residential development and secured lending. James, who is ‘extremely experienced and knowledgeable’, handled a number of disposals for agricultural land owners. Another name to note is associate Neil Faunch, who is ‘speedy, efficient and pleasant to work with’. The practice’s client base takes in FTSE-listed companies and major banks.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP’s sizeable practice acts for a range of clients, from owner-managed businesses, SMEs and PLCs through to investment clients, non-profit organisations and developers and retailers; the practice also handles a steady stream of property work for a major religious organisation client. In 2016, the team advised on a mix of high-value investment and development work, and also assisted with the re-mortgage of a substantial property portfolio. Key players include Telford-based Stephen Burke, who has specialist knowledge of the property aspects of franchising, Wolverhampton-based Andrew Wynne, who works predominantly with SME manufacturing clients, and Shrewsbury-based associate David Raymont, who is acting for WMC Retail Partners in the multimillion-pound development of Cornish Market World in St Austell. David Grove, who heads the department from Wolverhampton, has ‘some very good clients and punches well above his weight’; Grove continued to serve key client St Modwen Properties on a number of matters, including the development of a new mixed-use commercial centre in Worcester.

George Green LLP’s practice ‘always goes the extra mile’ and the team has particular expertise in secured lending transactions; in one example, Alex-Jayne Lowe advised Ortus Secured Finance on a secured bridging facility to Henley Developments to refinance a major residential development in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Highly rated practice head Kevin Styles was also busy in the finance space, where he advised both St Philips Care Group and Midlands Properties and Finance (Birmingham) on multimillion-pound refinancings. On the investment side, Styles and Lowe’s work included acting for Kendrick Homes on the purchase of a site in Warwickshire for 25 new homes, and assisting A. Perry with the acquisition of a site neighbouring its current premises. The team is mainly based in Cradley Heath, but also has a presence in Wolverhampton, where associate Paul Kettle has ‘vast industry knowledge and meets deadlines’. At the junior end, Judith Stone joined from Coley & Tilley. Key clients include St Francis Group and Scrivens.

At Knights Professional Services Limited, leasing specialist Karl Bamford handles asset management for large commercial portfolio owners such as M&G and Telereal Trillium, and also acts for a number of household retailers on transactional matters. Also of note is Hélène Maillet-Vioud, whose caseload includes assisting a French educational institution on all aspects of its London portfolio, with a particular emphasis on unusual shared occupation arrangements with other educational bodies. The team’s expertise extends to secured lending work for borrower clients, as well as advising on the property aspects of minerals work.

Lanyon Bowdler’s ‘extremely committed’ team provides ‘highly trusted and timely advice’ to small and medium sized developers, large farming companies, landowners and landed estates. The team specializes in residential property development and farmer/landowner real estate transactions, and in one example of work, planning specialist David Brammer, who is based in Shrewsbury, assisted a family trust with the £5m disposal of former agricultural land for residential development. Key players include senior partner Andrew Evans (also in Shrewsbury), Oswestry-based Emma Wilde, who has particular expertise in deals with renewables options and leases (including solar, hydro-schemes, turbine sites and diesel generation leases), and Telford-based practice head Praveen Chaudhari, who ‘takes the stress out of transactions’. The practice was further enhanced by the hire of Hereford-based Laurence Lucas, who joined from Willans LLP. Clients of the practice include Plastic Omnium Automotive, U&S Estates and Saxonby.

mfg Solicitors LLP’s ‘great overall knowledge in the property department’ takes in sectors such as leisure, energy, local government and charities, and in one highlight, Maynard Burton advised Clive Fletcher Developments on a substantial regeneration project comprising a 400-berth marina, 84 holiday apartments and associated retail outlets and facilities. The team reported an uptick in secured finance work, where names to note include Peter Copsey, who ‘ably juggles legal advice against commercial reality’, and Miles Dearden, who represented Worcester Properties on the construction finance from Octopus Property relating to the redevelopment of a commercial property into six mews houses comprising 48 units of student accommodation. Head of practice Sarah Astbury specialises in residential development and acted for a consortium of land owners in the £15m sale of land to a national housebuilder for 200 new homes. Another name to note is Michael Payne, who focuses on strategic land development, and acted on behalf of a consortium of 14 landowners in connection with the £20m sale of a 120-acre development site on the west side of Shrewsbury.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s practice advises developers and landowners in sectors such as energy, retail and education, and the team has a particular specialism in land acquisitions and releases for the purposes of student accommodation and care home developments. In the energy space, Richard Cox and Janet James regularly act for clients such as E.ON and National Grid on the property aspects of energy projects. Social housing specialist Louise Drew heads the team and focuses on large-scale disposals for registered providers and charities; in one example of work, Drew advised ExtraCare Charitable Trust on the £42m acquisition and onwards disposal of a large extra care scheme in Coventry. In another significant third sector mandate, Paul Huggins assisted WM Housing with the £7m leasehold acquisition of new office premises. The team is also active in the private residential sector, where Oxford Law and Spitfire Bespoke Homes are clients. UK Power Reserve is a new client win.

Band Hatton Button LLP services a broad range of clients and the team regularly assists Allied Irish Bank, the Heart of England Co-Operative Society and TalkTalk Mobile Phones with their property portfolios. Key sectors include charities, education, healthcare, leisure and retail, and owner-managed businesses. The team handled a number of sizeable office sales in 2016, including the acquisition by a client of a large multi-let business park set in north Oxfordshire, and the acquisition, development and disposal of a major office development in the centre of Reading. Further depth was afforded to the practice by the hire of Daniel Blood from Cocks Lloyd and senior associate Dina Parmar from Harrison Clark Rickerbys. Name partner Nick Button heads the team.

Beswicks Legal’s practice wins praise for its ability to ‘provide a full legal solution, often under extremely tight timescales’, and the team continued to handle a range of property matters including residential and commercial development, secured lending, asset management and investment. One particular specialism is the property aspects of sports and leisure projects, and head of practice Richard Saum, who ‘combines excellent legal knowledge with great commercial and practical awareness’, regularly advises clients in areas varying from the acquisition and development of ice rinks to sports educational campus acquisition and expansion. In 2016, Saum was busy on a number of residential development projects for clients such as Radmore Homes, and in one example of work he advised Plant Developments on four site acquisitions for residential development. Handelsbanken is a key client on the secured lending side.

At Brethertons LLP, the ‘approachableMary Anderson has particular expertise in secured lending in the health sector, where she advises lenders and borrowers on investment and development transactions; in one highlight, Anderson acted for Sussex Health (Rapkyns) and Sussex Health Care (Clemsfold) on the refinancing of loans over all of their trading assets. Anderson was also busy on various high-value option agreements and promotion agreements and represented a consortium of landowners in connection with a £6m promotion agreement relating to 12 acres of land in a significant site adjacent to Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal. The practice also noted an uptick in leasehold work in the retail sector. Active clients include Hammonds Furniture and Helix Autosport.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys’s practice is probably best known for its work in the healthcare space, where clients include Voyage Care and Prima Dental. Other important sectors are education as well as energy and leisure, and the team regularly acts in the acquisition and disposal of pubs and restaurants. Key contacts include Worcester-based Philip Parkinson, who has niche expertise in the quarrying and mineral sector, and Hereford-based Matthew Hayes, who acts for a number of clients with significant property portfolios, as well as large agricultural clients with multiple and mixed-use farming enterprises. In the energy space, Ross on Wye-based Harriet Murray-Jones regularly handles the property side of renewable energy projects. The practice is also noted for its secured lender expertise, where clients include HSBC and Lloyds Bank. Cheltenham-based Mark Fabian heads the team.

At Freeths LLP, consultant Derek Morris and senior associate Ian Wilson are ‘very experienced in their field and deliver an excellent service’. The team’s expertise takes in a number of areas, including acquisitions and disposals on behalf of industrial, retail, leisure and educational clients; development work and negotiation of land agreements for site development; finance and security instructions on behalf of primary lenders, secondary lenders and pension schemes; and relocation work for blue-chip corporates. In 2016, the team handled a range of mandates, including acquisition work in the third sector, and advising on the property aspects of corporate transactions. Ensarb, Sanctuary Housing Association and NatWest are all active clients of the practice.

Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Limited is probably best known for acting for major lenders in the secured lending space, where it ‘progresses cases efficiently, quickly and with little fuss’. Recent deals involve property in sectors such as hotel and leisure, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and manufacturing. The team also represents SME clients, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals on developments, large-scale acquisitions, commercial leases, overage deeds, option agreements and all aspects of corporate support. Names to note include assistant solicitor Natasha Bhardwaj, who ‘resolves issues in a timely and pragmatic way’, and head of practice Colin Rodrigues, who is ‘very practical and communicates extremely well’.

In 2016, Martin Kaye’s practice enjoyed a growth in activity in respect of previously unoccupied buildings, as well as new builds, and the team also reported an increase in instructions from SMEs. Highlights included advising an Ireland-based developer on the £30m disposal of its UK sites, and representing a major investor in the sale of a portfolio of nursing homes. The team was also highly active in the hospitality sector, where it acted in the sale of a prominent heritage hotel within the World Heritage Unesco site in Ironbridge, and also advised on a hotel acquisition in Oxford. Assistant solicitor Jagdeep Kandola leads the team.

At Pickerings Solicitors LLP, practice head Sue Albini and solicitor Kate Pearce are ‘both very personable lawyers, who can explain complex issues easily and work tirelessly to get the job done’. Albini was busy on a number of residential development mandates, including the £2.5m purchase of a brownfield site for residential development of 100-plus houses, and the sale of a development site in tranches, following exercise of a previously negotiated option agreement for 300 houses. In other highlights, Albini assisted with the agreement for lease of a large retail unit of 70,000 sq ft, with a rental of £1m per annum, while Pearce acted on the £1.7m purchase of agricultural land that was subject to a mines and minerals overage agreement.

Thursfields Solicitors’ ‘thorough and professional’ team saw some expansion in 2016 with the hires of Mike Brien from Millichips and senior associate John McLean from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP. McLean has ‘excellent in-depth knowledge’ in sectors such as telecoms and energy, and advised borrowers on several financings. Other names to note are managing director Nick O’Hara and practice head Tony Gibb, with the latter advising an international bank on a major lending facility secured over seven freehold titles. Aside from finance work, the team was also busy on a range of option agreements, site acquisitions and developments. Active clients include Walker Sheppard Homes, Royal Bank of Scotland and Berry Recycling.

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Legal Developments in West Midlands for Commercial property: Elsewhere in the West Midlands

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

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

    - Falcon Chambers

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