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Gowling WLG’s substantial practice is led by Richard Green and Michael O’Shea, who focus on non-contentious and contentious work respectively. On the non-contentious side, the team acts for an impressive mix of developers, contractors and institutional purchasers across sectors such as commercial development, energy, retail and leisure, infrastructure, nuclear, and hotels. Recent work examples include Green and legal director Mark Stephenson advising Mountpark Logistics on the construction of a fulfilment centre for Amazon at Bardon in Leicestershire, and the same pairing acting for St Modwen Developments in the construction aspects of a £100m town centre development on the former car assembly plant at Longbridge, Birmingham. The experienced contentious team includes the well-regarded Ashley Pigott and Sue Ryan, as well as Daniel Wood, who specialises in disputes connected with energy, petrochemical, process plant and civil engineering schemes; both Pigott and Ryan were engaged on major PFI disputes relating to the construction of highways. O’Shea is handling a number of multimillion-pound claims for Muse Developments relating to remedial works carried out at a large residential development site in Manchester.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s non-contentious offering has a ‘number of senior personnel, all of whom provide an excellent, comprehensive and value-for-money service’. Head of practice Peter Scurlock focuses on the energy (including nuclear new build and renewable energy technologies) and commercial development sectors, and continued to advise NNB GenCo on the Nuclear New Build Project at Hinkley Point C. In another example of work, Scurlock represented Nikal in the procurement relating to 603 apartments across three buildings at Exchange Square. Former chartered civil engineer David Jones specialises in the utilities sector, where he acts for the likes of National Grid Gas and Electricity; Jones is advising Severn Trent Water on the construction contracts for the clean water part of the Birmingham Resilience Project. The team’s expertise also extends to major infrastructure projects and Jones is acting for Network Rail Infrastructure in the London Bridge Station development. The contentious wing of the practice was diminished by the retirement of Amrik Kandola, however senior associate Michael Shires, who is ‘technically capable and commercial’, was active on a substantial adjudication.

Gateley Plc’s practice is probably best known for its expertise in the housebuilding sector, where litigator Peter Davies has ‘exceptional sector expertise, particularly relating to construction professional negligence claims’. Davies’ caseload included advising Opal (Earlsfield) on a professional negligence claim against Wardell Armstrong following the discovery of asbestos at the site, and representing CALA in defending two adjudications brought by RM Contractors, and then challenging the adjudicator's decisions at the High Court. On the non-contentious side, David Lloyd Jones handles a wide ranging portfolio of work that takes in real estate, energy and infrastructure projects; Lloyd Jones’ recent highlights include acting for Jaguar Land Rover on the £165m redevelopment of its Gaydon site, and assisting Laing O'Rourke Infrastructure and VolkerRail on the negotiation of a deed of variation to construct a new 6.5km metro line to the Trafford Centre. Another name to note is senior associate Amira Khan, who handles both contentious and non-contentious mandates and is advising Barberry Developments on procurement issues relating to its plan to develop a 1,116-room student accommodation and shopping complex at a city centre site at Bishop Gate, Coventry.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s non-contentious practice continued to be busy on a number of significant London-based development projects and higher education projects, including ‘solution-focused’ practice head Stuart Pemble acting for Cheval Group on the redevelopment of 55-91 Knightsbridge, London. In another important piece of work, Pemble represented Cranfield University in the drafting and negotiation of all documents for seven separate projects on Cranfield’s campus. The team also enjoyed a number of mandates in the media space, advising clients such as the National Film and Television School and Battersea Arts Centre on redevelopment and rebuilding work. Martino Giaquinto leads on disputes and is a ‘hugely savvy litigator with bags of experience, who achieves speedy, favourable resolutions for clients’. Giaquinto specialises in offshore energy, power generation and infrastructure, but also handles domestic disputes arising from infrastructure and real estate. Associate Patrick Wisheu is recommended for his contentious work in the energy sector.

Shoosmiths LLP’s team ‘handles sizeable litigation for a number of large and well-respected contractors, developers and institutions both domestically and, increasingly, internationally’. Key players include Simon Wain, who has ‘great tactical nous and good experience of project finance, bonds and construction insurance issues’, Stephen Belshaw, who is a ‘good choice for high-level litigation and adjudication work and also an expert in construction in the education sector’, and senior associate Paul Scott, who is ‘very good under the pressure of adjudication’. On the non-contentious side, practice head Patrick Garner continued to handle various real estate mandates, including advising McKay Securities on the design and construction of a 12-storey office building in the City of London, and acting for St Modwen Properties on the construction aspects of the development agreement and the construction documents for the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Longbridge. The practice was enhanced by a number of hires, including Ian Yule’s team from Weightmans LLP; Yule focuses on dispute resolution arising from civil engineering work.

Squire Patton Boggs fields a ‘strong and reliable team that always reacts quickly even at very short notice’. The practice has a strong profile in the international EPC sector, and the team continued to act for Sumitomo and J Power Systems on the third power interconnector between the UK and Europe. In another example of international work, practice head Graeme Bradley, who is ‘very experienced and good with people’, represented Al Shamsh in relation to a dispute concerning the construction of Balad Airbase in Iraq. Closer to home, Robert Norris and newly promoted partner Ray O’Connor are advising Blackpool Borough Council in a series of adjudications and High Court proceedings arising from the construction of the light rail system at Blackpool; and the same team is also assisting the National Exhibition Centre with its internal development works of Genting’s Resort World complex at the NEC. Senior associate Alex Johnson is ‘knowledgeable and competent’. All members of the team handle a mix of contentious and non-contentious work.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP’s impressive public and third sector client base ensures that the team excels in areas such as NEC contracts and also procuring high-value, long-term maintenance contracts. Recent examples of work include Andrew Millross assisting Clarion Housing Group with its procurement contracts following Affinity Sutton’s merger with Circle, and Richard Brooks advising Sports and Leisure Management on its bid for a new leisure centre. In the contentious space, the team is ‘always looking for the right way out of any dispute, very keen on mediation, but reliable and careful if the case has to fight’. Litigation head Andrew Lancaster, who ‘understands the values and priorities of the public sector and knows how to get the right deal’, and associate Emma Riley, who has ‘meticulous case preparation’, were involved in a number of employer-side adjudications.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys acts for a wide range of clients, including local authorities, main contractors, subcontractors, banking and education clients, and the team has also been increasingly busy in the renewables and energy-to-waste arena, where it represented a county council in a dispute over a waste facility. Practice head Andrew James, who ‘understands the brief and organises efficient data capture by which to deal with the matter in hand’, is advising University of Gloucestershire on a £35m multi-phase redevelopment project of a university campus. In another example of work, James is representing Inex Group in a major dispute to do with an MOD residential development site in Staffordshire. The practice’s existing in-house quantity surveying expertise was further enhanced by the hire of former quantity surveyor Keith Blizzard from Shakespeare Martineau LLP. Blizzard also serves as an arbitrator, adjudicator, mediator and expert witness.

At Pinsent Masons LLP, the ‘reliable and very knowledgeableNigel Blundell specialises in rail and education projects, and regularly advises contractors on non-contentious issues arising from Network Rail projects, as well as assisting with the construction aspects of significant funded accommodation schemes. Key clients include Morgan Sindall, Galliford Try and VolkerRail.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s strong public sector development practice is increasingly complemented by private sector clients such Seven Capital, for whom Vijay Bange acted on the procurement and appointment of the main contractor and professional team for the development of Birmingham's first private rented sector scheme. In other non-contentious mandates, Paul Mountain advised Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society on the procurement arrangements for a major redevelopment and extension of the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, and managing associate Mark Robinson, who provides a ‘very high level of service’, assisted Tamworth Borough Council with options for re-tendering of repairs and maintenance and gas servicing contracts relating to the whole of the council's retained housing stock. Bange leads on contentious work and was busy in areas such as adjudication enforcement and payment provisions not complying with the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act.

Wright Hassall LLP’s team is led by Philip Harris, who has a strong reputation for contentious work and serves as an arbitrator, adjudicator and mediator; Harris’ recent caseload includes a number of energy-related disputes, including acting for Stobart Rail Infrastructure Engineering in a dispute over a new waste to energy plant in Widnes, and representing Kijlstra in a dispute over the sea jetty for Hinckley Point Power Station. On the non-contentious side, Michael Hiscock has significant experience in areas such as waste-to-energy plants, factory automation, and PFI-derivative subcontracts for hospitals and wider urban regeneration. Hiscock is advising LSP Developments on construction documentation arising from the urban regeneration of the West Gorton area of Manchester. The practice developed its infrastructure expertise with the hire of Nichola Vine from Centro.

At Beswicks Legal, Karen Elder is an accredited mediator, who handles contentious and non-contentious work primarily for employers in sectors such as care, automotive, football and commercial letting. In 2016, she was particularly busy in the non-contentious space, advising on the drafting and negotiation of agreements across the full JCT suite.

Browne Jacobson LLP launched its practice in Birmingham with the hire of public sector specialist Martin Cannon, who joined from DAC Beachcroft LLP. Cannon, who is a qualified adjudicator, continued to be busy on various PFI disputes and defect claims for clients such as Midland Heart and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust. The practice has both contentious and non-contentious capabilities.

Level of service and industry knowledge is excellent’ at Else Solicitors LLP, where practice head Andrew Hickman demonstrates a ‘proper understanding of insolvency issues’ arising in the construction industry. Hickman’s recent caseload includes successfully pursuing a substantial final account adjudication for a window and cladding subcontractor, and drafting documentation for a developer building a national training centre in the Midlands for a national distributor. The practice is particularly noteworthy for its subcontractor following.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s ‘wide knowledge of sectors and issues’ makes it a favourite for clients such as Calthorpe Estates and Brackley Property Developments. The team is led by non-contentious specialist Ruth Phillips, who wins praise for her ‘insightful and pragmatic advice’; Phillips has been advising a number of banks, including Lloyds Bank and Al Rayan Bank, on the construction aspects of various funded development projects. Legal director Rachael Hobbis handles both contentious building and civil engineering disputes and is commended for her ‘very thorough presentation style’. Keith Blizzard left for Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

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Legal Developments in West Midlands for Construction

  • 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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