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Gowling WLG handles heavyweight construction disputes, as well as transactional work involving major projects. In the construction disputes arena, Ashley Pigott and principal associate Sarah Dyer are key contacts for litigation and arbitration concerning a range of buildings and infrastructure developments. Michael O’Shea is another name of note for contentious work, as is Daniel Wood, who represented E.ON in a dispute concerning the inclusion of technical standards as terms in contracts, as applied to defective foundations of sixty wind turbines in the Robin Rigg offshore site in the Solway Firth, which reached the Supreme Court. On the non-contentious front, Richard Green and principal associate Gemma Whittaker continue to advise Aston Martin Lagonda on its project to convert the former MoD St Athan site into a factory to build the Aston Martin DBX. Other clients include Roxhill Developments, which Green and Mark Stephenson advised on procuring the construction of a new, 200,000 sq m, warehouse in Tilbury to be let to Amazon.

Squire Patton Boggs, which handles contentious and non-contentious work, with an emphasis on energy and infrastructure developments, is praised for its ‘solid common-sense approach and very good client management’. Contentious highlights include Robert Norris and senior associate Alex Johnson’s representation of Blackpool Borough Council in several adjudications and High Court proceedings against the contractor constructing an extension to the town’s tram system. Ray O’Connor is another key contact for contentious work, as well as handling non-contentious matters; recent highlights include advising the National Exhibition Centre on development works for its new Legoland attraction. Other transactional work includes Graeme Bradley’s advice to J-Power Systems, a subsidiary of Sumitomo, on the procurement of land and underwater installations required for the Nemo Link power interconnector connecting Sandwich to Zeebrugge. Bradley also acted for Al Shamsh General Contracting in a dispute over the construction of a military air base in Iraq. Other clients include Equitix, which Bradley advised on the procurement of a waste-to-energy plant constructed under a FIDIC Silver Book contract, Claremont Land & New Homes and Sky.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is ‘aware of all the current issues contractors face in entering building contracts and adept at handling negotiations to reach a suitable point to allow projects to proceed’. David Jones, working with the firm’s Manchester office, continues to advise Severn Trent Water and Dee Valley Water on creating a new framework agreement for procuring water treatment plants and pipe networks. Jones also advises Network Rail on a proposed people mover connecting Luton Airport Parkway railway station to Luton Airport 2km away. Peter Scurlock continues to advise NNB Generation Company, a subsidiary of EDF Energy, on several contracting packages for the Hinkley Point C project, including the construction of several marine tunnels required to cool the reactor. He also advises Lynemouth Power on the conversion of the eponymous coal-fired power station to biomass wood pellets, but away from energy also advised Nikal on procuring 600 apartments across three buildings as part of the Exchange Square development in central Birmingham. Formerly a principal associate at the firm, Michael Shires is now Head of Legal at Hill & Smith Holdings.

Gateley Plc, which counts several prominent housebuilders among its clients, handles both contentious and non-contentious work. David Lloyd Jones advised Jaguar Land Rover on construction contracts for a £96m development, including a new head office, using a construction management contract – in the residential space, he also advises Taylor Wimpey on contracts for Bouygues to redevelop part of the Mount Pleasant Mail Centre into housing. In the contentious arena, legal director Amira Khan advises Bovis Homes on a dispute with Network Rail concerning delays to upgrades to Wellingborough railway station, which is adjacent to Bovis’ Stanton Cross development. Peter Davies and senior associate Peter Cursham Will Cursham represent Volvo in a £3m claim regarding a defective area of hardstanding. The firm also acts for Linden Homes. Senior associate Paul Scott is a new hire from Shoosmiths LLP .

Mills & Reeve LLP is a ‘professional and personable firm that provides high-class advice and support’.  Stuart Pemble  handles non-contentious work, including the 55-91 Knightsbridge project for Cheval Group and advising Blackswan Development on a new project in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Pemble also has a following among education clients – he advised Eltham College on drafting construction contracts for a new building, and the Southern Universities Construction Consultancy Affinity Group on a new framework agreement. Litigator Martino Giaquinto, who is dual-qualified as a barrister, is ‘an extremely smart and sharp man’ who ‘always provides sound advice relative to the needs of the client, and is also a very impressive advocate’ – he handles disputes regarding residential, hotel, infrastructure and energy projects, as well as more unusual structures. Associate Patrick Wisheu Patrick Wisheu ‘has an amazing ability to delve into the most technical aspects of complex disputes’.

Shoosmiths LLP, for some, ‘sets the bar, providing an unrivalled service in a competitive marketplace’. In the ‘strong contentious team’,  Simon Wain and Stephen Belshaw are key partners for construction disputes, as is Ian Yule , who ‘has a technical background which is most helpful in analysing and preparing claims and witnesses, which he does exceptionally well’. Turning to transactional work, Patrick Garner and senior associate Andrew Outram, who ‘can decipher complex legal jargon into an understandable format with a common-sense response’, advised IM Properties on the construction elements of the redevelopment of 55 Colmore Row, which included the addition of two floors. Formerly a senior associate at the firm, Paul Scott is now a legal director at Gateley Plc.

Wright Hassall LLP in Leamington Spa is ‘very well-recognised and respected in all areas of construction law and clients find it to be exceptionally knowledgeable in this area’. Clients ‘can’t find weaknesses’ in Michael Hiscock – he advises Alatas on a FIDIC contract to install specialist cooling infrastructure for data centres in Singapore. Philip Harris provides ‘responsive and provides clear, commercial advice’ – he advises Socotec UK on providing geotechnical investigations for HS2, resolving a billing dispute. Other clients include Oliveti Construction, which Hiscock advises on its contract to refurbish several airports owned by Manchester Airport Group. Nichola Vine is also a key contact – her practice includes significant non-contentious work.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP  ‘stands out in its understanding of the public sector, and how to reach sensible negotiated outcomes in that context’. The firm handles a mixture of contentious and non-contentious work for housing associations, local authorities and others involved in the provision of public services, alongside some private sector work. Andrew Milcross  advised Clarion Housing Group on its gas and lift maintenance contracts; he also advises Aster Group on the development of NEC3 contracts for the construction of 2,500 homes. Andrew Lancaster's ‘great strengths are his understanding of the values and priorities of the public sector, and the most cost effective ways to defend them, and to get the right deal for them when disputes arise’ – he advised Triuva, a German real estate investor, on bringing a claim against a contractor due to alleged defects in curtain walls and cladding in a building in Birmingham. Richard Brooks  and senior associate Rajinder Bhangal continue to advise Sports and Leisure Management on a contract to provide services in East Hampshire; Brooks also advises Winchester City Council on procuring an architect for a multi-use development.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys ‘rates highly in non-contentious construction related activities’. Andrew James  in Worcester advises Speller Metcalfe on aspects of its participation in the Dudley College CABTech project, and advises a leisure centre constructor and operator on a dispute with a local authority and a national contractor. Keith Blizzard, who joined the Birmingham office from Shakespeare Martineau LLP , accepts adjudicatorial appointments on top of contentious work for employers and contractors.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP handles both contentious and non-contentious work across the UK. Ruth Phillips, who heads the non-contentious side of the practice, advises Tucan Developments on contracts to develop and lease a hotel to be branded as a Premier Inn, and also advises Max Barney Developments on construction documentation regarding the creation of a mixed-use development in Shoreditch. Rachael Hobbis, a legal director, is a key name below partner level for non-contentious work. Kate Onions, who joined as a partner from Gateley Plc where she was a legal director, handles heavyweight dispute work touching on sectors including energy, education and leisure. Mark Beesley is also a name of note. Other clients include the University of Birmingham, PBS Energo and Stantec Global Engineering – the latter two new client wins.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP ‘looks at the bigger picture and gives practical and commercial advice that is tailored to the needs of clients’ businesses’. Mark Robinson heads the non-contentious side of the practice – he advises Prosperity Investments and Developments on various residential developments in Birmingham. Senior associate Victoria Ball handled the construction aspects of a private residential development comprising 677 apartments in Manchester for Tameside MBC and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. Managing associate Paul Mountain advises the Severn Rivers Trust on contractual work. Vijay Bange , who handles the contentious side of the practice, ‘provides a responsive service and delivers commercial solutions’ – he handles a range of disputes work, much of it for contractors such as Colmore Tang Construction and Interserve Construction. Also in the disputes team, senior associate Tanya Chadha is ‘an integral part of the team, who is impressively dedicated to getting the desired commercial result’. Swan Housing Association is another client. Andrew Vickery has retired.

Beswicks Legal ’s Karen Elder  is ‘able to grasp the fundamental points in the case and quickly start addressing the issues’. She represents employers, contractors and subcontractors in various disputes before the Technology and Construction Court and is experienced in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

Browne Jacobson LLP's Martin Cannon  handles a range of dispute work for contractors and various public sector employers such as NHS trusts and local authorities. Clients include Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, North Midland Group and HM Revenue and Customs.

Pinsent Masons LLP ’s Nigel Blundell  advised Morgan Sindall on forming a joint venture with Bemo Tunnelling for future London Underground works. Blundell also advises Volkerrail on participation in Network Rail procurements. Away from infrastructure, the team handles other mandates concerning utilities, projects and office space.

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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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