Property litigation in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

'There is no better firm in East Anglia for property litigation', remarks a client of Birketts LLP, adding that it is 'rare in providing a level of genuine specialist expertise which is usually only found in big commercial centres'. Practice head Richard Eaton and key partner James Robinson , both based in Ipswich, and 'determined litigatorJohn Scannell in Norwich are highly regarded practitioners. Their work encompasses telecom-related litigation, strategic land disputes, rights of light, leasehold enfranchisement, and town and village green matters. Senior associates Alice Harris and Laura Tanguay in Ipswich also play key roles in possession, cohabitee and TOLATA matters. Norwich-based senior associate and barrister Simon Woodhead focuses on surplus property matters.

Practice head(s):

Richard Eaton

Other key lawyers:

John Scannell; James Robinson; Alice Harris; Laura Tanguay; Simon Woodhead

Testimonials

‘John Scannell is clever, knowledgeable, very thorough, easy to deal with and cares about his clients.’

‘Birketts has a specialist property team that would not look out of place in a London city firm: it has committed, clever individuals who work closely with their clients, providing astute advice at regional rather than London prices.’

‘Simon Woodhead: an ex-barrister who knows property litigation through and through, thinks of everything, and provides a calm and reassuring presence. John Scannell: a terrifically engaging and thoughtful individual, who is there in the hour of need.’

‘There is no better firm in East Anglia for property litigation. They are rare in providing a level of genuine specialist expertise which is usually only found in big commercial centres.’

‘Richard Eaton is the stand-out individual. He manages to combine serious expert knowledge with a practical focus for his clients.’

‘John Scannell is second to none as a property litigator. He cares about his clients and their disputes and really seeks to understand the details to offer the best advice. His knowledge of the law is superb. A determined litigator. Simon Woodhead is very academically gifted and is able to translate that into offering good, practical advice to his clients.’

‘There is a real team ethos, as distinct from individuals working within a team, thereby ensuring the client gets the best service.’

‘Laura Tanguay – has a real passion and in depth knowledge of the law relating to constructive trusts and proprietary estoppel. This sets her aside from other partners who work in this area but lack her specialisation.’

Key clients

Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk

Norwich Airport Ltd

Music Room Ltd

Aldwark Property Company Ltd

Ian Tucker (Registration Applicant Mistley Village Green)

London Diocesan Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised Aldwark Property Company Limited on a complex right of light claim – settling the first stage at mediation. Aldwark own a Grade II listed former foundry in Leeds City Centre.
  • Acting for Ian Tucker (Second Defendant) in TW Logistics v Essex CC and Tucker [2021] UKSC 4 Landmark town and village green case which clarified that a village green registration would be upheld even where the green is a concrete quay side forming part of a working port.
  • Acted for Affinity Water Limited in the case of the recent Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) case of EE Limited and Hutchison 3G UK Limited v Affinity Water Limited [2022] UKUT 08 (LC) which was the first reported water tower case relating to the site payment due for a phone mast under the new telecoms Code.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP provides 'high-quality service to the local market' and clients remark that the firm has 'a very high reputation with property legal matters'. Simon Murphy in Cambridge, who acted on a high-value lease interpretation claim where proceedings have been issued in the High Court, and Jamie Kidd in Norwich, whose work includes rent review and dilapidations claims, lead the practice. Director Leanne Davis, who is the key contact for portfolio clients including Greene King, and senior associate Bill Trow, are also key figures in the Cambridge office. Kidd acted for Iron Mountain in a high-value dilapidations claim issued in the Technology and Construction Division of the High Court.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Kidd; Simon Murphy

Other key lawyers:

Leanne Davis; Bill Trow; Georgia Wood

Testimonials

‘High-quality service to the local market.’

‘They have a very high reputation with property legal matters and this was very much confirmed with the manner in which they dealt with what became a rather difficult matter to deal with and conclude.’

‘Our main contact was Georgia Wood who was exceptional with the service and attention that she gave us, delivering the best possible outcome that could be managed.’

‘Jamie Kidd and Bill Trow are on top of their cases and client-focused.’

Key clients

Co-Operative Group Limited

Greene King Plc

Cambridge University Endowment Fund

Iron Mountain

Ministry Of Defence

Cholmondeley Estate

Norwich Cathedral

C Brewer & Sons Limited

Lothbury

Hughes Electrical

Newcore Capital Management LLP

Celfone Trading Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Iron Mountain in relation to a high value (£1m+) dilapidations claim which had been issued in the Technology and Construction Division of the High Court.
  • For Cambridge University, dealing with a complex central London involving serving 1987 Act notices on approximately 200 leaseholders and then serving s8 notices to seek the consent of the leaseholders to the release of former landlords obligations pursuant to the 1995 Act.
  • Acting for Sugarich Limited in a high-value lease interpretation claim where proceedings have been issued in the High Court in London.

Mills & Reeve LLP

'As a whole, the firm successfully combines the heft of a nationwide operation with the accessibility and responsiveness of a local firm', says a client of Mills & Reeve LLP. Richard New leads the firm-wide practice from Norwich and frequently advises on interpretation and construction of clauses and contracts, and strategic landlord and tenant issues. National head of real estate Richard Hanson in Norwich continues to be involved in contentious matters. Special counsel James Hordern in Norwich 'has a calm presence which gives confidence and provides excellent advice'. Also in Norwich, senior associate Chris Brand 'has a top-class mind and is an astute strategist'. Principal associate Samuel Maw, who joined from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, is noted for disputes involving utilities and development projects. Norwich-based principal associate Julian Steed is known for property disputes in the agricultural sector.

Practice head(s):

Richard New

Other key lawyers:

James Hordern; Chris Brand; Sam Maw; Julian Steed; Richard Hanson

Testimonials

‘The team at M&R are very good at understanding the priorities and aims for us as the client. Quickly engaging with very complex and technical data and arguments they helped form and propose a very strong case, which both satisfied our requirements and legally gave us the best chance of success.’

‘We had two solicitors working for us on the same case and both were highly motivated, very bright, hard working and easy to communicate with.

‘James Hordern has worked with us for nearly five years has been excellent throughout. He has never missed a beat, he is always available, has a calm presence which gives confidence and most importantly provided excellent advice and explanations so we could make informed decisions and give appropriate instructions. Intellectually and legally he has been a calm powerhouse and has steered our case to a very successful conclusion.’

‘Chris Brand started working on our case a couple of years ago and has also been extraordinarily good. He grasped the complex arguments quickly and gave excellent advice and guidance, particularly as we moved into the Tribunal phase. He has a top-class mind and is an astute strategist.’

‘I have worked with James Hordern and Julian Steed for many years and always find their advice to be clear, correct and easy to understand, despite the complexity of the matters we deal with. Very approachable and easy to discuss options and risks available.’

‘As a whole, the firm successfully combines the heft of a nationwide operation with the accessibility and responsiveness of a local firm. They have the technical expertise, commercial knowledge and pragmatism to handle even the most complex or sensitive disputes successfully.’

‘Richard Hanson – a very sound lawyer with sound judgement. Julian Steed – an assiduous, approachable and very able lawyer. James Hordern – a first rate lawyer whose judgment I trust.’

‘I have mostly been dealing with Sam Maw. He is bright, energetic and wise beyond his years, and is a real asset to the firm. He gets to grips with the issues in a case swiftly, and provides focussed and sensible instructions and the advice he gives clients is pragmatic and effective.’

Key clients

Countrywide Legal Indemnities Limited

Railways Pension Nominees Limited

Orchard Street Special Funds

Lend Lease

Urban & Civic Group

O & H Properties Ltd

South Kensington Estate

Hill Residential

Buzz Bingo Limited

NSL Limited

UK property PAIF managed by Nuveen Real Estate

Members of the National Farm Attractions Network (NFAN)

Work highlights

  • Acted for an agricultural investment company on a multi-million pound arbitration relating to the operation of biomass systems.
  • Acted for Cyxtera in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in the defence of an appeal by the Valuation Office Agency.
  • Acted for a Cambridge College on a mediated multi-party dispute relating to a promotion and development agreement.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal provides 'timely and concise advice' and clients note that the property litigation practice 'adopts a commercial approach and understands the implications on the ground'. The firm is a key adviser to numerous Cambridge colleges on contentious property matters, as well providing extensive legal services to Saville (UK) Limited. Practice head Nigel Maguire  in Cambridge is '‘consistent and reliable, able to understand the position and assimilate the legal implications easily'. Senior associate Annabel Mayer in Bury St Edmunds focuses on complex residential landlord and tenant disputes, as well as a wide variety of land disputes including adverse possession and nuisance claims. 'Her level of empathy was superb', remarks one client.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Maguire

Other key lawyers:

Annabel Mayer

Testimonials

‘I was impressed with Annabel Meyer. Her level of empathy was superb. She was sensitive to our situation giving timely and accurate and measured advice. She has a strong sense of professional boundaries.’

‘Timely and concise advice.’

‘The team is led from the top and adopts a commercial approach to advice and positioning. Understands the implications on the ground. Team are available at generally short notice and have a flexible approach. They are a pleasure to work with.’

‘Nigel Maguire is consistent and reliable, able to understand the position and assimilate the legal implications easily. Whilst he is very approachable and client facing he is able to adopt a robust position with the opposing side and seeks to reach a resolution.’

Key clients

Savills PLC

Cambridge University Colleges – Christ’s College, Churchill College, Clare College, Clare Hall, Corpus Christi, Emmanuel College, Hughes Hall, Jesus College, Magdalene College, Newnham College, Pembroke College, St Catherine’s College, Wolfson College, Kings College

Flip Out Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising and acting for tenant restaurant in claim against landlord for breach of covenant to repair building over 12-year period causing frequent flooding to basement restaurant.
  • Acting for competing beneficial landowners in respect of a dispute over the sale of jointly-owned development land to a national house builder. The dispute relates to the legal meaning and effect of complex development and related agreements. The value of the land is circa £20 million.
  • Acting for the largest probate estate in the region, to assist the estates agents on land management issues. The team provides advice and assistance to the Executors regarding the Estate’s 400 odd residential properties in and around Ipswich.

Buckles Solicitors LLP

Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough handles property disputes across the region and, through its partnership with CastaldiPartners, a number of cross-border for European clients and new markets. The litigation group also handles a strong flow of work from the firm’s social housing practice. Lead partner Paul Branch is ‘efficient, communicative and gets results‘. He is a specialist in contentious probate and trust matters, so frequently handles complex property disputes involving trusts. His relationship with the National Allotment Society sees him act for individual societies and their members, with recent work including difficult tenant matters, evictions, planning issues and notices seeking possession.

Practice head(s):

Paul Branch

Other key lawyers:

Paul Davis

Testimonials

‘I have worked with Buckles both before, during and since Covid struck and was impressed by how they successfully migrated to a remote working model and continued to provide an effective service for their clients.’

‘I have worked most frequently with Paul Davis who is a very effective and practical lawyer.’

‘Paul Branch. He is efficient, communicative and gets results.’

Key clients

Virgin Active Limited

Virgin Active Health Clubs Limited

TGI Friday

National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners

Minstrel Trading

Greene & Greene

Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds is ‘always on hand to help whenever you need advice‘, and clients note that the firm has ‘skilled, committed individuals and yet has a personal touch‘. Litigation partners Rob Adam and Michael Batty handle contentious property matters as part of broader dispute resolution practices. Adam is ‘always at the end of a phone whenever clients need his help‘, and Batty is ‘extremely able and a safe pair of hands‘. The recent work includes adverse possession orders, dilapidations and repairs claims, and complex nuisance matters.

Practice head(s):

Rob Adam; Michael Batty

Testimonials

‘Always on hand to help whenever you need advice.’

‘Rob Adam really helped my husband and I through our tough situation, he was at the end of a phone whenever we needed his help.’

‘Michael Batty – Extremely able and a safe pair of hands’

‘The firm has skilled, committed individuals and yet has a personal touch.’

HCR Hewitsons

HCR Hewitsons in Cambridge, formed by the merger of local firm Hewitsons and national firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys, has a full-service property litigation practice that acts for commercial and corporate clients, high-net-worth individuals, charities, developers and retailers. Lead partner Natalie Minott and senior associate Kate Church are experienced practitioners. Minott frequently acts for freeholders, investors, developers and lessees in a disputes concerning commercial, residential or agricultural property.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Walker

Other key lawyers:

Natalie Minott; Kate Church

Taylor Vinters

The Cambridge office of Taylor Vinters has ‘a diverse client base and a personable team of talented lawyers that I have seen work both well together and individually‘. One client remarks that the firm has ‘expertise in property litigation with a genuine focus on litigation tactics‘. Luke Hibbert leads the dispute resolution practice and takes an active role in contentious property matters, in which senior associate Beth Price is a specialist. Price frequently handles complex multimillion-pound property disputes for companies, trusts and private individuals. Litigation associate Alexandra Thornton-Reid also plays an active role in property disputes.

Practice head(s):

Luke Hibbert

Other key lawyers:

Beth Price; Alexandra-Thornton Reid; Christina Stout

Testimonials

‘Taylor Vinters are a really strong, capable firm. They have a diverse client base and a personable team of talented lawyers that I have seen work both well together and individually. The drive to get the best out of a client and their dispute, and the case preparation itself, is unfailing which yields results.’

‘I would say the team are approachable, straightforward and pragmatic in their client care and I would have no hesitation in recommending them to a family member or friend (which is a good litmus test!).’

‘Luke Hibbert, who is a very experienced, talented, and respected litigator. Each of the team is personable, knowledgeable, realistic (when they need to be) and meticulous in their conduct and preparation of cases which makes working with them, honestly, a great experience. The associates are committed, driven and keen, but sensible, and they exude a level of experience beyond their experience.’

‘Expertise in property litigation with a genuine focus on litigation tactics as well as being able to draw on the firm’s broader knowledge in other areas of law.’

‘Luke Hibbert – direct and practical. Christina Stout – hardworking and thorough.’

Key clients

Owners and managers of racecourses and substantial land holdings

Large agricultural estate

An agricultural estate

Work highlights

  • Advising 30 landowners in a major dispute with a renewable energy utilities company valued at several million.
  • Advising a high-net-worth entrepreneur in respect of extensive development works to a property (costing in the region of £4m) including advising in detail on the enforceability of complex restrictive covenants.
  • Acting for a Trust in a complex dispute with other individuals and trusts regarding the disposal of land for development for circa £20m.

Fosters

The property litigation practice at Norwich firm Fosters is 'very approachable and answer queries promptly and succinctly'. One client notes that the firm is 'knowledgable, professional, communicative and collaborative, and they are people who have got your back, at times of great stress'. Head of litigation Chris Fielding oversees the work of senior associate Gurpal Singh, who has 'very solid knowledge of the complexities of property law , relating specifically to landlord and tenant matters'. Singh recently handled a complex matter involving the development of a residential site into four, large, executive-type properties, in a private cul-de-sac in Norfolk.

Practice head(s):

Chris Fielding

Other key lawyers:

Gurpal Singh

Testimonials

‘The team are very approachable and answer queries promptly and succinctly. They offer some free advice to our members which is invaluable. We have a very good working relationship.’

‘We would like to give a special mention to Chris Fielding and Gurpal Singh and their associates for all their help and invaluable advice.’

‘From initial contact to make an appointment and the friendly and welcoming reception shown at the meeting, a quality sense of professionalism underlined the procedure . A solid appreciation of the facts of the case was clear and a detailed analysis underlined the confidence I felt in using the practice.’

‘Gurpal Singh’s very solid knowledge of the complexities of property law , relating specifically to landlord and tenant matters was very confidence making for myself as client . He showed a relaxing and competent skill in piloting the procedure calendar . I felt absolute confidence that the matter would be handled extremely professionally to a satisfactory solution .’

‘The team have been most useful with our complex case.’

‘Gurpal Singh has been most useful trying to assist our difficult position.’

‘The team’s strengths are that it is knowledgable, professional, communicative, collaborative – and they are people who have got your back, at times of great stress.’

‘We deal with mainly Gurpal Singh who is very friendly and approachable. He thinks both inside and outside the box and discusses things in layman terms so you understand fully what is happening. The good thing is that you can contact him directly without having to go through a lengthy switchboard set up with music being played to you before being put through to a secretary.’

Key clients

Norwich City Football Club

Gorleston Football Club

Harico Homes Limited

Work highlights

  • Handling a matter related to a development of a residential site into 4, large, executive-type properties, in a private cul-de-sac.
  • Acted on a matter which concerned a joint venture between three family members concerning a well-known hotel in Great Yarmouth and other trust property with a value of £1m.

Greenwoods Legal

Greenwoods Legal has strength in key niches within property litigation, among them leasehold and collective enfranchisement matters. Chi Collins, who works in London and Peterborough, leads the property disputes practice, working closely with Peterborough-based head of litigation Huw Wallis. Senior associate Amy Castleman in Peterborough is the property litigation in East Anglia and she works closely with Kirstie Goulder to lead the firm’s niche property guardianship practice.

Practice head(s):

Chi Collins; Huw Wallis

Other key lawyers:

Amy Castleman; Kirstie Goulder

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough handles a diverse range of contentious property matters, including matters arising from restrictive covenants, lease renewals, TOLATA claims, rights of way, boundaries, and possession claims. It also acts for builders and their clients in matters concerning building work from the construction of entire buildings to extensions or smaller projects. Head of the commercial practice Anna Spriggs works closely with lead commercial litigation partner Helen Townsend to handle property disputes. Townsend is ‘exceptional and displays a full understanding of the law‘.

Practice head(s):

Helen Townsend; Anna Spriggs

Testimonials

‘Access to partners at a personal level who bring their own area of specialism to bear on the problems at hand.’

‘Direct contact with the appropriate partner who becomes personally involved in all areas of the problem at hand. Helen Townsend was exceptional and displayed a full understanding of the law relating to the issue. Very helpful in drafting letters to address specific issues to do with current property law relating to residential lettings. Made to feel valued as a client and readily available to answer questions.’

‘The team at Hunt & Coombs provided clear instructions including duty of care information. The billing has been detailed and prompt. Overall a very professional feeling.’

‘The Hunt & Coombs commercial property team assisted me with the purchase of shares in a grade 2 listed building. I found the team able to respond to a number of diverse issues with speed and efficiency whilst maintaining a reasonable fee structure at all times.’

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The Cambridge office of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP has a busy property disputes practice that frequently acts for insolvent tenants and tenants of insolvent landlords, as well as liquidators and administrators. It also handles a range of agricultural and freehold property disputes, as well as contentious matters arising from commercial leases. Senior associate Andrea Nicholls is the key practitioner, and clients praise her 'diligence, communication, and accuracy of advice'.  One remarks that 'her in-depth knowledge on property law is second to none'.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Nicholls

Testimonials

‘Knowledgeable advice given with an understanding and appreciation of commercial relevance and viability.’

‘Diligence, communication, accuracy of advice, Andrea Nicholls has been particularly helpful in providing timely advice on recent matters.’

‘We were recommended Penningtons Manches Cooper by another company who had used them for years on all of their land deals. We needed a firm that could give us solutions to the problems we had incurred. They are very strong on property law and gave us our options without expending further un-necessary monies. They were far more knowledgeable than the original firm we had employed and confirm the saying “you get what you pay for”.’

‘We dealt mainly with Andrea Nicholls. She was very easy to converse with. Reacted quickly when queries were raised and information required. Her in-depth knowledge on property law is second to none. She stopped us expending further monies down unnecessary routes and assisted in fine tuning our negligence claim documentation. She is easy to talk to and has a good sense of humour as well.’

Key clients

The Hub Pharmacy Limited

AL Realisations Limited (in Liquidation) formerly Laura Ashley Limited

Max Barney Limited

Barfoots of Botley Limited

Limetree Living Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Liquidators of AL Realisations Limited (formerly known as Laura Ashley Limited) to disclaim forty-five leases relating to former Laura Ashley stores across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Advising The Hub Pharmacy Limited on recovering arrears of rent from a tenant and negotiating surrender of a retail lease during the Covid pandemic.
  • Advising Barfoots of Botley Limited regarding a claim for a power outage which caused loss of power to food manufacturing plant on the client’s farm.