Property litigation in East Anglia
Birketts LLP has an 11-lawyer property litigation practice that operates across its four offices, though Ipswich and Norwich are the main hubs. It handles the full range of contentious property cases but has in-depth expertise in Telecoms Code property matters, rights to light, leasehold enfranchisement, town and village green matters and commercial landlord and tenant work. Practice head Richard Eaton and partner James Robinson are the key contacts in Ipswich and they act for a national client base that includes local authorities and leading developers. In Norwich, John Scannell and senior associate Simon Woodhead are the key practitioners along with Charlotte Wormstone. Alice Harris and Laura Tanguay are recognised as Rising Stars.
Other key lawyers:
“Birketts in fast, efficient, intelligent and reasonable, and it gives clear and practical advice. The team understands what in-house lawyers need and how to deliver it.”
“I know quite a few property litigators and James Robinson is the best, by a long way.”
“The team make its clients feel able to question any part of the decision process without feeling intimidated.”
“Laura Tanguay listened to my concerns and gave direction and advice when asked for.”
“Birketts LLP is in a league of its own. They are extremely efficient and constantly available. They have an innate knowledge and ability to cut quickly to the solution and a ‘can-do’ attitude which, in my experience, beats all competition.”
“Laura Tanguay has the ability to instantly reassure a client with her good judgment, knowledge and experience. She impressed me with her understanding of property law and brought a complicated situation to a swift conclusion.”
“I have worked with the property litigation team at Birketts for many years and consider it to be one of the best in the region. Its strengths are its technical knowledge, strategic acumen and commercial common sense. They are also very pleasant to work with.”
“John Scannell is a robust and savvy litigator. He fights hard for his clients and generally gets good results. He is a great team player and a pleasure to work with.”
“Simon Woodhead is extremely clever and great for legally and factually complex cases.”
“It has a really knowledgeable team and strong local connections but also reaches beyond East Anglia; it holds its own against larger or London-based firms and provides very good value for money.”
“James Robinson is a star – really knowledgeable, tenacious, very practical and good at getting things done. As well as general property litigation, he is a telecoms specialist.”
Richard Eaton is a really strong property litigator, very experienced, and Laura Tanguay is still quite junior is knowledgeable and tough.”
“Charlotte Wormstone is really good with clients and good to work with.”
Harwich International Port
Surplus Property Solutions
Norwich Airport Limited
Broadland Housing Association
Bury Investments LLP
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk
Port of Boston Limited
Hopkins Homes Limited
- Acting for Claimant in matter concerning interpretation of contracts arising out of a dispute between neighbours following a complicated land acquisition arrangement; an important case on the interpretation of contracts generally and has significant implications to the clients in relation to their business use of the land in question.
- Represented Mr Tucker seeking and obtaining Village Green status for the working quay of Mistley in Essex, an important matter because it determines whether or not the working port and popular quayside of Mistley may remain accessible for public access and recreation for the local inhabitants for recreation as they have done for centuries.
- Represented Ropemaker Properties Limited and Churchmanor Estates Company plc, as landlord, in enforcement of terms of agreement for lease on high-value restaurant premises in Essex where tenant failed to comply with its contractual obligations.
- We are currently acting for a private client in relation to an appeal against a stop notice which prohibited our client from carrying out his shooting business on agricultural land, and on land which is subject to SSSI status.
- Advising high profile higher education body acting in capacity as landowner of significant land holding for residential redevelopment in expert determination over option agreement.
Hewitsons in Cambridge has 'a very strong regional team providing London quality work without having to pay for the overheads of a City firm'. One client notes that practice head Natalie Minott 'has City grade experience and skills'. The firm handles both commercial and residential property disputes, including matters for high-net-worth individuals, corporates and rural landowners. In 2018, the firm saw a growing caseload disputes arising from leasehold enfranchisement, collective enfranchisement and the right of first refusal, and in work for corporate clients relating to the Landlord and Tenant 1954 Act. Kate Church and Kate Harris are noted as Rising Stars.
“Natalie Minott is the stand out individual at the firm in this area. As well as possessing great legal skills, she is exceptionally good with difficult clients.”
“The firm has broad and deep experience of all types of real estate litigation. It is proactive and responsive.”
“Natalie Minott has excellent client handling skills, and is very collaborative and firm in her views.”
“The technical legal knowledge seems second to none and is allied with the knowhow to maximise this expertise to the client’s benefit.”
“Barbara Judkins was very professional, efficient and thorough in acting for us. She took particular care in understanding the detail of our case. Refreshingly these days, she was ready to recommend a course of action to us and to set out all the matters that required our consideration.”
“Barbara Judkins proved invaluable in fighting my corner for me in a very personable and effective style.”
- Further advising charities on pre-emption rights, construction of price mechanism and restrictive covenants; matter includes consideration of terms of agreement as to property vesting in the NHS and retained by the charities under the National Health Service (Apportionment and Transfer) Regulations 1948 and construction issues arising.
- Three way dispute regarding the management of a residential ManCo.
- Complex 1954 Act dispute at a high value London property, acting for the Landlord.
- Right of way dispute reliant upon an unseen 1865 Deed of grant.
- Adverse possession claim concerning an area of land over which client had obtained planning permission and within client’s physical possession registered to neighbour.
Howes Percival LLP has 'one of the best practices in the region and the team is highly experienced in all areas of contentious commercial, residential and agricultural property work'. Simon Murphy and rising star associate Leanne Davis in Cambridge manage large property portfolios and act for both landlords and tenants in contentious matters. They also advise technology and biomedical clients on dilapidations liabilities, including the biochemical and radioactive decontamination of buildings. In Norwich, Jamie Kidd and William Trow focus on land and development issues, which include a growing caseload of leasehold and freehold enfranchisement disputes.
Simon Murphy; Jamie Kidd
“This practice has the broad spread of skills required today to provide suitable support for problems concerning the property and probate sectors.”
“The advice given has been consistent, considered and professional over a period of almost five years, in challenging and unusual circumstances. Suitable extra expertise in other fields or counsel is sensibly utilised as required.”
“Jamie Kidd has consistently supported the Administrators for the estate with considered opinions, actions and gentle humour. We have benefited from his extensive knowledge of the the relevant law and case law and from his cautious approach to the possible criminal, devious and blocking aspects of the other party’s approach.”
“Jamie Kidd is a very sensible and effective litigator. He never loses sight of the client’s objectives and has a great record of securing successful outcomes, often without the need to go to trial.”
“Bill Trow is bright, efficient and pleasant to work with.”
Co-Operative Group Limited
Greene King Plc
Cambridge University Endowment Fund
Norwich University of the Arts
Ministry of Defence
Classical Property Services Limited
- Providing landlord and tenant advice to this significant fund – including leasehold enfranchisement, high value central London lease extensions, forfeiture, possession, interpretation of leases and debt collection.
- Representing a property owner in connection with rights of way dispute over commercial land; the matter is important because if rights established this will lead to significant interference with client’s business interests.
- We provide ongoing estate management advice in relation to the entirety of the client’s retail portfolio to include advice on dilapidations, break notices and title issues.
- Acting for commercial occupier and defending high-value commercial dilapidations claim currently proceeding to trial in High Court.
- Dealing with a contested application for the assignment of lease; proceedings have been issued, and the Landlord has served a Jervis -v- Harris (wants of repair) notice, which is contested.
Mills & Reeve LLP has a national real estate disputes practice that operates through all of its UK offices but is led from Norwich by leading light Richard Hanson. In 2018, the firm hired another standout partner in Richard New, formerly of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, who is an expert in the field of business rates and handles multimillion-pound cases for major lenders and blue-chip corporates. One client describes New as 'very impressive and knowledgeable'. James Hordern, who handled a £16m dispute for an agricultural investment company, and Julian Steed are highly recommended.
Countrywide Legal Indemnities Limited
Railways Pension Nominees Limited
Orchard Street Special Funds
Liberty Corporate Capital Ltd
Praxis (Holdings) Limited
Urban & Civic Group
O & H Properties Ltd
South Kensington Estate
- An ongoing arbitration relating to the operation of heat supplied by biomass boilers, which are held under tenancy agreements and supply heat to poultry sheds operated by the landlord; the dispute involves complex questions in connection with the interpretation of the leases, the incorporation of relevant implied terms and technical issues relating to the functioning of the machinery.
- Defence of a private prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court for noise nuisance brought under s82 of the Environmental Protection Act; the alleged noise nuisance arises out of the demolition of a car park at Audley Square, Mayfair.
- Act for the landowner in an application to register land as a town and village green.
- The dispute concerned an option to purchase land belonging to the client; the land was earmarked for future use by the client (a small company which had recently been acquired wholesale by the major petrol retailer, also a client) in connection with its own petrol and retail sales operations on a major trunk road.
- Acting to obtain possession of the main administrative building occupied by protestors during a key end of term set of events and obtaining possession orders and arranging vacation of the site.
The property disputes team at Ashtons Legal, which is led by senior associate Nigel Maguire who is a solicitor advocate and member of the Property Litigation Association, acts for 12 Cambridge colleges. It also has a strong practice in portfolio management, including landlord and tenant matters, for grant-making trusts and other landlords. Its market-leading franchising group also generates significant amounts of disputes. The firm also provides strategic advice to developers in regard to adverse claims and interests, restrictive covenants, adverse possession and easement claims.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team has a broad experience of property matters from conveyancing to property litigation. They hold your hand through every step of the process. They are extremely diligent. They also have a specialty in agricultural property which is key for us as we are a specialist lender to agriculture.’
‘Nigel Maguire is one of the strongest lawyers with regard to agricultural property litigation. He has a broad knowledge of agricultural assets from land and basic wheeled assets to more complex renewable energy project assets. He is detail oriented and runs an litigation process flawlessly.’
Cambridge Building Society
Christ’s College, Cambridge
Churchill College, Cambridge
Clare College, Cambridge
Clare Hall, Cambridge
Corpus Christi, Cambridge
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Jesus College, Cambridge Magdalene College, Cambridge
Newnham College, Cambridge
Pembroke College, Cambridge
St Catherine’s College, Cambridge
Wolfson College, Cambridge
Kings College, Cambridge
The Cambridge Satchel Company Limited
- Acting on behalf of a bank in relation to a secured loan facility of £1.3m entered for the development of an anaerobic digestion plant in Herefordshire and following the failure of the borrower and its guarantors to make repayments due under the loan agreements.
- We act for land owners in respect of a dispute with another land owner over the sale of jointly-owned development land to a national housebuilder relating to the legal meaning and effect of complex development and related agreements.
- The Cambridge Commercial Property team advises Savills (UK) Limited on its entire England and Wales occupied portfolio, largely in relation to landlord and tenant matters, break notices, lease renewals, dilapidation claims, property management in relation to sub-tenants and under-tenants.
- The Property Litigation team act for Flip Out Limited on all of its property related matters, we work closely with the Ashtons Franchising team and Ashtons Legal Commercial Property team to ensure a full service when problems arise in relation to the Flip Out leasehold portfolio.
- Complex breach of mortgage case following fraud of borrower (wife) and borrower’s husband to secure property in wife’s sole name.
Buckles Solicitors LLP handles a wide range of commercial and residential landlord and tenant issues, from terminating tenancies through to break notice disputes and dilapidation claims. Practice head Paul Branch is an ACTAPS member and frequently handles property disputes with trust elements. Through partner Chris Mundell and associate Rob Wallwork, the firm has both significant experience in contentious matters in the retail sector. Through the firm's partnership with European law firm CastaldiPartners, the firm acts for a growing roster of European clients in the retail sector.
Virgin Active Limited
Virgin Active Health Clubs Limited
National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners
Stamford Storage (HG) Limited
Shield Engineering (Syston) Limited
- Various matters for this national organisation, including a dispute with Braintree District Council regarding whether land was statutory allotment land.
- Reviewing historical right of way liaising with beneficiary covenant agreeing a Deed of Variation regarding future contribution towards maintenance, also recovering historical costs for use and maintenance.
- A £100,000 delapidation claim.
The Cambridge office of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP plays a key role in the firm's national property litigation practice. The departure of key partner Richard New to Mills & Reeve LLP leaves principal associate Samuel Maw as the key contact. The firm is highly regarded for matters involving business rates, on which it advises blue-chip clients in the retail and online sectors. The firm also represents major UK lenders and property developers.
The property litigation practice at Greene & Greene is 'responsive, knowledgeable and decisive in giving advice, and it has all areas of expertise under one roof'. Rob Adam took over as head of the dispute resolution practice in late 2018 and his practice frequently includes contentious property matters exceeding £1m in value. Experienced mediator Michael Batty also handles high-value and complex matters and one client describes him as 'really impressive in terms of dealing with commercial matters swiftly and effectively'.
Rob Adam; Michael Batty
Other key lawyers:
Ben Fox; Sarah Western
“I find this practice a breath of fresh air in comparison to other firms that I have worked with in the past. They work as a team, are professional, think about and ask intelligent, relevant questions.”
“They listen, are easy to communicate with and instructions are always followed accurately and with prompt attention.”
“My recent, very satisfactory experience with Greene & Greene has been as a result of the work carried out by Rob Adam. A matter which dragged on for a considerable period of time was resolved once he became involved. I found him that he dealt with matters in a timely and efficient manner, keeping me informed as matters progressed.”
“Wayne Perrin and Rob Adam combine to provide a strong team in complex, agricultural and trust law cases.”
- Successfully challenging on behalf of a Client the applicability of section 106 obligations to a property.
- Advising trust in relation to rights concerning occupation of high value trust property, Landlord and Tenant and agricultural land issues.
- Representing a land owning client faced with the prospect of an adjoining property development in relation to the potential enforcement of a restrictive covenant and property boundaries.
- Advised tenant in connection with notices served pursuant to the Agricultural Holdings Act in connection with a valuable farming estate.
- Acting for landowner in dispute concerning the closure of a railway crossing that threatened to block access to our client’s farm and destroy the land value.
Greenwoods GRM in Peterborough acts for clients across East Anglia, as well as a growing number from London, handling contentious matters for both landowners and occupiers. The firm has also developed a niche in property guardianship cases, which in 2018 saw the firm acts in a high-profile case at the High Court. Caroline Gumbrell plays a key role in the practice but is now a consultant, so Michelle Cox took over the leadership of the practice. Rising star Kirstie Goulder takes the lead on property guardianship matters. Associate Amy Castleman is also one to watch.
Norwich Livestock Market Ltd
Middle Level Commissioners
- Opposition to Adverse Possession Application of land belonging to MLC.
- In an important landmark case for the local agriculture sector, Greenwoods GRM LLP was pleased to advise Norwich Livestock Market Limited on the Judicial Review of Norwich City Council’s decision to surrender its lease, and ultimately all its propriety interests in the land Norwich Livestock Market occupies.
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP joins the ranking having recruited the 'really experienced and very good' Andrea Nicholls from Greene & Greene. Nicholls' main focus is real estate litigation and she works closely with commercial property partner Sarah Coates to advise on agricultural and rural property disputes, including both tenancy disputes and cases concerning the property held by a farming partnership as a partnership asset; freehold property disputes; rights of way; restrictive covenants; overage agreements and disputes regarding options; commercial leasehold disputes; forfeiture; rent arrears recovery; lease renewal proceedings; and break notices.
Taylor Vinters frequently acts for domestic and international technology businesses in contentious property matters, including cases arising from the use of chemicals. It has a large roster of clients in the agricultural and not-for-profit sectors and advises numerous high-net-worth individuals and landowners. The practice led by litigation partner Luke Hibbert also handles property disputes arising from insolvencies for both landlords and tenants. Associate Beth Price is a rising star who acts for large landowners and in complex landlord and tenant issues and easement disputes.
Other key lawyers:
Beth Price; Jamie Short; Alexandra Thornton-Reid; Jessica Boxford
“I have always found the quality of instruction from the team at Taylor Vinters to be exceptional.”
“Luke Hibbert is a skilful tactician in litigation – he knows his clients and their priorities well and, whilst remaining realistic, is determined in achieving the best possible outcome for them.”
“I would recommend Beth Price and Alexandra Thornton-Reid as talented junior litigators with a good eye for the detail.”
- Advising a nationwide estate agent and property consultant in respect of agricultural and tenancy matters for its large landed and farming clients, particularly in respect of estate management and obtaining possession of estate properties.
- Acting for a well-known high-end clothing retailer in resolving a dispute with its landlord regarding its prestigious London premises.
- Acting for a specialist commercial finance provider to resolve property issues arising from the insolvency of its mortgagers.
- Advice in relation to occupation of property on an estate by an ex-estate worker.
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors is a prominent firm for property litigation in North Norfolk. It is a key player in Norwich and around its offices in North Walsham and Sheringham. Head of litigation Mark Kermez in Norwich is the key partner and handles contentious property matters as part of his broader practice, as do Philip Lumb and consultant Michael Olmer. The firm advises on a wide range disputes between businesses and individuals, as well as consumer rights cases and restrictive covenants.
Head of litigation Chris Fielding in Norwich took over responsibility ofthe property disputes practice at Fosters following the retirement of Adrian Newborough in 2018. The firm continues to act for claimants and defendants in a range of property disputes, often acting for private residential landlords on a wide range of disputes via the Eastern Landlords Association. Assistant solicitor Alice Trainor focuses predominantly on landlord and tenant disputes.
Other key lawyers:
“They are always there to help and advise on a wide range of matters and provide us with an invaluable service. Whatever the subject matter there is a specialist on the team to assist.”
“Chris Fielding and Alice Trainor are approachable, professional and always there to help and advise.”
- Advising an emerging Norwich City Centre business locked into a complex dispute, one in which the client is alleging multiple breaches of lease against a corporate Landlord seeking forfeiture. In addition to relief advice, we have predicated a substantial claim in damages, valued in excess of £1m.
- Advising the Landlord of a successful business on a complex dispute with neighbouring businesses (spanning a number of decades) over both the interpretation and extent of express rights of way and prescriptive rights acquired by commercial traffic.
- Negotiating a six-figure settlement agreement for tenants facing eviction from commercial and residential tenancies, one that featured proprietary estoppel.
- Representing a central London-based lessee in conflict with a hostile freeholder determined to undermine access, sub-letting potential, and renovations.
Gotelee Solicitors provides property litigation services through four offices in Suffolk and across the county it saw a growing caseload of matters in 2018. The practice led by partner Rachel Cronin handles lease renewals and matters under the Landlord and Tenant 1954 Act, dilapidation claims, breaches of lease terms, and failure of landlord to take possession at end of a contracted out lease. ACTAPS member Cronin frequently handles cases involving trusts, including complex TOLATA claims. Legal executive Laura Read is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
- Successfully opposed a TOLATA claim to a 50% interest in property.
- Defending possession of four business premises by landlord.
- Advising client on lease venues licence, Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.
- TOLATA action to force sale eight years after end of relationship.
Legal executive Lesley Milne is a member of the Property Litigation Association and leads the practice at Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough, with the support of commercial property partner Anna Spriggs. The practice is highly regarded in the local market for its work on restrictive covenants in respect of both residential and commercial property, lease renewal matters for both landlords and tenants, property-related trust disputes, TOLATA claims, dilapidations and possession claims, and matters relating to boundaries and rights of way. 'The team was refreshingly straightforward, with no legal jargon that went over our heads', remarks a client.
Lesley Milne; Anna Spriggs
Other key lawyers:
“Lesley Milne was very friendly, approachable and spoke in simple terms that put us at ease from the outset. We now wouldn’t look anywhere else for our needs.”
GAP Home Improvements Ltd
- Representing the client in a Part 20 claim brought by one of its clients.
- Advising the client in respect of a claim being brought by a building company for alleged non-payment.
- Representing a builder in relation to issuing a claim against a company for damages caused to their customer’s property as a result of unsafe scaffolding.
- Representing the client in a claim by a builder for the balance cost of work done.
Kerseys Solicitors LLP
'She is very knowledgeable, very easy to talk to and always available', says a client of associate Kate Barnes who leads the practice at Kerseys Solicitors LLP in Ipswich. Barnes now leads the firm's dispute resolution group following the retirement of Anthony Wooding, and property litigation makes up a significant proportion of her workload. She has a 100% success rate in acting for landlords in repossession cases. The firm frequently acts for commercial land owners, residential landlords and private property owners in complex cases.
Other key lawyers:
- Representing the Executors in gaining possession of the deceased’s home from one of the children of the deceased.
- Continued advice in defending claim for return of interim payment made under Compulsory Payment Order.
- Advised client on options and strategy for non-paying commercial tenant.
- Represented Defendants in County Court claims by freeholder for unpaid service charges.
- Represented client in resolution of long-running problem with maintenance of neighbouring property.
Leathes Prior has strong commercial and residential property practices, which work closely with the firm's litigation group to handle property disputes in Norfolk and across East Anglia. Darren Bowen handles a diverse range of contentious property issues, including trusts of land, boundary disputes, easements, covenants, and landlord and tenant matters.
Other key lawyers:
Steeles Law joins the ranking having brought in associates Rachel Sims, former senior counsel for the real estate litigation group at Aviva, and Damian Pitts, previously at Pinney Talfourd LLP, to bolster its litigation practice. Sims has a strong track record in tenant insolvency matters, dilapidations claims, forfeiture matters and contested break options. Pitts has frequently represented commercial landlords in claims for forfeiture and dilapidations, and for both commercial landlords and tenants in business tenancy renewal claims.
Rachel Sims; Damian Pitts
- Right of way dispute for individual client in rural Norfolk.
- Right of access dispute over agricultural land in South Norfolk.
- Recovery of rent arrears on behalf of property portfolio owner in the Isle of Man.
- Right of way dispute on behalf of Diss-based resident.
- Advice to market trader regarding Council contract review.