Property litigation in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

It supplies expertise of the sort found in the best London firms, but with the advantage that its people have the time to devote to your problems‘, say clients of Birketts LLP. The firm has a large property litigation practice that handles all matters ranging from leasehold enfranchisement, town and village greens, housing management litigation and much more. Richard Eaton in Ipswich is the lead partner in a team of 18 lawyers, in which James Robinson is a key adviser to the telecoms sector. John Scannell and employed barrister Simon Woodhead are the key practitioners in Norwich. Ipswich-based senior associate Laura Tanguay and Alice Harris are all central to the practice.

Practice head(s):

Richard Eaton

Other key lawyers:

James Robinson; John Scannell; Simon Woodhead; Charlotte Wormstone; Lynsey Ellard

Testimonials

‘The firm has genuine specialisms and attracts work from across the country. The team is well geared with the right mix of juniors and partners to ensure work is done well at the right level, promptly and cost-effectively. ’

‘I have worked with Richard Eaton extensively over the years and over a range of practice areas ranging from land law to planning and general public law. Our successes in were largely down to the wealth of property litigation expertise Richard was able to bring to the case.. ’

‘Comprehensive knowledge and experience across the whole team.’

‘Simon Woodhead was outstanding in the process of pursuing my claim and introduced other specialist professionals to support a successful conclusion.’

‘It supplies expertise of the sort found in the best City of London firms, but with the superb advantage that its people seem to have the time to devote to your problems (unlike many in London). Your problem will be worried over, pulled every which way, and taken apart and reassembled so thoroughly that you will be sure that no angle has been left unexplored. If there is a solution to it, they will find it.’

‘Simon Woodhead is very bright and very thorough, leaving no stone unturned in his quest to do the best for his clients. John Scannell likewise is hugely informed and clever: a man who cares deeply about getting the right result for his clients.’

‘Charlotte Wormstone brings a very practical and cost-effective approach to her cases. She is great with clients and also fun to work with.’

Key clients

Breckland DC

Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk

Associated British Ports

Hopkins Homes

Pecla Investments Ltd

Ian Tucker (Mistley Village Green case)

Churchmanor Estates Company Plc

The Hotel Folk

Harlow Council

Epping Forest District Council

Work highlights

  • Advising SPV company Pecla Investments Ltd  on trust and cooperation agreement issues relating to promotion,  development and sale (with com prop colleague) of high-value co-owned site on south coast (in excess £30m) .
  • Representing the respondent in the Mistley Town and Village Green case which reached the Supreme Court.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP is known for '‘high-quality service and great value for money'. The firm handles a broad range of property disputes for high-profile clients such as Co-Operative Group, Iron Mountain and the Ministry of Defence. Jamie Kidd in Norwich and Simon Murphy in Cambridge are the lead partners. Kidd's team focuses on land and development issues, with senior associate Bill Trow heavily involved in contentious matters. Murphy's group has unrivalled knowledge of landlord and tenant matters, with senior associate Leanne Davis a key member of the practice.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Kidd; Simon Murphy

Other key lawyers:

Bill Trow; Leanne Davis

Testimonials

‘High-quality service and great value for money. Prepared to fix fees and stick to them.’

‘The team was available at short notice to provide advice and deal with an urgent matter that had far reaching implications.’

‘Professional but also friendly and approachable.’

‘ Jamie Kidd initially handled our case and we experienced a very smooth transition to Bill Trow – the two individuals seemed to gel in the most natural manner as a team and we soon nicknamed them the “A Team”. Jamie continued to watch our case as it unfolded with interest and support to Bill as and when required giving occasional input with fresh and innovative ways of looking at arising issues.’

‘The team have a real ability to think outside the box but most of all act to the highest degree of integrity. ’

‘Bill Trow became an integral individual within our own team. We felt 100% supported by Bill which gave us the strength we needed during the most challenging of times. Bill’s consistent attention to detail and efficiency in reverting to us with accurate information, detail and advice within extremely impressive timeframes makes him stand out from others within his sector. Any client is in good hands with Bill Trow.’

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

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP advises on high-value disputes arising from large national and international property projects, acting on behalf of investors, institutional and local authority funds, developers, strategic landowners, and companies in a diverse range of sectors. Richard New in Cambridge  who has particular expertise in dispute relating to infrastructure and regeneration projects, leads the practice. Key partner Richard Hanson is 'a very able lawyer with a calm and commercial approach to problem-solving'. In Norwich, principal associates James Hordern, who handles a broad range of complex disputes and is 'a seriously impressive solicitor who is always on top of his cases', and 'exceptional lawyer' Julian Steed are highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Richard New

Other key lawyers:

Richard Hanson; James Hordern; Julian Steed; Chris Brand

Testimonials

‘James Hordern is a seriously impressive solicitor, who gets to grips both with the complexities of the facts, and the legal issues, and is always on top of his cases.’

‘An exceptional regional team capable of handling complex litigation as well as any London firm.’

‘Richard Hanson is a very able lawyer with a calm and commercial approach to problem solving.’

‘Julian Steed is very able and approachable.’

James Holden – an exceptional lawyer and a great problem solver.’

‘Complete strength in depth. A real class firm.’

‘I have been particularly impressed with Chris Brand. He is very responsive and thorough, and provides real support and value for money. He is very bright and has lots of common sense and practical suggestions, which belie his relatively junior position.’

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

Work highlights

  • Advised an agricultural Investment company on a high value (£17m) and complex arbitration involving issues relating to lease interpretation and technical expert issues on the operation of biomass heating systems to heat sheds used for poultry production.
  • Advised Great Bear Distribution Limited on a successful Upper Tribunal appeal involving the business rates liability of a large warehousing unit and whether the unit could be placed back in the Rating List after a period of significant redevelopment.
  • Acting for a substantial landed estate on a contested succession application under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986.

Ashtons Legal

The team delivers no fuss advice and executes clearly', says client of Ashtons Legal. The firm acts for numerous Cambridge colleges, as well as handling all matters arising from the UK portfolio of Savills. Its recent work includes advising on the implications of CVA proposals for high street and national tenant retailers. Nigel Maguire in Cambridge leads a four-partner group, which includes experienced commercial litigator Michael Frape. Senior associate Annabel Mayer in Bury St Edmunds handles complex residential and commercial landlord and tenant disputes.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Maguire

Other key lawyers:

Michael Frape; Annabel Mayer

Testimonials

‘The team delivers no fuss advice and executes clearly. The team use of video conferencing throughout the Covid-19 lockdown has kept us connected.’

‘Work is always done to a high standard.’

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

Work highlights

  • 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.
  • Acting for competing beneficial land owners in respect of a dispute over the sale of jointly-owned development land to a national house builder.
  • Advising a land developer and acting in complex court proceedings with adjoining landowner and local authority (as highway authority) over determination of highway boundary and ability to implement visibility splay planning condition to development.

Buckles Solicitors LLP

Clients praise the 'commitment to and support of clients' needs' of Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough, noting that the 'advice is sound, uncomplicated and practical'. The firm deals with a broad range of commercial and residential landlord and tenant matters, from the termination of tenancies to break notice disputes and dilapidation claims. 'Litigation is complicated and he uncomplicates it', says a client of lead partner Paul Branch. He works closely with commercial property partner Chris Mundell and associate Rob Wallwork.

Practice head(s):

Paul Branch

Other key lawyers:

Chris Mundell; Rob Wallwork

Testimonials

‘Commitment to and support of clients’ needs.’

‘Careful in deliberation. Fact-finding before decision making.’

‘Paul Branch has an excellent manner – he is very well trained.’

‘The individuals I have dealt with have demonstrated considerable client focus and tactical acumen. ’

‘They do what they say they are going to do. Advice is sound, uncomplicated and practical. Litigation is complicated and Paul Branch uncomplicates it.’

‘The real estate team works well and is extremely professional yet friendly to deal with.’

Key clients

Virgin Active Limited

Virgin Active Health Clubs Limited

National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners

Stamford Storage (HG) Limited

Shield Engineering (Syston) Limited

TGI Friday

Minstrel Trading Ltd

Greene & Greene

The Bury St Edmunds office of Greene & Greene has an experienced litigation practice that frequently handles property-related matters, many of which exceed £1m in value. Rob Adam and Property Litigation Association member Michael Batty are the lead partners in a small but highly skilled team, in which Sarah Western is 'rightly feared by opponents as a formidable opponent whose star is rising fast'.

Practice head(s):

Rob Adam; Michael Batty

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Western

Testimonials

‘Sarah Western is punching well above the weight of a provincial solicitor, not just taking on City practices as opponents but also as defendants. She is rightly feared by opponents as a formidable opponent whose star is rising fast.’

HCR Hewitsons

The 2021 merger of Hewitsons and Harrison Clark Rickerbys has formed HCR Hewitsons, a combination which brings together two strong real estate litigation teams. The key names in Cambridge are Natalie Minott and legal director Rachel Sims, both of who are former practice heads at Hewitsons. The combined team advises on a range of high-value disputes, acting for private landowners, investor landlords and commercial tenants, and it has particular expertise in disputes in the telecoms and energy sectors, particularly those relating to easement and wayleave issues. The practice also has strong knowledge of agricultural and commercial landlord and tenant matters.

Other key lawyers:

Natalie Minott; Rachel Sims

Testimonials

‘Natalie Minott is very easy and helpful to work with. She goes out of their way to respond very promptly and is exceptionally clear and detailed.’

‘Working with Rachel Sims has been most productive and an absolute pleasure. She understands the matter at hand very quickly. She always thoroughly researches all angles before presenting legal advice. No matter how busy she is, she finds time to listen and respond. Rachel has even worked on the weekends to complete time critical tasks. That is above and beyond the normal call of duty and has to be appreciated.

‘Natalie Minott has been outstanding, offering good advice in clear English and also giving good advice about how to save on solicitors costs!’

‘When dealing with Natalie Minott, she was very clear about what was needed. She made contact with all parties and kept me fully informed.’

‘Rachel Sims has been prompt and responsive on a range of issues. Her billing is entirely transparent. Rachel is an accessible solicitor who is prepared to engage on a variety of issues and is prepared to say when she needs to consult further. She has been well suited to our requirements.’

‘I felt that Natalie Minott was totally committed to getting the issue resolved in a manner that was fair. She kept me updated on the progress of the case so that I felt fully aware of what was happening at every stage.’

‘We have always received a very prompt and professional service. Not only is the team highly competent, they always take the extra time to understand their client and the client’s specific requirements. The team’s commitment is worthy of mention and this is what I believe truly sets them apart.’

Taylor Vinters

Taylor Vinters in Cambridge is 'pragmatic and gives sensible, commercial advice to its clients'. The firm frequently acts for domestic and international technology businesses in property disputes, as well as handling high-value cases for clients in the agricultural sector. It is also adept in property matters arising from insolvencies, and it acts for high-net-worth individuals in contentious property matters. Head of disputes Luke Hibbert oversees the practice, in which senior associate Beth Price focuses on property litigation issues affecting large landowners and regularly advises on complex landlord and tenant issues and easement disputes. Associate Alexandra Thornton-Reid is also a key practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Luke Hibbert

Other key lawyers:

Beth Price; Alexandra Thornton-Reid

Testimonials

‘This team are pragmatic and gives sensible, commercial advice to its clients even when it is difficult. They work well together and know their area of law well.’

‘Alexandra Thornton-Reid takes control of cases and works them very well.’

‘I have had the pleasure of working with the property litigation team for a number of years now. They are a knowledgeable, straightforward and hardworking group of practitioners that support each other as a team really well. From my perspective, they are a team that deliver a high-quality service to their clients whilst always retaining an approachable and unpretentious manner. I work with numerous property litigation firms and Taylor Vinters are a standout firm.’

‘Alexandra Thornton-Reid who is quietly confident, bright and determined when it comes to getting the right result for a client, whether that be by a litigated result or settlement. I can only say that it is a pleasure working with her.’

Barker Gotelee

Barker Gotelee's Ipswich property litigation group is taking on an increasingly varied caseload. Its work includes property-related professional negligence cases, matters arising from insolvency, and disputes on behalf of agricultural estates. Associate Mark Wrinch leads the practice, calling on the talents of senior litigator Dermott Thomas and newly qualified solicitor Jane Haviland, who has more than 20 years' experience as an environmental consultant.

Practice head(s):

Mark Wrinch

Other key lawyers:

Dermott Thomas; Jane Haviland

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors

Clients praise the 'sheer commitment and attention to detail' of Clapham & Collinge Solicitors in Norwich. The firm acts for individual landlords, tenants and property owners in Norfolk on a broad range of contentious property matters. Managing partner Mark Kermez oversees the practice, in which litigation executives Shaun Taylor, who devotes 90% of his time to property litigation, and Katie Smith are key practitioners. Litigation partner Philip Lumb and consultant Michael Olmer are also involved in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Mark Kermez

Other key lawyers:

Shaun Taylor; Katie Smith; Michael Olmer; Philip Lumb

Testimonials

‘Sheer commitment and attention to detail.’

‘Kate Smith and Mark Kermez provide clients with a Rolls-Royce service in terms of case and client management, with particular reference to the time and care they invest in ensuring that their client maximises their chances of success in the matter.’

‘They were thoroughly professional at all times, kept me up to date on all issues. Whenever I went into their offices I was greeted by considerate and helpful staff. Overall I would highly recommend this firm of solicitors.’

‘Thoroughly professional service from start to finish . I was helped in particular by Kate Smith.’

‘Understands our needs. Not pushed into costs which are not necessary or a route which would cause prolonged or further issues. Allows us to take lead when required and thus avoids conflict with third parties which in turns keeps everything on a respectable level and likely to have an acceptable outcome to all parties.’

‘Over the last decade Clapham & Collinge LLP have supported me with various legal issues. I think they are an extremely reliable practice. The team are conscientious, thorough and supportive. I trust their advice.’

‘Michael Olmer and Kate Smith of Clapham & Collinge assisted me over a number of years with a very difficult property dispute. They were very supportive and always available to answer my questions/concerns. They kept me well informed and gave me straight forward guidance/advice. They were extremely diligent and I felt they really cared about getting the dispute resolved.’

Work highlights

  • Acted in the defence of a terminal dilapidations claim where the landlord demanded £125,000.00, plus legal fees and surveyor fees, negotiating a favourable settlement.
  • Advised on an issue of access where an error at first registration meant our client was unable lawfully to access her property.
  • Advising in relation to the recovery of land transferred within members of a family which has been the subject of development.

Fosters

Fosters in Norwich provides a broad range of property litigation services to landlords, managing agents, stakeholders and property entrepreneurs. The firm is known for providing advice that is 'concise, accurate and timely'. Seasoned litigator Chris Fielding (who is 'supportive and understanding') leads the practice, supported by senior associate Gurpal Singh, and works with commercial property partner Stephen Green and head of the business team Jamie Arnall. The firm's recent work includes a High Court trial concerning a £2m trust property.

Practice head(s):

Chris Fielding

Other key lawyers:

Gurpal Singh; Stephen Green; Jamie Arnall

Testimonials

‘There is a very strong in-house team at Fosters, led by Chris Fielding and well backed by the more junior members of the team. I highly rate Chris’s ability to bring in additional expertise from outside of Fosters, as and when required. This extended team has included a barrister and mediator, both of whom have provided excellent services as well.’

‘Chris Fielding has helped me on a particularly difficult and frustrating property case for the past three years and counting. His advice has always been excellent – concise, accurate and timely. This has enabled this case to progress as effectively as possible over this period, even during times of extreme stress. I’d highly recommend Chris’s services. ’

‘Well organised team working together in difficult times.’

‘Chris Fielding has been supportive and understanding.’

‘We have very close working links with this team. They are a valuable resource for our members and give up a lot of their time to run seminars and do free 15-minute slot legal surgeries. They are also readily contactable with legal issues that members bring to our attention on a daily basis.’

‘We work very closely with Chris Fielding and Gurpal Singh, who give much of their valuable time to help and advise our members, run seminars, write articles and keep us up to date with changes in legislation.’

Key clients

Norwich City Football Club

John Parker (Cherry Tree Veterinary Practice Limited)

J Davey Construction Limited

Taylor Properties Trading Co. Limited

Mr. Melvyn Hunt

Rhea Greaves

Lindsey Rasberry

Angela Gill (ELA)

Work highlights

  • Referred considerable work through the Eastern Landlords Association.
  • Advised on a matter related to a joint venture between family members which ended up going to Trial at the High Court followed by a final resolution in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division). The firm acted for the Defendant/Applicants in respect of ‘trust’ property valued at c. £2m – the case involved equitable accounting, planning breaches and ancillary proceeds of crime act proceedings in the Crown Court.
  • Acted for a veterinary practice based in Surrey who purchased an MRI scanner for c. £1m, which they argued was defective and not fit for purpose. The parties engaged in ADR which led to a favourable resolution for the client.

Gotelee Solicitors

At Gotelee Solicitors, head of dispute resolution Andrew Breckenridge has more than 30 years' experience in litigation and has frequently handled property disputes during that time. His work includes enforcement matters for lenders, pension schemes and other financial services businesses, as well as a range of property-related cases for businesses, investors and individuals. Clients remark that he 'gives very clear, practical advice and cuts through a lot of noise in a helpful and constructive way'.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Breckenridge

Testimonials

‘Andrew Breckenridge gives very clear, practical advice and cuts through a lot of noise in a helpful and constructive way.’

‘Provincial solicitors that have real expertise in every department.’

”Andrew Breckenridge’s policy is to reply by email with his immediate thoughts. This makes for a much more collaborative approach. He has solved some of my company’s big issues this year.’

Key clients

Goldcrest Finance Limited

James Hay Pension Trustees Limited

Stonham Barns Limited

Monumart Limited

Elemento Group Limited

Complete Timber Solutions Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Monumart Limited in relation to two substantial dilapidations claims arising from the previous leases of two warehouses in Suffolk.
  • Acting for Goldcrest Finance limited, a commercial lender and a Director as two of three Defendants in High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts in Liverpool, Business list (ChD) proceedings, seeking damages arising from a commercial loan secured by legal charge over property, for alleged breach of fiduciary and other duties.
  • Instructed by James Hay Partnership to defend proceedings issued for alleged lost commercial rent as a result of alleged delay in agreeing to a transfer of a Small Self-Administered Pension scheme to a new trustee.

Greenwoods GRM

The property litigation practice at Greenwoods GRM is led from London, though head of disputes Huw Wallis, who work in both London and Peterborough, is frequently involved in major cases. In East Anglia, associate Amy Castleman is a key member of a practice that is ' efficient, hardworking and sensitive to their clients' needs'. Castleman has a niche specialism in property guardianship cases, though she also works with the London-based practice head on leasehold and collective enfranchisement matters.

Practice head(s):

Huw Wallis

Other key lawyers:

Amy Castleman

Testimonials

‘The property litigation team is efficient, hardworking and sensitive to their clients’ needs.’

‘Amy Castleman is an associate who is very hardworking and a capable lawyer.’

‘What makes Amy Castleman stand out is her attention to detail, specialist knowledge and insight. She performs far above and beyond what I have come to expect of an associate with her PQE. Working with her is often closer to working with a partner with more than double her experience.’

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough has a 'friendly and positive' approach to property litigation and is praised by clients as 'knowledgable and client-focused'. 'Helpful, reassuring' head of commercial litigation Helen Townsend and head of commercial property Anna Spriggs oversee the practice. Townsend has 15 years' experience in property litigation, which she brings to bear on matters involving restrictive covenants, lease renewals, possession and dilapidation claims. She also has in-depth knowledge of boundary and right of way cases.

Practice head(s):

Helen Townsend; Anna Spriggs

Testimonials

‘Helen Townsend has been helpful, reassuring and nothing was too much trouble. Even when things where super though she keep us reassured and up to date matters.’

‘From the first contact with Hunt & Coombs, all issues concerning my property in London and necessary litigation were handled with perfect professionalism. It was a complex situation involving three countries with different legal systems. Their expertise included a deep knowledge of the law in all three countries as it related to property, ownership, marriage law, legal procedures that were deemed necessary. A good working relationship developed.’

‘All other contacts with staff were friendly and positive. The willingness to be of help was noted and appreciated. I was always treated with respect.’

‘Knowledgable and client-focused.’

‘Helen Townsend is conscientious and knowledgeable.’

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The real estate litigation practice at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is led from London but senior associate Andrea Nicholls in Cambridge plays a central role in the firm's work in contentious agricultural and property matters and disputes concerning freehold property, rights of way, restrictive covenants, overage agreements and land options. Nicholls 'gets straight to the point and is fluent in her law and steady under fire'.

Other key lawyers:

Andrea Nicholls

Testimonials

‘Focused fact-gathering, planning and implementation in complex areas of law. Realistic well informed costs estimates. Good client communication. No nasty surprises.’

‘Andrea Nicholls. Gets straight to the point. Fluent in her law. Practical application of very intricate law. Steady under fire.’

‘Penningtons’ property litigation team in East Anglia provide robust and commercially minded advice to large businesses and developers, to farms and to individuals.’

‘Andrea Nicholls is an experienced litigator who is focused on getting the right result for the client. She stands out in cutting through to the main issue and setting aside distractions which often slow down litigation in the hands of others. I would unhesitatingly recommend her for any property dispute, particularly where there was a right of way or insolvency angle.’

‘Andrea Nicholls is clear, concise, quick and approachable with a good manner which clients find easy to understand. Good communication. Practical in dealing and application.’

Key clients

Vitality Limited

Southern Housing Group Limited

Steeles Law

Steeles Law in Norwich has 'a willingness to cooperate which is rarely seen in other practices'. The firm is frequently instructed by commercial landlords and tenants in lease renewal and dilapidations claims. It also handles residential leasehold matters including claims for possession on behalf of landlords. 'Knowledgable, capable and diplomatic' solicitor Damian Pitts is the key practitioner and specialises in property and financial services litigation.

Practice head(s):

Damian Pitts

Testimonials

‘Damian Pitts is knowledgable, capable and diplomatic..

‘Damian Pitts has shown integrity with the handling of our current dispute. Communication between Damian and ourselves was and is paramount to finalising the boundary issues and attempted trespass by the other neighbours to gain land which did not belong to them.’

Key clients

Glenny LLP

Equitix

Work highlights

  • Advised the residential block management team at Glenny on numerous service charge issues arising from their portfolio of properties under management.
  • Advised and acted for a large commercial property landlord with various properties around the country on several matters including, serving schedules of terminal dilapidations, acting on an unopposed lease renewal claim of a store in Weston-Super-Mare and advice on forfeiture.
  • Instructed to advise and serve notice on the local authority under S37 of the Rent Agriculture Act 1976 for a large poultry supplier.