Property litigation in London Bar
Hailed as ‘the strongest set for property litigation’, Falcon Chambers is home to ‘unparalleled strength and depth’. Its members are active on all property litigation fronts with distinguished expertise in compulsory purchases, easements, restrictive covenants, mines and minerals, enfranchisement, Land Registry issues and telecoms matters. Guy Fetherstonhaugh QC recently appeared in the high-profile case of Fearn v Trustees of the Tate Gallery, a Court of Appeal matter where neighbouring flat owners sought an injunction on the grounds that a viewing platform at the Tate Modern overlooked their property. Elsewhere, Emily Windsor and Stephen Jourdan QC acted on Trustees of the Alexander Devine Children’s Cancer Trust v Millgate; the matter is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court and is being closely monitored due to its consideration of whether a restrictive covenant can be retrospectively modified on the grounds of public interest. Further strengthening the set at the top end, both Gary Cowen and Adam Rosenthal took silk in 2020.
Landmark Chambers is ‘definitely a leader in the property litigation field’, providing ‘strength in depth at all levels from leading silks down to up-and-coming juniors’. Able to ‘handle all forms of disputes’, the set’s core expertise encompasses traditional land law matters, commercial landlord and tenant disputes, property-related contractual disputes and professional negligence claims pertaining to real estate. Individual members have also carved out market-leading reputations in more specialised areas of property law including party walls, rights of light and the Telecommunications Code. In a recent highlight, Katharine Holland QC was instructed alongside Yaaser Vanderman and Galina Ward in the matter of Vauxhall Motors v Manchester Ship Canal Company Limited, an appeal to the Supreme Court which considers whether forfeiture relief can be granted in respect of a contractual license. Also significant was the precedent-setting case of Brar v Thirunavukkrasu in which Aaron Walder successfully argued to the Court of Appeal that the exercise of CRAR amounts to a waiver of the right to forfeit for non-payment of rent.
‘By far one of the best property sets’, Tanfield Chambers is ‘consistently recognised as a leader for leasehold enfranchisement’ matters in addition to service charge matters and landlord and tenant disputes. In recent years, the set has also significantly enhanced its reputation for real property, party wall, professional negligence, sale of land, commercial property and mortgage-related disputes. Philip Rainey QC serves as head of chambers; he made yet another appearance in the Supreme Court this year, leading Ellodie Gibbons in the case of Sequent Nominees Ltd v Hautford Ltd. The pair successfully convinced the Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision that their client, the landlord, has unreasonably withheld consent for a tenant’s planning application. In a further piece of flagship litigation, Andrew Butler QC appeared in the case of Jones v Owen, successfully convincing the Supreme Court to refuse an appeal for a Chancery Division and later Court of Appeal ruling that land transferred to the defendants would be governed by restrictive covenants affecting the remainder of the claimants’ land.
Wilberforce Chambers is considered a ‘pre-eminent set for property litigation with huge strength in depth at both silk and junior level’. Active on a broad array of property-related litigation, its key strengths lie in commercial and residential landlord and tenant, title and development disputes, in addition to disputes pertaining to mortgages, charges, and security. Tiffany Scott QC and Charlotte Black recently appeared in the Supreme Court in the case of Sequent Nominees Ltd v Hautford Ltd; they successfully represented the tenant in overturning a previous decision that the landlord has reasonably withheld permission to use the upper floors of the leased property as flats. In a further highlight, Jonathan Seitler QC was engaged in the case of University of London v Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited, a highly significant mandate as it was the first case held before the Court of Appeal to relate to interim and temporary rights under the new Telecommunications Code.
Hardwicke is a ‘strong property set’ with ‘fantastic client service’ and a ‘wide range of excellent counsel’. Clients note its ‘good range of specialisms’ encompass property-related insolvency and professional negligence, cladding and nuisance, trespass injunctions, land registration and ground rent disputes. In addition, individual members demonstrate experience in respect of pub and Airbnb-related litigation, Japanese knotweed disputes, and Schedule 3A of the Communications Act 2003. A notable example of the set’s recent work was Triplark v Reiner & Wismayer, a matter relating to alienation provisions in which Brie Stevens-Hoare QC successfully convinced the Supreme Court to refuse permission to appeal following on from two previous rulings in the Court of Appeal and Upper Tribunal of the FFT. Further strengthening the set, Faisel Sadiq, a barrister primarily focused on commercial landlord and tenant disputes, recently joined from Ely Place Chambers.
Clients of Maitland Chambers note its ‘very good reputation’ and praise it as ‘among the stronger property sets’. The set excels on a number of fronts including commercial property, development of land and insolvency-related disputes, possession hearings, as well as landlord and tenant litigation. A standout instruction from the recent workload saw John McGhee QC appear in Generator Development v Lidl, a Court of Appeal matter in which it was argued that, owing to a joint venture, a property company should own an equitable interest in land acquired for development by the well-known supermarket. In another highlight, Richard Fowler was engaged for Holyoake v Candy and others, a high-value Chancery Division claim in which the claimants sought damages for fraud and intimidation as a result of a failed luxury property development in London.
Selborne Chambers is home to ‘numerous excellent juniors and QCs who cover the full spectrum of property litigation’ including property fraud, business rates, adverse possession, land registration, real property and commercial landlord and tenant disputes. In a recent Court of Appeal matter, Gibbs v Lakeside Developments Ltd, Gary Blaker QC successfully acted for the respondent in a novel dispute where a lease was forfeited owing to unpaid ground rent and service charges following the long-term disappearance and emergence of the lessor. Nicholas Trompeter also has a high-profile case of his own in Rossendale BC v Hurstwood Properties; the matter relates to the recovery of business rates for unoccupied properties with permission to appeal to the Supreme Court recently granted. In recent news, Clifford Darton QC and David Warner respectively joined from Ely Place Chambers and New Square Chambers, strengthening the practice group.
At Enterprise Chambers, ‘the clerking is good and the barristers are approachable, accessible and available’. Members demonstrate a ‘strong range of expertise and seniority, primarily specialising in landlord and tenant, development, leasing, mortgage and insolvency disputes in addition to property-related professional negligence. Kavan Gunaratna was recently instructed by the defendants in the case of Davis v Mothersdale, a property fraud trial which alleged the dishonest concealment of substantial flooding at a high-value property.
New Square Chambers is a set with ‘renowned expertise in public rights of way, village greens, administrative and public law’ and is equally well-regarded for its handling of real property and landlord and tenant disputes. George Laurence QC is 'a leading authority on the law relating to public rights of way and open spaces'. In a recent highlight, Alexander Learmonth was instructed for Price v Saundry, a Court of Appeal case in which he represented the beneficiary of a dozen rental properties in forcing the trustee to account for and sell the portfolio; the matter was gained further significance via the discovery of various irregularities and illegal payments.
Radcliffe Chambers ‘enjoys a high reputation’ owing to its ‘excellent clerks’ and ‘great strength in depth at senior-junior level’. Found among the respective workload of its members are landlord and tenant, property tax, planning permission, auction sale, misrepresentation and enfranchisement litigation along with commercial investment and development-related disputes. Kate Selway QC recently took silk; a particular standout case from her workload was LCP Management v HMRC, a case which pertained to the application of tax and the VAT regime to development property and leases of airspace.
A ‘very strong set with excellent knowledge and many good advocates’, members of Serle Court specialise in easement, option, land registration and trust disputes in addition to litigation arising from restrictive covenants and rights of lights. Andrew Francis is 'one of the leading experts on restrictive covenants; serving as the author of the leading text on the subject'. Distinguished expertise is also held in relation to the laws relating to waterways with Christopher Stoner QC recently acting on the Court of Appeal case of Jones v Canal & River Trust; the matter related to the application of s.8 of the British Waterways Act 1983 in an instance where a residential vessel was removed from an inland waterway.
Members of Henderson Chambers are ‘a pleasure to deal with, processing work quickly and within agreed timescales’. The set’s core strengths lie in real property, co-ownership, trusts of land and commercial property disputes in addition to residential landlord and tenant matters. George Mallet recently appeared in the Supreme Court in the case of Dr Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Limited where he represented the respondent in a matter relating to the management of a multi-million-pound block of residential flats.