Hall Of Fame

Commercial property: Liverpool in North West


DLA Piper UK LLP‘s Manchester and Liverpool-based team, which is led by the ‘superb’ Alison Mills from the latter office, is formed of a full remit of real estate specialists. Its workload involves assisting such well-known clients as Liverpool Football Club and Heineken UK Limited – the relationship with the latter of which is managed by real estate investment specialist Richard Thompson – in addition to multiple councils. Its work often involves advising on noteworthy, high-value redevelopment projects in the region, with many key cases led by regional managing partner Mark Beardwood. Notable team members include, Richard Ascroft who was promoted to partner in May 2022, and planning partner Sophie Stewart. Consultant Philip Rooney retired in March 2023.

Practice head(s):

Alison Mills

Other key lawyers:

Richard Thompson; Mark Beardwood; Richard Ascroft; Sophie Stewart; Melissa Cookson; Nicola Wilding


‘It is a well-run team and effective team; they are very commercial, reliable and give sensible advice, providing an excellent service to our clients. They are certainly my preferred solicitors across the funds I work on.’

‘We would certainly recommend Richard Ascroft and Melissa Cookson in Liverpool. They work with you to find solutions and are very commercial.’

‘The team is longstanding which counts for a lot. They are efficient, knowledgeable and provide a cost-effective service. Legal documentation and ongoing work trackers are held virtually, which makes accessing documents and updating simple for clients. We enjoy working with them.’

‘Alison Mills, Richard Thompson and Richard Ascroft are all approachable, knowledgeable and efficient. The team is able to get on with work without a lot of input from us which is valuable in saving time, especially on negotiating new leases. Alison Mills heads the team and is superb.’

Key clients

Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited

PGIM Real Estate

Heineken UK Limited

Downing Developments

CBRE Global Investors

LaSalle Investment Management

Schroder Real Estate Managers


Elan Homes Limited

Picton Capital

John Lewis Partnership Pension Fund

Liverpool Football Club

Barings Real Estate Advisers

Elite Partners Capital

Capital & Centric

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council

Orchard Street Investment Management/St James’s Place UK Plc

Transport for Greater Manchester

Work highlights

  • Advising Picton Property Income on their acquisition of the £13.7m multi-let freehold office and retail property at Charlotte Terrace, Olympia.

Brabners LLP

Head of investment and property management Richard Roberts co-leads Brabners LLP‘s real estate team, alongside development projects specialist Iain Gamble. It has strong capabilities handling significant regeneration projects, investments and property management, with particular experience in healthcare-related property, and is also able in high-value refinancing matters. Helen Brown‘s strength is in handling work related to both commercial and residential disciplines and Rebecca McDonald is a key senior associate.  Jeff Gillbanks departed to a private property development company in September 2022.

Practice head(s):

Richard Roberts; Iain Gamble

Other key lawyers:

Helen Brown; Rebecca McDonald


‘Unlike may other practices, Brabners give the impression that quality of service to the client is more important than the generation of fees. They operate in a measured and mature way supported by a great deal of relevant experience, which imbues trust and confidence amongst all involved. The non-confrontational style is key to reaching agreements quickly and cost-effectively.’

‘Iain Gamble manages to seamlessly combine his role as head of development with undertaking complex property transactions of substantial scale. His calm, non-confrontational and pleasant manner plays dividends in negotiations as it discourages counterparts from taking fixed positions and he is seen as honest and trustworthy by all parties.’

‘Iain has an innate confidence and depth of knowledge. His knowledge of deal structures and issues is excellent and his drafting is clear and concise. He can draw on a wealth of knowledge of recent transactions that support the current negotiations. Fees are fair and his overall approach helps get deals done within a reasonable timeframe at reasonable cost.’

Key clients

Arnold Clark


Home Bargains

ION Property Developments

Morrisons plc

NWF Group plc

Peel L&P

Peel Ports Group


Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool

Cains Brewery Village

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council

The Merseyside Pension Fund

Alpha Leisureplex Group

Appreciate Group plc (formerly Park Group)


Cityheart Developments

Clayton Square Shopping Centre


McComb Property Company Limited

Gourmet Coffee Bar and Kitchen

James Hall & Co (trading as Spar in the North)

LaSalle Investment Management

McColl’s Retail Group plc

Pavers Shoes

Promenade Estates

Real Good Food Group

Transforming Healthcare plc

Well Pharmacy

Williams Tarr

Work highlights

  • Acting for a large house builder on a considerable eight-figure refinancing of 12 development sites with a gross development value of £1.4bn.


The practice at CMS has commercial real estate specialist Abby Dry at its helm, with support from Manchester-based Mark Haywood. The team is recognised for its strong work in sale and leaseback matters, such as its advising Sainsbury’s on the proposed £500m project of this nature. Additionally, it is adept in assisting on purchases, forward funds and the day-to-day asset management of significant real estate portfolios in the region. Neil Lacey has noteworthy experience in assisting key clients on acquisitions, developments and repurposing matters involving property types spanning industry sectors. Matt Barnes is a senior associate to watch.

Practice head(s):

Abby Dry; Mark Haywood

Other key lawyers:

Neil Lacey; Matt Barnes


‘They are very strong project managers across a wide range of concurrent deals.’

‘Matt Barnes is well-organised, calm under pressure, and a good deal coordinator.’

Key clients

ARA Dunedin

Sainsburys / Argos

Arora Woking Retail Ltd

Havant Sarl

Ridge Holdings Sarl


Pension Insurance Corporation

Alberta Investment Management Company (AIMCo)

Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCo)

Tristan Capital Partners

NewRiver REIT

Woodhall Estates

Columbia Threadneedle

Goldman Sachs

Mayfair Capital

Sunventure Group

Urban Splash




Deutsche Bank

G Group of Companies

Foster Marlon

Kinrise Real Estate

Welcome Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising Sainsbury’s on all aspects of its proposed sale and leaseback of 18 prime stories for around £500m.
  • Advising Swiss Life on all aspects of the purchase of Duet, a £73m operational build-to-rent in Salford Quays.
  • Advising PIC on the £105m forward funding of No 9 First Street, Manchester’s largest post-Covid office deal.


Property investment and management expert Helen Thomas leads DWF‘s practice, which is well-versed in handling the full array of high-value matters, from planning and construction to acquisition and litigation, for such renowned clients as Costa Coffee and Homebase. Co-lead of the firm’s national public sector real estate team Julie Simms has notable experience advising central and local government clients in particular, on the full remit of large-scale projects, namely being acquisitions, disposals and regenerations.

Practice head(s):

Helen Thomas

Other key lawyers:

Julie Simms; Joseph White


‘The team are very friendly and helpful, with knowledge and experience in a wide-range of land and property aspects.’

‘They are very good in collaborative matters, particularly in understanding the tensions and differing objectives whilst finding innovative ways of establishing common ground.’

Key clients

Liverpool John Moores University

Wirral Borough Council

Magner GB Limited

Swansea City and County Council

Manchester City Council

Royal Borough of Greenwich



Tapi Carpets & Floors


Work highlights

  • Advising Costa Coffee on the delivery of all targets over the last 12 months, particularly in relation to the restructuring of key assets and acquiring drive-thru stores.
  • Advising Tapi Carpets on property matters, having developed policies and procedures to support the delivery of legal work including developing its policy in relation to green lease provisions.
  • Acting for Homebase in England and Wales in relation to property construction and planning matters including acquisitions, disposals, estate management and real estate litigation.

Hill Dickinson LLP

The team at Hill Dickinson LLP is renowned for its strong capabilities advising on some of the most significant property development projects in the region; its work for St Helen’s Council regarding the £54m development of property for the ‘Glass Futures Project’ aimed at the decarbonisation of glass production being a noteworthy example. Multi-million pound acquisition and funding matters also form much of the team’s regular workload. Claire Cosgrove manages the team’s work assisting the well-known Co-Op Group on its portfolio. Alex McCann heads up the practice and Graham Archibald is a partner to note in the team. Notably, experienced commercial property partner Simon Felce  departed in January 2023.

Practice head(s):

Alex McCann

Other key lawyers:

Graham Archibald; Claire Cosgrove; Rachael Allen


‘The team give a creative perspective and find answers to problems. They are a committed group who listen to the customers requests carefully individually but then collaborate to develop that understanding and provide a specialist solution.’

‘The team can discuss complex matters which span different legal specialisms and provide a balanced consideration of how to move forward. They give great advice on when to fight one’s corner or accept a settlement.’

‘They are very knowledgeable, know their boundaries, bring other experts in to fill in any gaps, look at the complete issue at hand creating a risk assessment of what could go wrong, and always find a pathway to success. If circumstances change, they know when to stop and reconsider and they always ensure that the client is getting good value-for-money from the services provided.’

Key clients

Carpenter Investments

Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

Co-operative Group

Derwent Lodge Estates


Dominos Pizza

East Cheshire NHS Trust

Electricity North West


Iceland Foods

Kuehne + Nagel

Legacie Developments

Liverpool City Council

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Mason Partners


National Express Group

Peel L&P

Sandyford Properties Limited

Shakespeare North Playhouse

St Helens Council

STS Aviation Services

United Utilities

The Works

Work highlights

  • Advised Legacie Developments on their £40m development funding with EVH to develop a new 36-storey 300-apartment residential tower (‘Embankment Exchange’) at Greengate, Salford.
  • Advised Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine on the acquisition and funding of the state-of-the-art Accelerator life sciences building in the heart of Liverpool’s knowledge quarter.
  • Advised the theatre trust on their lease of the new Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, the only 17th-century-style timber theatre outside London.


DTM Legal LLP‘s Liverpool team is headed by property litigation specialist Anna Duffy. Specialist in property development, finance and investments, partner Isabel Rial is a key name to note in the team, acting on many of its most significant and high-value matters. The team’s workload predominantly consists of property expansions, developments and acquisitions of significant sale in the north west region. It also assists clients in the management of property portfolios.

Practice head(s):

Anna Duffy

Other key lawyers:

Isabel Rial; Robert Harris; Ceri Davies


‘They provide an excellent service and have a great knowledge of real estate.’

‘An excellent service which deals with real estate efficiently and without needing to take constant instruction from the client.’

‘They are nice people to do business with; professional, efficient and transparent with fees. They adhere rigidly to initial agreed terms.’

Key clients

Archway Homes Limited

Anwyl Construction Company Limited Lancashire Branch

Cygnet Group

Vast Visibility Limited

Atmore Developments Limited

Atmore Investments Limited

Pulse Partnership

The Atmore Group

Carpenters Investments Group of Companies

The Windmill Group

AAH Pharmaceuticals Limited

Handelsbanken Liverpool

Morbaine Limited

Quality Freight

Willan Investments Limited

Freeths LLP

The team at Freeths LLP‘s Liverpool office, well-regarded for its ‘outstanding commercial approach to real estate legal transactions’, is co-led by property finance expert Andrew Nichol, and Luke Hopkins, who assists a reputable portfolio of institutional lenders, including The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, HSBC Bank plc and Lloyds Bank plc. The team often assists such clients in the provision of high-value loans in relation to significant acquisitions and developments. The team has been consolidated by legal director Mark Alexander, who joined from Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP in August 2022, where he was head of real estate.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Nichol; Luke Hopkins

Other key lawyers:

Mark Alexander; Joei Chung


‘Great communication and pragmatic when problems arise. Accessibility is key when working with solicitors and Freeths are always on hand.’

‘It’s rare you find good solicitors that put their ego aside for the greater good of the client, but that’s what the team at Freeths provides.’

‘They are very knowledgeable, approachable and fast, particularly Andrew Nichol.’

‘An outstanding commercial approach to real estate legal transactions that cuts through the minutiae of contracts and legal jargon. The team is appropriately results-driven.’

‘A personable and discreet service that delivers results.’

‘The team has a broad level of experience across property and finance departments. The team are small enough to be very nimble which, coupled with their can-do attitude, makes them an attractive proposition when seeking bank-side solicitors.’

‘Typically, the team are accessible, and always available to discuss how best to structure a transaction. They are looking for ways to do a deal, not kill it.’

Key clients

Unity Trust Bank plc

Lloyds Bank plc

HSBC UK Bank plc

Handelsbanken plc

Ahli United Bank (UK) plc

Santander UK plc

The Royal Bank of Scotland plc

Trophy Homes Limited

Pure Residential & Commercial Limited

Iliad Group

Nicholson Group

Shape Land & Property

Reciprocal Solutions Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Unity Trust Bank plc in the provision of a loan of £8.69m to Wey Securities Limited for the acquisition of New Bond Street Shopping Centre for £15,9m.
  • Acting for Lloyds Bank plc in the provision of a loan of £8m to The Hub Salford Limited for the refinance of a portfolio of 23 residential properties located in Manchester with portfolio value of over £13m.

MSB Solicitors

MSB Solicitors Ltd‘s offering is led by experienced property specialist Neil Kelly. The team is well-equipped to advise its clients on property work which is both commercial and residential in nature. Jack Medlicott and Darren Barwick are key partners to note in the team, being that they lead on many of the its most complex and high-value work involving the construction, development and acquisition of key property in the region.

Practice head(s):

Neil Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Jack Medlicott; Darren Barwick; Bradley Armstrong


‘The team at MSB are a breath of fresh air to work with. They work collaboratively to achieve tight deadlines and are always at the end of the phone to support and assist with any queries.’

‘They have great in-house technology, which ensures a smooth handover process between units once loans complete.’

Key clients

MS Lending Group Limited

Relendex Limited

Maclin Waddon Limited

KGD Investments Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised MS Lending Group Limited on a short term commercial facility for £2m to a borrower for the acquisition of a completed development of new build properties with a combined value of £5m.
  • Advised Relendex in a portfolio refinance containing 18 properties with a combined value of £4.6m.
  • Advised Maclin Waddon Limited on the acquisition of a development site for the construction of a development of 18 apartments with a GDV of £6m.

Weightmans LLP

The real estate offering at Weightmans LLP has experience advising both public sector and private developer clients on an array of noteworthy, high-profile work of regional and national scale. Regeneration projects form a significant portion of the team’s workload, Additionally, it is experienced in assisting on the purchase and letting of clients’ property portfolios.  The team is led by Andrea Steventon, who works from the firm’s Manchester office. Clive Bleasdale and Janice Weatherly are the key names to note in Liverpool. Real estate specialist partner Christopher Grady departed in April 2022.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Steventon

Other key lawyers:

Janice Weatherly; Clive Bleasdale; Andrew Jones


‘They are very efficient and approachable. They advise on and deal with issues in an appropriate manner.’

Very knowledgeable in the residential sector, especially residential public sector opportunities.’   

‘Janice Weatherly knows and understands needs and requirements of her clients. She is very commercial and sees all the angles whilst providing the best solutions to close the deal.’

‘They have a sound commercial approach to all real estate matters without being bogged-down by slavishly following precedents, and always mindful of getting the job done to the client’s time frame. They provide greater value for money than their competitors. Partners don’t delegate inappropriately and this leads to the building of a strong bond of trust.’

Key clients

Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire) plc

St Helens Borough Council

MHA London


Liverpool City Council

Eccleston Homes Ltd

Oak Tyres Limited

Forth Homes Limited

Liverpool Media Academy Limited

BDW Trading Limited

S Norton & Co Limited

N W Trading Limited

Reserve Forces’ and Cadet’s Association for the North West of England and the Isle of Man

IQUW Administration Services Limited

Open Solutions (OSUK) Limited

Royal Mail Group

Castle Green Homes Limited

Curtins Consulting Limited

Various Eateries Trading Limited

George Roberts (North West) Limited

Fanatics (International) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Liverpool City Council in the letting of parts of the Spine Building in the Knowledge Quarter, Liverpool, comprising a state of the art office tower dominating the skyline in the University District of Liverpool.
  • Advised IQUW Limited in the leasehold acquisition ofoffice premises at Fenchurch Street, central London for a 10-year term at an annual rental of £1.7m and ancillary supplemental agreements.