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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South West > Real estate > Property litigation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Property litigation
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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The team at Burges Salmon LLP is ‘very technically knowledgeable and brings a practical and commercial approach’ to a range of contentious property issues, including property insolvency, corporate lease disputes and landed estate matters. Department head Richard Bedford acted for Eden Investments and the LPA receivers in relation to a £6m damages claim against Sainsbury’s concerning a breach of covenant in its anchor tenant lease in a shopping mall. Bedford also provides ongoing contentious property advice to Waterstones Booksellers. James Sutherland advised Virgin Clubs on the lease renewal process relating to its Kensington Roof Gardens location; following the decision to terminate its lease, Sutherland continues to assist the client with decant and dilapidations analyses. Noted for providing ‘prompt responses and clear explanations’, senior associate Chris Preston advised the University of Bristol on issues such as removal of existing third-party rights arising from its purchase of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus. Senior associate David Benjamin is also highly recommended.

Known for its ‘pragmatic and results-driven’ approach, Osborne Clarke has expertise in real estate development disputes and landlord and tenant matters, and has become ‘a standout firm for utilities sector disputes’. Indeed, newly promoted partner David Shakesby has been called ‘an invaluable asset’ for investors and developers in the utilities and renewable energy sectors. Shakesby is assisting SSE with a project to procure land rights, through compulsory purchase order, for the purpose of constructing underground network reinforcement cables. Emily Van Schalkwyk is ‘a hardworking and organised’ associate director who focuses on energy infrastructure and development disputes. The department is headed by Leona Briggs, who is by some clients’ reckoning ‘one of the best property lawyers in the region’; she is advising a household-name online business on certain UK property regulations governing issues such as premises management and tenancy deposits. Briggs is also representing Vodafone in a complex landlord and tenant dispute. Associate director Sue Thompson leads the residential landlord and tenant sub-group. Additional clients include Western Power Distribution, Ward Homes and Heineken.

As ‘one of the strongest regional firms’, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s property litigation  group ‘can compete alongside any City firm and is far above average on a national basis’. The firm’s ‘international clout’ was strengthened by its tie-up with US-based Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP, which has resulted in an increase in international instructions, particularly in the energy sector.  James Rees is ‘extremely able and experienced’ and acts as client partner for a number of the department’s most significant clients, such as Network Rail Infrastructure, Ladbrokes Coral and National Trust. Sasha Hinton and Stephanie Doyle are managing associates in the department. Patrick Wetherall has left the firm to join Foot Anstey.

Ashfords LLP handles a range of strategic and contentious real estate issues, but is perhaps best known for advising public and private sector clients on landlord and tenant matters and complex development disputes. Department head Sian Gibbon has attracted praise from clients and peers alike; she assisted the construction arm of a national residential developer with obtaining orders for possession of a development site and the subsequent removal of various equipment from the site. Gibbon also advised a commercial occupier on a disputed lease renewal at a prominent London location, and assisted a water utility company with an interim possession order for a site that had been occupied by travellers. Rob Nicholson successfully represented CDS (Superstores International) in a claim of misrepresentation brought against one of the client’s landlords following the discovery of asbestos in a commercial property. Senior associate James Hemsley and solicitor Sophie Michaelides joined the team from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP.

Clarke Willmott LLP provides strategic property advice to a range of market participants including residential developers, property investors, corporate retailer tenants, local authorities and social housing providers. Simon Freeman advised Hansteen Holdings on recovering vacant possession of a multi-let business park, and subsequently assisted the client with the termination of various leases. Nicola Seager provides comprehensive contentious property advice to Marcol, a London-based real estate investor. Seager also has experience in property insolvency. Graham McIntyre advises Mapeley Estates on landlord and tenant matters across its property portfolio, and also acts for corporate tenants such as Burger King. Kary Withers leads the social housing sector group and also has expertise in telecoms mast issues. Withers represented PG Group in proceedings to remove telecoms equipment from the roof of a building in order to facilitate development; she is also handling the client’s related damages claim. Other key contacts include Neil Ham and department head Chris Taylor. Bonnie Martin and Amy Rudrum opened Estate Legal in 2017.

Headed by Nick Knapman, the team at DAC Beachcroft LLP specialises in matters involving shopping centres and major retail property portfolios and provides comprehensive contentious property advice to Westfield Europe and Intu Properties. In addition to advising the group’s most significant shopping centre clients, Knapman has been involved in a number of multimillion-pound dilapidations claims, and also acted for a national housebuilder in a substantial disputed collaboration agreement. The department is also known for advising large corporate occupiers and landowners in the finance, health and residential development sectors. Senior associate Alison Moore handles ongoing lease work for AXA Insurance UK, and also advised a property management and investment group on a multimillion-pound dispute regarding the termination of a development agreement. Senior associate Richard Marshall is another key contact. Additional clients include EE, Zurich Assurance and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.

In terms of client care, Foot Anstey is ‘among the very best in the South West’. Headed by Richard Bagwell, ‘a collegiate and pragmatic’ litigator noted for his ‘broad and deep-seated knowledge’, the property litigation department assists retailers with property portfolio management and has recently been involved in a number of mining-related disputes. Bagwell provides ongoing advice to many of the group’s key clients, including Screwfix Direct and Tregothnan Estates. Daniel Cuthbert is advising the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on various right to light concerns arising from multiple development sites. Additionally, Cuthbert and senior associate Nicola Purcell successfully represented a sovereign entity in a substantial claim regarding its embassy building in London. The team also has experience in agricultural land disputes and has been increasingly engaged by receivers in relation to property realisation pursuant to the Law of Property Act.  Partner Patrick Wetherall has joined the team from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP.

The team at Michelmores LLP has historically been focused on public sector work, and although it maintains a prolific public sector client-base, the property group is increasingly instructed by private sector developers, land owners and corporate occupiers. Department head Andrew Baines is advising Poplar Housing & Regeneration Community Association on the relocation and new lease strategy of over 60 commercial tenants in relation to the Chrisp Street redevelopment project in east London. Baines is also representing a property holding group in a dispute over a property financing agreement and, separately, is advising Aberystwyth University on a £900k dilapidations dispute. Additionally, the team, which includes senior associate Naomi Cunningham, has acted for multiple developer clients in cases regarding breached or terminated contracts.

TLT combines ‘the size and expertise of a national firm with the individual client service one would expect from a smaller, regional firm’. The property litigation group is known for advising public sector bodies and clients in the retail and leisure industries on landlord and tenant issues and development disputes. Department head Mark Routley advised Covent Garden Market Authority on the landlord and tenant aspects of the £470m redevelopment of its 52-acre site at Nine Elms, London. Kane Kirkbride defended Knightstone in a FTT claim by an adjoining landowner for prescriptive easement against the client’s land. The team has also handled disputed lease renewals for clients such as WHSmith and Greene King. Additionally, legal director Alex Payne advised an aggregates supplier on an access dispute with a farmer, and also defended a local authority in a misrepresentation claim regarding a tenancy lease.

With ‘solid technical knowledge and extremely competitive rates’, VWV ‘compares favourably to its regional competitors’ and has particular strength in public sector property disputes. The ‘sensible and commercial’ Michelle Bendall is representing Highways England Company in an Upper Tribunal matter concerning the level of compensation due with respect to a compulsory purchase order. Bendall also assisted MD Homes with a possession order regarding a development site that had been occupied by protesters. Also recommended is David Bird, who advised a client in the education sector on an infringement of its right to light in an office block in Birmingham. Senior associate Daniel Hall manages the department’s work for PricewaterhouseCoopers and associate Georgina Little has experience in landlord and tenant issues and breach of covenant claims. St Vincent de Paul Society and Crest Nicholson Operations are also among the team’s clients.

Bevan Brittan LLP's dedicated commercial property and housing litigation practices provide contentious property advice across the firm’s client base, which includes Places for People Homes and Bath and Northeast Somerset Council. Department head Steve Eccles was instructed by Canal & River Trust to terminate the occupation rights of over ten commercial occupiers in an industrial site, which was subject for redevelopment. Eccles also advised East Hampshire District Council on the termination of a tenant lease in the Metro Inns hotel following a number of health and safety breaches. The team, which includes senior associates Kevin Dawson and Kate O’Brien , also provides ongoing contentious real estate advice to Rentokil Initial and NHS Property Services.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP handles the full range of strategic and contentious property matters for corporates, land-owning trusts and high-net-worth individuals. Senior associate Paul Dench represented Europa Oil and Gas in a highly publicised dispute regarding a drilling site that had been occupied by protesters; the team successfully obtained a possession order and injunction in High Court proceedings. Dench also advised a foreign real estate developer on its options in light of an improperly terminated development and lease contract. A team including associate Emma Preece assists The Bathurst Estate with ongoing contentious property work such as rent arrears recovery, possession action, forfeitures and contested lease renewals. Samuel Lear is an active associate in the team.

Well known for its ‘excellent transactional real estate practice’, Davitt Jones Bould also has a ‘growing property litigation team’, which was recently strengthened by the arrival of associate director Janani Puvi, who joined from property litigation boutique Dewar Hogan. Acting primarily for a government client base, Maeve Bonner acted for a central government department in relation to a contentious lease renewal for a property in a high-profile London location. Associate director John Smith has assisted a national transportation group with issues such as the removal of travellers, and recently advised the Department of Education on an historical dilapidations claim. Additional contacts include Zaheer Bashir, who is a ‘knowledgeable’ senior associate. The team also provides ongoing contentious property advice to The Royal Parks and Defra.

With particular focus on the telecoms, marinas and care home sectors, the team at Lester Aldridge LLP provides comprehensive landlord and tenant advice to regional and nationally operating corporate clients. Indeed, department head Kate Stewart advises clients such as Marina Developments and Big Yellow on a litany of contentious tenant matters, such as service charge recoveries, contested lease renewals and forfeitures. Acting alongside the insolvency team, Stewart also assists national lenders and insolvency practitioners with the contentious aspects of mortgage recoveries. Stewart is assisted by solicitor Charlotte Wilson, who has been involved in property-related professional negligence claims, and also assisted with proceedings to evict a group of trespassers from a multimillion-pound development site in London.

Stephens Scown LLP has ‘a strong reputation in the South West’ and the property litigation team ‘can hold its own against regional competitors’. Mark Richardson provides ongoing advice to regional property manager Whitton & Laing regarding conditions for forfeiture across its property holdings. Richardson is also acting for a mining company in a matter concerning the presence of subterranean infrastructure on a potential development site, which has given rise to a substantial compensation claim. Senior associate Ian Thomas is assisting Spectrecom Films in negotiations to determine whether a particular flooding incident is an insured event under its tenancy lease. Other key figures include the ‘pragmatic and down-to-earth’ Mike Davies and Toby Claridge.

Split across the firm’s Swindon and Bristol offices, the property litigation department at Thrings LLP is regularly instructed by corporate occupiers and agricultural landlords in contentious lease matters and also handles strategic property portfolio management. Warren Reid is advising a prominent estate agent concerning contentious property issues across its portfolio of around 1,400 properties. Michael Tatters has assisted corporate retailers and consumer product companies with contested lease renewals. Further, Gemma Featonby advised a regional holiday park on residential property management issues including service charge disputes, arrears and breach of lease agreements. Featonby also has experience in collective enfranchisement mandates. Key clients include BAM Nuttall, and Countrywide Estate Agents.

In the area of landlord and tenant disputes, Laceys Solicitors incorporating HLF ‘fares very well in terms of actual performance and value for money’. Department head Mark Timberlake represented a legal firm in a six-figure dilapidations claim and also acted for an estate in connection with the sale of a site that was occupied by a protected tenant. The team also handles collective enfranchisement and other residential disputes and has particular expertise in acting for the owners of housing blocks. Further, associates Brendan Herbert and Rob Kelly have experience in freehold property disputes. The team also represents a large regional chain of estate agents in all of its contested office lease matters.

Pardoes Solicitors LLP is primarily instructed by large regional estates and private landowners in boundary and right of way disputes, contentious planning issues, disputed will and trust property and professional negligence claims in the development space. Department head Bhavani Hogarty represented a landowner in a right of way dispute regarding a proposed housing development, and has handled professional negligence claims against architects and conveyancing professionals. Hogarty, who has ‘exceptional client-care skills’, has also handled right of way and right to park disputes involving commercial and residential properties in London. Additionally, Hogarty and Nigel Kinder acted for the claimants in relation to the enforcement of commercial arrears. Kinder has particular expertise in agricultural land disputes.

The team at Royds Withy King provides wide-ranging strategic and contentious property advice to regional corporates and individuals. The department is headed by Caroline Preist, who has expertise in commercial landlord and tenant matters and easements, boundary, covenant and title disputes. Associate Sarah Taylor specialises in residential long leasehold disputes, but also advised a foreign embassy on a possession claim regarding a foreign-owned property in central London. Additionally, senior associate Marianne Johns defended a group of related clients in possession and forfeiture proceedings for alleged non-payment of rent. Johns also has experience in property-related professional negligence. Bath Rugby and Triumph UK are among the team’s key clients.

By one client’s estimation Steele Raymond LLP is ‘generally head and shoulders above any other firm in Bournemouth’, and the property litigation team is ‘a pleasure to work with, indeed’. The group is now led by senior associate Hannah Dare, ‘an absolutely first-rate property litigator’, who joined the firm from Fladgate LLP. Dare advises a national retailer on ongoing contentious property issues, and is assisting a commercial landlord with negotiations regarding a substantial dilapidations claim. Additionally, the team was involved in a collective enfranchisement project, and has been engaged by a development company to advise on a right of way concern. Peter Rolph heads the wider disputes resolution department. Simone Ritchie left the firm to become a sole practitioner/property litigation consultant.

‘Very highly rated in the region’, Stone King LLP is instructed by charities, developers, educational trusts and high-net-worth individuals in a wide variety of contentious property issues. Particularly recommended is department head Tony Pidgeon, ‘an astute litigator, who is quickly able to cut to the heart of a complicated and fractious dispute’. Pidgeon is involved in a substantial breach of confidence dispute regarding a proposed property purchase, and has represented individuals and charities in various disputes including dilapidations, beneficial ownership and commercial lease assignment. The team also has experience in the removal of trespassers. Solicitor Simon Stone is another key figure in the department.

Trethowans LLP ’s contentious property practice is headed by Ian Singleton, who handles commercial, agricultural and residential landlord and tenant disputes, and property-related professional negligence. Singleton has particular experience in forfeiture and possession claims, contested lease renewals and dilapidations, and is instructed by individuals and corporates.

In terms of of client service, Willans LLP has been rated by clients as ‘much better than the local competition’. Headed by the ‘efficient and knowledgeable’ Nick Cox, the team focuses on commercial lease work for individuals and clients in the charity sector, though it also has experience with covenant, right of way, and boundary disputes, as well as adverse possession claims. Cox is instructed by a number of national charities, including Scope, which he and Nick Southwell represented, as claimant, in a contested lease renewal hearing. Cox is also advising The Works Business Company (Slough) on a dispute regarding substantial commercial rent arrears. The team also has experience in agricultural tenancy work.

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