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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 > Wales > Real estate > Commercial property > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Commercial property
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Led by James Trafford, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's ten-partner team has the critical mass to handle a tremendous volume of work, primarily in the private sector, for a well hedged array of clients including developers, investors and corporate occupiers. While the team does handle some regional projects, it is best-known for its work outside of Wales, including on real estate-related energy and transport matters. David Watkins, who has expertise across a range of finance, portfolio acquisitions and estate management; Helen Thomas, whose clients include a number of high-profile UK and international corporate occupiers; Geraint Pullin Thomas, for renewable energy-related real estate matters; James Emberson , who has extensive experience in acting for institutional clients in connection with acquisitions and disposals, property management work, are all recommended. At an associate level, Jonathan Woodward is very well regarded.

Practice head(s):James Trafford

Other key lawyers:David Watkins; Helen Thomas; Geraint Pullin Thomas; James Emberson; Kevin Booth; Andrew Burns; Jones

Key Clients

Transport for London

GlaxoSmithKline Plc

SEGRO Plc

British Gas/Centrica

Annington

CBRE Global Investors

Persimmon Homes

Transport for London

EDF Energy

RWE

Work highlights

  • Development of the Education and Enterprise Campus into a new college campus, a STEM Centre, a new Secondary School, a new Special Educational Needs School, a “tech hub” and digital incubator and a new sports centre, to serve the College, schools and local community.
  • The firm advised Karbon Homes, one of the North East’s largest housing providers, on its £250m bond issue.
  • Advising SEGRO on the relocation of Japan Centre (leading provider of Japanese food and retail) from Victoria Industrial Estate to Premier Park.
  • Advised Picture Living in connection with the acquisition of a seed portfolio of residential assets from Places for People.
  • Acting for Telereal Trillium on the sale of a 10-acre development site to Cardiff University for the future development of its College of Biomedical and Life Sciences.

Appreciated for its 'proactive and commercial approach', Acuity Law continues to be involved in many of the country's highest-profile projects as a result of its deeply entrenched ties with one of Wales' largest commercial property groups. In addition to its high visibility in major domestic development projects, the team is increasingly active in UK-based deals, in part due to the 'excellent' Jonathan Geen's market-leading reputation for handling housing-led regeneration, energy, and infrastructure projects, work which has seen him handling major housing regeneration and community schemes in London and the South East of England.  Gareth Baker excels at development matters and is a key member of the team that also includes Damien Cann, who has niche expertise advising housing and healthcare companies on their property developments.

Practice head(s):Jonathan Geen and Stephen Morris

Other key lawyers:Gareth Baker; Damien Cann; Steve Berry

Testimonials

Proactive when negotiating commercial deals

Acutely aware of the financial implications and act accordingly in a timely manner

Key Clients

Rightacres Property

Hadston Southwark

Mears Group

Community Homes of Intensive Care and Education

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Associated British Ports

Greenbank Partnerships

Principality Building Society

Bluestone Resorts

Middleton Mobility

Work highlights

  • Represented property developer Rightacres on the £100m Transport Interchange in Cardiff's Central Square development.
  • Represented housing and social care provider Mears Group on a joint venture partnership raising £88m for the rolling acquisition of a 400 home temporary accommodation portfolio in Waltham Forest.
  • Performed complex due diligence and analysis on the extensive and historic property portfolio of care home provider Choice Care Group on its fast-moving £152.5m sale to Caledonia Investments.
  • Represented a Welsh University at heart of £300m joint venture mixed-used Swansea waterfront development.
  • Represented resort operator Bluestone on the acquisition and development of  a £105m site in Anglesey.

Led by the 'excellent' James Egan, Blake Morgan LLP's five-partner team handles a balanced mix of work across the private and public sector, in addition to niche social housing-related property matters. The 'very reliable and strong' Geoff Reed excels in handling high-value domestic development transactions, while Nigel Griffiths continues to oversee a thriving retail leasing offering for  landlords and tenants in a major London retail space. As well as being able to call upon the expertise of lawyers, the firm also now boasts a significant non-lawyer in-house capability which includes surveyors, project managers and cost consultants.

Practice head(s):James Egan

Other key lawyers:Geoff Reed; Nigel Griffiths; Louise Howells; Daniela Smith; Dawn Smith

Testimonials

It is a really friendly, approachable team who work hard to meet our deadlines and requirements

James Egan has a broad understanding of property and tenancy matters

Louise Howells is very experienced in social housing work

Key Clients

Canary Wharf Group Plc

Welsh Government

Cardiff Metropolitan University

NHS Wales

The Royal National Institute for Blind People

Rightacres Property Company

Barola Property Holdings

Hodge Bank

HSBC

Pennaf Housing Association

Work highlights

  • The team is acting for the health board on the procurement of the development, by a private sector developer, of a new primary care facility in Brynmawr.
  • Advising the university on the development and leasing of three floors (circa 45,000 square feet) of a new central Cardiff Grade "A" office on a 25 year lease.
  • Acting for the client on its negotiations with Persimmon Homes in respect of the development of strategic land north of Junction 33 on the M4 on mixed use development of approximately 2,000 homes, employment, other associated community uses and a strategic park and ride.
  • Acting for the bank who took security over part of Hartpury College, Hartpury House, Gloucester in consideration of a facility provided to the college to develop a new sports facility
  • Acted for the client on the acquisition of the former Avana Bakery site now known as Avana Business Park, Wern Trading Estate, Rogerstone, Newport.

Traditionally 'very strong within the public sector', but also now as active for private sector entities (including developers, investors and end-users), Geldards LLP has an increasingly diverse and well-hedged commercial property practice. Despite the recent retirement of numerous longstanding commercial property heavyweights including Rowland Davies (although he does still remain as a consultant), the firm has successfully nurtured some strong talent to effectively succeed these luminaries including recently promoted partner Harriet Morgan, who specialises in charity property law and Adam Thomas, who has particular strength in handling real estate finance and portfolio and estate management work.

Practice head(s):Susanne Bradley

Other key lawyers:Ioan Owen; Michael Jeffs; Adam Thomas; Harriet Morgan

Testimonials

The team takes a proactive stance and is always on hand to provide timely advice.

Susanne Bradley is personable and easy to work with.

Ioan Owen is highly competent and knowledgeable.

Key Clients

Admiral Insurance

Ashtenne Industrial Fund

Cardiff Gate Business Park

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group

Julian Hodge Bank

Richard Hayward Group

Royal Voluntary Service No

Torfaen County Borough Council

Welsh Ministers/Welsh Government

Western Power Distribution

Work highlights

  • The firm continues to act for the Welsh Ministers in relation to the proposed M4 relief road.
  • Advised the seller in disposing of 2 Callaghan Square (a prime grade A office block) to the Daily Mail Pension Fund
  • Acted for Leekes in their strategic disposal of a 185,000 square feet redundant retail unit.
  • Acted for the owner of land at Bridge Street Exchange Cardiff, in its development by the construction of a 22 floor tower of student accommodation located above major retail units and private residential accommodation and incorporating a new Alcohol Treatment Centre for Cardiff and Vale UHB.
  • The firm continues to be the main property advisor for Western Power Distribution, dealing with the whole of its portfolio across the South West, Wales and the Midlands.

Hugh James provides a 'very strong service' to a dynamic mix of local authorities, housebuilders, housing associations and developers. Team head Peter Hurn is 'very easy to work with', and as well as his market-leading practice on behalf of numerous national housebuilders, is also responsible for overseeing the property requirements of numerous major institutional clients of the firm. Caroline O'Flaherty is particularly strong in relation to local and affordable housing, higher education and investment portfolio management matters.

Practice head(s):Peter Hurn

Other key lawyers:Caroline O'Flaherty; David King; Dan Morgan; Shelley Ikram

Testimonials

'The team is very proactive and knowledgeable about the sector in which they operate to ensure a first class service is provided.'

Key Clients

Walters Group

The International Convention Centre Wales

Cardiff University

S.A. Brain & Company Limited – Brewery Quarter

Coleg Gwent DCC

BDW Trading Limited (Barratt Homes)

Draycott Group

Tirion Group

S.A. Brain & Company Limited – Coffee #1

Work highlights

  • The firm has acted for this group of companies in a combined asset and share sale of Ffos Las racecourse as well as advising on numerous wind farm and solar projects, among others.
  • Advising across practice areas in the acquisition of the site for the new international convention centre for Wales as well as supporting infrastructure.
  • Advised on the £50m centre for Student Life, substantial regeneration projects using lottery funding and a variety of eco schemes.
  • Advising on the acquisition of new headquarters for S.A.Brain, Wales’ biggest brewer and hospitality company, a joint venture scheme and regeneration project that will substantially impact the city.
  • Advised Coleg Gwent on a complex development involving innovative funding mechanisms and lease arrangements, developing an area that will substantially alter the city of Newport.

Jointly led by Martin Pursall and Chris Jones , Berry Smith's 11-strong team provides a partner-led service to SME clients, banks and local authorities across a range of local development and secured lending work. Jones is praised for his ability to use 'actual plain English to talk through issues and provide commercial solutions', particularly as it relates to the assembly of development sites and landlord and tenant work. Pursall is noted for his 'excellent secured lending practice'.

Practice head(s):Martin Pursall and Chris Jones

Other key lawyers:Alice Prendergast; Sian Reynolds

Testimonials

'The team is very commercial in its outlook.'

'Chris Jones offers exceptional knowledge and experience of dealing with complex issues.'

'Having dealt with majority of Wales commercial property solicitors, Chris Jones is my go to option for complicated and difficult property dealings.'

Key Clients

SA1 Waterfront Development

Principality Commercial (Principality Building Society)

Development Bank of Wales

Peacocks Stores/Edinburgh Woollen Mill

Carmarthenshire County Council

Vastint Hospitality

Bridgend County Borough Council

Jehu Group / Waterstone

Homes/Waterstone Estates

Fox Group (Moving & Storage)

Actoris Group

Charnwood Group

Work highlights

  • Acting for a Dubai-based developer in the acquisition of development land at SA1 Swansea from University of Wales Trinity St David.
  • Acting for the building society on various secured loans over investment properties/development sites across the UK.
  • Acting for the Development Bank of Wales on various secured loans over development sites across Wales.
  • Acquisition of a new leasehold retail Unit for Peacocks at Cross Hands Retail Park in Carmarthen.
  • Acting for the local authority on the grant of a long lease of boat yard and harbour at Burry Port for leisure purposes.

Led by Leanne O’Brien, Capital Law Limited 's four-partner team provides 'commercial and pragmatic advice' to a range of private and public sector stakeholders, including investors, developers and financiers, primarily on local real estate projects. Working closely with the firm's construction team, the firm is also increasingly active advising on renewable energy-related real estate matters.

Practice head(s):Leanne O'Brien

Other key lawyers:Justin Mason; Jon Ely

Testimonials

'The team has a good understanding of property-related matters.'

'Jon Ely is very capable, knowledgeable and quick to respond when required.'

Key Clients

Welsh Government

Inmarsat Global

Howard Tenens

Associated British Ports

Cognatum Environ Developments

University of South Wales

Valleys to Coast Housing Association

Memoria Limited

Gan Plc

Land Securities Group Plc

Work highlights

  • The firm acted for TVS on the lease of a new-build warehouse in Banbury, Oxfordshire (a development by DB Symmetry).
  • Advising the University of South Wales on the disposal of its Caerleon campus.
  • Advising Associated British Ports, and the original landowner on the disposal of Barry Waterfront dock site to a consortium of developers.
  • Assisting the Welsh Government on the development of a new corridor of the M4 motorway around Newport, South Wales
  • Acting for The Royal Mint on the construction of their daffodil inspired wind turbine.

Cardiff-based property boutique Le Gros Solicitors Limited has excellent visibility in the local market and regularly handles some 'very high-quality work' for developer clients in south Wales and further afield. Team head Claudia Le Gros is the lynchpin of the practice and has a very strong reputation among commercial and residential developers, which she advises on site acquisition, planning, development, construction and onward sales and lettings.

Practice head(s):Claudia Le Gros

Other key lawyers:Bethan Sadler

Testimonials

'The team is user-friendly and proactive.'

'Claudia Le Gros is always upbeat and helpful.'

 

Key Clients

Garrison Barclay Estates

Seasons Holidays Plc

Acorn Property Group

PHG Capital

MVJ Capital

Millgrove Capital

Earl of Plymouth Estates

Senepol Capital

Portabella

Nextcolour Limited

Wyndham Lewis Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Churchill Way Estates on the purchase and finance of three properties in central Cardiff.
  • The firm acted for private developers on the development and funding of a luxury housing development.
  • The team advised on the development of 120 housing units and associated infrastructure.
  • Development site for 92 dwellings and ancillary works.
  • Advised on the grant of an Agreement for Lease, conditional on building works with Costa Coffee.

Morgan LaRoche provides 'sensible and commercial advice' to developers, housebuilders and investors, engaged in both local projects, as well as ones further afield. Targeted areas of expertise include energy, education (including student accommodation) and regeneration-related real estate projects. Team head Kevin Thomas has an 'excellent reputation' across a range of development work, particularly as it relates to student accommodation and the retail sector. The firm also continues to handle a growing amount of work across west Wales from its relatively new office in Carmarthen.

Practice head(s):Kevin Thomas

Other key lawyers:Rosemary Morgan; David Palmer; Alun Price; Claire Thatcher

Testimonials

Kevin Thomas is a pleasure to work with

Key Clients

Adventure Estates

Pegasus Life

NMJ Developments

Culina Group

Hallmark Care Homes

Esterkin Group

Greenbury Capital

Athena Care Homes

USB International

Redrow Homes

Persimmon Homes

Enzo’s Homes

GDH (Holdings) Limited

Liberty Property Developments

Mercian Group

AMP Clean Energy

Morgan & Davies

Metro Property Investments

Morgan Advanced Materials Plc

Bran Property Investments

Santander (UK) Plc

National Westminster Bank Plc

HCC International Insurance Plc

CKC Group

Swansea University

Carmarthenshire Council

Penllergaer Estates

Ospreys regional rugby club

Scarlets regional rugby club

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of CML F&L (Telford) Ltd in connection with the strategic acquisition of a distribution centre in Telford from its landlord.
  • Acting in connection with Metro Property Investments' purchase (funded by Lloyds Bank Plc) of a mixed-use development in Norwich comprising 48 residential apartments (all occupied pursuant to assured shorthold tenancies) and three commercial units.
  • Acting in connection with the national roll out of Urban Reserve Ltd's Urban Reserve Projects which will involve the construction of 2MW – 5 MW gas and battery storage peaking plants in urban areas with particular focus on Greater London, Manchester and Liverpool.
  • Acting on behalf of Parkhall Estates Partnership in respect of its portfolio of investment properties - comprising apartments and retail units
  • Acting for Udy & Mala Agawal (the directors of USB International) in connection with the acquisition of a freehold industrial warehouse in Basildon, Essex.

Darwin Gray LLP is particularly accomplished at handling complex development projects with a particular focus on security issues in construction and on mixed use schemes. Team head Donald Gray has expertise across a range of matters and is also 'excellent at handling the more esoteric property work', including property issues relating to the Welsh mining industry.

Practice head(s):Donald Gray

Led by Michael Price , Douglas-Jones Mercer's two-partner team provides 'sensible and commercial advice' to a diverse array of stakeholders including lenders, developers and housing associations, and is regularly involved in significant transactions emanating not just out of Swansea but also its surrounding area and beyond. The team also has a niche area of expertise in relation to property-related pension transactions for self-invested personal pensions (SIPP) providers.

Practice head(s):Michael Price

Other key lawyers:Michael Snowdon; Christopher Seviour

Testimonials

Michael Snowdon is hugely experienced across a range of property work

Key Clients

Sanlam Life & Pensions UK

Action for Client

Investacc Pension Trustees

Morgan Lloyd Pension Trustees

Odyssey Pensions

Dawn Meats Group

Principality Commercial

Tai Gwalia Cyf

Work highlights

  • Advised Tai Gwalia Cyf on the acquisition of a development site for the construction of in excess of 100 houses.

Based out of Swansea but increasingly active throughout the whole of south and west Wales as a result of the firm's merger with Glamorgan Law in April 2017, JCP Solicitors handles a wide range of work for developers, landlords and lenders. Particular areas of expertise include advising landlord clients on various estate management issues at industrial estates, as well as for lenders on purchases and refinancings of development and investment properties.

Practice head(s):Mark Gilroy

Other key lawyers:Georgina Walters; Talia Atkins

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client on the £6m acquisition of commercial premises on an industrial estate and dealt with related refinancing of other property to assist with the funding of the purchase
  • Acquisition of leasehold premises for use as a gym in a city centre
  • Acted in the acquisition and back to back disposal of a former church property.
  • Acted for the lender in the refinance of 13 residential properties.
  • Acted for lender providing secured finance for acquisition and development of residential site.

Able to leverage the firm's strong ties with numerous national lenders and also gaining increased traction in the local market, the Cardiff-based team at Clarke Willmott LLP is particularly strong at handling real estate finance, across general commercial property as well as social housing finance, where Vicky Kells has a particular niche.

Practice head(s):Vicky Kells

Other key lawyers:Clare Gregory

Testimonials

The team takes a very collaborative approach and provides timely and constructive support and advice.

No matter how awkward the title, or how complex the underlying transaction, or how restrictive the timescales, the team delivers.

Clare Gregory always goes the extra mile to make a completion happen - working above and beyond for all transactions.

 

Key Clients

Santander UK

Rhondda Housing Association

Principality Building Society

Urban Mining Energy

Cambridge & Counties Bank

Careers Wales

Wales & West Housing

Svenska Handelsbanken

Tridos Bank

Lloyds Bank

Secure Trust Bank

Work highlights

  • The firm advised Santander in relation to a loan facility to Cardiff and Vale College, to facilitate the purchase a building adjoining its main Cardiff site
  • The firm advised the housing association on the acquisition of a development site that was transferred to the client by way of a same day transfer from a third party to the seller.    
  • The firm advised the lender on the provision of a loan facility to the borrower to refinance some of its property portfolio.

Led by Mike Jenkins , Harding Evans LLP's four-strong team handles a range of development work (from land assembly through to construction), landlord and tenant matters, and an increasing amount of secured lending mandates.

Practice head(s):Mike Jenkins

Led by the 'commercial and responsive' James Davies  out of Newport, RDP Law's seven-strong team has excellent traction among a range of local SMEs, developers, investors and financiers. Although the team is perhaps best-known for its work on behalf of landowners (including agriculture-related property matters), it also continues to grow its developer client base.

Practice head(s):James Davies

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