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Yorkshire and the Humber

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Who Represents Who

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Julie Middlemass  leads the department at Addleshaw Goddard, which has experience across the retail, leisure, food and drink, finance, energy, transport and industrial sectors, with an emphasis on disputes arising from the management of shopping centres, contentious landlord and tenant issues, development disputes, professional negligence issues, trespassing mandates and property-related insolvency. In a recent highlight, Middlemass advised British Land on issues relating to its plans to build a leisure hall at Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield; she also represented multiple clients including Muse and Bizspace in proceedings to remove disruptive travellers from sites owned by the clients, and defended an institutional investor in an attempt by its tenant to break a lease of premises in London. Other names to note include managing associate Elizabeth Cape , who handles landlord and tenant issues, break notice disputes, service charge issues and dilapidation claims; managing associate Chris McGrath , who focuses on landlord and tenant disputes; and associate Louise Minsull , who has expertise in mixed-use development issues. Other clients include Associated British Foods, the National Grid, Network Rail, Primark Stores and Skanska.

CMS’s expertise encompasses development and site assembly work, landlord and tenant work, asset management disputes, party wall litigation and issues in the mines and minerals sectors. Department head Stephen Scott  handles developments, vacant possession strategies, business lease renewals, dilapidations, rent review issues, service charge disputes and squatter cases. Other noteworthy practitioners include senior associate Edward Gamble , who specialises in landlord and tenant work, contractual disputes and possession claims; senior associate Martin Garner , who focuses on telecoms disputes; and senior associate Sarah Pope , who assists with asset management issues for retail and industrial clients. In a recent highlight, Scott represented Westmark (Lettings) in a residential service charge dispute. Land Securities, Aviva Investors, Intu, Hermes and Hammerson are also clients. Jane Turley  retired.

DLA Piper UK LLP’s ‘brilliant’ department is jointly led by Petra Billing in Sheffield and John Kittle and Matthew Lonergan in Leeds; Billing specialises in minerals litigation, Kittle handles commercial landlord and tenant matters and portfolio management work, and Lonergan is recognised for his dilapidation and possession claims experience. Billing’s recent mandates include representing Telereal Trillium in the Court of Appeal relating to issues surrounding a non-domestic rating decision regarding an empty commercial property, and successfully acting for Aggregate Industries in litigation regarding nuisance, trespass, injunctive relief and damages claims against two individuals who built a log cabin in a non-operational mine owned by the client. Kittle handles all property litigation for Heineken UK’s portfolio of public houses including issues arising from legislative changes, and Lonergan defended the Royal Bank of Scotland in claims for misrepresentation and breach of lease covenants. Legal director Michael Gaughan is recommended for retail work and senior associate Rob Shaw is another name to note.

Under the leadership of the ‘thorough and responsiveDamian Hyndman, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s ‘leading practice can handle literally everything’ for its clients, which ‘get the very best from the proactive, knowledgeable and client-focused team’. Hyndman’s expertise includes property-related telecoms disputes and discrimination claims; other key names in the department include the ‘outstandingAlison Oldfield, who focuses on judicial review challenges and issues involving protestors and campaigner groups; and ‘absolute starAndrew Todd, who is ‘tenacious and savvy with excellent technical knowledge’ and is highly regarded for his development dispute expertise. The team regularly acts for clients in the retail, transport and telecoms sectors; examples include Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Network Rail and Arqiva. Recent highlights include acting for SportsDirect.com in break notices, lease renewals and a vacant possession strategy; representing Clydesdale Bank in a possession case in the High Court, and acting for Armstrong World Industries in various issues surrounding its exit from its UK headquarters including a dilapidation claim. -Richard Jobes joined Gordons LLP in 2017.

Pinsent Masons LLP has ‘an exceptionally strong regional presence and draws upon the quality and strength of the national practice in the property litigation space’. Key names in the Leeds office include ‘very able and enthusiastic’ team head Matthew Baker, who is ‘keen to fight the client’s corner’; and legal director Michael Smith, who is ‘highly diligent and has sound judgement’. The department is noted for its expertise in the energy, utility, waste and infrastructure sectors and handles rights to light disputes, vacant possession strategies, development disputes, trespass issues and judicial reviews. Recent highlights include defending United Utilities against Manchester Ship Canal Company regarding damages claims alleging trespass caused by the client’s discharge of water and treated sewage in the canal, representing Rachel Securities in a rent review arbitration, and acting for various clients in asset management issues including lease renewals, forfeiture actions, dilapidations and tenant insolvencies. Whitbread Group, House of Fraser, Aviva Investors and Sterling Capitol are also clients.

Walker Morris LLP’s ‘highly experienced and effective team’ is ‘one of the best in the North of the country’ and is ‘first class in all respects’. Clients praise team co-heads Andrew Beck and Martin McKeague; Beck is ‘excellent’ and McKeague is ‘focused, pragmatic, proactive and tenacious’. Highlights included assisting Legal and Contingency with enforcing a prescriptive right of way, representing the Coal Authority in a claim relating to the recovery of royalties payable under an agreement for the extraction of minerals and importation of waste, and acting for Plesvale in the High Court against a tenant seeking declaratory relief. Malcolm Simpson is also singled out as ‘a brilliant all-rounder and tough litigator’; he regularly acts for developers in disputes arising from option agreements, contracts, planning promotion agreements and supply chain issues. Other noteworthy individuals include Karl Anders and senior associate Ruth Ormrod, who focuses on landlord and tenant matters.

Irwin Mitchell’s extensive client base encompasses commercial property investors, developers, retailers, banks, local institutions, corporate occupiers and high-net-worth individuals; examples include Logicor, Thorntons, River Island and the University of Sheffield. Danny Revitt, who ‘provides clear advice so that matters are dealt with in a practical and commercial fashion’, leads the ‘impressive’ department and focuses on landlord and tenant issues; he recently advised a regional property investor on the aftermath of the administration of a tenant and represented a real estate investor in a dilapidation claim against a former tenant of office premises. ‘Proactive’ senior associate Lisa Stratford and associate Joanne Mills are also names to note; the pair worked together acting for a real estate fund in a service charge claim regarding historic disrepair.

David Holland !Leeds heads the real estate litigation team at Squire Patton Boggs, which ‘provides an excellent service due to in-depth knowledge, a professional attitude and an ability to always think two steps ahead’. Holland, who was promoted to the partnership in 2017, is highly regarded for his expertise in specialist land compensation matters. He recently advised United Utilities on its compulsory purchase of development lead and sewerage plant for a town centre relief road, representing Manchester Airport Group in claims under the Land Compensation Act 1973 relating to public works undertaken at Stanstead Airport, and acted for SP Manweb in a high-value compensation claim arising from the grant of a necessary wayleave under the Electricity Act 1989. Other clients include Trinity Mirror Group, Live Nation UK, Yum! Brands, the London Borough of Redbridge and Birmingham Airport.

Key sectors for DWF’s practice include the retail, care, parking and development sectors with clients including Q-Park, Moorfield, Bupa, Sterling Capital and Magnet. Group head Stephen Green  regularly acts in commercial landlord and tenant disputes and development issues; he acted for Capitol Park Leeds in a dispute with the Coal Authority relating to the liability for capping an old mineshaft that opened up, and represented a private individual in proceedings for the modification and discharge of a restrictive covenant relating to planning permission to build a second house on their land. Jonathan Smith  also handles landlord and tenant work, and made partner in 2017.

Gordons LLP ‘deals with each stage of proceedings impeccably’ and ‘expertly supports clients while simultaneously providing robust advice’. The practice is highly regarded for its expertise in the retail sector; it recently represented Iceland Foods in litigation relating to its acquisitions and handled multiple leases and related litigation for B&M Retail. Other clients include The Original Factory Shop, new client The Fragrance Shop and Wren Kitchens. Richard Cressall leads the practice; clients claim ‘his work to ensure cases are presented in the best possible light is second to none and cases run smoother due to his input’; other practitioners include Graeme Davy in Bradford and senior solicitor Richard Jobes, who joined from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in 2017.

Gosschalks’ department is ‘on top of its game’ and is led by Robert Hastie, who is ‘easily the best solicitor for property work involving pub companies and licensed houses’; he recently acted for Ei Group in issues relating to The Pubs Code Regulations 2016, and represented Wellington Pub Company in recovering possession of a public house that was being used as a shisha bar. William Hill, Wilko Retail, Age UK and Sally Salon Services are also clients. Victoria Quinn is also a name to note; she acts for public houses, high street shops and betting houses and regularly handles landlord and tenant renewals.

Lupton Fawcett has ‘an excellent reputation derived from the quality and experience of its lawyers’ including practice head and ‘grandmaster of property litigationJonathan Warner-Reed, who ‘confidently outmanoeuvres his opponents staying several moves ahead of the game’. Other key individuals include Johanne Spittle, who acts for landlords and landowners; Rob Cooke and Hayden Glynn. The practice receives praise for its adverse possession expertise and key industry sectors for the group include the retail, finance, agricultural, ecclesiastical, residential and student accommodation sectors; example clients include the Leeds Diocesan Board of Finance, Host Students, Leeds Building Society and Hartshorne Motor Services.

‘Enormously experienced’ team head Michael Watson and Helen Hill are key names at Shulmans LLP, which is ‘the leading Northern firm for dilapidations’ and also has expertise in telecoms issues. Clients also praise associate Richard Robinson, who ‘combines pure talent with extensive market knowledge’. Recent highlights include representing Greggs in a misrepresentation action, a professional negligence claim and dilapidation issues; acting for Brookfield in litigation relating to the removal of five telecoms operators from a building’s roof, and handling a terminal dilapidation claim and defending a repair action for Bet Fred. Commercial Estates Group and Trust Inns are also clients; Hill acted for the latter on tenant insolvency issues, rent recovery and possession work.

Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP’s ‘commercially minded team’ is ‘an absolute pleasure to deal with’ and is active in the retail space, where it advises on property portfolio issues and development work. Richard Mays and Paul Barker jointly lead the group; clients praise Mays as ‘incredibly knowledgeable’ and single out Barker for his ‘excellent technical skills and highly personable approach’. Stephen Kell and Nick Dean are also recognised for their ‘understanding of the market’; both are recommended for landlord and tenant work. Recent highlights include representing an individual in a right of access dispute and acting for the trustees of the Westerby Pension Fund in a dilapidation claim. Associated British Ports, Carpetright and Heron Foods are also clients.

Blacks Solicitors LLP’s ‘competent, professional and personable department’ includes ‘incredibly helpful’ group head James Teagle, who has ‘an excellent grasp of the technical issues’ and acts for secured lenders and fixed charge receivers in property disputes; Oliver Gross and senior associate Rachael Donnelly, who handles business tenancy renewals, landlord and tenant disputes, possession actions, trespass claims and boundary disputes. The team is also highly regarded in the holiday and home parks sector through the experience of ‘highly knowledgeable’ associate Aimee Hutchinson.

Clarion recently established its real estate litigation practice with the recruitment of legal director Sophie Morley  from Schofield Sweeney in 2017. Morley’s expertise encompasses landlord and tenant disputes, break clauses, dilapidations, forfeiture issues and tenant insolvency with expertise in development issues and advising clients in the retail sector. Recent mandates include acting for a national retailer in multiple break clauses relating to retail properties, advising a developer on a development proposal under an option agreement and representing a food manufacturer in a lease termination and dilapidation claim. Clients include Asics, Caterleisure FDS Informal Foods and Heritage Care Villages.

The team at DAC Beachcroft LLP focuses on landlord and tenant issues with particular expertise in the telecoms sector; it recently defended a telecoms operator in Code possession proceedings, acted for an operator in proceedings relating to a lease renewal and handled a dilapidation dispute involving alleged damage to a rooftop for another operator. Telefonica UK, Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure and CTIL are example clients. Clare Hartley  leads the department, which also counts senior associate Chris Luscombe  and associate solicitor Kai Ricciardiello  as key practitioners.

LCF Law’s ‘extremely effective’ group fields ‘a dedicated team of client-focused lawyers’ who ‘hold their own against the bigger firms in the region’. Team head Ragan Montgomery is ‘terrific with clients and expertly utilises his experience’; clients also praise the ‘brilliant’ Joanne Barnes, consultant Deborah Finn, Harriet Thornton, who focuses on leasehold enfranchisements; and associate Tom Edwards, who is ‘enthusiasm personified’ and is ‘a bright, solution-driven and effective lawyer who is clearly going places’. The team recently represented South Western Trains in obtaining possession of station property from trespassers and travellers, and handled lease forfeitures and possession claims for the Salvation Army.

Philip Edmondson  and Heather Roberts  jointly lead the practice at McCormicks, which handles landlord and tenant work, property management issues, shooting lease mandates and dilapidation claims. Recent highlights include acting for the John Strutt Centre for Parrot Conservation in two boundary disputes; representing Leeds United FC in disputes relating to Elland Road Stadium and the training ground at Thorp Arch, and handling a lease renewal dispute for a retail property. The Premier League is also a key client for the firm; name partner Peter McCormick leads the relationship.

As ‘one of the key firms in Harrogate’, Raworths ‘provides an excellent service from the outset’ with ‘a thorough and professional team which is reassuringly consistent’. The team is highly regarded for its expertise in rural-based land disputes; it recently acted for the trustees of the Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust in a break notice dispute and dilapidation claim against Balfour Beatty. The Doncaster Trades Union and Labour Club, Parkmount Estates Company and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society are also clients. The ‘open and personable’ Matthew Hill leads the department and ‘presents things very clearly and concisely thanks to a sharp mind and a deep understanding of the subject matter’ and ‘on top of it all is ultimately a thoroughly nice and affable man’.

Chris Drinkall  is head of the team at Rollits LLP, which handles dilapidation disputes, contentious lease renewals, repossession actions and trespass and nuisance actions. Specific areas of expertise for Drinkall include rights of way issues, adverse possession claims, boundary issues and landlord and tenant disputes. Ralph Gilbert  is also a name to note. The firm’s client roster includes Ideal Standard, Cranswick, Superstadium Management Company, Hull City Tigers and Hull College.

Schofield Sweeney ‘provides expertise and advice that is beyond the norm and is not afraid to say what is right rather than what a client may wish to hear’. James Staton and associate Laura Salvati lead the team from Bradford and Leeds respectively; Salvati’s expertise includes estate management issues in the retail sector, landlord and tenant issues, break notices, dilapidation claims and the recovery of rent arrears. In a recent highlight, Salvati acted for Thomas of York in an unopposed lease renewal claim. Games Workshop, ATC Properties, Trafford Centre and Universal Components are also clients. -Sophie Morley joined Clarion.

The ‘professional and client-focused department’ at Wake Smith Solicitors Limited ‘is genuinely excellent for well-documented and timely advice with in-depth industry knowledge and unbreakable discipline’. Elizabeth Shaw, who is ‘a highly driven individual with vast experience and knowledge’, heads the group, which also includes Nick Lambert, who ‘analyses the issues with precision and has a keen eye for detail’. Shaw’s recent work includes representing a local manufacturing company in a dilapidation claim and acting for a claimant in a possession action.

Ward Hadaway’s practice, which ‘provides accurate and realistic advice’, is led by Sharon Mathieson, who splits her time between Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester and focuses on dilapidation claims, service charge issues, break notices, lease renewals forfeitures and possession proceedings. Mathieson’s recent highlights include representing a local authority in proceedings related to limiting the use of land designated as a village green, acting for an occupier in a contentious lease renewal and handling a boundary issues for a landowner. Associate Simon Thirtle is also a name to note and advises commercial landlords, tenant, private individuals and public sector clients.

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Legal Developments in Yorkshire and the Humber for Property litigation

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 


    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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