With one of the largest property litigation practices in the UK, we are able to assist you in all areas of landlord and tenant litigation, and in any real estate dispute.
Our clients include household names in the retail and leisure sectors, investment landlords, developers of both commercial and residential land, local authorities, and other public bodies. We also act for individuals who are landlords of residential properties – click here for these services.
We will work with you - and with your other professional advisers - to resolve any property dispute as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. We are able to offer innovative pricing solutions and fixed fee structures for repeat instructions where appropriate.
We can provide early advice on a potentially contentious matter or early negotiations, right through to proceedings. We regularly work with alternative dispute resolution providers such as mediators, experts and arbitrators to find solutions that works for you. But if proceedings are necessary, we will 'fight your corner' in presenting a robust case to the court or tribunal. We adapt our approach to the individual case, developing a strategy to best meet your commercial aims in the most cost and time efficient way.
We provide a ‘cradle to grave’ service for our clients, whatever their concern:
Acquiring and developing property
- Land registration: adverse possession, objections to applications for registration, rectification of the register, applications for a Land Registry indemnity.
- Contracts: interpretation, enforcement, options, overage, contractual conditions and alternative dispute resolution.
- Third party rights: easements such as rights of way and rights of light, compliance with covenants, rights over watercourses, mines and minerals, rent charges, party wall act issues, access issues, over-sailing.
- Site clearance: securing vacant possession from tenants, trespassers, protestors, licensees, urban explorers, travellers.
- Agricultural occupiers.
- Enfranchisement: lease extensions, freehold acquisitions, right of first refusal, right to manage.
- Restrictive covenants.
- Opposed and unopposed lease renewals: robust key date protocols and proactive management of dates and court timetables, advice on negotiating positions and strategy.
- Landlord’s consent.
- Breaches of lease and remedies.
- Taking back possession: tenants, trespassers, squatters, travellers, dealing with goods left behind.
- Forfeiture, dealing with applications for relief from forfeiture.
- Recovery of arrears: statutory demands, debt proceedings, commercial rent arears recovery (CRAR), former tenants and guarantors, enforcement of judgments.
- Service charge issues.
- Insolvency issues.
Disposing of property
- Break notices.
- Forfeiture, contractual termination, rescission.
- Acting for a major commercial developer concerning rights of light in connection with a proposed development scheme in central Manchester. Having considered numerous historical and other documents, planning permissions and aerial photography we identified numerous risk buildings. We then worked with specialist surveyors to prepare a ‘Transference Study’ – looking at the risk of transferred rights from old buildings to those currently constructed and which neighbour our client’s site. Armed with that information, we devised a strategy for the client to eradicate the risk from rights of light by the service of 500+ light obstruction notices. We enabled the development to proceed and have potentially saved our client in excess of £1m in compensation.
- Acting for the landlord of a large retail park in the North West, we advised in connection with the attempted break by a household name retailer of a large unit within the park. The break had various conditions attached including “material compliance” with covenants. The conditions needed to be complied with both at the date of service of the break and at the break date. Through expert evidence we mounted a compelling argument that the conditions had not been satisfied at the date of service of the notice. The tenant, whilst initially contesting the position, eventually conceded and remained in occupation.
- Advising a restaurateur chain in relation to their large property portfolio including on their disposal strategy which at one restaurant ended up with 25+ squatters going into the empty premises. We secured possession within 48 hours of being instructed.
- Acting for the owner of 6 UK Retail Designer Outlets in a claim brought by one of the tenants, TFS Stores Limited t/a The Fragrance Shop. The dispute arose because, although TFS’s leases had expired, TFS refused to leave, claiming that it had “protected” leases with legal security of tenure. We were successful in defeating the tenant’s claim for protection at a trial in May 2019 in a reported decision of interest to all property practitioners.
- Along with our corporate insolvency department, we advised the owners of a supermarket chain operating 34 stores with in excess of 800 employees with all property aspects of a proposed Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and then the administration of the Company, including pursuing an application for injunctive relief following a landlord’s unlawful forfeiture of a key trading site in West London.
- We advised a social housing developer in respect of terminating a telecoms lease; including advice on the impact of the incoming new Telecoms Code under the Digital Economy Act 2017 and providing tactical advice concerning when to serve Code notices to secure vacant possession of the site as swiftly as possible.
Real estate disputes is part of Shoosmiths’ wider real estate offering. If you would like help finding the right team or lawyer please contact us on +44 (0)3700 863 000 or contact us by email to [email protected].