Property disputes & portfolio management

Our property disputes team works with retail clients on the full range of issues from un-contested/contested lease renewals, disputes re: alienation, the removal of squatters to substantial dilapidation claims. We understand the sector and know that there is often far more behind the decisions making process than simply black letter law. Mike Lewis who leads the team spent the majority of his career at Clyde & Co where he acted for retailers such as Dixons Carphone , Zara and Five Guys.

Whilst we can take a robust stance and fight hard where necessary, we understand that a negotiated settlement on the best possible terms is often the right way forward for our retail clients.

Experience includes:

  • Working with a high street chain in resisting a high-value claim being threatened by a former franchisee.
  • Working with a high street chain in resolving a dispute with its former surveyors, including extricating them – on very favourable terms – from a long-term contract for the provision of business rates revaluation services.
  • Acting in an emergency application to remove squatters who started a commercial operation from premises in London.
  • Serving notices for retailers such as Giggling Squid and Muffin Break to kick start lease renewal proceedings and advising on tactical ancillary points such as interim rent
  • Advising a landlord on a dispute as to whether a retail tenant had complied with the necessary conditions to satisfy the break clause.

It is not simply the case that we act for retailers in times of difficulty. Our team is highly experienced in day to day issues such as advising on break rights and using the 1954 Act court process to obtain the best possible lease renewal terms for its clients.

Current economic climate

There is a lot in the press concerning CVAs and the pressures this places on landlords. We are finding that for retailers in a healthy financial state, the current market is also causing problems.  We have acted for numerous retailers who have taken sub leases of units from parties who are threatened with insolvency. Although our clients have been paying rent, if this is not passed up to the head lease, they could find themselves subject to the draconian sanction of forfeiture (through no fault of their own) In such circumstances we have advised on the options available and in some cases conducted direct negotiations with the head lease to take an assignment of the lease.