Our Property Group advises about all aspects of land law and we act in all types of property litigation. The core themes are:

  1. Commercial landlord and tenant: rent reviews, contested and uncontested renewals, covenants and consents, forfeiture and relief, dilapidations;
  2. Development: options, pre-emption and contracts for sale, joint ventures and overage, planning agreements, daylight and ways, cables, pipes and drains, demolition and construction, injunctions and specific performance, possession and orders for sale, compulsory purchase;
  3. Mortgages, charges and security: receivership, possession and sale, disputed validity and priority;
  4. Residential landlord and tenant: statutory, assured and secure tenancies, enfranchisement and service charge, enforcement of covenants;
  5. Rural economy: agricultural holdings and farm business tenancies, commons and village greens, mines and minerals, sporting rights, wayleaves and waterways; and
  6. Title: land registration, rectification and priorities, trusts and beneficial ownership, boundaries and easements, restrictive covenants, adverse possession, overriding interests, unregistered land.

Most members of our Property Group are also members of other groups in chambers, such as those dealing with Insolvency or Professional Liability or Trusts, Tax, Probate and Estates. We recognise that property problems do not always come neatly packaged, and sometimes require a breadth of knowledge and experience, transcending the traditional boundaries of conveyancing and land law. One of our strengths is that we can provide people at all levels of seniority who have the cross-disciplinary expertise to deal with the whole problem, and not just the property parts of it. Yet we also have experts in some of the narrowest niches of property law, such as art, cultural property and heirlooms, drones and air rights, manors and inclosure, oil, gas and fracking, strict settlements and perpetuities, and telecommunications. No matter how esoteric or difficult the property problem, we probably have someone who already knows about it, and who has helped to solve it before.

Although we are primarily advocates, not all of our work is contentious. When required, we can also advise upon the appropriate structures, and help to draft the necessary instruments, to solve complex transactional problems; something that will work for all parties to the deal. Nor is our work confined to this jurisdiction. The legacy of the British Empire means that English land law still has a surprisingly long reach. In addition to appearing in the Privy Council members of the group also sometimes advise upon the law in, and travel to, Bermuda and the Caribbean, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.


Rankings and recognition

Wilberforce is ranked as a leading property set in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500.

Chambers & Partners 2024: Wilberforce Chambers acts in a wide range of property matters, including both residential and commercial landlord and tenant cases, development disputes, title disputes and agricultural property cases. Members appear frequently in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. This year the set has been instructed is such matters as Annington Property Ltd & Others v The Secretary of State for Defence and Manchester Ship Canal Company v United Utilities Water. A source reports that “members of Wilberforce have the ability to cut through complex matters and identify the points that are central to these and most important for clients,” and another interviewee adds: “A premium offering of property counsel.”

The Legal 500 2024: With a wealth of experience at the senior level, Wilberforce Chambers acts on all forms of property litigation. Core areas of focus for the set include commercial landlord and tenant, development, mortgages and property rights concerning economy. Jonathan Seitler KC acted before the Supreme Court in On Tower v AP Wireless, a group appeal brought by numerous cell site operators involving numerous issues of the Telecommunications Code, including the interpretation of the transitional provisions between the new and old codes. Joanne Wicks KC is acting on R (Annington Property Ltd & Others) v The Secretary of State for Defence, a case concerning a proposal by the MoD to reacquire married quarters it disposed of via a sale and leaseback arrangement using conventional enfranchisement law. Tiffany Scott KC represented the claimant in Clifford v Grosvenor West End Properties, in which the inhabitant of a Mayfair mews home sought to require the Duke of Westminster to eject prostitutes and drug dealers from an adjacent block of flats.

The Legal 500 Awards 2023: Benjamin Faulkner wins Property and Housing Junior of the Year and John McGhee KC and Jonathan Seitler KC are shortlisted for Property and Housing Silk of the Year.

Chambers Bar Awards 2022: Jonathan Seitler KC wins Real Estate Silk of the Year and Benjamin Faulkner is shortlisted for Real Estate Junior of the Year

The Legal 500 Awards 2022: Joanne Wicks KC wins Real Estate Silk of the Year

The Legal 500 UK Awards 2020: Wilberforce wins Real Estate Set of the Year

Chambers Bar Awards 2018: Wilberforce wins Real Estate Set of the Year

Notable cases

Gill v Lees News Ltd [2023]

The Court of Appeal gives important guidance on some of the grounds on which a landlord may oppose the grant of a new tenancy to a business tenant under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

Read the Gill v Lees News judgment here.

Ensign House Limited v FEC Development Management Limited & Ors [2023]

[2023] EWHC 1563 (Ch)

The 342-page judgment contains much that will be of interest to practitioners in the field, including findings on the nature of fiduciary duties owed by different kinds of property agents, and the nature of negotiating damages for breaches of broad NDAs.

Read the full judgment here.

Manchester Ship Canal Company Ltd v United Utilities Water Ltd [2023]

[2022] EWCA Civ 852

The latest round of the litigation between the Manchester Ship Canal Company and United Utilities Water Ltd about discharges from sewers into the canal.

R (Annington Property Ltd) & Ors v Secretary of State for Defence & Ors [2023]

[2023] EWHC 1154 (Admin)

Deciding whether the MoD had the right to enfranchise eight homes occupied by the families of military personnel, in a test case named as one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2023. The Judge decided that the MoD could enfranchise all eight houses.

Read the full judgment here.

Jalla & Anr v Shell International Trading and Shipping Company & Anr [2023]

A Supreme Court appeal concerning the law of continuing private nuisance. The Claimants, who live and own property by or in the hinterland of the Nigerian Atlantic shoreline, brought a claim against various entities in the Royal Dutch Shell group of companies in respect of an oil spill that occurred in the offshore Bonga oil field in late 2011. This was one of the largest offshore oil spills in Nigerian oil exploration history.

Read the full judgment here.

Cayman Shores Development Ltd and another v Registrar of Lands and Others [2023]


The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal clarifies important aspects of Cayman Islands’ property law regarding restrictive agreements, easements and Land Register rectification.

Cornerstone v Compton Beauchamp; Cornerstone v Ashloch; On Tower v AP Wireless [2022]

[2022] UKSC 18

Three Supreme Court cases heard together. The first time the Supreme Court case has considered the new Telecoms Code. And the first Supreme Court ruling on who is an occupier for the purposes of the Telecoms Code. The judgment is a significant boost for operators and will make it much easier for them to secure the agreements required for the roll out of 5G services. Recognised as one of Estates Gazette’s Top 10 Cases of 2022.

Read the full Cornerstone v Compton Beauchamp; Cornerstone v Ashloch; On Tower v AP Wireless judgment here.


Wynne-Finch & Ors v Natural Resources Body for Wales [2021]

[2021] EWCA Civ 1473

A landmark decision in the most complex mines and minerals case to be litigated for many years (decades). The case was about the ownership of mudstone across 40 titles covering hundreds of acres of forestry land controlled by the defendant, Natural Resources.

Read the Wynne-Finch & Ors v Natural Resources Body for Wales judgment here.


Fishbourne Developments Limited v Stephens [2020]

[2020] EWCA Civ 1704

The Court of Appeal underlines the importance of the factual context and commercial common sense when interpreting the trigger for the exercise of an option over development land. This was an expedited appeal about the interpretation of an option agreement to acquire a 117-acre farm in the village of Fishbourne, near Chichester in West Sussex.

Read the Fishbourne Developments Limited v Stephens judgment here.

TFS Stores Ltd v BMG (Ashford) Ltd & Ors [2020]

[2020] EWCA Civ 833

The Court of Appeal gives important clarity and breathing space to commercial and residential tenants by confirming that all parts of proceedings involving a claim for possession brought by a landlord are automatically stayed.

Read the TFS Stores Ltd v BMG (Ashford) Ltd & Ors judgment here.


Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Ltd [2020]

[2020] UKSC 18

Estates Gazette’s No. 1 Property Case of 2020. A Supreme Court appeal with very important ramifications for flat owners and the landlords of blocks of flats. The Supreme Court decided that if a landlord has promised leaseholders that it will enforce the covenants in their neighbours’ leases, it cannot give permission for works to other flats without the consent of everybody in the block.

Read the Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Ltd judgment here.


Sequent Nominees Ltd v Hautford Ltd [2019]

[2019] UKSC 47

The Supreme Court by majority of 3 to 2 reverses unanimous Court of Appeal decision and holds that a landlord’s refusal of consent to an application for change of planning use was reasonable.

Read the Sequent Nominees Ltd v Hautford Ltd judgment here.


Gaia v Abbeygate Helical [2019]

[2019] EWCA Civ 823

A case about whether a developer, Abbeygate Helical, had fulfilled its obligation to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to satisfy certain conditions ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ so as to trigger an obligation to make a £1.4million overage payment. The conditions related to ’site assembly’, specifically the acquisition of and variation to various interests to enable the development to take place.

Read the Gaia v Abbeygate Helical judgment here.

Churston Golf Club v Richard Haddock [2019]

[2019] EWCA Civ 544

The Court of Appeal overturns the decision of Birss J that a standard form of fencing covenant should be treated as an anomalous “fencing easement”, capable of binding successors in title.

Read the Churston Golf Club v Richard Haddock judgement here.


Canary Wharf v European Medicines Agency [2019]

[2019] EWHC 335 (Ch)

A landmark case whereby The European Medicines Agency, the EU regulator of medicines, claimed that its 25-year lease of premises in Canary Wharf would be “frustrated” – i.e. brought automatically to an end – by Brexit. The case attracted significant press and legal interest and appeared as one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2019.

Read the Canary Wharf v European Medicines Agency judgment here.


S Franses v The Cavendish Hotel [2018]

[2018] UKSC 62

The first case to go to the Supreme Court on the business tenancies legislation, under which business tenants are entitled to renew their leases when they come to an end. It affects large numbers of business tenants and their landlords.

Read the S Franses v The Cavendish Hotel judgment here.


Clutterbuck & Paton v Cleghorn [2018]

[2018] EWHC 2125 (Ch)

After a three-week trial the High Court dismissed the Claimants’ claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of a property joint venture agreement.

Read the Clutterbuck & Paton v Cleghorn judgment here.

Sackville v Robertson Taylor [2018]

[2018] EWHC 122 (Ch)

Orientfield Holdings Ltd v Bird & Bird [2017]

[2017] EWCA Civ 348

Clutterbuck v Cleghorn [2017]

[2017] EWCA Civ 137

The Court of Appeal considered the correct approach to cases of alleged abuse of process comprising a failure to follow the guidelines in relation to overlapping claims set out in Aldi Stores [2008] 1 WLR 748.

Read the Clutterbuck v Cleghorn judgment here.

Wensley v Persons Unknown [2017]

Vivienne Westwood v Conduit Street Devpts[2017]

Matchmove v Dowding [2016]

Catalyst Housing Limited v Martin [2016]

SEPT v Laindon [2016]

Bryant Homes Southern Ltd v Stein Management Ltd [2016]

Insights View all thought leadership

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    Four wins for Wilberforce at Chambers UK Bar Awards 2023

    We are absolutely delighted to have picked up four awards at last night’s Chambers UK Bar Awards! We are proud to announce that Wilberforce Chambers won the highly coveted ‘Set of the Year‘ award, as well as ‘Chancery Set of... Read more

    Friday 1 December 2023

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    Considering the recent Court of Appeal decision on the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954

    Listen to Joanne Wicks KC and Benjamin Faulkner on our latest #WilberforceWebchat as they consider a recent Court of Appeal decision on the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. The case provides helpful guidance about the grounds of opposition to the... Read more

    Joanne Wicks KC | Benjamin Faulkner
    Tuesday 17 October 2023

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    Recent Cases

    Judgment handed down in Gill v Lees News Ltd


    Joanne Wicks KC
    Thursday 12 October 2023

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    Recent Cases

    Judgment handed down in CPF One Limited & anor v Ortus Secured Finance I Limited

    Banking and financial services, Property, Trusts, probate and estates: contentious

    Zoë Barton KC | Jia Wei Lee
    Thursday 5 October 2023

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Upcoming events View all events

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    Events / Webinars

    The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 – Refine, Reform or Reject? A Panel Debate

    Wednesday 6th December 2023 | 6pm - 7.15pm, followed by drinks
    Hogan Lovells International LLP, Atlantic House, Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2FG

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Past events View all past events

  1. PlaceholderJoanne Wicks KC and Harriet Holmes

    External Conferences

    PLA 2023 Autumn Training Day

    Thursday 2nd November 2023
    The Royal Society of Medicine, London

    Joanne Wicks KC | Harriet Holmes

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    Events / Webinars

    Leeds Property Seminar & Drinks Event 2023

    Thursday 15th June 2023 | 3.15pm - 6pm, followed by drinks and pool at Pinnacle
    Leeds Marriott

    Free to attend | 1.75 CPD

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    Events / Webinars

    Manchester Property Seminar & Drinks Event 2023

    Wednesday 14th June 2023 | 3.15pm - 6pm, followed by drinks and shuffleboard at Box Deansgate
    The Edwardian Manchester (A Radisson Collection Hotel)

    Free to attend | 1.75 CPD

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    Events / Webinars

    MIPIM 2023: Networking Breakfast

    Tuesday 14th March 2023 | 8.30am - 11am
    Vegaluna, Cannes

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