Call +44 207 306 0102 or contact us

Property

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.

 

Publications

 

Rankings and recognition

Chambers Bar Awards 2018:

Winner of Real Estate Set of the Year

The Lawyer Awards 2019:

Joanne Wicks QC shortisted for Barrister of the Year.

Chambers UK 2020: Wilberforce Chambers is respected as a “heavyweight property set” by instructing solicitors and is home to a number of well-known property experts. The set’s property group is widely regarded for its interdisciplinary approach, with many of its silks and juniors handling a range of complementary commercial and chancery work. Members are praised for their performance on cases regarding landlord and tenant matters and enfranchisement claims, as well as other development and title matters.

The Legal 500 UK 2020: Wilberforce Chambers provides ‘strength at all levels’ with a ‘strong stable of leading names’. The set is adept on all land law fronts though it boasts specific expertise on commercial and residential landlord and tenant, development, mortgage, and title matters.  Joanne Wicks QC and Jonathan Chew recently acted against Jonathan Seitler QC and Emer Murphy in the leading case of Canary Wharf Group v European Medicines Agency which considered whether Brexit constituted a frustration of a long-term lease. A further inter-chambers battle saw Seitler QC face Martin Hutchings QC in No 1 West India Quay Residential Ltd v East Tower Apartments Ltd, the first long lease case under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1988 to reach the Court of Appeal.

Chambers UK 2019: “[Wilberforce Chambers] fields a solid bench of barristers practising in real estate, and has particular depth at silk level. The barristers are highly skilled in commercial work, but also undertake high-value residential disputes. Their areas of strength include leasehold issues, dilapidations claims, possession claims and a broad variety of additional landlord and tenant matters, and they often act in appellate cases of great importance to the sector. They are also strong in development disputes and easement cases. One source states: “The set as a whole from the head of chambers down to the junior clerks feels very much like it is part of the team.”

The Legal 500 UK 2019: “Wilberforce Chambers has ‘excellent strength in depth in property matters’ and is ‘the premier set for commercial work’. In the Supreme Court, Joanne Wicks QC and Benjamin Faulkner are acting for the appellant in S Franses Ltd v The Cavendish Hotel, a matter of general importance which concerns a landlord’s attempt to evict a protected business tenant on the basis of redevelopment works that the tenant argues serves no genuine commercial purpose.”

 

Cases

Members of the Property Group are often involved in high-profile reported cases, sometimes on opposite sides. Recent examples include:

  • Gaia v Abbeygate Helical [2019] EWCA Civ 823
  • Churston Golf Club v Richard Haddock [2019] EWCA Civ 544
  • Canary Wharf v European Medicines Agency [2019] EWHC 335 (Ch)
  • S Franses v The Cavendish Hotel [2018] UKSC 62
  • Clutterbuck & Paton v Cleghorn [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)
  • Rotrust Nominees Ltd v Hautford Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 765
  • No.1 West India Quay v East Tower Apartments [2018] EWCA Civ 250
  • Sackville v Robertson Taylor [2018] EWHC 122 (Ch)
  • Orientfield Holdings Ltd v Bird & Bird [2017] EWCA Civ 348
  • Clutterbuck v Cleghorn [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)
  • Wensley v Persons Unknown [2017] EWHC 872 (Ch)
  • Vivienne Westwood v Conduit Street Devpts [2017] EWHC 350 (Ch)
  • Acredart & Car Giant v London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham [2017] EWHC 197 (TCC)
  • Twin Benefits v Barker [2017] EWHC 177 (Ch)
  • Matchmove v Dowding [2016] EWCA Civ 1233
  • Catalyst Housing Limited v Martin [2016] EWCA Civ 1156
  • Watts v Stewart [2016] EWCA Civ 1247
  • SEPT v Laindon [2016] EWCA Civ 377
  • Bryant Homes Southern Ltd v Stein Management Ltd [2016] EWHC 2435 (Ch)
  • Goldcrest Distribution v McCole [2016] EWHC 1571(Ch)
  • Perenco v Bond [2016] EWHC 1498 (TCC)
  • Timothy Taylor v Mayfair House [2016] EWHC 1075 (Ch)
  • Mortgage Agency Services No.1 v Cripps Harries [2016] EWHC 2483 (Ch)
  • The Manchester Ship Canal Company Limited v United Utilities Water Limited [2016] EWHC 259 (Ch)
  • Greenridge Luton One Ltd v Kempton Investments Ltd [2016] EWHC 91 (Ch)