Legal 500: Property survivors

CONVEYANCING departments at the region’s law firms have taken a hit from the recession with staff either being made redundant or moving to other areas.

But according to the industry bible The Legal 500 many firms are continuing to thrive and build repuations in the property sector.

Legal 500 North West 2009

Here, assesses the report’s findings on a selection of the key players in the region’s commercial property market. We also look at the state of the litigation market, a sector that traditionally enjoys a boom during recessionary times.


Addleshaw Goddard is “consistently engaged” in landmark regional and national transactions, including acting for Co-operative Group on the £1.57bn acquisition of Somerfield, which involved the acquisition of 1,200 stores and disposal of 93 Co-Op stores to satisfy OFT requirements.

DLA Piper maintained an “impressive” investment practice during 2008, with Roy Beckett who led the team that earned instructions from Manchester City Council on the Hive development in the city’s Northern Quarter.

Eversheds impresses with its development and regeneration expertise while Cobbetts’ role as counsel to Peel Holdings on the procurement, funding and delivery of MediaCityUK, remains its flagship instruction.

DWF continues to make progress in the North West. In 2008 it was appointed to Abbey National’s lending panel, while gaining a series of new clients including Instore, Vertex Data Systems, Fylde Borough Council and Blackpool Borough Council.

Mace & Jones provide a “high level of service”, while Pinsent Masons represented the University of Salford on the relocation of part of its media faculty to MediaCityUK.


Hill Dickinson represented supermarket chain Iceland on its acquisition of 52 Woolworth stores nationwide, and also acted for Somerfield on a series of disposals. Brabners Chaffe Street made significant headway in the retail sector during 2008.

Halliwells represented Liverpool City Council on the high-profile development of Lime Street Gateway, and also advised the council on the relocation of the city centre market and on the redevelopment of St John’s Centre.
Weightmans represented Wirral Borough Council on a number of disposals, and Newark and Sherwood District Council on the Potterdyke Town Centre redevelopment scheme.

Elsewhere in the North West

Preston-based Napthens has offices throughout the region and eight partners in its commercial property department. In 2008, it represented EH Booth & Co on the highly charged sale of land and development of some 600 homes plus retail facilities in Preston.

Brabners Chaffe Street is one of the “premier firms in the region” with department head Ross Shine singled out for particular praise. New clients include Stobart Properties and Parkwood Holdings.
Hill Dickinson was appointed as sole legal adviser to Chester Zoo’s £225m Natural Vision project in 2008 while Aaron & Partners is “sound” and “effective” in relation to regeneration and redevelopment work following the recruitment of Colin Rowe in 2007.
Stockport-based Gorvins advised Kids of Wilmslow on the real estate elements of its £45m MBO. Bolton’s Kippax Beaumont Lewis has a strong commercial property heritage. It boasts a department of three partners headed by Debbie Roberts.


Recent highlights for DWF include a £30m ICC arbitration for a damages and compensation claim in the oil and gas pipeline industry. Halliwells’ Julie Bowker, who specialises in professional negligence, recently assisted Nationwide Building Society in relation to two large claims against a firm of surveyors.

Beachcroft’s Jan Levinson recently assisted former Manchester United FC youth player Ben Collett in an action following an injury. Cobbetts has recently handled banking litigation for a leading clearing bank, while other clients include national retailers and local authorities.

Davies Arnold Cooper recently settled a high-value claim for Zurich, as well as successfully defending longstanding Japanese client Sanko Gosei in a £1.4m claim. Hammonds has handled a number of financial and IT disputes over the last year. Victoria Leigh recently advised the trustees of the First City Insurance Brokers Limited pension scheme on a potential £3m negligence claim.

DLA Piper recently acted for Wigan Athletic FC in its successful appeal to the Court of Appeal over the club’s liability to pay for special police services provided by the Greater Manchester police. While Brabners Chaffe Street recently advised on a multimillion-pound shareholders dispute.

Halliwells, led by Colin Gibbons, has attracted some high-profile clients such as Everton FC and Thomson Reuters. Harvey Stringfellow successfully defended North West Leisure Company in disputes with former directors.

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