Partner and Head of Real Estate Disputes

Experience

As head of the Real Estate Disputes team, Lesley acts for many commercial, charity and not-for-profit clients and individuals dealing with issues caused during recessions. She has advised on all aspects of disputes connected to the occupation, ownership and use of property including lease renewals under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This includes the exercise of break options, rights of occupation, express or implied, claims for damages for dilapidations at the end of a tenancy and service charge disputes. She also advises possession claims for both landlords and tenants of commercial property as well as residential property under the Housing Act 1988 and the Rent Act 1977. This is in addition to advising on breach of covenant claims, enforcement of contracts and recovery of damages, insolvency and disclaimer, as well as on resolving disputes using alternative dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration or adjudication.

Examples of recent work

  • Advising a landlord of a school on the property rights to occupy, on a long-running dispute with the occupier of premises used as a school as to the basis and rights of occupation where no lease has ever been granted, and the obligations to comply with charity law requirements
  • Advising a former tenant in relation to a multi-million pound claim for damages for dilapidations at the end of a lease and negotiating a financial settlement on behalf of the client
  • Advising a further education college on how to protect its rights of occupation against a landlord who was seeking to evict the college from the property at short notice, without payment of compensation, or an offer of alternative accommodation
  • Acting in the mediation which resulted in an agreed settlement which met the college's objectives
  • Advising various clients on a range of issues including rights of possession and how to obtain a possession of residential properties, including those let to former employees
  • Obtaining an injunction against persons unknown, in anticipation of future trespass onto a business park owned by several different parties, who joined together to prevent the travellers from returning to the park
  • Advising on insolvency-related issues including vesting orders; claims against former tenants and guarantors where the current tenant has gone into a form of insolvency arrangement including administrations and pre-packs; voluntary arrangements and liquidation or bankruptcy; and the effect of disclaimer on leases
  • Advising retailers and other occupiers in relation to unopposed lease renewals, where the landlords have sought to impose unfavourable terms including significant rent increases
  • Advising residents in relation to a dispute with the residents’ association over the exercise of various rights over the estate

Qualifications and career

  • Birmingham University, LLB (Hons) Law and Politics
  • Trainee and qualified as a solicitor at Lovells (Lovell White Durrant), 1988
  • Admitted as a solicitor, 1990
  • Solicitor at Lawrence Graham
  • Joined Bates Wells Braithwaite, 2003
  • Partner at BWB, 2004

Pro bono, memberships and appointments

  • Providing pro bono and discounted advice to charities and not-for-profit organisations, including referrals from the Ethical Property Foundation, and via Law Works for Community Group and the South West London Law Centre
  • Member of the Property Litigation Association and the Law Society