This briefing note is only intended as a general statement of the law and no action should be taken in reliance on it without specific legal advice.

REAL INSIGHTS - Property Update - October 2014
31 October 2014

REAL INSIGHTS - Property Update - October 2014


Real Estate Partner Susan Freeman recently attended the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences to co-host 'The Big Think Policy Dinners' with Central. The two dinner debates on 'Shaping and Creating Great Places' are part of a series established by Mishcon de Reya and Central to examine the changing needs of our cities. With the support of our sponsors, Westminster Property Association and Essential Living, we invited politicians including Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis MP, Conservative Party Vice Chairman for Local Government Bob Neill MP and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Lord Adonis. They were joined by local councillors spearheading regeneration in their areas, property developers and leading opinion makers to discuss the issues around creating places people want to live and work in.

Please click on Labour Conference Dinner and Conservative Conference Dinner for coverage of The Big Think Policy Dinners and the issues discussed written by Estates Gazette Editor Damian Wild.

For Susan Freeman's Estates Gazette Guest Blogs on the conference, please click on Labour Conference and Conservative Conference.


Mishcon de Reya is proud to announce that it has won The Legal 500 UK Award 2014 for Firm Specialism of The Year in Commercial Property.

The Legal 500 Awards are unique in that they do not accept submissions; the awards are based entirely on the opinions of in-house lawyers and Legal 500's own research into law firms. When announcing the results, Legal 500 said that Mishcon de Reya was the standout firm among the specialist categories for real estate.

Commenting, Nick Doffman, Partner and Head of Real Estate, said: "We are honoured to learn that the industry has recognised our work in Commercial Property. I would like to thank the team for their efforts, and our clients, without whom winning this award would not have been possible."

The awards ceremony for the winners will be held in London on 26 November. Click here for the full list of winners.

Meanwhile, Helen Curtis-Goulding, Solicitor in Mishcon de Reya’s Real Estate Department has been recognised as a rising star of the private client professions. The results are based on nominations from the UK and UK offshore (Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man) for young and upcoming stars within the private client advisory professions, be they lawyers, accountants, trustees or any other professional intermediary.


In May 2013 the FCA commenced a review process that enabled certain Bank customers to seek redress for the alleged mis-selling of interest rate hedging products (IRHPs). That review continues and, while the process has been protracted and unsatisfactory for some, FCA data suggests that over £1.5bn has been paid out as at September 2014 (although consequential losses payments have been extremely low).

The criteria for customer inclusion in the review, in particular the requirement for non-sophistication, have become a familiar battleground for property investment companies and banks where property investment companies seek to bring themselves within the review's scope. The prospect of resolving allegations without recourse to the Courts is clearly appealing for both customers and banks.

However, for those businesses too "sophisticated" for the review, other than seeking to renegotiate terms with the Bank (a difficult process given that Banks typically will have hedged their own positions), litigating is an obvious alternative. Accordingly, there have been many column inches about threatened litigation and even some cases that have actually been commenced (Guardian Care Homes against Barclays, recently settled, is one example).

While litigation may be the only viable alternative for some, litigation claims and defending them are not without their challenges. Aside from the usual features of commercial litigation (particularly its cost), the lack of decided cases makes predicting the outcome harder. This may be why we have seen many businesses "squaring-up" to Banks but few taking the plunge. However, as limitation periods approach expiry in the coming months and years, we predict that this will change and that more cases will be brought, particularly if a significant judgment in favour of a customer is handed down at some point.

Derval Walsh is a Partner in our Finance and Banking Group and Matthew Hancock is an Associate in our Commercial Litigation Group specialising in disputes relating to financial services and financial products.

All aboard the brandwagon

Advertising guru Sir John Hegarty said it best: “A brand is the most valuable real estate in the world, a corner of the consumer’s mind.”

Early followers of the Hegarty philosophy, such as Harry Handelsman’s Manhattan Loft Corporation and Tom Bloxham’s Manchester-based Urban Splash, realised the value of a defined brand and leapt onto the “brandwagon” in the early 1990s, marketing an aspirational lifestyle to the public. But they were pretty much alone in the real estate sector, which has come undeniably late to the party.

Technically an intangible asset, a brand can be the most valuable thing on a company’s balance sheet.

In product marketing, a clear brand has long been key to a successful business, and it is increasingly important for real estate: buildings and locations such as the Shard, London Bridge Quarter, King’s Cross and Covent Garden now use their brands to promote their schemes.

But what is a brand in real estate terms?

To view the full article, please click here.

Susan Freeman is a Partner in our Real Estate Department.