Welcome to our 2012 edition of Property Matters.
The property industry thrives on connections. From accessing the market and sourcing deals to securing investors and unlocking finance, it often comes down to who you know.
Never has this knowledge been more important than in 2012: The Year of The Connected. With the Olympic Games focusing the world's attention on London, new opportunities for investment are open to everyone.
Overseas buyers now account for around half of all investment into central London. As a firm, we are seeing a huge appetite from Asian and Middle Eastern investors in particular. These span both the corporate and private wealth spheres, and we see ourselves at the core of connectivity between these two sectors. It is our understanding of this nexus between business and private client that sets us apart from other firms.
This year, Mishcon de Reya was named Law Firm of the Year and my department Real Estate Team of the Year at the 2012 Legal Business Awards, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. This was a proud moment for us all and certainly something that could not have been achieved without our clients, friends and supporters. We truly value our connections with each of you.
A selection of deals our real estate Department have advised on over the last year
Advising Capital & Counties Properties PLC in relation to its regeneration of earls Court & West Kensington Opportunity Area in west London. The plans propose the transformation of the area into sir Terry Farrell's masterplan vision for four new urban villages and a 21st century high street over the 77 acre site. They include the creation of 7,500 homes and 12,000 jobs as well as commercial, community, cultural and open green space.
Representing clients of Delancey and scottish Widows (formerly Invista Real estate Investment Management) on the £305 million sale of the Rolls Building – their prime 265,000 sq ft development at 110 Fetter Lane in central London – to Legal & General Pensions Limited. The building is majority let to HM Court service.
Acting for Delancey and Qatari Diar on the purchase and long-term management of the Olympic Village. The Village, which lies adjacent to the Olympic Park in stratford, east London, will deliver 2,818 new homes with the potential for a further 2,000 new homes.
New joint venture
Acting for a new joint venture between GI Partners, Rowan Asset Management and Taurus Investment Holdings on its £82.7 million acquisition of Aldwych Investments Limited, which owns the freehold of Aldwych House. The 163,000 sq ft office building is located in London's Midtown office district.
Advising Londonewcastle on the restructure of their London portfolio, consisting of a number of residential led mixed use property assets with a development value in excess of £350 million, in a JV with uK and european Investments (uKeI), the investment vehicle of the Lewis Trust Group. This also included Londonewcastle's £100 million retail and residential development block on the Huntingdon estate in shoreditch, east London.
Advising a group of investors led by the Matterhorn Palos Partnership, a JV between Matterhorn Capital and Brett Palos Investments, on their £113.5 million acquisition of the Kings Mall shopping Centre in Hammersmith, west London. The shopping centre, which comprises 45 retail units, was purchased from st Martins Property Investments.
Representing Allsop as LPA receivers on the £130 million sale of central London's 1.3 acre Piccadilly estate to a Reuben investment vehicle, Aldersgate Investments Limited. The historic estate comprises six buildings including the former site of the In & Out Club.
Acting for Cathedral Group plc and Development securities plc on their joint acquisition of the London Gate business park in Hayes, Middlesex, from JeR Partners, the Blackstone Group and Resolution. The JV, for whom the Firm continues to act on the project, has just unveiled a £250 million redevelopment plan for the 18 acre former EMI headquarters site.
What's happening down your local?
The Localism Act brings the concept of
neighbourhoods into the very heart of the planning system. Developers have been well used to dealing with Boroughs and Districts as their local planning authority and sometimes treating immediate neighbours as little more than a nuisance. even though the reforms in the Act are not as extreme as might have been feared by the initial rhetoric, there is the potential for small groups of people to have a strong influence on how their neighbourhood is developed in the future.
However, the Act also creates opportunities for businesses to become active participants in the planning of the predominant new business-oriented neighbourhoods. This could include business parks or industrial estates as well as small town centres or high streets; a point which could usefully have been championed more strongly by Mary Portas in her ‘Review of the High street'.
The Community Right to Bid, however, is a threat to liquidity for landowners. Local groups can designate assets as being of actual or possible community value, be it the last pub or shop in the village or a building which is ripe for conversion to a free school. sales of designated assets can be delayed while communities look to put together a bid, even though there is no requirement on the landowner to sell.
who is my neighbour?
Much like the Local enterprise Partnerships, which replaced the regional bodies, neighbourhoods are expected to be created from the
ground up. Groups who think they represent an area can ask the Local Authority for recognition of their area as a neighbourhood and the body itself as the appropriate neighbourhood authority. That group can be as small as 21 people who meet in the local pub.
The best indication we have of the size of a neighbourhood is that parish councils automatically qualify to be the neighbourhood for their area. Quite how a rural civil parish translates to the streets of Westminster or Wigan is something which will be tested over time.
what powers does a neighbourhood have?
The neighbourhood's first power is to prepare a neighbourhood plan. A neighbourhood should not depart significantly from the allocations in the local development framework but neighbourhood forums do appear to have some control in directing development to the most appropriate areas. In reality, however, given the various constraints in terms of land ownerships, greenbelts and other destinations this apparent freedom will be quite restricted.
Where a plan has been adopted, neighbourhood development orders can be promoted by the forum to grant direct permission for forms of development.
Finally, the Community Infrastructure Levy is likely to have a top slice diverted directly to neighbourhoods for spending on local infrastructure. The possibility to pool this with perhaps a Business Improvement District has the potential to really focus on local placemaking.
what does this mean?
When looking to promote development, one of the first steps must be to ascertain whether a neighbourhood forum is already in place or whether there are moves to create one. We are already advising clients on early engagement with such bodies to ascertain the key local priorities to inform planning obligation negotiations with the council.
For property investors, the Act brings opportunities to forge greater links with their immediate local area. Whether or not a business-led neighbourhood forum can be created, there are still opportunities to become involved. Landowners should be careful not to be seen to
buy neighbourhoods, but businesses may well be able to bring expertise, meeting space or administrative support that the forum cannot achieve for itself.
Connecting with people is now more important than ever before in the planning regime. The Localism Act is another reminder that planning is more than a simple matter of architecture and landscaping.
The Virtuous Circle › Making Connections
Daniel Lipman: I've seen our practice change through the growing influx of overseas wealth into UK real estate. In addition to property companies and funds, many of our clients are now overseas private individuals and family offices investing in UK real estate for the first time. With London regarded as a safe haven from market turbulence elsewhere, we continue to see a flow of new money from other jurisdictions and with the introduction this year of a new tax relief for non doms I can only see this continuing. In particular, there's been an exponential increase in investment from Russia, the Middle east and the Far east into Central London commercial real estate, largely offices and hotels.
James Wilcox: From a private client perspective, there's been a change in attitudes and perceptions since the 2008 financial meltdown. High net worth families are no longer prepared to place their complete trust in banks, and indeed many families are even more cautious regarding asset preservation. Many have looked at setting up their own private family offices or have sought advice from multi family offices, who can offer a discreet platform through which they can monitor and control their wealth. separately, but as part of this changing financial landscape, sovereign funds and family offices now play a greater role in looking for investments. Cash in the bank cannot provide a complete solution to asset protection so the families are looking for alternative investments, and are providing much needed sources of equity in various areas of private and public businesses.
Ned El-Imad: Yes, international private wealth remains huge. shrewd, cash rich investors are opting for prime London real estate rather than leaving their money in the bank. Throw in favourable exchange rates and the UK property market is particularly attractive to overseas players. With this in mind, modern day lawyers also need to be connectors and facilitators. I see this all the time in residential real estate. You're on call and it's not enough to be
just a lawyer you have to prove yourself as a trusted advisor. Investors need trusted professional advisers who understand the intricacies of the UK residential property market and can help to create and extract value.
Ian Paul: Absolutely. And useful connections are vitally important to our overseas clients as their networks lie in other jurisdictions. They're relying on us, at least initially, to be proactive in making those useful introductions and connections. since we're in a position of trust, it's important that we effect introductions to property companies, banks, agents and other professionals that we know will provide a first class service. It's a virtuous circle, as work tends to flow both ways with the banks and professionals we have a relationship with. If they provide a great service to clients, we'll send more work.
Susan Freeman: Clients also respond to creativity in the way that law firms approach the relationship. Our partnership with Quintessentially, the luxury lifestyle group, enables us to offer a 24 hour, 365 days a year, global concierge service to our clients an example of how a law firm's client relationships can extend beyond that of a traditional legal advisor.
Nick Minkoff: But clients aren't just interested in who we can introduce them to externally; it's equally important knowing how different parts of your own business can work in concert to achieve the client's ultimate goals. Lawyers can become siloed within their own area of expertise, but it's imperative that firms break down internal barriers so that departments and teams know how they support or influence other areas of their firm. Our Private Client lawyers all work closely with our Real estate Department and other commercial teams.
Kamal Rahman: As Head of our Immigration Group, it is vitally important to me that there's complete synergy between real estate and immigration. For high net worth clients who are relocating, London is their
Plan B to safeguard their families against the geopolitical turmoil in their own countries. The two pillars of Plan B are UK residency and UK real estate. We use our network to assist, so for instance where a family is relocating we work closely with school consultants.
Nick Doffman: What it really comes down to is trust and rapport. Ability to service a client's professional work is a if we demonstrate to our clients that we really care about their business and will play our part to enhance that business (through our connections) they will trust us, which in turn cements our relationship. Providing quality legal services remains essential but for a law firm to thrive it must give real added value to its clients and intermediaries. At Mishcon, we achieve this through our own connectivity!
Q.When is a developer not a developer?
A.When they're a fund manager.
Are you a fund manager?
That should be an easy question to answer. However for an increasing number of property developers and builders, the answer is actually
At a time when financing is hard to come by, many developers have looked at the possibility of involving investors – both UK and international – in projects with the aim that all involved are equity participants. This seems to be a reasonable and entrepreneurial response to the economic situation, and far removed from the derivative-related, complex financial instrument market which excited lawmakers into regulating the funds arena in the first place.
However, the regulators have set their sights on the property industry, and the FSA has made it clear they intend to crack the whip as they enforce the rules vigorously. The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, which would appear to have little to do with property development, manages to catch the sector with the definition of Collective Investment Schemes (CIS).
What is a Collective Investment Scheme?
This covers any arrangement with respect to property of any description which enable those taking part to receive income or profits arising from the acquisition, holding, management or disposal of the property. If the participants are not involved in the day to day management, it is likely to be a CIS. As a result, such schemes can arise inadvertently where developers regard it as simply a profit-sharing arrangement or co-investment opportunity.
As a CIS, there are restrictions as to whom the scheme can be promoted, and requirements with regard to the operator. In essence, an FSA-authorised entity is generally needed to act as the operator. In addition, marketing can usually take place only to professional investors or to those who can certify their income at over £100,000 or net assets over £250,000.
Crossing either of these lines may well attract the attention of the FSA's enforcement division, particularly if any investor is disgruntled at the outcome of his investment and chooses to complain to them. For example, in 2008 the FSA asked the High Court to wind up UKLI Limited, the UK's largest land-banking company, on the basis that it was operating a CIS when it was not authorised to do so.
Given the increasing propensity of the FSA to look for draconian sanctions whenever possible, including hefty fines, this is an area that anyone who is sharing the profits in a deal will have to address before even inviting investors to part with their money.
What can be done?
Your legal advisor may have structures and forms of agreement that can help avoid many of the potential pitfalls. With our Funds and Financial Services Team and Real Estate Department's in-house offshore legal expertise, particularly with regard to the BVI but also other reputable locations, we can help to minimise the requirements, and tie them in with tax efficient structures which will work for investors from most parts of the world.
We are seeing a growing trend for property development and investment companies looking to address the issue by obtaining FSA authorisation. This was almost unheard of until relatively recently, but we are now helping a number of clients through the process. Although there are ongoing obligations, they tend not to be as onerous as many believe. Talk to your advisors about the pros and cons to see if FSA authorisation is worth considering for your business.
Nick Strutt - We're in the most serious downturn since the 1930s. How does this compare to the last recession in the 1990s?
Michael Bardell - It's much worse. The early 1990s downturn was characterised by a property market collapse but the banks still had strong balance sheets and they enforced more readily. This time, the banks are in distress, don't necessarily want to crystallise losses and are keeping assets on the books by pushing out maturity dates.
NS - We are seeing some book sales and receiverships now, but not as much as I would expect. Overall inertia seems to be the overriding theme.
MB - People have been in denial and have taken time deciding what to do. The problem is bigger this time. Since the last recession, we've seen the explosion of securitisation driven by banks more concerned with volume of deals than quality of assets. Also, lower interest rates have helped banks to carry loans this time.
NS - Banks are not really going for joint venture opportunities or for getting in new money by way of staple financing. How about in the previous downturn?
MB - In the 1990s, banks tended to crystallise losses and move on. We saw banks agreeing to hold off enforcement in exchange for success fees when the market recovered. Now, by pushing out maturity dates and increasing pricing, they are simply kicking the problem down the road. Profit sharing may be a more sensible option. The market is evolving though. We are starting to see banks off-loading distressed portfolios at big discounts to private equity houses and others.
NS - Funding is available on prime quality assets but who will fund the other deals? New players such as private funds and insurance funds only appear to be lending on prime assets. If they lowered their sights to secondary assets, maybe they could become the
MB - There has been talk of the insurance companies coming in but they will need to develop origination platforms. If they set their sights lower to secondary property they could be a
white knight. Some banks are suffering less but they've still stopped property lending. We are seeing some new money through boutique finance houses but it's expensive. And there's some positivity in terms of new lenders – funds, mezzanine lenders or even bigger entrants to the market.
NS - The million pound question is where the money to fund the deals that need refinancing will come from?
MB - It isn't clear how the enormous wall of debt is going to be refinanced but some sophisticated borrowers have refinanced early to avoid being wrong-footed.
NS - 2011 was an interesting year. The sense of cautious optimism at the start gave way to uncertainty with the deepening Eurozone debt crisis.
MB - This recession is about time. It's a waiting game. Whether looking at the Eurozone debt or the bank liquidity crisis, we can only resolve the problem when the value of debt relative to assets reduces. Unless banks write off debt, this won't be resolved without growth or inflation.
NS - There is a sense that this time the banks have been tarnished by the liquidity crisis and that borrowers are more empowered.
MB - In the 1990s, banks were powerful, untouchable institutions. Back then, if you had asked for protection against a bank in a loan document you'd have been laughed out of town. We have seen a complete change of attitude.
NS - Borrowers now have to think strategically in order to persuade banks that a solution may be to warehouse a deal, bringing in more equity, new shareholders and so on.
MB - Yes. Twenty years ago, banks were largely represented by magic circle firms and borrowers by commercial lawyers with little banking experience. Now it's more of a level playing field. We have to come up with novel ways to restructure financing as well as creative approaches to the difficulties that arise from distressed assets. For example, borrowers often have interest rate hedging. In case of default the hedging is closed out, which can lead to significant costs. However, techniques to mitigate costs may be available. The key is always to seek advice early.
WEST SIDE STORY
Gary Yardley talks to Susan Freeman about Capco's regeneration of Earls Court in west London
The Olympic volleyball tournament will be hosted at earls Court exhibition Centre, with other events taking place at Olympia's 90,000 sq ft West Hall, newly built to provide additional, user friendly exhibition space. Gary Yardley, Director of Capital & Counties (Capco), points out that
the whole of earls Court exhibition Centres 1 and 2 will be taken over for the entire period of the Games. However, it is only post Olympics that Capco's exciting plans for earls Court really start to move ahead.
Following nearly two years of consultation, outline planning applications were submitted in June to the two local authorities, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea, for the earls Court & West Kensington Opportunity Area (eCOA). These aim to transform this 77 acre west London site into a vibrant new district.
Terry Farrell's masterplan is based on the concept of
Four new urban Villages and a 21st century high street which includes 7,500 homes, 2 million sq ft of commercial and retail space along with 23 acres of open space and a five acre ‘Lost River Park' project. There will be public transport improvements and initiatives, and it is thought that 12,000 permanent new jobs will be created.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council have resolved to grant detailed planning permission for the redevelopment of the 7.4 acre seagrave Road car park site. Currently serving earls Court exhibition Centre, this will form part of the proposed West Brompton village. Capco have teamed up with the wealthy Kwok Family Interests for a 50:50 joint venture. The Kwok Family Interests are major shareholders of sun Hung Kai Properties Limited, one of the largest real estate companies listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Yardley regards this alliance as
a massive coup as this is the Kwok Family Interests' first large scale corporate joint venture in London. Capco sought out a top developer able to provide the requisite high quality to set a new benchmark for the area.
For Yardley, a key difference between earls Court and the stratford Olympic development is that east London had
a clean canvas whereas at earls Court they can use the best of west London to influence the development's design. As Yardley comments:
What people like about Terry Farrell's vision is that, in many ways, it is what would have happened in the 1800s if the area had not become an exhibition playground. A site like this is a rare commodity. It can help fulfil the need for new housing. The scheme has been modelled over 20 years but this period can be speeded up or slowed down as required.
The project will create London's first new high street in 100 years, connecting North end Road in the west with earls Court station to the east.
Significant retail aimed at independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants will be interspersed with community uses. It will be
the social hub of the district, a place for everybody. In addition to multiple public transport links, there will be substantial car parking and the Boris bike scheme will be extended westwards with thousands of bike ports. Capco are even considering a new market initiative similar to Covent Garden, which will be music to Mary Portas' ears.
EAST SIDE STORY
Jamie Ritblat discusses Delancey's joint venture investment in the Olympic Village in east London
Once the 17,000 athletes have vacated the Olympic Village – now renamed East Village – works will begin to retrofit the units. These will then be handed over to Delancey and their Qatari joint venture partners as 1,439 fully fitted new homes. It is expected that in winter 2013, residents will move into a completed community boasting a state of-the-art academy, medical centre and community facilities. As Delancey CEO Jamie Ritblat puts it,
It is important to remember that the legacy has driven the design brief, and not the other way around – the buildings were created with a vision for a long-term residential neighbourhood, for a time beyond the Games.
Having enjoyed one of the last tours pre-lockdown, I can confirm that the Village has a real
wow factor. The size of St James's Park, the development sits amidst lush landscaping and parkland, and is an integral part of the Stratford regeneration story that will serve as a lasting legacy long after the Olympic torch has moved on.
The Stratford Regeneration Partnership has successfully brought the Stratford project together on budget and on time. Ritblat remarks on the
collegiate and cooperative attitude which has prevailed between the various developers and the
strong will to ensure the area is brought together in a cohesive and effective way.
The East Village will have a high proportion of rental accommodation, which Ritblat regards as part of a precedent which is already in train.
Home ownership has been in decline for 10 years and there is no obvious reason why this is likely to change.
He has seen a shift in sentiment affecting both young and old alike, but for him the key is making the model work so that residential landlords get a reasonable return on cash flow. There is
a disconnect between rental income and capital value. The constraint is the limited availability of suitable property. He comments:
To get residential management right, you need scale and mass as the property can't be disparate. You can't make it work with hundreds of properties spread across London.
The benefit of a large site such as the Village is that it enables the landlord to control such elements as security, retail offer and child care.
It's changing but historically it's been difficult to achieve in London. Legislation was for a long time anti-landlord and there has been a reluctance to grasp the nettle again. He views the East Village as
the first great opportunity on this scale.
A catalyst is certainly needed to create institutional interest in the residential rented sector. Ritblat acknowledges that
all eyes will be on us to do it. He clearly relishes the challenge and is enjoying the excitement of creating a new community from a standing start.
economic prosperity is about confidence, the upcoming Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee should engender enthusiasm and positivity to take us well into next year.
Let There Be Light
On a crowded island, where space is at a premium, it is little surprise that property values in the UK remain among the highest in Europe. Despite the credit crunch, the UK remains a hotspot for property investment.
With investment comes development. When senior leading property developers predict that the only way to accommodate future demand for real estate in London and other large cities will be to build upwards, it is certain that rights of light – already a significant consideration for developers – are likely to become even more important in the years ahead.
A right of light is an easement (acquired either expressly or by long user) allowing apertures in a building to receive adequate light across third party land. What remedies are available if this right is interfered with and how any loss is to be compensated is an area subject to developing case law and legislative interest.
Although a party whose property rights have been infringed has always been entitled to seek an injunction, a court also has the power to award damages as an alternative where: the injury to the party's right is small; it is capable of being estimated in and compensated by money; and it would be oppressive to grant an injunction.
Until fairly recently, developers might have been tempted to believe that breaching rights of light would not prevent them from completing a project in all but the most serious circumstances.
They may well have considered that an injunction preventing develop ment would be unlikely unless they had behaved particularly unconscionably or the other party was willing to seek an interim injunction very shortly after works commenced.
This is no longer the case. In Regan v Paul in 1995, the Court of Appeal found that a loss of light would not be adequately compensated by a
small money payment. The fact that the developer had continued to build in the face of Mr Regan's protests was a calculated risk and did not prevent an injunction requiring it to demolish its partly built development.
The 2010 case of HXRUK (II) (CHC) Limited v Heaney has continued this trend. Here the developer sought to distinguish Regan v Paul on the basis that the property enjoying rights to light was commercial rather than residential. The developer had completed its new office building and the adjoining owner had failed to bring injunction proceedings during the course of the works. It was argued that it would be oppressive to require the completed works to be altered and the two top floors of the building reduced.
These arguments failed and the court ordered the developer to remove part of the two top floors of its building.
Where does this leave developers in 2012?
It is clear that their position has weakened significantly. Even if an adjoining owner is prepared to negotiate a release of his rights to light, settlement is likely to reflect developer's profit rather than the loss in value to the building benefitting from the right to light. In these circumstances, it is essential for a developer to seek early advice, both in terms of establishing whether rights of light exist (to try to prevent actionable rights arising) and to make it more difficult for him to be held to ransom by those with rights.
Guidance might include whether rights of light insurance is available or alternatively whether planning legislation might assist. In relation to planning, with the demand for space in central urban locations and the economic benefits of redevelopment schemes, local authorities have become more willing to use statute to assist developers.
Both the City of London (notably with the Walkie Talkie development) and Westminster councils have recently invoked section 237 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which enables a local authority to acquire land and, in so doing, override a third party's rights of light. A local authority can therefore work with a developer by purchasing the land to be developed, overriding any rights of light and then granting a long lease to the developer. Anyone previously benefitting from rights of light would be compensated but only for any resultant loss in value (as opposed to a share in the development profit).
The smart money says that developers will increasingly consider this possibility in the face of the hardening of the court's position.
Partner, Property Litigation
Richard regularly deals with disputes relating to strategic property management for commercial and institutional landlords and tenants, and advises developers on contentious issues around development schemes. Having managed cases at all court levels, he is experienced in conducting substantial one-off litigation in relation to commercial and residential property disputes. He also has expertise in insolvency-related and professional negligence matters. Richard was previously Head of Property Litigation at Jones Day.
With more than 25 years' experience, Michael advises banks, investment fund managers, private equity houses and substantial corporations in relation to a broad range of debt finance transactions, with an emphasis on property lending as well as acquisition, leveraged, structured and general corporate financing. He was previously a Partner at Travers Smith LLP.
Partner, Head of Asset Management and Investment Funds
Gray has over 20 years' experience in the legal and regulatory aspects of both onshore and offshore funds and asset management, including the establishment of hedge, private equity and property funds. He advises on regulated products including UCITs offerings, as well as the establishment of management entities both in the UK and elsewhere. He also advises management teams on regulatory and structuring matters. Gray is also qualified in the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands. He joined the Firm from Appleby.
Partner, Tax Kassim
Advises UK and international clients in relation to the taxation of business and investment activities. He has experience with structuring the tax-efficient acquisition, ownership and disposal of shares, securities and real estate, the interpretation of double taxation treaties and the application of transfer pricing rules. He advises a number of UK, european and Asian-based businesses and their owners, as well as US-based multinationals. Kassim was previously a Tax Partner at Steptoe and Johnson LLP.
Wesley has extensive experience in providing strategic advice on major developments, including advising and negotiating on large infrastructure agreements. His expertise also encompasses public inquiry work, both at appeal and in promoting schemes via the local plan, as well as High Court and judicial review actions. He joined the Firm from Nabarro LLP, where he was a Partner in the Planning Group.
Selwyn advises public companies, institutional lenders and high net worth individuals within the real estate and commercial sectors. since 2001, he has been the Club lawyer for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, acting on matters such as property acquisitions and disposals, as well as the construction of a new Tottenham stadium and regeneration of the surrounding area.
Associate, Real Estate
Having previously worked as an in-house lawyer at Amazon, Claire has expertise in dealing with acquisitions and disposals involving private companies, unit trusts, partnership interests and joint ventures, as well as straightforward asset sales. she is also experienced in asset management agreements, leasing and management work, and project managing large due diligence exercises in cross border transactions.
Solicitor, Property Litigation
Primarily advising commercial landlords and tenants, Ros also has wider experience within the residential property sphere. she has expertise in a range of landlord and tenant matters such as dilapidations, lease renewals, rent arrears recovery, possession claims, forfeiture and rent review. she also advises landlords and insolvency practitioners in insolvency situations. Ros joined from Pinsent Masons LLP.
Solicitor, Real Estate
Claudia has transactional experience in all aspects of commercial real estate including investment sales and acquisitions, develop¬ment work and landlord and tenant matters. she has also provided real estate support for corporate and finance-led transactions. Her clients range from pension funds and banks to private investors, developers and property companies. Claudia was previously at Olswang LLP.
Solicitor, Real Estate
Rebecca has a range of experience including acquisitions and disposals of investment and retail properties, as well as property management experience relating to landlord and tenant work on behalf of a major listed property REIT. she also has experience in real estate support for financing and corporate transactions. Before joining the Firm, Rebecca was an Associate at Slaughter & May.
Solicitor, Real Estate Finance
Firyal, who joined from Pinsent Masons LLP, has experience of working on a number of syndicated and bilateral lending deals, particularly in the area of property finance. she has completed seats in both property and banking and has a significant amount of transactional experience working for a range of clients in both areas.
Solicitor, Residential Property
Vasoula has experience in a range of residential property matters, with an emphasis on prime central London acquisitions, disposals and lease extensions. Her clients, mainly high net worth individuals but also developers and dealers, come from all over the world including the Far East, the Middle East and Europe. She is fluent in Greek. Vasoula was previously at Howard Kennedy.
There's such a thing as bad publicity
A call comes in to a law firm: someone has done something that they would prefer not to see in the newspapers. Perhaps they are a well known footballer – or a businessman – who has spent the night with someone who is not their spouse. They have been contacted by a tabloid newspaper and asked to comment on a story that the newspaper will run tomorrow morning.
The individual can attempt to get an injunction to stop publication of the story and their image, usually possible if a true breach of privacy has occurred and the matter is not in the public interest. For example, in 2011 an actor who was being blackmailed by his former girlfriend and threatened with the publication of private photographs in the tabloid newspapers obtained an injunction on the ground that there was no public interest in his sexual activities.
This system worked for years. Now, everything is different. The internet and easy access to cameras through mobile phones have made it almost redundant. The paparazzi do take pictures which they try to sell to the tabloids. If an individual is lucky, the press will let them know that they will be published, giving them time to try and stop it. But many reputations are now damaged by material on the internet, which enables immediate publication of sensitive or damaging information to the world at large. Journalists, malicious competitors or gossips (posing as people who care about the public interest) can permanently harm someone's reputation.
Bringing it upon yourself?
However it is not only other people who can damage an individual's reputation. Social networking sites can be toxic in the wrong hands.
It is a common mantra that to do business today, people need to be more connected, whether through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Some companies even set
tweet targets for their employees or demand that employees spend out of office time following the news and
re-tweeting appropriate news stories. The competition to have the most followers on Twitter, or the most connections on LinkedIn, is intense.
Twitter is particularly dangerous in some hands. A misjudged comment or link can cause a publicity scandal of extraordinary proportions and can derail careers. Cases such as Anthony Weiner, a Democrat member of Congress and a potential US presidential candidate who resigned after he sent a link to an explicit photograph of himself via his Twitter account to a female
follower, are well documented.
Top tips to prevent reputation crises
1. Your employer, colleagues and followers are likely to view your Twitter account as representative of your company, even if you are using your own name. Anything you write – or link to – reflects on your workplace.
2. Your Facebook account may be the first thing that other people will use to find information about you. Tighten your privacy settings and do not accept
friends who you do not know personally.
3. Similarly, when you set up a LinkedIn account, do not accept requests from unknown individuals. Some members may scour the database for appropriate targets and then, if accepted, use that person's contacts as their own
4. Do not post sexually explicit text, photographs or images on any social networking websites.
5. Every time you post anything on a social networking site, consider how it would look if it were published on the front page of a newspaper next to your photograph.
The Battle of the Giants: London v New York
LandAid's ‘Battle of the Giants' Debate pitted London Mayor Boris Johnson and The Apprentice winner Tim Campbell against New York City Deputy Mayors Howard Wolfson and Robert Steel. The event, organised by Helical Bar CEO and LandAid President Mike Slade, Mishcon de Reya Partner Susan Freeman and Central's Pat Brown, was attended by 300 senior industry figures and raised £50,000.