Nearly every business finds itself in a dispute at some point.
With a team that is widely recognised in the legal directories as a regional leader, backed by excellent client feedback, our Disputes team operates across the region as well as internationally.
We understand that whether you are a potential claimant or defendant, a dispute is an unwanted drain on time and money, which should be avoided if at all possible. But, if you do need to talk to a lawyer, you need a tailored management of risk from someone who can provide a realistic appraisal of the merits of your case, a clear practical case plan based on your commercial objectives, and an open and honest costs discussion.
These are the foundations of our service to clients. Our clients include multinational companies and PLCs seeking a high quality individual service at regional rates, as well as local businesses and private individuals. The wide experience of our well-structured team includes complex multi-million pound disputes, as well as those for a few thousand pounds. We are regularly referred clients by larger London firms where a dispute requires a more personal, tailored approach.
We deal with claims involving injunctions of all kinds, breach of contract, fraud, professional negligence, partnership and company disputes, insolvency and warranty claims and property and construction disputes.
Over recent years we have also developed a specialism dealing with financial services claims including claims against lenders, fund managers and advisers.
The Disputes team also includes long-standing specialist sub-teams in Construction and Property Disputes: for more details of those sub-teams, please use the left hand links. We can advise on High Court and County Court claims, with expertise in mediation and arbitration (nationally and internationally), as well as adjudication and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
How do we deal with your dispute?
We start with a clear written assessment of the prospects of success (not forgetting first understanding what you regard as “success”). With that comes an honest, realistic analysis of the options open to you: court proceedings, mediation, litigation, negotiation, insolvency proceedings and any other possibilities.
Our personal approach is led by one of three individuals in our partner-level team, giving you direct access to their experience at all times. They will pull together a team of lawyers on a case-by-case basis according to the issues at play, the complexity of your dispute and costs constraints. Your input in that process is key.
Our lawyers are supported by a carefully selected group of external service providers. This includes specialist counsel where required (though we are also able to carry out some advocacy in-house), as well as IT support services. We are in our element when handling complex, document-heavy disputes, when we use market-leading IT software support to ensure costs are reduced and efficiencies maximised.
Our approach is centred on an open and frank assessment of costs. The litigation costs management landscape has changed radically over recent years and there is little point in agreeing a commercial strategy for your dispute without a clear understanding of how it can be financed. We carry out a full cost-benefit analysis from the start, making sure that our strategy is rooted in your budget.
Our experience allows us to offer various pricing alternatives. You may prefer standard hourly pricing. If so, our cost-effective team structure allows us to offer very competitive hourly rates, which vary depending upon the complexity of your case. Or, if deferred funding is the best option, we are familiar with third party funding alternatives and CFAs. We were one of the first firms to successfully use Damages Based Agreements.
In our experience many clients find hourly rates confusing and they often do not enable efficient costs planning. So, we also offer innovative fixed costs per stage pricing wherever possible. In other words, we will guarantee that our costs for each stage of the litigation process will not exceed a particular sum, allowing you to plan with certainty. All we ask in return is that you provide payment for that stage in advance.
Our experience includes:
- defending a US$14m LCIA arbitration for one of the “Big Four” accountancy firms in Africa
- financial services proceedings against a major bank arising out of fallout from the Swiss Franc/Euro currency peg
- an £8m claim arising from alleged MTIC carousel fraud
- defending a multi-million pound Commercial Court shareholder/breach of fiduciary claim for an international construction/aviation group
- a £1.2m breach of warranty claim arising from sale of international data cable company
- injunctive relief over the recovery of a classic Ferrari in Australia
- professional negligence claim against solicitors arising from sale of property adjoining Cambridge guided busway
- a validation order application for rescue of major UK construction industry firm
You can find examples of the recent work of our specialist Construction and Property Disputes by clicking on the links to the left.
We are always happy to arrange a no-obligation call. For commercial disputes queries please call Huw Wallis on 01733 887730, for construction, Howard Crossman on 020 3691 2099 and for property disputes, Caroline Gumbrell on 01733 887745.
What do others say about us?
Our lawyers are recognised as experts in their fields by both Chambers and Legal 500 guides. The same goes for our specialist sub-teams.
The Legal 500 rates us as a first tier firm for our Commercial Litigation advice:
“… its dispute resolution team continues to build its profile across the region and beyond.” (2017)
“‘Always quick to respond with excellent, unbiased advice’. Huw Wallis is ‘very commercial and gets straight to the heart of the matter’.” (2016)
The ‘professional and approachable’ team provides ‘excellent advice in a timely manner’.” (2016)
Our nationally-recognised Property Disputes team offers specialist, practical and commercial advice on all problems associated with land and property.
We have a diverse client base ranging from companies with hundreds of properties to manage, either as landlord or as tenant, to individuals with niche investment portfolios.
Our clients include household names in the retail sector, developers, local authorities, social housing providers and other public bodies.
We also act for agricultural clients who farm in hand, as well as those who let their land out or have diversified into other areas.
We value our clients and they reciprocate the investment we show in them by staying loyal to us for many years, sometimes through generations of the same family.
You can expect a responsive and efficient service from the moment you contact Greenwoods GRM Property Disputes team.
Our focus is resolving your problem according to your specified needs and objectives in a timely, cost effective and efficient way. Throughout your time with us we will continually review progress as against costs and our original time estimate for completion.
People often associate contacting a lawyer with litigation, but the reality is that today disputes rarely reach court because of the variety of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures available. Examples include mediation, arbitration, adjudication and expert determination. Our head of Property Disputes, Caroline Gumbrell, is a qualified mediator.
Our team also provides support to our commercial property experts on issues arising in the course of transactional matters, such as on a sale and purchase or in agreeing the terms of a lease.
When a case crosses over into different areas of law our team taps into the skills and experience of our wider disputes team.
We deal with:
- Business lease renewals
- Rent and service charge recovery
- Dilapidations claims
- Disputes over breaches of covenant including forfeiture/relief applications
- Service charge disputes
- Recovery of land or premises from unlawful occupiers/squatters
- Lease surrender negotiations
- Disputes over consent to assignment/sub-let/change use/alterations
- Boundary disputes and disputes over easements (e.g. rights of way, rights to park; rights to light), breaches of covenant, trespass, nuisance, adverse possession.
The team also advises landlords in matters involving residential lettings and has a strong reputation for our work in the social housing sector.
- Prompt, professional and practical advice on all aspects of contentious property matters;
- Dispute resolution advice that is clear, concise and cost-effective;
- Expert advice on landlord and tenant disputes;
- Swift resolution of property management issues, possession proceedings;
- Economical and effective lease renewals and terminations;
- And the speedy and efficient resolution wide range of other forms of real estate disputes.
The Legal 500 commends us for our Property Litigation advice:
‘The service, advice and professionalism is second to none’, according to one client who also rates the firm’s ‘first-class advice and exceptional response times’. (2017)
Associate Caroline Gumbrell is ‘amazing – highly qualified and professional, she always treats clients with care and compassion during a difficult and stressful time’. (2017)
“Caroline Gumbrell is noted for her ‘excellent service; she is proactive and has an excellent grasp of matters’. ” (2016)
How do you deal with difficult tenants?
This must be the question that we are asked most often by landlords.
The answer depends, of course, on why the landlord thinks the tenant is being difficult but the most common scenario I see concerns individuals or companies that have gone into occupation of a property without a written tenancy, usually because the parties thought it was unnecessary or because it wasn’t ready in time. In some cases, this means that the tenant has had use of the property for months, sometimes years, without the proper documentation being in place. This is fine whilst the relationship between landlord and tenant is a good one.
In most cases of this type the outcome is not going to be good for the landlord. This is because, whether there is a written lease or not, a tenant who has been in exclusive occupation of a property for more than six months, if there was no fixed term, or for more than twelve months if there have been one or more fixed term tenancies granted, will acquire protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (“the Act”).
So, what does acquiring protection mean for the landlord? It means in a nutshell that the landlord must go through a statutory procedure to obtain its property back. The statutory procedure starts with the service of a notice. This notice must specify a date that is not less than six months but not more than twelve months’ in the future and no earlier than the expiry of any fixed term. The notice is not a notice to quit. It is a notice that says to the tenant that its landlord is bringing its current tenancy to an end on the date that is specified in the notice and either it is opposed to the granting of a new tenancy in its place or it will grant a tenancy but only on certain terms. The advantage for a landlord in the latter scenario is that finally there will be a written lease for both parties to refer to in the event of another problem arising, but what about the landlord who wants its property back. In this case the landlord will have to specify and successfully make out one of 7 grounds set out in the Act. These cover matters such as disrepair and rental arrears but the most commonly used grounds are those based on the landlord needing the property back, either because it wants to redevelop it, or occupy it itself. The landlord can only, however, rely on the latter ground if it has been the landlord of the property for at least five years. This period is calculated backwards from the date given in the notice.
A tenant leaving because it has received a notice that relies on either ground, and a further ground set out in the Act which concerns sub-letting, will have to pay compensation to the outgoing tenant of up to twice the rateable value of the property.
If the parties can’t agree the terms of a new lease or that the tenant should leave, then as long as the tenant applies to the court before the termination date given in the notice, or any later date agreed in writing between the landlord and tenant, then it will be entitled to ask the court to decide whether it can stay, and if so, what the terms of its lease should be.
My advice to any landlord finding itself in this situation is to re-establish a dialogue with the tenant and if needs be offer a financial incentive for them to leave. That incentive may be letting them off rent that should have been paid but hasn’t been or simply agreeing to pay them compensation that they wouldn’t otherwise be entitled to. This will often be cheaper than the costs of going through the court to resolve the issue. A landlord seeking to agree that a tenant leave voluntarily will have to be careful not to be seen as being heavy handed. It should also ensure that any agreement is premised on the basis that any sums are only paid either on a formal surrender being documented or when the tenant hands back the keys.
If you have an issue with a tenant, contact Caroline Gumbrell who would be happy to help.
We can help you to avoid, or where this is not possible, best manage and resolve disputes.
As projects become ever more complex, so too do construction-related disputes. Recognised as a “centre of excellence” in the field, with one of the largest construction teams in the region we have the specialist capability and strength in depth to help.
We have substantial experience in all forms of dispute resolution work including litigation, arbitration, adjudication, mediation, early neutral evaluation and expert determination. Working closely with our colleagues across the firm we can advise on any associated health and safety, environmental and property-related issues.
We pride ourselves on taking the time to get to know our clients’ business and on our practical, imaginative and unstuffy approach.
When dealing with disputes we will provide you with:
- A focussed and cost-effective assessment
- A clear and transparent fee budget
- An innovative, strategic and most importantly commercial approach
To find out more about the team and how you can benefit from its approach call 020 3691 2099 or email Howard Crossman.
The Legal 500 commends us for our Construction advice:
The firm “stands out for its ‘exemplary service tailored to clients’ needs’.” (2016)
Greenwoods GRM has great expertise in banking and complex financial services disputes.
We frequently act for national and international banking and financial services clients on a diverse range of disputes. Those disputes are often not only significant in value but also complex in nature.
We also have experience of acting for lenders in all aspects of dispute resolution (including secured and unsecured debt recovery).
Our financial services disputes team
Our team members, including Huw Wallis and Jamie McConnell, have extensive banking and finance litigation and arbitration experience gained from regional and City law firms in the UK and are well placed to advise on the complex issues that arise within this sector.
We currently act for a mixture of lenders, borrowers, fund managers, financial services businesses and their clients. We are also regularly referred clients by larger London firms where a dispute requires a more personal, tailored approach.
Our recent work includes:
- Acting in relation to a dispute against a major bank regarding a leveraged Contract for Difference currency trade following the Swiss National Bank’s unexpected removal of the Swiss Franc/Euro currency peg.
- Advising the sponsor of an investment scheme in a UK plc in relation to a threatened class action by a number of the scheme’s investors.
- Advising a major UK financial planning and investment management company relating to alleged negligence/FSMA claims arising from various investments and with international elements.
- Advising a fund manager in relation to allegations regarding the management of a number of pension schemes.
- Representing a client in relation to a pension mis-selling claim against an independent financial advisor and a leading long term savings and investments company.
- Acting for a client in relation to a dispute arising from alleged investment and/or financial planning advice provided by a firm of independent financial advisors.
- Advising a lender in relation to the enforcement of its security over land and property which involved complex environmental issues.
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