Blog

Rob Robertson Appointed Director of Business Development

Rob Robertson has been appointed Director of Business Development at Naylor, Solicitors.

A hugely experienced entrepreneur, manager and director, with significant expertise in residential property services and a long-established network of contacts in the property management industry, Rob brings a wealth of skills in business development, training and negotiation to the firm.

Prior to joining Naylor, Solicitors, Rob spent many years as Managing Director of one of the country’s leading property management companies. He has also been a director of a boutique London estate agency as well as a cleaning and maintenance start-up, giving him wide-ranging insight into various parts of the property sector.

He will work closely with solicitors across all departments in order to consolidate existing client relationships, forge new connections, and drive the growth of the business.

If you are interested in discussing how we can assist you in relation to debt recovery, leasehold enfranchisement, landlord & tenant, or property litigation, please email rob@naylorllp.co.uk.

Gemma Hawthorne Appointed Head of Leasehold Enfranchisement

Gemma Hawthorne recently joined Naylor Solicitors LLP as Legal Director, heading up the firm’s award-winning leasehold enfranchisement department.

A highly experienced and accomplished solicitor, specialising in residential leasehold property, Gemma assists freeholders, intermediate landlords, leaseholders, RTM companies, managing agents and various other parties with a range of services, including the following:

  • Lease extensions (statutory and voluntary)
  • Collective enfranchisements 
  • Right to manage
  • Right of first refusal
  • Absent landlord matters
  • General leasehold advisory issues
  • Litigation and dispute resolution

We are proud to have built a reputation over the years for delivering practical, cost-effective, expert advice on all manner of residential leasehold property issues. 

As Head of Leasehold Enfranchisement, Gemma will spearhead the growth of her department while continuing to offer the highest level of service to the firm’s clients.

If you would like to get in touch with us regarding any residential leasehold property enquiry, you can reach Gemma on 020 7963 8689 or email gemma.hawthorne@naylorllp.co.uk

Coronavirus and Contracts

As you will know, there are many legal repercussions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We can assist with all such issues within our legal focus. Indeed, over the last couple of weeks, we have spent many hours advising our clients, often on an urgent basis, in relation to property issues, commercial contracts, construction and JCT contracts, and all manner of other issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic and the associated lockdown.

We have always been very keen to assist individuals and businesses, not just in good times, but also in bad. We have an experienced team that can provide urgent advice and assist you in finding the best way forward. Whilst each case is, obviously, individual on its facts, we provide some general guidance in relation to issues that have repeatedly arisen recently.

COVID-19 and contracts

As a result of this pandemic, businesses may either be unable to fulfill their contractual obligations or suffer loss because suppliers cannot fulfill theirs. Under normal circumstances, a claim for breach of contract would arise. If it is clear that the contractual failure was principally caused by the COVID-19, however, a claim for breach of contract may not be viable for the following reasons:

  • There is an applicable force majeure clause in the relevant contract i.e. a clause that deals with how the parties’ obligations are affected by an event that affects one party’s ability to perform
  • The common law doctrine of frustration applies

To be sure, the fact that these defences could be available does not mean that a business can assume it will get away with using COVID-19 as a general excuse for any contractual failure.

Parties should therefore review their key contracts if they think there is a risk that COVID-19 could cause a breach of the contract and assess what pre-emptive measures could be taken to avoid this. Parties may also consider implementing a communication plan to engage with the counterparties of these key contracts throughout the affected period.

1. Force majeure clauses

A force majeure clause typically excuses one or both parties from performance of the contract in some way following the occurrence of certain events.

The first issue to check is whether a pandemic is specifically mentioned in the definition of force majeure in the relevant contract. If the definition includes events beyond a party’s reasonable control, this may be sufficient but will not be guaranteed to succeed and will depend on the drafting, circumstances, intention of the parties and the extent to which this can be proved.

The second issue to check is how the force majeure clause operates. If it provides that the relevant triggering event must “prevent” performance, the relevant party must demonstrate that performance is legally or physically impossible, not just difficult or unprofitable.

2. Frustration of contracts in the event of a pandemic

The doctrine of frustration applies where a significant change of circumstances renders performance of a contract radically different from the obligations that were originally undertaken. Such a change in circumstances must be due to an outside event or change of situation that occurs without the fault of the party seeking to rely on it.

The courts are typically reluctant to find that a contract has been frustrated. Express provision in the contract for the event in question (such as a force majeure clause) will normally prevent the contract being frustrated. A contract will not be frustrated simply because it becomes more difficult or expensive to perform or because the business has been let down by another supplier.

When a frustrating event occurs, the parties are excused from further performance and are not liable for damages for non-performance. However, the contract will be permanently frustrated: temporary frustration (in the sense of temporary suspension) of the contract is not recognised. The courts cannot amend the terms of the contract to reflect the effects of the supervening event.

The Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 governs certain consequences of frustration. Except where otherwise agreed by the parties, the Act permits recovery of monies that were paid under the contract before it was discharged, subject to an allowance (at the court’s discretion) for expenses incurred by the other party.

If you have been affected by any contractual issue related to the coronavirus pandemic, please call 020 7963 8690 or email James Naylor (Managing Partner) to receive a FREE 30 minute consultation.

NB: if you are a contractor or employer involved in construction, please see our separate article on how construction contracts may be affected by the coronavirus.

Vipul Kapoor Appointed Head of Litigation

On Monday 30th March 2020, Naylor Solicitors LLP appointed Vipul Kapoor as its new Head of Litigation in order to spearhead the firm’s growth.

An experienced solicitor, specialising in real estate litigation and dispute resolution, Vipul previously worked for almost 10 years at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP.

He has particular expertise in commercial property disputes, including:

  • Contentious business lease renewals
  • Rent reviews
  • Forfeiture and relief from forfeiture claims
  • Enforcement of leasehold covenants
  • Break notices
  • Service charge disputes
  • Advising on tenant insolvency
  • Disputes over rights of way and easements
  • Breaches of restrictive covenants
  • Trespass
  • Nuisance
  • Adverse possession
  • Dilapidations
  • Telecommunications issues

It is the firm’s stated aim to seek to provide the highest quality litigation advice in a practical, cost-effective and commercial way.

The firm believes that Vipul’s appointment will further this aim, while helping to continually expand its property litigation offering.

If you would like to contact Vipul with any litigation enquiry, he can be reached on: 020 7963 8686; or vipul.kapoor@naylorllp.co.uk.

Construction Disputes Solicitors in London

Deconstruction of Construction

As the coronavirus sweeps across the country and the government demands that all but essential workers stay at home, never has the phrase ‘force majeure’ been so relevant to contractors or employers.

This innocuous term, which is almost an afterthought in JCT contracts, is just as worrying as the virus itself for all connected with construction. A force majeure is the occurrence of an event which is outside the control of either one or both parties and which prevents them from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

The current government guidelines have an impact on manpower. The virus is spread through the air and by failing to keep surfaces clean. Men working in close proximity, and building sites not being known for their cleanliness, raises the risk of the virus spreading in these situations. It is therefore understandable for contractors to think about standing down their workforce.

As there is no end date for high rates of contagion, contractors can’t be certain whether they will still be able to meet completion dates if they cease work on site. In most JCTs an extension of time can be requested and should usually be granted. However, consideration will have to be given as to how far along the build has reached and what outstanding works need to be done. Government guidelines, industry procedures, and health and safety regulations will also form part of any decision, but it may be possible for work to continue so no extension of time would be required.

In some JCTs there is also the right to terminate the contract due to a force majeure. However, whether it is the employer or the contractor who wants to take this route, there are procedures which have to be followed. A failure to terminate correctly can be costly. Even where termination is effected correctly, the terminating party may owe and/or be due monies from the other party.

Whether there is a request for an extension of time or a party is considering termination of the JCT, neither should be done without deconstructing all the facts as, although there is a need to stop the virus, it may not always mean that construction has to stop or be delayed.

If you wish to discuss this further or have any questions about the legal implications of the coronavirus pandemic on the construction industry, then please call Audrey Lawrence (Legal Director) on 020 7963 8682 or email audrey.lawrence@naylorllp.co.uk.

Legal Advice – COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

We would like to assure all our clients and contacts that we will operate as normal during the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to serve our clients as usual and will still be available to provide ongoing legal advice, including on issues arising specifically from the current crisis.

The areas as to which we can advise include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • All kinds of litigation and dispute resolution matters such as property disputes, neighbour disputes, commercial disputes and debt recovery
  • Any non-contentious, residential landlord & tenant issue, including general lease advice as well as leasehold enfranchisement (e.g. lease extensions and collective purchase or freehold)

We offer 30 minutes of FREE advice. To book your complimentary telephone consultation, call 020 7963 8690 or email admin@naylorllp.co.uk to make an appointment.

Finally, we wish you all the best and hope you and your family stay safe during this difficult time.

Now Hiring: Property Litigation Solicitor

We are looking to recruit a property litigation solicitor of 3-7+ years PQE.

We offer an attractive salary, a generous holiday entitlement, a worthwhile bonus scheme, flexible working, private medical insurance, life insurance and a sociable work environment, amongst other benefits.

The firm provides an interesting and varied case load, with some truly high-quality work, and a tried and tested environment to develop a legal career. For example, 60% of our solicitors started at the firm as paralegals, before becoming trainee solicitors, associate solicitors and now, in two cases, partners.

We are a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone feels they belong. We have a fantastic team – two thirds of our solicitors and solicitor partners are women – and our staff speak eight different languages.

The solicitor we are looking for will have a full case-load from day one, but will be actively encouraged to engage in networking and marketing (attending MIPIM, etc) and to develop a new client following.

Please email james@naylorllp.co.uk if you are interested in this position.

Jennifer Scurfield appointed as Partner

I am delighted to announce that Jennifer Scurfield has been appointed as a Partner from 1st April 2019.

Having joined the firm on 13th March 2013 and qualified as a solicitor on 15th July 2015, I could not be more pleased that Jennifer has worked her way up the firm from paralegal, to trainee solicitor, to newly qualified solicitor, to associate then senior associate solicitor and now partner. Her client care and attention to detail are second to none and match her invariable ability to get the best result possible for her clients.

Jennifer is now the head of our Residential Leasehold team and advises upon:-

  • Contentious and non-contentious residential leasehold issues; including complex licences to alter with a high financial value and technical complexity; and
  • Leasehold Reform Act work, including advising both landlords and tenants on claims to acquire freeholds, lease extensions and right to manage claims.

She also has extensive general real estate litigation experience, regularly taking cases to Court, the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) and the Land Registration Tribunal.

Jennifer is a member of the Property Litigation Association and a member of Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners.

She obtained both an undergraduate and graduate degree in law from the University Pantheon-Assas Paris 2 (France) and an LLM from the University of Kent (Canterbury). She also successfully completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (with Commendation) and the Legal Practice Course (with Distinction) at the University of Law (London-Bloomsbury) before being offered a training contract at the firm.

Having been raised in France with a British background, Jennifer is bilingual and regularly assists the firm’s French speaking clients with services in English property law.

 

E: jennifer.scurfield@naylorllp.co.uk

DDI: 020 7963 8691

Dominika Libova appointed as Partner

I am delighted to announce that Dominika Libova has been appointed as Partner in the firm from 1st April 2019.

Dominika joined the firm on 1st May 2013 and qualified as a solicitor on 15th April 2016. I could not be more pleased that Dominika has worked her way up the firm from personal assistant to paralegal, to trainee solicitor, to newly qualified solicitor, to associate then senior associate solicitor and now partner.

I am continually amazed by her dedication to her clients and her unrelenting desire to win, leaving no stone unturned in her preparation and conduct of often difficult pieces of litigation.

Dominika now specialises in all aspects of real estate litigation, with a particular focus upon property fraud and rights of light matters.

Dominika is also an accomplished advocate and is qualified as a solicitor-advocate (Higher Courts Civil Proceedings). She is also a member of the Property Litigation Association.

Dominika holds a masters degree in Law and a doctorate in Law and Criminology from Pan European University in Bratislava, as well as a commendation in the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), a commendation in the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the LLM International Arbitration from the University of Law.

A native Slovak speaker, with experience as an in-house lawyer in Slovakia, she assists clients with cross-border matters in Central and Eastern Europe.

 

E: dominika.libova@naylorllp.co.uk

DDI: 020 7963 8693