Supreme Court waves goodbye to Gala

Supreme Court waves goodbye to Gala

In an eagerly awaited judgment by the Supreme Court handed down today, Lord Briggs in First Port Property Services Limited -v- Settlers Court RTM Company Limited & Others [2022] UKSC 1 overturned the Court of Appeal’s decision in Gala Unity Limited -v- Ariadne Road RTM Co Limited [2013] 1WLR988.  Gala interpreted a right to manage company’s management functions under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (the “2002 Act”) as being sufficiently wide as to include the management of property outside the relevant building and which was also enjoyed by third parties with no nexus to the right to manage company or the lessees of the relevant building. That gave rise to a concept that there would or could be a “dual management” scenario.

The thorough judgment of Lord Briggs determined that the Gala decision was “wrong” and produced “absurd” results that were plainly not intended under the 2002 Act.

The Supreme Court further clarified that in relation to the management functions enjoyed by a right to manage company under the 2002 Act, such management was concerned only with the relevant building together with nearby appurtenant property over which the lessees of the relevant building enjoyed exclusive rights. The Supreme Court has therefore interpreted the management functions of a right to manage company on a significantly narrower basis than in Gala (and other authorities).

In respect of any RTM or other property related disputes, please contact the property litigation team at Colman Coyle on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or enquiries@colmancoyle.com.

Neil Curbison
Q&A: Five minutes with Ross Wilson

Q&A: Five minutes with Ross Wilson

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Senior Associate Ross Wilson joined the Colman Coyle Property Litigation team at the beginning of 2021. Here we sit down with Ross to hear his insight and ask a series of questions on his career to date.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a Senior Associate at Colman Coyle

My journey was anything but normal. I finished my post graduate qualification in 2009 at the height of the financial crash. This meant jobs were scarce and thousands of others like me were all fighting for the same job. I started as a paralegal in a great high street firm which led to a training contract. Upon qualification in 2012, I moved to a slightly larger regional firm and was unfortunately made redundant after a year due to a lack of work (the lingering effects of the financial crisis). I undertook a couple of locum roles at London firms until I could find something permanent. This just so happened to be at Shoosmiths in Northampton which meant a 100 mile round trip each day up the M1 motorway. After two years (owing to such a long commute), I moved to Dentons and stayed there for five and a half years. Since April 2021, I am delighted to say that I am now senior associate at Colman Coyle.

Importantly each of the aforementioned jobs have all had a focus on property litigation so whilst my journey has been anything but normal, I have had a great and varied exposure to most property litigation related matters.

What has been your career highlight?

On my first day at Dentons, I was assigned to work as a junior on a dispute concerning Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and business rates. My clients were Sainsbury’s and Co-op. The dispute also included Tesco and Cardtronics so as you can imagine, this was a high profile dispute. Over the next five and a half years, that dispute continued through the different Courts until we reached the Supreme Court. Not only did I get to work on a case which went before the Supreme Court (whose judgment had important consequences for every single ATM in England and Wales), I also transitioned from being the junior to the fee earner with day to day conduct of that dispute.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

Unfortunately the legal profession has historically been one whereby who you know is more advantageous than what you know. Having no contacts within the legal profession whatsoever, along the difficulties associated with the financial crash and training at a high street firm, meant that I had to work extremely hard to get to where I am today (which includes working for the largest law firm in the world). Nevertheless I would not change a single part of that journey as I now have a vast array of experience to call upon whilst also being able to stay humble about where I now find myself.

Do you have a particularly memorable client story you could share?

Immediately prior to joining Colman Coyle, I had successfully defeated a claim brought by a developer on behalf of a widowed and elderly lady. Without going into much detail, the developer has purchased one of three large properties and demolished it. The developer intended to build flats on the land in full knowledge of a restrictive covenant which only permitted a single dwelling house. This development would have overshadowed my client’s property, increased noise, vehicular and pedestrian traffic and ultimately diminished the happy memories my client had of her and her recently deceased husband. Whilst I have always acted and continue to act for developers, this was a memorable client story as the cause and outcome was just.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to build a career in law?

Hopefully you will be able to see from my journey that it is not always easy but if you persevere and have the right mentality, any area of the profession is ultimately open to you. The key thing is to qualify so do whatever is necessary (wherever that may be) to achieve this. It could be at a magic circle firm working 80 hour weeks or it could be at a high street firm with little or no reputation. As long as you obtain decent and varied experience by working on client matters, you will be able to call upon this to help you progress in your career.

Once you have qualified, always put the experience you are likely to gain before anything else (including salary) when choosing where to work. The way I see it is there is no point being overpaid and underqualified as this will catch you out one day when you cannot do something you really should be able to do. Conversely if you have gained a vast amount of experience, you can be confident and genuine in your own abilities and at some point in your career, use this to command a salary which reflects this.

You can read more about Ross’s work and profile here. If you wish to discuss a potential dispute, please contact Ross on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or ross.wilson@colmancoyle.com.

Cosima Berger joins our Dispute Resolution team

Cosima Berger joins our Dispute Resolution team

Colman Coyle are pleased to announce the arrival of Cosima Berger who is joining the firm as a Paralegal to provide litigation support.

Cosima grew up in Milan and attended the British School of Milan until she was 16. She attended Charterhouse School for her A Levels.

Cosima completed her GDL and LPC at BPP University before starting at Colman Coyle. She has a strong interest in litigation and is currently working in the Dispute Resolution Team.

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What do amendments to the Building Safety Bill mean for the industry? Ross Wilson discusses all in Property Week magazine

What do amendments to the Building Safety Bill mean for the industry? Ross Wilson discusses all in Property Week magazine

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Ross Wilson, a Senior Associate in our Property Litigation department, recently wrote an article for Property Week on the amendments to the Building Safety Bill.

The full article can be seen on the Property Week website here.

Ross has been and continues to be involved in a wide range of cladding related disputes (both for building owners, tenants and at points at the Grenfell Inquiry). If you wish to discuss a potential cladding dispute, please contact Ross on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or ross.wilson@colmancoyle.com.

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New Covid-19 Commercial Rent Arrears Arbitration scheme

New Covid-19 Commercial Rent Arrears Arbitration scheme

There is anecdotal evidence that commercial rent arrears have been on the rise during the pandemic as businesses were forced to close.

On 4 August 2021 the Government published some of the proposed objectives regarding a planned binding arbitration system for commercial landlords and tenants who have been affected.

It is planned that the new arbitration system will only apply to commercial tenants who have been affected by COVID-19 business closures and only for the period during which the restrictions applied, from March 2020 (the “ringfenced period”).

At this stage the new arbitration process is intended to be an effective way of resolving disputes and planned to be quicker than comparable court proceedings.

The parties will be encouraged to reach consensual agreements where possible. It will be expected that terms should be agreed between impacted landlords and tenants.

The final details are yet to be announced; however the intention is that the process will enable landlords to evict any tenant for the non-payment of rent incurred prior to March 2020 and from the end of the ringfenced period.

Landlords will also be able to charge interest on rent incurred from the end of the ringfenced period onwards, subject to the terms of the lease.

It is planned that there will be an expectation that tenants and landlords will both contribute to the cost of the arbitration. However, there are likely to be costs penalties for those parties who have not acted in good faith.

The binding arbitration system is designed to trigger the start of a return to ‘business as usual’, by balancing the protection of landlords and supporting those businesses most in need.

Even prior to the scheme coming into force there are other options available in situations where disputes arise regarding commercial arrears. Colman Coyle’s Property Litigation department regularly acts for Landlords and Tenants who require advice and assistance in these matters. If you would like to discuss a potential case, please contact our team on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or enquiries@colmancoyle.com.

Abi Layiwola

Abi Layiwola

Senior Associate

Anne Brown joins our Dispute Resolution team

Anne Brown joins our Dispute Resolution team

Colman Coyle are pleased to welcome Anne Brown as a Senior Associate to our Dispute Resolution team.

Anne qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2004 and has considerable experience acting for a wide range of clients including private and high net worth individuals, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as property management companies and large financial institutions. 

Anne has acted on behalf of residential landlords and tenants in a variety of disputes which include residential possession proceedings, service charge and breach of covenant disputes. Anne also acts for commercial landlords and tenants, in disputes ranging from recovery of rent and service charges to lease renewal and forfeiture proceedings.

Anne is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

Colman Coyle has considerable experience in Property and Commercial Litigation, and if you would like to discuss a potential case, please contact our team on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or enquiries@colmancoyle.com.

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