Simon is a specialist property practitioner. Described in the Legal 500 as an ‘excellent advocate’ and ‘one of the best barristers in the property field’, Simon relishes all forms of advocacy and is an experienced trial advocate. He is widely recognised as a specialist in leasehold management, forfeiture and service charge cases.
Simon is frequently instructed across the full range of real property disputes, including landlord and tenant, issues of adverse possession, restrictive covenants, land registration and easements. He regularly advises on a range of issues arising out of development agreements, including joint venture agreements, options and overage, as well as on issues at the intersection of property and insolvency law. Simon has advised and appeared in professional negligence claims connected to property transactions.
His clients include developers, land owners, financial institutions, leasehold management companies, ground rent investment companies, local authorities, Right to Manage companies, LPA receivers and surveyors.
Simon is favoured by solicitors for his practical common sense commercial advice; he is regularly instructed to represent clients at mediations and other forms of ADR.
Simon is the current Treasurer of the Property Bar Association, having served as Secretary for the prior 3 years.
Before coming to the Bar, Simon worked for 10 years providing (through his company) technical, design and production services to clients in the entertainment, film, corporate hospitality and motor industries, both in the UK and abroad. He has considerable commercial experience.
Simon spends his spare time entertaining his children, ideally combining this with his interests in cycling, cars, collecting photography books and working on his house (a thatched former cow shed).
Commercial Landlord & Tenant
Simon’s practice has, and has always had, a particular focus on Landlord & Tenant matters. He is able to draw on a wealth of experience to advise tactically as to the best way to resolve a dispute (actual or potential).
As well as all manner of ways of recovering possession of land, Simon acts in claims relating to business lease renewals, rent act tenancies, tenant insolvency, exercise of break clauses and other options, withholding of consent, wrongful forfeiture, disrepair & dilapidations and other breaches of covenant. Simon has a particular interest in forfeiture of leases and has acted in a considerable number of such cases, particularly with respect to licensed premises.
Examples of work undertaken
- Zest (Coombe Road) Limited v Ibishi (2019-20) (CLCC Ch list / QBD): Acting for claimant landowner in claim for possession of land from former licensee (following a series of contracted out leases) who asserted he was a protected ’54 Act tenant, holding up substantial redevelopment of the land and adjoining land. Possession granted on application for summary judgment, with application for permission to appeal dismissed (ultimately, by consent).
- Fred Davies (Storage) Ltd v SIG Trading Ltd (2019) (High Court: TCC): Acting for claimant landlord in a claim for damages for dilapidations in excess of £1m relating to a large warehouse in Merseyside, with a cross claim for statutory compensation. Resolved successfully by way of mediation after exchange of evidence.
- Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government v Homer Road (Solihull) LLP (2019): Acting for the Secretary of State in a claim for £500k statutory compensation following termination of a lease of substantial office accommodation in Birmingham.
- GLA Land & Property Ltd v Miller (2016-19) (CLCC Ch list / HC enforcement): Acting for the Greater London Authority in a claim for possession of a marina in London’s docklands. Wholly successful at trial in November 2017; application for permission to appeal dismissed January 2018; disputes on enforcement 2018; appeals therefrom dismissed by High Court 2019.
- N v F (2016/17) (CLCC Ch list) Acting for a national chain in a contested claim for a new ’54 Act protected lease of its outlet in Edgware Road.
- C v Company (in administration) / Administrators (Ch D): Acting for landlord claimant with respect to various claims (including for rent and dilapidations) against its corporate tenant and its administrators in circumstances where administrators had allowed the purchaser of the business into occupation of 2 warehouse buildings and that purchaser had caused significant damage whilst there. Settled shortly prior to trial.
- Anderson v Trinistar Manchester SARL: Acting for the landlord in a lease renewal dispute against a tenant of the Royal Exchange arcade in central Manchester, including in respect of the tenant’s appeal following a successful application to strike out the claim and in respect of a claim for possession on grounds of arrears of rent.
- LA v Port Co: Advising and drafting proceedings seeking possession of part of a port owned, and about to be redeveloped, by a local authority.
- N v B: Acting for trustees of a SIPP pension fund in a claim against a tenant (former members of which were the beneficiaries of the pension fund) for unpaid rent (in excess of £150k) following (alleged) failure to properly exercise a break option, defended in part due to a dispute as to the proper defendant following an equitable assignment of the term.
- Ahmed and others v Mahmood and others  EWHC 3176 (QB): Advising and representing, at a late stage, one of three Defendants in a complex claim concerning trespass, multiple unlawful evictions and an unusual application for re-entry post eviction based upon alleged misrepresentation in the process of requesting a High Court Enforcement Officer to execute a writ of possession.
Development & Planning
Simon often advises land owners and developers at various stages of their projects in relation to the full range of property issues that can arise in a development context, including the many contractual disputes that can arise, for instance with respect to:
- Joint venture agreements
- Conditional contracts
- Pre-emption agreements
- Party Wall agreements
As well as advising on issues of construction of development agreements, Simon is experienced in the various ways and means by which obligations under such agreements can be enforced, whether by way of damages, specific performance, rectification of the Register or pure tactical negotiation. Simon’s experience across the full range of property disputes enables him to deal with the interface between different interests and agreements (for example related leases protected under the 1954 Act) effectively.
Examples of work undertaken
- HA v Dev Co (2020): Advising and drafting pre-action documents in a dispute relating to a ‘Golden Brick’ development agreement for the purchase and construction of affordable housing. Issues included potential rectification of the transfer deed, claims for specific performance to compel a transfer, and declaratory relief.
- Rapose v Viridian Housing (2017) (CLCC TCC) (appeal of part dismissed by Newey J 26/5/17  EWHC 1589 (Ch)) Acting for the successful respondent to a statutory appeal pursuant to the Party Wall etc Act 1996, with a cross application for declaratory relief. 2 day appeal including determination of the boundary between the Appellant’s house and the neighbouring development site. Application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal on various points of law arising out of the Act refused January 2018.
- Mercia Crematoria Developments Ltd v Buswell (2015-2017) (CLCC Ch List): Acting for the claimant developer in a claim for specific performance of various obligations under an option agreement that was intentionally breached by the landowner with a view to preventing exercise of the option over land in respect of which planning permission had been granted on appeal for the construction of a crematorium. Wholly successful at a 1 day expedited trial against John de Waal QC. Acted in subsequent proceedings for damages exceeding £800k owing from the various breaches found, settled at mediation January 2017 on confidential terms.
- Re: A Farm: Advice to a landowner regarding the proper interpretation of an option to purchase about 40 acres of land surrounding a farm, forming a crucial part of a development site totalling almost 500 acres (2750 houses + ancillary buildings and commercial units). Issues included whether various conditions had been met, proper service of a valuation notice and the precise method of valuation with reference to infrastructure costs.
- X v Y (Ch D): Acting for the purchaser of an unfinished development in a High Court claim brought by various purchasers of individual units on the development for the return of deposits paid to the original developer. Claims brought on the basis of liens said, by them, to be protected by way of unilateral notices, alternatively on the basis of constructive trust. Resolved by way of mediation in a confidential settlement.
- Godalming Sixth Form College v Shanly Homes Limited (Ch D): Advice and drafting in a claim for specific performance of a transfer to enforce a developer’s obligations with respect to the provision of a roadway to be constructed in a specified part of the transferred land, to facilitate development of retained adjoining land that had been sold to a rival developer. Settled amicably shortly before an expedited hearing.
- Hartley v Parrott (1) Hodges (2) (First-tier Tribunal: Land registration): 3 day disputed application to register a right of way said to run across land between 2 houses providing access to potential development land beyond. Represented the house owners, successfully defeating the application on numerous grounds, including unity of seisin.
- Westcoast (Holdings) Ltd v Wharf Land  EWCA Civ 1003;  All ER (D) 329 (Jul): Appeal in a claim for repayment of a £1m loan, and for a declaration, on the proper construction of the agreements in a joint venture arrangement, of entitlement to petition for the winding up of the Defendant.
Leasehold & Leasehold Management
Well recognised in the market as a leading specialist in this area, Simon has considerable experience of acting in significant service charge disputes (residential and commercial) as well as the full range of leasehold management issues that can arise. He is well placed to advise landlord clients from an early stage with respect to major works projects so as to secure maximum recovery of outlay, and often advises holders of large residential portfolios and their appointed managers on acquisition, policy and portfolio-wide issues.
The Legal 500 describes Simon as ‘very accessible and highly knowledgeable on service charge procedures and defences’ with ‘an encyclopaedic knowledge of residential landlord and tenant work.’
Simon is a leading expert on issues arising out of the discovery of unsafe cladding and other fire risks as have come to light further to the Grenfell Tower disaster – including liability to carry out works, statutory obligations, costs recovery from leaseholders and or third parties, and government grants (ACM fund / BSF). He has been instructed to advise and or represent a large number of freeholders, residential managers and RMCs with respect to such matters, and has advised in respect of well over 100 affected developments over the past 3 years. In a number of instances, Simon has advised such clients jointly with construction counsel so that all options can be considered in the round.
Matters on which Simon is regularly instructed include:
- Complex service charge debt recovery claims (and enforcement by forfeiture)
- Advice as to the proper construction and operation of service charge and ground rent review provisions in leases
- Residential major works projects – consultation, dispensation and recovery
- Applications to vary residential leases in the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)
- Acquisition and loss of the Right to Manage residential premises
- Complexities arising from mixed-use developments
- Challenges to buildings insurance provision, premiums and commissions
- Disputes regarding assignment of leases and consents to assign
- Tactical advice as to the recovery of legal costs
- Applications to appoint a manager
- Breaches of covenant – repairs, alienation (sub-letting), change of use, nuisance.
- Pre-acquisition advice, including with respect to recoverability of future building costs.
- Rights of first refusal under the 1987 Act.
Examples of work undertaken
- Aviva Investors Ground Rent GP Limited v Williams & ors  EWCA Civ 27: Appeal concerning the effect of s.27A(6) LTA85 in circumstances where a residential lease contains a fixed percentage contribution to service charges with a discretion for the landlord to vary that percentage. Simon acted for the successful appellant landlord, overturning the Upper Tribunal’s decision on the point.
- FirstPort Property Services Limited v Settlers Court RTM Company Ltd & Ors  UKUT 0243 (LC): Appeal concerning the proper operation of the Right to Manage scheme where a single block on an estate acquires RTM. Considered whether the Court of Appeal’s decision in Gala Unity v Ariadne Road was decided per incuriam and concluded that, as it was not, the appeal would be dismissed. Permission was subsequently granted by the Upper Tribunal for the ‘leapfrog’ procedure to be used. In November 2020, the Supreme Court granted permission to appeal; appeal to be heard November 2021.
- Gateway Holdings (NWB) Limited v McKenzie  UKUT 0371 (LC): Whether a leaseholder is entitled to seek determination of service charges paid by a predecessor in title. Acting for successful appellant landlord.
- Peel Land & Property (Ports) Ltd v Nawaz & ors (2017-18): Acting for a group of sub leaseholders and lenders with interests in 139 ats seeking relief from forfeiture further to the forfeiture of an intermediate lease. Total value of client property at stake in excess of £20m.
- Pemberstone Reversions (5) Ltd v Leaseholders (2018) (FtT): Acting for the successful landlord in establishing liability for the costs of re safety measures and cladding replacement costs required to two large residential blocks further to the Grenfell Fire tragedy. The blocks in question had been found to be clad, in part, with type 3 ACM cladding.
- E&J Ground Rents No.11 LLP v Leaseholders  1 WLUK 364 (FtT): Acting for the wholly successful landlord in one of the first decisions concerning liability for the costs of re safety measures (namely, the provision of a 24 hour ‘waking watch’) arising out of the Grenfell Fire tragedy. The block in question had been found to be clad, in part, with type 3 ACM cladding, resulting in intervention by the fire service and a need to abide by well publicised guidance to landlords issued by DCLG.
- Re: Northwood Hall RTM Company (2016-18) (FtT, magistrate’s court, CLCC, ChD): Advising and appearing for RTM Company in respect of a large development in north London. Various actions taken against it by a small group of leaseholders, including a private prosecution against the Company and its 3 directors (total 68 charges) for alleged breach of section 21 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (acquitted on all counts), and a claim for repayment of substantial service charges relating to a £5m major works project commissioned by it.
- Freehold Managers Plc v Celestia Management Company Limited (2013-2017)  EWHC 1281 (Ch): Acting for head landlord in a claim against the named management company in leases of hundreds of flats in Cardiff in a claim for declaratory relief concerning the recoverability of estate charges.
- Pratt v Bretby Hall  UKUT 0070 (LC): Successful appeal against determination of FtT that various heads of costs were subject to a Qualifying Long Term Agreement (QLTA), and against an order under section 20C of the 1985 Act with respect to costs of defending separate threatened county court proceedings. Determined, amongst other things, that such legal costs were in principle recoverable under the lease and were not subject to an order under s20C of the Act.
- Aviva Investors Ground Rent GP Ltd v 69 leaseholders (2016) (FtT): Application for dispensation from the need to carry out statutory consultation (s20ZA) with respect to urgent works (estimated between £1.2m and £3.2m) to repair or replace cladding to a 10 story block of flats where cladding fixings had started to fail and there was a real risk of large cladding panels becoming entirely detached.
- 231 Sussex Gardens Right to Manage Limited v Sinclair  UKUT 0290 (LC) (Willow Court v Alexander): One of 4 conjoined appeals before Martin Rodger QC and Siobhan McGrath on the proper interpretation of Rule 13 First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Rules 2013, namely, the power to award costs against a party where they have acted unreasonably in bringing, defendant or conducting proceedings.
- Bourne v LB Newham (LVT) (January 2013): Service charge dispute concerning part of a £2.5m ‘Decent Homes’ major works project to overhaul a block, where initial service charge bills sent to tenants exceeded £25,000, and initial estimates approached £50k per leaseholder. The case that led to the introduction of ‘Florrie’s Law’, championed by then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles who supported the Bourne family in the proceedings.
Real Property & Mortgages
Simon is regularly instructed in a wide range of property disputes, including secured lending claims, land registration issues, boundaries, nuisance, party walls, rights of way and other easements, and restrictive covenants. He has a particular interest in, and experience of, claims of adverse possession.
Simon is experienced in related enforcement procedures, including obtaining orders for sale, specific performance, rectification of the Register, injunctive relief (and committal) and the attendant determination of relative equitable interests in property.
Examples of work undertaken
- C v P  (ChD) – Injunction to restrain disposition of property vendor had contracted to sell to purchaser (notwithstanding alleged existence of an unregistered Option to purchase granted to a third party), and claim for specific performance of that contract defended on various grounds including duress. Ongoing.
- Jackson v Roselease Limited  UKUT 0273 (LC): Application under s.84 Law of Property Act 1925 to modify or discharge a restrictive covenant. Issues included treatment of permitted development barn conversion schemes (PD Class Q) in the context of reasonable user of land.
- Conte v National Westminster Bank Plc (2017) (FtT, Land Registration): Application to amend register (by removal of a charge) on grounds of a mistake resulting from alleged fraud in securing development finance secured by a personal guarantee and security, resulting in insolvency. 3 day trial, acting on behalf of the wholly successful Respondent bank.
- Camenzuli v Camenzuli (2017) (FtT, Land Registration): Application to correct the Register by reinstating an entry in the charges register to reflect a loan to a sibling by the applicant’s mother prior to death. Allegation of fraud against the respondent on the basis of a forged DS1 form and on the basis that the sums due under the charge had not been paid. Acted for the successful respondent at 3 day trial.
- Crew v London & Continental Developments (Holdings) Limited (FtT, Land Registration) (January 2016): 3 day trial, acting for owner of registered land opposing a claim to its land said to be acquired by adverse possession, where the applicant relied upon the ‘reasonable belief’ and ‘estoppel’ grounds set out in paragraph 5 of Schedule 6 to the Land Registration Act 2002. The land in question formed a very significant part of the applicants’ rear garden to their home, amounting to 0.3 acre. Advice, drafting and representation prior to and throughout proceedings. Permission to appeal on issue of reasonable belief granted by Upper Tribunal but appeal ultimately not pursued.
- Marshall v Yates: Acting for the vendor of a residential property said to have negligently misrepresented the history of flooding at the house. Damages in excess of £300k sought, ultimately settled several years into proceedings following mediation on very favourable terms.
- A(1) B(2) v C: Advising a title insurer with respect to a threatened breach of various freehold restrictive covenants, in the context of purported claims by and on behalf of numerous local residents.
- Whitstable Oyster Company Ltd v Shepherd Neame Ltd: Acting for land owner in a dispute regarding ownership and use of a section of Whitstable beach – issues of adverse possession, easements, and rectification of the Register. Settled at mediation following disclosure.
- Holton v Fullaway: Defending a claim for possession brought pursuant to the terms of a charge entered into to secure a debt said to be owed by the defendant’s partner that was said to be tainted by undue influence and duress (threats to kidnap). Eventually conjoined with related proceedings in the TCC to dispute the underlying debt, resulting in settlement without determination of the defence, such that the charge was discharged and the possession proceedings discontinued.
- LB Hounslow v Devanney EWCA Civ 1660  All ER (D) 106: Recovery of possession of land at Heathrow Airport, defended on the basis of adverse possession over 20 years. Use of historic satellite images. Defendant’s application for permission to appeal was refused by the Supreme Court on 24 October 2013.
Professional Liability - Property Transactions
Simon advises in respect of property related professional negligence matters, usually in respect of claims against legal professionals.
In the Legal 500 Simon is ranked as a Leading Junior in Property Litigation. He is also ranked in Real Estate Litigation in Chambers & Partners.
He is described by solicitors as being,
‘One of the best barristers in the property field with unparalleled expertise on cladding and fire safety at both residential and commercial premises. He has a superb ability to understand the clients’ business so that he is able to sensibly get a feel for both the issues and the commercial objectives.’
(Legal 500, 2021)
“Excellent in dealing with technical issues while also remaining commercial.” “Simon is practical and always focuses on the client’s ultimate goal.”
(Chambers & Partners, 2021)
“One of the best barristers in the property field.”
(Legal 500, 2020)
“Very clear and straightforward with clients and tenacious in how he deals with judges.”
“Very quick and commercially savvy and has a great manner with clients.”
“Extremely capable and a very good advocate.”
(Chambers & Partners, 2020)
“He has a very sharp intellect and a deep understanding of the property industry.”
“He has unquestionable knowledge regarding property matters, and is proactive and very user-friendly.”
“He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of residential landlord and tenant work.”
“An excellent advocate and especially able to provide succinct and commercially viable advice.”
(Legal 500, 2019)
- Property Bar Association (Current Treasurer, former Secretary)
- Chancery Bar Association
- Dilapidations Association
- LLB Hons (University of London, Queen Mary College) – First Class
- Bar Vocational Course (BPP, London) – Outstanding
- Buchanan Prize (Lincoln’s Inn) (2005)
- Hardwicke Scholar (Lincoln’s Inn) (2004)
- Dechert Company Law Prize (2004)
- Drapers’ Company Prize for academic excellence (2003)