James Harris joined Pannone in April 2022, having worked as a real estate partner at Knights plc and, prior to that, managing partner at Jolliffe and Co LLP.

As someone who knew from an early age that he wanted to go into law, James chose the traditional route into the profession to reach his goal, before eventually finding a home in real estate, where he specialises in residential and commercial property development, as well as licensing for restaurants and public houses. We caught up with James three months on from joining the firm, to find out more about the real estate partner and Ironman competitor!

What attracted you to Pannone?

Pannone is highly regarded as a forward-thinking firm, which is developing in a sustainable manner and sets out to put clients at the centre of everything it does. That really appealed to me and aligned very much with my own management and leadership style.

Tell us what a typical day looks like?

I’m sure everyone says the same that no day ever looks the same, but typically the day kicks off with staff supervision each morning. I enjoy aspects of what I do, but I especially enjoy the supervision of junior members of staff. The rest of the day is a mixture of departmental management, which can include performance and staff-related issues; working on client matters; and also the all-important job of business development.

As someone who always wanted to go into law, what are your career ambitions?

I want to build the most respected Real Estate Group in the North West and be part of the development of Pannone Corporate over the coming years.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

I’d probably have to say, apply what I learned last time I was managing partner at Jolliffe and Co LLP and do it better this time! However, on a serious note, having that level of management and leadership experience hopefully adds another level to what I can bring to the firm and it’s something I’m very passionate about imparting on the team.

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law? 

Given the area of law I’ve ended up specialising in, I would have to say property development. It’s a fantastic sector and one that’s always been central to the success of the North West.

Thinking more widely, what can the legal profession do to better support clients?

For me, client feedback drives development and clients need to know they can approach you on any matter. Everything then follows from there.

 

 

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Pannone Corporate – the North West law firm – has strengthened its commercial and real estate teams with the appointment of Andrew West and James Harris as partners.

Andrew, who set up his own commercial law firm Rushmoor Law 11 years ago, following more than a decade as partner at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, brings more than 30 years’ experience in advising a range of clients on IP/IT, data and commercial issues. Andrew will work alongside partner Amy Chandler in one of the region’s most prominent commercial teams.

James joins from Knights plc, where he was a commercial property partner for more than three years. He was previously the Managing Partner of Chester-based commercial law firm, Jollife & Co LLP, for 12 years. James brings considerable experience in residential and commercial property development, as well as licensing for restaurants and public houses.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Andrew and James to the firm – two senior hires who will add significant strength and depth to our commercial and real estate offering. Both markets have huge potential for us and Andrew and James will complement our existing teams in capitalising on the opportunities for growth.”

Their arrival follows the news that Pannone has been appointed onto the legal framework for the Canal & River Trust. The firm will provide construction and property litigation support, as part of a five-year agreement.

Andrew commented: “Having worked alongside Pannone for a number of years in a consultancy role, I have built up a strong relationship with both the team and clients. When the opportunity arose to join such a well-established firm on a more permanent basis it was an easy decision to make and a seamless move. It’s very much business as usual for me.”

Commenting on the sector, he said: “There is a real opportunity in the technology services space, as corporate customers continue their digital transformation across all areas of operation. This is underpinned by the proliferation of cloud services, which enables businesses to test and adopt new technologies at a quicker rate.  This trend has been accelerated as a result of COVID-19, and currently shows no sign of a slowdown,  despite the obvious economic headwinds.”

James added: “There is also considerable market opportunity in commercial development, which remains buoyant, with licensing continuing to recover following an extremely challenging two years. I’m delighted to be joining such a dynamic and experienced team, and hope to bring both sector and management expertise to the role.”

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In our latest My Life in Law, we speak to new recruit, Emma Hafez, who joined Pannone in April 2021 as part of our Real Estate team. 28-year-old Emma talks about her career so far and why she decided to join the firm earlier this year after taking a career break to have children.

Tell us a little bit about your career, before joining Pannone.

My route into law was the traditional route. In all honesty, this was the only one I really knew about. At college we had to lay out our career paths and this was the route I chose and stuck to.

I did a three-year degree in law, followed by the Legal Practice Course and then entered into a training contract with brief stints of working as a paralegal in between.

Prior to joining Pannone, I qualified and worked as an immigration and human rights solicitor, before taking a career break to have to have my two children, Ella and Oliver. It was during this time that I decided to pursue a career in commercial law.

Why did you decide to join the firm?

My partner is the managing director of a property development company in Liverpool. He’s genuinely passionate about his work and we often discuss it together in the evenings. As a result of this interest, I felt it was the logical step for me to pursue a career in Real Estate law.

What does a typical day look like?

Every day is completely different, as the work that we do is so varied. However, a typical day usually starts with a call with my supervisor to go through the day’s tasks, followed by liaising with clients and the other side’s solicitors in relation to large developments, leases, residential investment transactions and a whole variety of work.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

I really enjoy getting positive feedback from satisfied clients which I get a great sense of achievement from.

What can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients?

I believe solicitors could always be more empathetic to clients, as I have the benefit and perspective of seeing the client’s point of view first hand and can appreciate the challenges faced from both sides.

Looking forward, what are your career ambitions?
I hope to be able to stay at Pannone and grow an impressive client portfolio.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do?

I would take all of the teams on a city centre canal party cruise!

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law?

I’ve always said I would have enjoyed being a dentist.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy taking my children on days out to the zoo or farms, anything which is outdoors.

 

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Pannone Corporate has advised online fashion giant, Boohoo, on the acquisition of a new £72 million London headquarters.

The Real Estate and Corporate teams acted as legal advisers to Boohoo, which has purchased the high-profile offices previously occupied by Microsoft and Nokia. The team was led by Tim Hamilton, Corporate partner and Gareth Birch, Real Estate associate partner, with support from Barbara Wang, Danielle Amor and Helen Jadhav. Nick Davies, partner at Axis Property Consultancy LLP, acted as property consultant for Boohoo.

The six-story office building located at 10 Great Pulteney Street will become home to all London-based product, marketing, technology and central support teams – approximately 600 staff – as well as offering flexible working for Boohoo staff.

Gareth Birch said: “As a longstanding client, we’re absolutely delighted to have advised Boohoo on the acquisition of such a prestigious building in London’s West End.

“Boohoo is a real success story for Manchester and the North West and this latest move, which bolsters its expanding property portfolio and cements its presence in the capital, is testament to its exceptional growth in recent years and the boom in online retail, particularly over the last 12 months.”

The purchase of the 43,963 sq. ft. building, follows Boohoo’s acquisition of Debenhams out of administration and several Arcadia brands, including Oasis, Warehouse, Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Wallis, which significantly grow its presence in London.

Nick Davies added: “We were delighted to assist Boohoo in securing the premises, given the interest from other high-profile global brands. The premises is in the heart of Soho, providing a vibrant London West End headquarters building and a strong commitment to the city.”

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Pannone Corporate has expanded its team with a triple appointment as it looks to strengthen the law firm across its specialisms.

Michael McNally and Adam Pavey have both joined as directors in the Employment and HR team. James Brandwood joins the firm as a Real Estate associate.

Michael and Adam will be responsible for advising clients on all aspects of employment law, including providing regular representation and advocacy in the Employment Tribunal.

Michael, who joins from Freeths LLP in Liverpool, has particular experience in acting for SMEs through to multi-nationals in the manufacturing, transport and logistics, hospitality and leisure and care sectors. Adam was formerly a solicitor at Poole Alcock, where he helped to develop the Cheshire firm’s employment department, with clients spanning a number of sectors. He has a particular specialist interest in healthcare.

Pannone Corporate’s employment team works with a wide range of clients, predominantly those with 400-500 employees across a number of sectors, including social housing, manufacturing, retail and hospitality.

James, who joins from Addleshaw Goddard, will work alongside a highly experienced Real Estate team, led by partner, James Wynne, which advises on a wide range of commercial real estate matters for major property groups, together with national retail and leisure operators. James will be responsible for property acquisitions and disposals, financings, as well as development, landlord and tenant transactions.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, commented: “Both the Employment and Real Estate teams have built up an excellent reputation in recent years for their experience and expertise across their core specialisms. We’re committed to enhancing that offering and the appointment of Michael, Adam and James is testament to that drive and ambition.”

The Real Estate team recently advised Palmbest Limited, part of the Bestway Group of companies, on the acquisition of Staples Corner Shopping Park, leading the £28 million retail park transaction.

 

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Palmbest confirms £28m retail park acquisition

The business has completed the purchase of Staples Corner Shopping Park

Palmbest Limited, part of the Bestway Group of companies, has acquired the 50,500 sq ft site on the Edgware Road. With tenants including Decathlon, Wren Kitchens, Bensons, Argos and HomeSense, the high footfall out-of-town retail scheme is adjacent to the entrance of the future Brent Cross West Thameslink Station.

 

The Bestway Group is a multinational group of companies which is also the owner of the adjoining four-acre site.

 

KLM Retail completed the marketing and sale for the vendors. KLM Retail’s Jonathan Perkins said: “The scheme attracted numerous investors and developers, not only due to its reputation as an iconic retailing destination, but also due to the potential future residential value of the site given its close proximity to the new Thameslink station opening next door in 2022.

 

“This asset is a good example of the resilience and agility of the retail warehousing sector given the continued strong trading performances of the stores; the flexibility for the retailers to use their stores for online fulfilment; and the adaptability of the buildings in the future should other more valuable uses present themselves.”

 

Pannone Corporate advised Palmbest Limited.  Real estate associate partner, Gareth Birch represented the seller and led the deal. He added: “Palmbest is a strong property business with big growth ambitions. We take a commercial approach to any transaction we’re involved with and in this instance, we were able to lead the acquisition negotiations, as well as handling the legal aspects against a very demanding timeline. The deal is a great result for everyone involved.”

 

Commenting on the acquisition, Zahir Fazaldin, Head of Property at Bestway said: “The sentiment around retail parks is positive, and Staples Corner is home to some high profile and long established tenant companies that have traded relatively well throughout what has been a very challenging year. The location and connectivity of this site together with its strategic value made this a compelling acquisition for us.”

 

 

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In the complex and often costly world of property development there are various potential restrictions on the progression of a property developer’s best laid plans. Restrictive covenants can rank right up there in terms of both costs and navigation with potentially severe consequences of breaches. Understanding restrictive covenants and how to tackle them is vital right from the start of any new commercial property venture. 

What is a Restrictive Covenant? 

A restrictive covenant is a control imposed on the use or development of a certain piece of land. They can date from decades and even hundreds of years ago and are meant to ensure the continued enjoyment of the neighbouring land. In modern times restrictive covenants have morphed into a many faceted tool for the crafty, and a barb for the unwary. 

As indicated by the word “restrictive”, restrictive covenants have a negative rather than a positive implication. They will state what cannot be done rather than what a land owner should do. 

For commercial real estate, restrictive covenants can be implemented in many ways. They can restrict the activity of tenants by the landlord or a lender can use a covenant to restrict activity on the property while the owner owes money. These covenants can be written into a property deed, either for a set amount of years or on an indefinite basis. 

Restrictive covenants can also operate in ways that you might not expect. They can restrict opening times, stop certain types of business from operating on the land (prohibitions on selling alcohol, for example), or prevent parking of commercial vehicles on the property. All of which can be potentially damaging for the smooth running of a business, not to mention the possible implications of preventing healthy commercial competition.  

Challenging Restrictive Covenants – is it worth it? 

There are a few options available to those wishing to challenge a restrictive covenant.  Challenges may be based on the premise that the restrictive covenants are not valid, that they are not enforceable or that they are contrary to the law or updated legal policies. For example, restrictive covenants against competing businesses opening in nearby premises may fall foul of competition laws.

A variation of the covenant could be negotiated by an express release between the parties. Alternatively, the subjected party may apply to the Upper Tribunal for modification or removal of a restrictive covenant, though this can take much longer and be much more expensive to resolve. 

Another option for those with less time, and shallower pockets, is obtaining indemnity insurance for the intended breach. Policies can be obtained for a one off fee and can provide cover for landowners, lenders and tenants under one policy. A key point to note here is the cost saving property developers will make if they obtain their insurance prior to the commencement of any planning application. Once planning has been granted the cost of a policy is invariably much higher than a pre-planning policy would have been. 

For more information about restrictive covenants and its impact on your commercial real estate, get in touch with the Pannone Corporate team. Either call on 0800 131 3355 or by filling out the contact form.

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