Our people

700 professionals at Knights service 10,000 clients across the full spectrum of legal & professional services.

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Mark Anton-Smith

Partner
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Mark Anton-Smith

Partner

Mark is a Partner in the Real Estate team and the Office Leader in Cheltenham.

Mark has assisted several well-known businesses to expand and manage their property portfolios - Paddy Power, First Property Group PLC and Yorkshire Building Society.  This support encompasses the negotiation and acquisition of new sites, trading premises, business parks and established business chains, as well as property disposals.

Mark's team provides ongoing legal support to the landlords and investors in the management of their real estate portfolios, handling lease renewals, break negotiations, lease alteration and occasionally working with colleagues to resolve property disputes.

Mark is also office leader in Cheltenham, where he is responsible for recruiting and managing new professionals to expand the range of services available locally and nationally.  He ensures his team have regular contact with clients to really understand their needs and focus on speedy delivery of advice.

Recent examples of how Mark has helped clients include:

• the acquisition of two retail park investments, with an aggregate value of circa £50 million, for First Property Group PLC;

• leading a team acting for three property investment funds with a total value of more than £300 million;

• supporting Irish bookmaker Paddy Power in the acquisition of over 200 betting shops in England and Wales; and

• leading a team acting for Yorkshire Building Society in respect of the asset management for part of their national branch office portfolio.

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Philip Marsh

Partner
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Philip Marsh

Partner

Philip is a Partner in the Real Estate team and the Office Leader in Oxford.

Philip's particular expertise lies in acting for residential developers acquiring land for development whether by way of options, conditional contracts or other strategic land agreements.  He also advises property funds, landowners, developers and banks on all aspects of commercial property from secured lending to acquisition and disposal.

Philip also acts for retailers and occupiers regarding lease negotiations and other landlord and tenant matters.

Philip is also office leader in Oxford, where he is responsible for recruiting and managing new professionals to expand the range of services available locally and nationally.  He ensures his team have regular contact with clients to really understand their needs and focus on speedy delivery of advice.

Recent examples of how Philip has helped clients include:

• enabling a house builder to purchase a profitable site for 200 residential units made up of 4 parcels of separately owned land within two weeks under highly-pressured circumstances;
• ensuring a landed estate and a house builder could develop a site in a tax-efficient and mutually profitable way, by drafting a joint venture agreement dealing with marketing, construction and sale; and
• acting on the sale of a central London multi-let mixed use property for an off-shore trust at a sale price of £17.5m.

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Karl Bamford

Partner
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Karl Bamford

Partner

Karl is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Karl advises on all aspects of major real estate portfolios. Author and commentator on commercial leases he has written Amending a Commercial Lease (Bloomsbury Professional) and co-edited Ross: Commercial Leases (Lexis Nexis).

Clients include household names such as M&G, Telereal Trillium, JCB, Waterford Wedgwood and Thyssenkrupp.

Karl has a reputation for innovative thinking when working with clients.  He was a pioneer in the Mexican-Wave sub-contracting model which ensures efficient and cost effective working.

Recent examples of how Karl has helped clients include:

• leading the Knights Mexican-Wave team;

• pioneering work with the virtual assignment model allowing economic benefits derived from properties to pass without the need for a legal assignment, so economic benefits and burdens of a lease are transferred to a third party.

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Martin Billings

Partner
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Martin Billings

Partner

Martin is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Martin advises property investment and development businesses on a broad range of commercial real estate matters, including acquisitions and disposals, debt securitisation, new build site assembly, city centre redevelopment, asset restructuring, portfolio management and landlord and tenant relations.

Martin acts for private companies in the UK and foreign companies with UK property interests, including pension funds acting through investment vehicles.

Martin’s current clients include leading investment and development business MEPC, property developer and business parks owner Frasers Property UK, and the company behind the development of a new knowledge quarter in Oxford City, Thomas White Oxford.

Recent examples of how Martin has helped clients include:

  • supporting MEPC to renegotiate lease terms and secure vacant possession of units at Milton Park in Oxfordshire to pave the way for the creation of a new cancer research campus to be operated by Immunocore;
  • managing an ambitious project for Frasers Property UK to standardise the lease terms offered to tenants across five business parks in the south east of England after a £1 billion investment initiative; and
  • facilitating the acquisition of a stake in Milton Park by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board by supporting MEPC through the complex due diligence process and a subsequent unit trust sale.
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Jennifer Birrell

Partner
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Jennifer Birrell

Partner

Jenny is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Jenny advises on the property aspects of corporate transactions and real estate development including financing, acquisitions and sales, landlord and tenant matters such as restrictive covenants.  She is experienced in drafting complex sale and purchase agreements involving overage or profit sharing as well as negotiating planning and development obligations.

Jennifer's clients include major retail and technology companies, usually with specific accommodation needs or pre-let agreements, developers of student accommodation, and local authorities including Oxford City Council.

Recent examples of how Jenny has helped clients include:

• enabling the sale and redevelopment of an inner-city swimming pool for affordable housing, despite local objection and without the need for judicial review;

• protecting school grounds from a housing development by demonstrating a lease break clause could not be applied by the freeholder; and

• achieving the sale of land for housing by balancing the requirements of a playgroup, local authority and developer.

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Tracy Gibson

Partner
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Tracy Gibson

Partner

Tracy is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Tracy has more than 12 years experience handling commercial property issues, notably landlord and tenant matters including lease negotiations, break clauses, assignments, boundary and access issues.  She also advises on asset management, acquisitions and disposals, financing, restructuring and development work.

Tracy has a particularly strong track record dealing with space in retail, leisure, office and industrial sectors, working with institutional landlords, national retailers, investors, SMEs and individual tenants.  Clients include M&G Real Estate Limited, Paddy Power Betfair plc and The Garland Company UK Limited.

Recent examples of how Tracy has helped clients include:

• ensuring pension fund investment requirements were met in two multi-million-pound portfolio acquisitions;

• enabling a business to expand into warehouse and office space by acquiring the remainder of a long lease, overcoming contamination risks; and

• successfully negotiating a bespoke lease between a retail park and a fashion retailer by balancing tenant-attracted footfall against the park's need for consistency in leases.

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Michael Hayward

Partner
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Michael Hayward

Partner

Michael is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Michael has over 15 years experience advising in many different sectors of property law.   Michael's experience and work ranges from acquisitions/disposals of commercial or mixed-use investment property; all manner of development work (options, conditional contracts, site setup, planning obligation agreements), advising Universities and Further Education Colleges on disposals of development land and leasehold work; secured lending work (including separately advising lenders on new residential developments, commercial portfolios and dealing with overseas borrowers); acting for GPs, pharmacists and dentists in the healthcare sector and also acting for registered providers of social housing.

Michael specialises in landlord and tenant work; development land (both residential and commercial), sale and purchase of commercial and agricultural property; asset management; finance and leases for pension funds and acting for charities.  Michael's broad experience, pragmatic approach and excellent drafting skills means that he is often sought out to advise in the more complex or problematic land transactions.

Michael also has particular expertise in leasehold enfranchisement work, including individual lease extensions of flats or houses (via the statutory route or non-statutory route); collective enfranchisement, right to manage or rights of first refusal. He has also advised clients extending leases in areas of London vested in The Crown Estate.

Recent examples of how Michael has helped clients include:

• unlocking the development potential of a £3 million site by bringing on board a registered provider for affordable housing, selling the remainder of the site to a house builder;

• assisting a University working in conjunction with a national children's charity to deliver an International Children's Centre for Autism to open on schedule; and

• achieving the acquisition (and subsequent lease extension) of a Crown Estate leasehold property from an overseas family trust within a matter of weeks, despite the - complex rules governing Crown Estates leases.

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Jonathon Hogg

Partner
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Jonathon Hogg

Partner

Jonathon is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Jonathon's experience covers a range of commercial real estate transactions including the sale and purchase of freehold and leasehold premises, the acquisition of land for development and the drafting and negotiation of commercial leases and option agreements,

Jonathon acts for individuals and companies in a range of industry sectors and also acts for large-scale property investors and developers.

Recent examples of how Jonathon has helped clients include:

• enabling a client to secure a site for residential development worth £6.5 million by carrying out due diligence in 5 days, enabling the client to agree a deal for the site ahead of his rival developers;

• accelerating an investor's purchase of a £18 million property portfolio in London by leading a round table meeting between all parties to discuss the final issues, cutting out weeks of correspondence and delay; and

• enabling a business to expand into a new industrial unit by quickly negotiating favourable lease terms.

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Jonathan Kay

Partner
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Jonathan Kay

Partner

Jonathan is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Jonathan deals with the acquisition and disposal of commercial property, the financing of commercial property deals, the refinancing of property and development businesses, the restructuring of property ownership arrangements, lease renegotiations and general property portfolio management.  He has extensive experience in dealing with property funds, particularly those focused on investment in student accommodation, ground rents and the private rented sector.

Jonathan also deals with non-contentious commercial landlord and tenant matters, including the grant, renewal and surrender of leases, rent reviews, licences to carry out alterations and consents to assign and sublet.

Jonathan’s clients include developers, property funds, ground rent specialists, private property investors and owner-managed SMEs.  In the context of financing, he acts exclusively for commercial borrowers.

Recent examples of how Jonathan has helped clients include:

  • restructuring a development company to help them secure borrowing of £15 million to fund the construction of a complex in Manchester housing 101 apartments;
  • coordinating the redevelopment of a decommissioned petrol station and renegotiating lease terms with existing tenants to pave the way for a new Co-op Food store;
  • refinancing the entire portfolio of a national ground rent company to raise the funds needed to acquire further freehold blocks of flats with ground rent potential; and
  • assisting the owner of the iconic Express Networks 1 and 2 buildings in Manchester to secure a multi-million pound off-market sale of the properties.
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John Loney

Partner
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John Loney

Partner

John is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

John advises on a range of corporate, commercial and real estate matters.  In regard to commercial property he handles acquisitions and disposals, drafting and negotiating options and management agreements, landlord and tenant matters including leases, leasehold enfranchisement, freeholder issues and right to manage.

For corporate transactions, John undertakes real estate due diligence and advises on business sale agreements, joint ventures and shareholder protection, supply and distribution agreements.

John acts for residential and institutional investors, SMEs, lenders and educational institutions, particularly academies, whether newly forming or already established.

Recent examples of how John has helped clients include:

• enabling a client to purchase a commercial property and convert it to residential by creating an agreement incorporating a management arrangement with an option to purchase;

• facilitating the efficient growth of a business after internal disharmony by advising shareholders on a company share buy-back scheme and assisting in the reassessment of their business' value; and

• playing a key role in securing a lucrative deal for a client to supply uniforms to a blue-chip US cosmetics firm.

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James Lunt

Partner
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James Lunt

Partner

James is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

James advises on the full spectrum of real estate matters including development, options to acquire, land promotion agreements, the sale and purchase of commercial and agricultural property, non-contentious lease and asset management (acting for both landlord and tenant) and secured lending.

James works across the UK for property investors and promoters, developers, landed estates, asset managers and banks.

Recent examples of how James has helped clients include:

• enabling a property investment company  to forward purchase a new build 38,000 square feet warehouse subject to an agreement for lease to an occupational tenant,

• ensuring that the development agreement and lease fully protected both the the purchaser and its lender with appropriate new build and tenant obligations;

• securing a site for a land promoter by way of a promotion agreement and acting in the onward sale of the site for residential development;

• assisting in the sale of land to a national house builder conditional upon planning permission being granted and involving the negotiation and completion of a complex agreement involving drainage over adjoining development land; and

• purchasing a newly constructed petrol station for an investor with a national supermarket occupier, ensuring new build warranties and environmental reports were in place.

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Tonina Mycock

Partner
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Tonina Mycock

Partner

Tonina is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Tonina has over three decades of experience in advising on secured lending, property development and asset management, landlord and tenant matters, investment property acquisition and disposal, and site set-up, including registering title to all 36 miles of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Tonina's clients include property developers, lenders and property portfolio managers operating in sectors from retail to insurance, as well as small property investors.

Recent examples of how Tonina has helped clients include:

• enabling a landowner to realise the full value of a development site by negotiating access and service rights with a neighbour;

• ensuring a developer could construct and sell a prestige building that required gap funding from the European Regional Development Fund, structuring the sale to ensure that funding would not be clawed back; and

• enabling a private investor to realise the value of a city centre property by creating a leasehold structure allowing the sale of part of the building for residential development.

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Helen Nash

Partner
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Helen Nash

Partner

Helen is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Helen advises clients on all aspects of real estate law, with much of her work relating to long term projects for property development or onshore gas exploration which first require land assembly, option agreements or promotion agreements between landowners and developers.

When planning and extraction permissions have been achieved, Helen advises on the sale, purchase or lease negotiations and transactions; securing rights of access, overage provisions or imposing appropriate covenants, dealing with lease management issues such as permissions for change of use or sub-letting, and property finance.

Helen advises landlords, tenants and developers on property transactions throughout England and Wales. Her clients include international energy companies, national utilities, colleges and student organisations, property developers, local community groups and farmers.

Recent examples of how Helen has helped clients include:

• completing a lease to place crowd-funded solar panels on the roof of a local authority leisure centre on behalf of a community benefit society;

• resolving a dispute between two commercial landowners through the creation of a new right of way with unique conditions;

• completing the lease for one of the first on-shore gas extraction sites in the UK;

• minimising the impact of anti-fracking protestors on traffic by agreeing a lease for a safe alternative site for protest; and

• helping safeguard the financial future of a struggling farm by the negotiation of an option and promotion agreement with a property developer.

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Steve Nicholson

Partner
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Steve Nicholson

Partner

Steve is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Steve undertakes residential and commercial real estate work, including sales and purchases, the grant, renewal and termination of commercial leases and residential tenancies, applications for leasehold enfranchisement, the grant of options and the negotiation of overage agreements in respect of development land, the grant of wayleaves, negotiations for the removal of restrictive covenants and planning issues.

Steve also advises on contentious real estate matters, including contested applications for permission to assign a lease, dilapidation claims, service charge disputes, breaches of lease covenants, rights to light claims, planning disputes and planning enforcement.

Steve acts for property owners and landlords, commercial and residential tenants, property investment companies, ground rent investors and asset managers.

Recent examples of how Steve has helped clients include:

• enabling the tenant to acquire the freehold of their building by convincing the Court of Appeal in Jewelcraft Ltd v Pressland (2015) that a leasehold building comprising a shop with flats above constituted a house capable of being enfranchised;

• securing the acquisition of a £100 million residential property portfolio from an ecclesiastical order on behalf of a property investment company

• assisting in obtaining planning permission for the redevelopment of mews houses in central London and resolving complex party wall issues; and

• ensuring an investment company did not pay over the odds when acquiring a leasehold interest, by advising on the correct formula to calculate the enfranchisement premium.

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Louise Nisbet

Partner
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Louise Nisbet

Partner

Louise is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Louise advises on large and complex ground rent acquisitions, property-related aspects of corporate transactions, including deal structure, landlord obligations and plot sales.  She manages a 35-strong ground rents team, one of the largest in the country.

Louise acts for Long Harbour, an investment fund that bridges the gap between illiquid asset classes, often with high barriers to entry, and institutional investors seeking to deploy capital into investment grade and income-generating assets.

Louise advises clients on management of all the legal issues which arise as a result of being a landlord, ranging from the sale of a leasehold to consent for a pet, or concluding a deed of variation.

Recent examples of how Louise has helped clients include:

• property due diligence involved in the corporate sale of an SPV consisting over 8000 units to a large institutional investor;

• acquisition of a portfolio of freehold and leasehold properties consisting over 1000 units;

• devising an innovative solution to enable property transactions to be completed in time for a key house builder reporting deadline;

• liaising with Knights' Construction team on warranties given from house builders or developers when acquiring large freehold and long leasehold property portfolios; and

• working with Knights' Dispute resolution team to resolve a right-to-light claim.

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Matthew Robinson

Partner
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Matthew Robinson

Partner

Matthew is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Matthew advises on all aspects of the commercial property life-cycle, negotiating, drafting and reviewing documents to facilitate transactions; secure funding and guarantees, agreeing construction and redevelopment projects, acquisitions and disposals.  He also advises on commercial landlord and tenant matters including lease renewals and issues over covenants and dilapidations.  He has expertise in strategic development projects with partnering arrangements.

Matthew's clients range in size from individual investors to funds, large-scale developers, landlords and occupiers, and multi-national FTSE100 businesses.

Recent examples of how Matthew has helped clients include:

• successfully assisting a company which provides out-sourced reception services to improve recruitment and expand headcount by relocating to a new HQ;

• enabling the delivery of a speculative joint-venture, with European funding, to provide office development in a deprived area; and

• facilitating the funding, delivery and development of an award-winning office space for a corporate occupier, simultaneously managing its exit from multiple locations.