After spending 14 years as a Partner in Howard Kennedy’s Property Litigation Department, Jonathan and his wife decided in January 2015 to make the plunge and start a new episode of their lives in beautiful Cape Town.
Jonathan has on a number of occasions been recognised by the Legal 500 as a leading Practitioner in the field. He believes Property Litigators tend to sell themselves as being either “commercial”, “technical” or “aggressive”.
Jonathan also believes, in practice, one has to be good in all areas; it being pointless being commercial if one doesn’t have the necessary technical knowledge; and vice versa. Similarly, he is amazed when he sees resumes boasting that the individual has never taken a matter to trial!
Jonathan describes his skill set as follows:
Jonathan notes that Property law is famously technical in nature, and he has always relished this aspect of his role. Prevention being better than cure, he has always encouraged a close working relationship with his commercial property colleagues both at the transaction stage to advise the clients on risk and ensure that the contractual documentation is as tight as possible; and thereafter. As a result, his practice developed to a position where it came to be divided evenly between the traditional role of a litigator and an advisory role. As a consequence of that, he came to work closer and closer with the firm’s marketing and professional support teams, assisting with the production of articles in both the legal and property press and the giving of both internal and external seminars.
Over time, Jonathan has developed the perspective that litigators often grapple with the significant challenge of managing clients’ expectations. He observes that some lawyers tend to elevate their clients’ expectations at the commencement of litigation, only to then allocate the remainder of their retainer in upholding that stance. Without sounding self-conceited, Jonathan’s clients place their trust in him because he candidly communicates the truth as he perceives it.
However, daunting a client’s case may appear, Jonathan does not simply inform them of an inevitable loss and conclude the matter. Instead, he diligently explores every avenue, leaving no stone unturned, with the ultimate goal of positioning the client at the negotiating table with maximum strength.
Although Jonathan hasn’t kept a precise count, he estimates his involvement in approximately fifty mediations. While the majority have resulted in successful settlements deemed acceptable by all parties, he is not hesitant to advise clients to walk away and pursue legal action when circumstances warrant such a decision.
Xenon Night Club:
Jonathan had his early legal experiences at Xenon Night Club, a renowned London nightclub in the 80s. During a tumultuous fallout between the two business partners, Jonathan, a newly qualified solicitor, found himself representing a client entangled in the dispute. In an unusual turn of events, Mr. Justice Harman ordered Jonathan’s client to switch firms after a dramatic incident involving an emergency injunction served by slashing the tires of the opposing party’s Bentley outside the nightclub. The ensuing two years of legal battles provided Jonathan with invaluable experience that shaped his future career.
In the case of Chiswick Village, Jonathan found himself immersed in a seemingly mundane dispute over the validity of an Information Notice under the Right of First Refusal Legislation from the late 80s. However, the matter escalated into a fierce turf war between two heavyweight property investors. Despite the case being relegated to the County Court and lacking the prominence it deserved, it nearly brought down the Secretary of Northern Ireland in the first scandal of the Blair Administration. Following a challenging 30-day trial and numerous injunction applications, Jonathan’s client ultimately secured a favorable settlement.
The County Hall dispute marked another intense legal battle, this time between Jonathan’s client, Victor Chandler, and the Japanese Bank that owned County Hall. After a night of sake-filled karaoke, Jonathan’s client emerged victorious, gaining not only the right to operate the London Aquarium Gift Shop but also the exclusive privilege to run gift shops within County Hall. This decision led to conflicts with British Airways (then owners of the London Eye), the owners of the Premiership Hall of Fame, and the Saatchi Gallery. The ensuing high-profile legal battles explored areas such as rectification, derogation of grant, enforcement of covenants under the 95 Covenants Act, forfeiture, and involved the most bizarre mediation Jonathan had ever experienced.