Olswang has won former DJ Freeman client Chester Properties thanks to a lonstanding relationship with the DJ Freeman partners who made the switch to Olswang.
Other former DJ Freeman clients Carillion, SecondSite (formerly Lattice Property) and Land Securities declined to move their accounts to Olswang when the majority of the property team moved in April following DJ Freeman’s sudden demise.
However, Chester Properties has continued to put a steady stream of work their way, most recently the disposal of the Chilterns Shopping Centre in High Wycombe to a private buyer and the Hersham Centre in Sussex to Jones Day Goulden’s client Aureus Supermarkets. Former DJ Freeman head of property Jonathan Lewis led the deals with tax partner Graham Chase. The duo worked closely together at DJ Freeman.
The disposals form part of the closure of Chester’s first property investment fund, established by DJ Freeman some 10 years ago. Olswang has now advised the client on the launch of a new fund with up to £120m to invest in UK property. Corporate partner Simon Killick advised on the launch.
Chester has used other firms including Lewis Silkin on individual deals, but relationship partner Lewis said that Olswang has inherited the role of main adviser.
Other property clients to move across are Benchmark Group, Buckingham Securities and London & Associated Properties. The ex-DJ Freeman group also survived a panel review by Warner Estates, albeit in a secondary role.
Lewis said: “We certainly didn’t take anything for granted. Some of them put us through the mill a bit, but it’s all worked out very well. Where possible, we’ve given clients continuity, which is what they wanted, but as time goes on we’re bringing in junior people [from Olswang] and integrating people.”
Lewis said that those clients who chose not to move to Olswang had key relationships with partners who moved elsewhere. Land Securities worked with Barbara Naftalin, who joined Davies Arnold Cooper rather than Olswang, while only one of Carillion’s several relationship lawyers went to Olswang.