At Morton Fraser Lawyers we have highlighted clarity as our guiding principle.
This directs the way we communicate, the way we advise, the way we conduct relationships with our clients and the way we are totally transparent and upfront about our charges. This applies to all our services from the straightforward to the more complex.
We act for private and public sector clients including developers, investors, occupiers, funders, landowners, holders of large property portfolios, contractors and professional consultants. We have thirteen partners and over fifty staff in our core commercial real estate team, with an additional ten partners and further staff in our dedicated support teams. The core team has experts covering the full breadth of services required by the sector, and they have been involved in some of Scotland’s biggest property deals in recent years.
The support teams comprise experts in construction, planning, environmental, banking, corporate, property litigation, social housing renewables and real estate finance.
In recent years the Scottish property market has seen many changes. Deals are structured differently and access to funding has changed. Our clients expect us to understand their markets and to offer pragmatic, commercial advice and guidance. We’re also expected to deliver this within tight timeframes and within pre-agreed, fixed fee structures.
We’re specialists with genuine expert knowledge, here to offer valuable advice. Since 2005 we’ve grown to become one of Scotland's leading players, recognised by independent Legal directory Legal 500, who rank us in their top tier for commercial real estate in Scotland.
Our advice is clear and easy to follow. We offer transparent billing, agreeing a fixed fee with our clients, so that they can be reassured that they’ll only pay what they have agreed to pay.
Welcome to Real Insight.
Our Commercial Real Estate team is one of the biggest and most experienced in Scotland.
The team has grown steadily over the last ten years, and we currently have over 65 expert lawyers who bring their expertise to a wide variety of clients.
Find out more about our highly rated team and credentials in the video to the left. For more on our services, read our brochure.
Far from being the zeitgeist, wellbeing has the potential to not only affect performance, but also your bottom line.
In the commercial property sector, changing patterns of living, and a growing culture of accelerated digital use, are encouraging planners, policymakers and designers to provide living and working spaces that allow individuals or families to be comfortable, healthy and happy.
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The services that we offer
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1All aspects of rural and agricultural law
All aspects of rural and agricultural law
Morton Fraser's Agricultural Law and Rural Property team acts for a diverse client base. We work with clients on the full range of agricultural business and rural property issues, ranging from agricultural leases and the purchase and sale of rural property to more specialised matters such as sporting rights, crofting and renewable energy. We have unique experience in the financing of rural property assets from farms to sporting estates. Our team has years of experience, meaning that we are able to offer confident and clear advice, helping people save time, avoid further difficulties, protect their assets and, where possible, save or make money.
2Construction and Engineering Disputes
Construction and Engineering Disputes
We have an experienced team of lawyers, with a proven track record, who resolve disputes in the most practical, appropriate and cost effective way, always bearing in mind that each project is individual. We offer advice as soon as issues arise, including self-help. If required we can advise on all types of formal dispute resolution including adjudication, arbitration, expert determination, court proceedings and mediation. We can help either through the design period, the build or at conclusion. Whether claims relate to valuations and payment, extension of time, defective works, professional negligence or other issues which pop up, we have experience to assist all construction professionals. At each stage of an instruction we aim to scope the work to be undertaken and give fee estimates. We have fixed fee options available in respect of certain types of adjudication.
3Corporate and joint venture advice
Corporate and joint venture advice
Morton Fraser's corporate team are regularly involved in deals in the commercial real estate sector. We have expertise in structuring domestic and offshore partnership and joint venture arrangements and establishing fund structures for the acquisition and ownership of real estate assets. We also have an expert team of insolvency lawyers who are regularly involved in commercial property deals, acting for both insolvency practitioners as well as acting for clients buying from insolvency.
We have a large team specialising in property development which spans across all the necessary areas of expertise including leasing, construction, planning, funding and procurement as well as property. We have acted and are currently acting on some of the biggest property development schemes in Scotland, including for example the mixed use scheme at Heartlands, just off the M8. We are experienced in all kind of development agreements including forward funding agreements, agreements for lease and joint venture agreements as well as all of the associated funding documents and requirements.
Nick Atkins leads our highly experienced environmental team. The team regularly provide expert advice on property deals covering all aspects of environmental law, including pollution and contamination as well as noise. And occasionally Japanese knotweed. They understand all of the issues, and so can provide quick and easy to understand advice on the risks and likely implications. The team also deal with the drafting and negotiation of all appropriate environmental warranties and other contractual provisions. Our expertise includes extensive experience in all areas of environmental law, including nuclear and decommissioning where we have one of the most experienced teams in Scotland.
Our highly experienced team are regularly involved in forward funding deals, acting on behalf of both developers and forward funders. Recent experience includes acting on behalf of the forward funder of a major city centre office development, and also numerous student accommodation projects. Our team of experts cover all of the specialisms including property, banking and finance, construction and planning.
9Lease and management matters
Lease and management matters
Morton Fraser are well known for our expertise in managing large portfolios of leased properties on behalf of commercial landlords. We also act for many tenants who regularly lease space in all kinds of locations including shopping centres, industrial estates, retail parks.
10Legal due diligence
Legal due diligence
With more than a dozen core real estate partners and over 40 fee earners, ably supported by specialists in property litigation, planning, construction and environmental law, the Commercial Real Estate team at Morton Fraser is well resourced to tackle any diligence exercise. We have experience in everything from shopping centre acquisitions, large portfolio purchases, property input on corporate led transactions and supporting English correspondent firms in cross border deals.
We use our experience to focus on the issues that matter to our clients, cutting out the legalese and framing our analysis and offering solutions in the wider commercial context. Our clients have many competing pressures on their time - our due diligence team is there to cut to the heart of the issues and allow our clients to concentrate their energy where it's needed most.
Ranked Band 2 in both Chambers and the Legal 500, clients are full of praise for David Hossack, the partner that leads this team, describing him as "very efficient, fast and understanding of business needs".
We advise a number of major names with a licensing function. This includes obtaining licences, attendance at Licensing Board meetings, advising on policy matters and assisting clients with risk management arising from the operation of licensed premises.
We can carry out work on a fixed fee basis for each stage of an instruction.
14Ongoing asset management
Ongoing asset management
Morton Fraser are well known for our expertise in managing large portfolios of properties on behalf of our commercial clients. Independent legal directory Legal 500 notes that "Morton Fraser's commercial property practice sets the benchmark for client care and quality of service. It handles all requirements for many of Scotland's biggest landowners." We have also acted in the management and realisation of distressed asset portfolios for various US funds.
Morton Fraser's planning team is headed by Douglas Milne ("Highly praised for his knowledge of planning law") and "highly regarded" Ken Carruthers. Douglas is a Legal Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Ken retains full RTPI membership as a dual qualified solicitor and planner. The firm's planning team acts for an impressive range of public and private sector clients across the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious planning business. Our expertise covers advising on all aspects of the planning process and related areas of practice including roads, compulsory purchase and compensation, the conduct of public inquiries and planning appeals, judicial review and other legal challenges.
We have represented clients in a number of highly significant developments including windfarms, major retail schemes, urban redevelopment projects, major housing releases, trunk and other road development schemes and conservation projects. Clients range from householders to some of the biggest institutional landowners in the UK. We aim where possible to give a realistic assessment of the costs involved in providing expert planning advice and in achieving the client's commercial objectives.
Ranked in both Legal 500 and Chambers, Morton Fraser's Commercial Real Estate team offers "big firm" experience delivered from the front by its real estate partners in a boutique, personalised style. We understand the markets that we operate in and are always trying to find ways to add value for our clients, whether by helping to make new connections or by our lawyers offering pragmatic, clear and commercially focussed advice.
We offer transparent billing, up front fixed fees wherever possible and clear, commercial advice from genuine experts in their field.
Morton Fraser has one of the largest dedicated finance practices in Scotland, and our team is heavily involved in the commercial real estate sector. We are one of the few firms who act for all of the UK's major clearing banks, and advise on deals worth billions of pounds a year. We act for banks and borrowers involved in all sectors of the commercial property market including property development, portfolio and investment acquisitions, student accommodation projects, social housing and PRS, retail and leisure. We have extensive experience in the sale and purchase of CRE loan portfolios. We always produce documentation in plain English that is robust yet easy to understand.
16Real Estate Litigation
Real Estate Litigation
Morton Fraser boast a large and highly experienced real estate litigation team. Band 1 ranked, the team handle disputes at all stages of the property acquisition, development, investment and disposal processes. We regularly advise on disputed land ownership and title conditions, development agreements, procurement, all forms of commercial lease disputes including dilapidations, rent and service charge demands, compulsory purchase, valuation disputes and court actions involving design and construction team professionals. We handle cases in all Scottish courts, the Lands Tribunal and we are equally experienced in running arbitrations, mediations, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
17Sales and Acquisitions
Sales and Acquisitions
Whether you are buying a high street shop through your SIPP; whether you are an institutional investor looking to sell a city centre office block; whether you are a commercial developer forward funding a hotel development, Morton Fraser's Commercial Real Estate team has the experience, market know-how and resources to help. Ranked in both Legal 500 and Chambers, the team is led from the front by more than a dozen core real estate partners, all of whom are genuine experts in their field.
We recognise that one size doesn’t fit all, and our team is packed full of specialists who can offer pragmatic solutions that are tailored to fit your needs. Our advice is clear and easy to follow and we offer transparent billing and fixed fees.
Our property development and construction teams are experienced in all aspects of site assembly, from site acquisition and planning through to procurement and construction. We have extensive experience in acting on site assembly deals in the residential development sector for our housebuilder clients, as well as owner occupier / leasehold deals for clients such as Volkswagen and Tesco. We also have significant experience of site assembly projects in the investment sector, preparing agreements for lease, leases, forward funding agreements and other third party contracts with development obligations and acting for developers, forward funders, purchasers or institutional funders.
Morton Fraser provides a ‘first class level of service’ and attracts praise for its ‘fantastic market knowledge’.
I would say that Morton Fraser's strongest point is their ability to provide concise commercial advice, which is always provided quickly.
Morton Fraser's team garners praise from clients, with one source reporting that 'they have made a real difference to our business with the way they conduct our affairs'. One of the well-known names in the team is Elspeth Carson, who is 'very much on top of her brief and exceptionally good at organisation'.
Legal 500 2018/19
One client describes this as a "great team," adding: "I would find them very difficult to replace."
Sources say that this is a "very strong team" which attracts "very good-quality work and clients."
Chambers and Partners 2019
In 2017, Carson led a team including David Stewart, Morven Coulter and Stuart Dick, advising BAM Properties on the forward fund development at Capital Square in Edinburgh, the largest speculative office development in Edinburgh.
Legal 500 2018/19
Chief Executive Chris Harte is a key figure in the team, (which is led by Jonathan Seddon) and was the lead adviser in Scotland's largest ever single-asset logistics deal, to Tritax Amazon Fund on the sale of the Amazon distribution centre in Dunfermline.
Legal 500 2018/19
Experience, attention to detail and good lawyers who are technically strong with commercial understanding.
Chambers and Partners 2019/20
Our business has worked with Morton Fraser for many years at a corporate level and they have handled our Scottish property work for 20 years. You get prompt, accurate and commercial advice and they are a pleasure to work with. They are keen to explore new ideas and find solutions. On the rare occasion that there has been an issue, it has been dealt with extremely professionally'.
legal 500 2019/20
'Commercial and professional'.
Legal 500 2019/20
"They invest personally and take interest in the business, not just instruction. They tailor their advice for the particular scenario."