Gemma de Cordova is an experienced property litigator. She has a busy practice encompassing the full breadth of landlord & tenant and real property disputes.
Gemma’s practice encompasses property litigation in the County Court; First Tier Tribunal; High Court; and the Court of Appeal. She has extensive trial experience, winning praise from solicitors and judges for her skills in cross-examination and handling the unusual and often-unexpected issues that multi-day trials can throw up. She also undertakes advisory work and drafting and is an experienced mediation advocate.
She is known for her ability to engage well with both professional and lay clients at all levels of seniority.
Businesses, professionals and members of the public can instruct Gemma through the Public Access scheme.
Areas of expertise
- Commercial landlord & tenant
Commercial landlord & tenant
Gemma handles a wide range of commercial landlord and tenant work including forfeiture, lease termination and renewal, dilapidations and lease variation.
- Instructed in contested lease renewal proceedings involving a multi-tenanted building, including a high street bank, where the landlord relies on redevelopment ground (f).
- Representing the freeholder of a language school in a complex dispute concerning alleged breaches of covenant against alterations.
- Development & planning
Development & planning
Gemma has a particular interest in the issues arising from mixed use developments. She also handles cases concerning restrictive covenants, easements, adverse possession, trespass and party wall disputes.
- Acting in a complex dispute involving numerous parties, concerning the development of and leases relating to affordable housing premises on a development site. Issues involved liability for periodic flooding on a particular part of the development site.
- Advising a developer in relation to a building containing 9 residential units as to the proposed rooftop development. Issues included the developer’s obligations under the existing leases and planning.
- Advising and representing the adult child of a deceased developer. Issues arose as to the nature of the agreement between the deceased and his business partner and the appropriate division of the beneficial interest in the development land.
- Real property & mortgages
Real property & mortgages
Gemma deals with all types of real property dispute including possession claims by mortgagees, issues of misrepresentation and undue influence, restrictive covenants, disputes concerning easements and rights of way. She has a particular interest in parking rights and adverse possession.
- Gemma represents a number of providers of short-term bridging loans. A range of issues arise in these disputes, including consumer credit; unfair relationships; regulated agreements; misrepresentation; and undue influence.
- Vesting order/escheat: Gemma successfully applied for an order vesting a property previously owned by a company, in its shareholders, after it had escheated to the Crown. (High Court, Feb 2021).
- King & Blair v The Incumbent of Newburn & Ors  UKUT 176 (LC): Judge Hodge QC determined that ownership of a burial vault beneath a church was not lost by adverse possession merely because the church had been closed for over 12 years.
- Representing the Applicant in fiercely contested land registration proceedings involving issues of legal and beneficial ownership and allegations of fraud.
- Trusts of land
Trusts of land
Gemma has particular expertise in handling TOLATA disputes, both in the commercial and private context. For example, she handles trust of land issues arising between cohabiting partners, siblings and business partners.
- Successfully securing at trial a 50% share of the equity (circa £600,000) in her client’s jointly owned property, despite it being argued by her ex-partner and his mother that due to financial contributions and an earlier agreement, her client was entitled to a mere £536. (County Court at Central London, Feb 2021).
- Advising and representing a Claimant in a bitter dispute between siblings regarding property previously owned by their parents. The matter concluded by way of a negotiated settlement.
- Assisting a vulnerable lady in establishing the beneficial interest and right to remain in her home, notwithstanding her ex-husband having re-married and subsequently passed away.
- Leasehold & leasehold management
Leasehold & leasehold management
Gemma is well versed in handling a wide variety of disputes pertaining to leaseholders and leasehold property, including the interpretation of service charge provisions in residential and commercial leases, leasehold enfranchisement, missing landlords and the appointment of a manager.
- Deritend Investments (Birkdale) Ltd v Treskonova  UKUT 164 (LC) – leasehold enfranchisement case concerning the correct approach do relativity for properties outside of PCL.
- Tenants’ rights of first refusal: Gemma was instructed to advise the owners of a residential care home in relation to a multimillion pound asset sale, as to their obligations under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987; and draft the appropriate notices.
- Aldford House Freehold Limited v Grosvenor (Mayfair) Estate (1) and K Group Holding Inc (2)  EWHC 3430 (Ch). Gemma successfully represented Grosvenor (as sole counsel), before Fancourt J. In part, the dispute concerned the definition of a “flat” in the 1993 Act. Although Grosvenor did not actively participate in the subsequent appeal proceedings, Gemma continued to advise and was required to submit written representations to the Court of Appeal.
- Housing (social & privately rented)
Housing (social & privately rented)
Gemma has extensive experience of representing and advising both landlords and tenants across the full spectrum of issues that can arise in connection with residential property.
- Commercial landlord & tenant
CSR & pro bono
- Mentor with the Black Barristers’ Network.
- Social mobility advocate for the Bar Council’s award winning #IAmTheBar campaign
- Chancery Bar Association
- Property Bar Association
Contributor to Service Charges & Management: Law & Practice (3rd, 4th and 5th editions), Sweet & Maxwell
- Bar Council’s Race Working Group
- Chancery Bar Association’s Equality & Diversity Sub-committee
- Black Women in Law’s Co-Chair
- Previously elected member of the Bar Council (2013-2018)
LLB Law & German (Surrey)