Call: 1992 | Silk: 2013

John de Waal QC

“QC clout without the QC attitude” Legal 500

Mediation overview

John was accredited as a mediator by CEDR in 2001 since when he has acted as lead mediator in over 100 cases, as well as being an advocate in many more. He is a member of the Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates and occasionally mediates pro bono for Law Works.  He is recommended as a “very good” mediator by Legal 500.

As a facilitative mediator, John will suggest solutions but not attempt to evaluate the merits of a party’s case, let alone try to give legal advice. John’s experience is that time and patience can resolve almost all disputes, but that the process cannot be rushed. In the well-used language of mediation, he is in charge of the process but the clients are in charge of the product.

You can view here an example of John’s standard mediation agreement.  A detailed explanation of the mediation process can be found on our mediation pages.  There are excellent mediation facilities available at Hardwicke, and John can also recommend venues in the Midlands. He is also prepared to travel as necessary.

John is a judge at the annual ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition.

To discuss a possible mediation appointment in confidence, please feel free to contact John direct.  Alternatively you can speak to a member of the Practice management team.

Mediation cases are invariably confidential but some of his recent work includes:

  • Substantial claim for dilapidations where the property was held by a pension fund.
  • Damages claim following termination of a catering contract.
  • Dispute between client and the estate of a former solicitor over monies loans and an interest in property.
  • Dispute between two elderly brothers who had been in a building partnership.
  • Claim for rent and counterclaim for damages for disrepair
  • Tripartite dispute between school, local authority and supplier of modular buildings
  • Tripartite dispute between adjoining landowners and solicitor about trespass to land

Testimonials

“John has considerable personal charm and a very tactful manner; these, coupled with his clear-sighted view of the issues in the case, enabled the parties to negotiate the obstacles which had previously stood in the way of settlement.  John was exceptionally well prepared and had a firm grasp on the subject matter of the dispute.” – Martin Edden, Consultant Solicitor, Tayntons Solicitors

“John’s extensive knowledge and experience of property disputes coupled with his balanced and even handed approach make him an ideal mediator. He tactfully helps the parties to identify the true heart of their dispute and demonstrates a great deal of patience and understanding in facilitating both sensible and practical resolutions. He shows great empathy for both sides of a dispute and manages clients’ expectations well. I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending his instruction to our clients.” – Claire-Elaine Arthurs, Head of Property Litigation, Davies and Partners Solicitors

“John builds a good rapport with clients and solicitors. John inspires confidence in the process and quickly grasps the relevant issues, however complex, and searches for sensible settlement opportunities at an early stage” – Nicola Purcell, Foot Anstey

Areas of expertise

  • Property
    • Commercial landlord & tenant

      Commercial landlord & tenant

      John’s practice is principally concerned with commercial property. He advises and acts for landlord and tenants in cases involving break clauses, dilapidations, contested assignments, lease renewals and forfeiture. John also advises and acts on agricultural tenancies.

      Relevant Work:

      • Kivells Ltd v Torridge D.C. [2019] EWHC 2846 (TCC): agreement for lease, wastewater treatment plant, estoppel and [2019] EWHC 3210 (TCC) [2019] Costs LR 1987: Part 36 offers, indemnity costs
      • NYK Logistics (UK) Ltd v Ibrend Estates BV [2011] 4 All ER 339, CA: break clause, vacant possession
      • Acting for major retailer in relation to allegations of breach of covenant in lease of retail premises
      • Acting for tenant of commercial premises in connection with break clause/dilapidations claim where the issues is material compliance with covenants in the lease
      • Acting for landlord in major dilapidations claim in dispute about novation of tenancy agreement
      • Advising in relation to rent reduction clauses and the law of penalties
      • Advising investor on issues arising on sale of a portfolio of shopping centres
      • Acting on expert determination on sale of a portfolio of licensed premises
      • Acting for a farm partnership in arbitration about valuation of deceased partner’s share
    • Development & planning

      Development & planning

      John acts for developers in relation to issues that arise on site assembly, the exercise of options and pre-emption agreements, overage and land promotion agreements. He has a particular expertise in rights to light and party wall disputes.

      John has contributed the Chapter on ‘Conditional Contracts, Options and Overage’ to the book he has edited for the Law Society “Risk and Negligence in Property Transactions”.

      Relevant Work:

    • Real property & mortgages

      Real property & mortgages

      Property law is at the heart of John’s practice. His clients are principally developers and owners of commercial property. John also works extensively for defective title insurers and professional indemnity insurers.

      His cases tend to concern options, covenants, easements (in particular rights to light) as well as rentcharges and cases concerning the beneficial ownership of land.

      Relevant Work:

    • Leasehold & leasehold management

      Leasehold & leasehold management

      John is experienced in dealing with long lease issues such as enfranchisement, service charge disputes, forfeiture, breach of covenant and right to manage. He is presently advising a number of clients about issues arising from unsafe cladding on tower blocks.

      Relevant Work:

  • Professional liability
    • Property Professionals

      Property Professionals

      John’s property expertise means that he is a natural choice for professional negligence disputes where the defendants are surveyors or other property professionals.

      His expertise in relation to claims against legal professionals can be found at the Professional Liability – Legal Professionals section of his profile.

      Relevant Work:

      • Acting for claimant in £6m claim against surveyor in relation to negligence in claim for compensation for land compulsorily purchased for London Olympics
      • Acting for defendant managing agents sued for failing to organise repairs to new-build block of flats in Battersea
      • Acting for insurers of surveyor in relation to claim for negligence arising out of a rent review
      • Acting for farm business agents in claim arising out of disputed succession to tenancy of an agricultural holding
      • Acting for claimant in claim against building inspector for negligence in connection with survey of a development site
      • Acting in claim against architect for negligence in connection with planning application for redevelopment of an 18th century pavilion at Hampton Court Palace
    • Legal professionals

      Legal professionals

      John has a particular expertise in property-related professional negligence disputes where the defendants are solicitors or barristers.  He is the editor of “Risk and Negligence in Property Transactions” published by the Law Society in September 2018.

      His expertise in relation to other property professionals can be found at the Professional Liability – Property Professionals section of his profile.

      Relevant Work:

      • Blakemores LDP v Scott [2015] EWCA Civ 999: s14A Limitation Act 1980; summary judgment
      • Michael v Middleton [2013] 6 Costs L.R. 899: breach of trust claim against solicitor; application for relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9
      • Mortage Express v Sawali [2011] PNLR 11 & (on costs) 2 Costs LR: delivery up of files to lender; s68 Solicitors Act 1988
      • Acting for defendant solicitor in 40 linked cases where deposits paid to a UK agent for apartments in a Spanish property development lost on developer’s insolvency
      • Acting for claimant in claim against barrister for negligent advice in relation to planning permission for redevelopment of site
      • Acting for claimant in claim against two firms of solicitors for negligence in connection with advice given on leases and pre-emption agreements in relation to prime central London property
      • Acting for claimant against former solicitors in £5m claim relation to defective drafting of overage clause
  • Professional indemnity insurance

    Professional indemnity insurance

    John regularly advises and acts for insurers in relation to policy and coverage issues, particularly in the field of professional indemnity insurance. He also advises and acts on liability issues where he is a specialist in defending claims against solicitors, surveyors and other professionals arising out of property and planning related matters.

    Relevant Work:

    • Collins v Thanet D.C. [2016] EWHC 1008 (QB): local planning authority; misfeasance in public office
    • Appointed by agreement between two PI insurers to advise in relation to coverage and which policy year the claim was notified
    • Advising and acting for solicitor in arbitration with insurer in relation to allegation of dishonesty
    • Acting for PI insurers in 40 linked cases arising out of loss of deposit paid to UK agents for apartments in development in Spain
    • Acting for PI insurers in £2m claim where the allegation is negligence in connection with the drafting and negotiation of an option agreement
    • Acting for PI insurers for managing agents sued for failing to organise repairs to new build block of flats in Battersea
  • Civil fraud & asset tracing

    Civil fraud & asset tracing

    Following his involvement up to the House of Lords in the leading case on economic torts OBG v Allan, John has developed a particular expertise in claims arising out of civil fraud – in particular cases involving the misappropriation of trust funds, diversion of business opportunities, misuse of confidential information and breach of fiduciary duty.

    Relevant Work:

Recognition

Directory recommendations

John is recommended in Chambers UK and Legal 500 both for property litigation and professional negligence.   He is also recommended by Legal 500 as a mediator and as real estate and also professional negligence silk by the Who’s Who Legal. He is described as:

  • He is a very good team player with the solicitors and enjoys a very good rapport with clients. John is able to convey complex argument simply and eloquently, both in writing and in advocacy.’ (Legal 500)
  • He provides excellent, sharp and issue-focused advice.’ (Legal 500)
  • “Very much a team player, responsive and good to deal with. He picks up good points and gives clear commercial advice.”  (Chambers UK)
  • “He is very commercial, gives realistic assessments of chances and is good on tactics.” “He is approachable and gets right into the detail.” (Chambers UK)
  • “He gets to the point immediately and deals very adeptly with the client, even if they are unfamiliar with the area of law. It’s a really pleasant and a thoroughly modern approach.” “He has expert knowledge of the law and an authoritative air, and gives you an answer rather than a range of options.” (Chambers UK)
  • “Razor-sharp legal mind which is alive to the practical application of the legal analysis.” (Chambers UK)
  • He has an exceptional knowledge of the law and an excellent ability to provide clear, concise advice.” (Legal 500)
  • “He is effective and persuasive, even under extreme fire.” (Chambers UK)
  • “Puts a lot of thought into strategy and is very easy to work with.” (Legal 500)
  • “…provides good clear advice at the outset. He can deal with difficult clients and understands the drivers behind the decisions made by insurers.” (Legal 500)
  • “Ruthlessly commercial, client-focused and supportive.” (Chambers UK)
  • “His calm, self-assured manner instils confidence in clients.” (Legal 500)

Professional associations

  • British Insurance Law Association
  • Property Bar Association
  • Professional Negligence Bar Association

Publications

  • Contributor to Paul Reed QC’s Construction All Risks Insurance, Sweet & Maxwell, 2014.
  • Risk & Negligence in Property Transactions (The Law Society) – publication late 2018.

Qualifications

MA (Cantab)

News

Commercial Property outlook post-pandemic

02/05/2021

Hardwicke On Demand: Aggregation in Solicitors’ Professional Indemnity Insurance

27/04/2021

Don’t lose your way! 3 misunderstood aspects of the law of rights of way

31/03/2021

Do solicitors ever owe a duty to the opposing party? NDH Properties v Lupton Fawcett

10/03/2021

16th ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition

08/02/2021

Articles

Commercial Property outlook post-pandemic

02/05/2021

Hardwicke On Demand: Aggregation in Solicitors’ Professional Indemnity Insurance

27/04/2021

Don’t lose your way! 3 misunderstood aspects of the law of rights of way

31/03/2021

Do solicitors ever owe a duty to the opposing party? NDH Properties v Lupton Fawcett

10/03/2021

16th ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition

08/02/2021

Upcoming events

Professional Liability Seminar Series – Surveyors’ negligence

24/11/2021

Past events

Hardwicke Brew – Restraint of Trade

03/02/2021

Laying the Foundations: Change of use

03/11/2020

#HardwickeBrew – Professional Negligence – Surveyors Negligence

30/06/2020

#HardwickeBrew – Break the log jam with online ADR – Online mediation: practicalities and tips

07/05/2020

John de Waal QC to act as mediator and judge at the 15th ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition

06/02/2020

Law Society Property Bristol Workshop – Risk & Negligence in Property Transactions

06/11/2018

Risk & Negligence in Property Transactions: problems and pitfalls for practitioners – London roadshow

31/10/2018

Hardwicke Commercial Property Seminar: Recent Developments in Landlord and Tenant Law – Manchester

12/05/2016

Hardwicke Commercial Property Seminar: Recent Developments in Commercial Landlord and Tenant Law (Repeat)

09/12/2015

Newsletters

Podcasts

Aggregation in Solicitors’ Professional Indemnity Insurance

27/04/2021

Hardwicke’s review of the ten leading property cases from 2020

25/02/2021

Books

Risk & Negligence in Property Transactions

28/01/2019

Videos

Aggregation in Solicitors’ Professional Indemnity Insurance

27/04/2021

Rights to Light – where are we now?

05/05/2020