Sara is a property and commercial specialist who is equally at home in a domestic or an international context. She brings particular expertise to matters involving insolvency, issues arising in relation to property development and disputes concerning ownership of and rights in land.
Recognised as a leading mediator and maintaining an impressive rate of success, Sara’s mediation practice continues to go from strength to strength. She manages to combine a friendly and accessible approach with a keen practical and business sense, regularly dealing with complex factual and legal disputes whilst remaining focused on the practical realities of the situation and helping the parties to find sensible and inventive solutions. A long-standing member of Gatehouse Chambers' Property and Commercial Teams as well as being a founder-member of The Property Mediators, and a particularly highly-regarded advocate whether in court, arbitration, planning hearings, or before the various specialist property and commercial tribunals, Sara brings all of that experience and expertise to bear in her mediation work.
Please see her separate mediation profile.
When not being a barrister or mediating, Sara’s time is divided between a range of musical activities, running around muddy fields umpiring women’s lacrosse, attempting to improve her rowing technique, and waiting for hope to triumph over despair as a fan of West Ham United.
Areas of expertise
- Commercial landlord & tenant
Commercial landlord & tenant
Sara is also an experienced and knowledgeable commercial landlord and tenant practitioner, covering both contentious and non-contentious work for landlords, tenants and others such as guarantors or insolvency practitioners who hold interests related to commercial leasehold land. As well as addressing issues relating to the 1954 Act, rent reviews, consents, dilapidations, and redevelopment, Sara has a particular specialism in the impact of insolvency on the commercial landlord and tenant relationship, and is a co-author and regular presenter of Gatehouse Chambers’s popular seminars on the subject.
- Development & planning
Development & planning
Sara has substantial experience in disputes relating to Property Development, whether in the context of the implementation and interpretation of agreements between participants (performance, overage, options etc) or in respect of practical issues which may arise with the land, its current occupants and its neighbours such as tenancy problems, planning, adverse possession claims, easements, restrictive covenants, party wall disputes, conveyancing issues and the like.
Sara is also much in demand as a mediator in such cases, where her familiarity with the subject-matter enables her to help parties find practical and effective solutions for their problems.
- Leasehold & leasehold management
Leasehold & leasehold management
Sara is an experienced and knowledgeable commercial and residential landlord and tenant lawyer. As an advocate and as a mediator she covers both contentious and non-contentious work and is noted for her understanding of practicalities of the subject from the perspectives of landlords, tenants and others such as beneficiaries, guarantors or insolvency practitioners who hold interests related to commercial or residential leasehold land.
- Real property & mortgages
Real property & mortgages
At the heart of Sara’s property practice is her work in the sphere of real property, whether as an adviser, advocate or mediator. As well as her expertise in disputes over boundaries, easements and adverse possession, co-ownership, mortgages, and the impact of insolvency on property rights, Sara provides specialist knowledge and considerable experience in conveyancing disputes including issues as to specific performance, rescission or registration and, especially in the property-development context, cases about planning, covenants, options or overage provisions.
- Trusts of land
Trusts of land
Trusts of Land have always formed a significant part of Sara’s practice, both as an adviser/advocate and as a mediator. She is particularly sensitive to the issues which often underlie such disputes, and is also conscious that third parties may well need to be involved if an effective resolution is to be found.
- Commercial landlord & tenant
- Legal professionals
Claims against solicitors and other legal professionals regularly form part of Sara’s work as a mediator, and she is noted for her skill in handling the competing interests which such claims often involve. As with all areas of her mediation practice, Sara combines a sensitive and flexible approach with many years of experience in professional liability claims and a detailed knowledge of the applicable legal principles. This enables her to test, where appropriate, the parties’ perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses in their respective cases and to help them move towards a sensible practical solution.
- Contentious Probate & Inheritance Act claims
Contentious Probate & Inheritance Act claims
Sara has considerable experience in disputes of all sorts concerning the estates of deceased individuals, both as an adviser/advocate and as a mediator. These are often extremely distressing situations for the parties, but Sara’s empathetic yet clear and practical approach does much to ease them through the process to a resolution.
- Commercial litigation
Sara undertakes work across the spectrum of commercial cases. She has extensive experience in disputes and potential disputes arising from most aspects of business dealings in the UK and abroad, with particular expertise in matters of insolvency and disputes concerning partnerships.
Her cases regularly involve complex factual issues, substantial elements of financial analysis and allegations of fraud. As well as acting and advising in the context of litigation, Sara is frequently instructed at a non-contentious stage or in relation to some form of ADR.
Sara also represents clients, drafts documents and advises in the context of arbitral proceedings both domestic and international. Her practice in this area has ranged from disputes as to the quality of goods or workmanship in respect of machinery, bulk stock, construction works and the like through issues as to the interpretation of and compliance with property development and regeneration contracts, to arguments emanating from international and domestic supply contracts with varied subject matter.
In addition to her work as an advocate and adviser, Sara is a qualified mediator with an impressive record, and is available to conduct mediations in most types of commercial dispute. Recent mediations have included disputes as to the legitimate operation of a business within the purview of a port, the dissolution of a partnership and consequent division of assets, and the serviceability of large scale mechanical plant.
- Corporate insolvency
Sara is one of Gatehouse Chambers’s senior insolvency specialists. She is regularly called upon to advise and represent insolvent or potentially insolvent individuals, partnerships or companies, those connected with them or third parties who have dealings with them in all sorts of contexts.
She is happy to accept instructions from insolvency practitioners as well as from the legal profession both in the UK and abroad.
She also provides seminars dealing with insolvency options and their implications in particular areas of law, and is a co-author and regular presenter of a frequently-requested session on “Insolvency for Property Lawyers”.
CSR & pro bono
Bar Pro Bono Unit Reviewer
- Civil Mediation Council
- The Property Mediators
- Property Bar Association
- Chancery Bar Association
Cousins: Law of Mortgages (Sweet & Maxwell, 3rd edition – 2010)
- LLB (Hons)
- Accredited Mediator
Sara is recommended by the legal directories Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500:
“Tenacious and hardworking. She gets into the details of the underlying dispute and works hard to bring parties to an agreement, often staying late into the evening if necessary.” (The Legak 500, 2024 Dispute Resolution- Mediators)
“She’s marvellous, tough and gets results. She goes the extra mile.” (Chambers UK, 2023)
“Sara is very smooth, keeps things on track and maintains client trust very well.” (Chambers UK, 2023)
“She’s not afraid of passing judgements on the merits of a particular case. You absolutely need that, so she’s a good facilitator of settlement.” (Chambers UK, 2023)
“A magnificent mediator, who is capable of cracking the hardest of disputes, and has many years of top-level property law experience behind her.” (The Legal 500)
“Sara Benbow of Gatehouse Chambers enjoys a strong profile in commercial and property mediation. Her practice has a national footprint” and “Sara is approachable and practical, and gives reality checks in a constructive way.” (Chambers UK)