People Detail | Setfords
Jonathan Levinson

Jonathan Levinson
Consultant Solicitor

After spending 14 years as a Partner in Howard Kennedy’s Property Litigation Department, my wife and I decided in January 2015 to make the plunge and start a new episode of our lives in beautiful Cape Town.

Having enjoyed the last two and a half years watching our three young children grow up and blossom, as well as set up a small enterprise of my own; I am ready to re-enter the fray, batteries fully recharged.

Skill Sets:
I have on a number of occasions been recognised by the Legal 500 as a leading Practitioner in the field. Property Litigators tend to sell themselves as being either “commercial”, “technical” or “aggressive”.

In practice, one has to be good in all areas; it being pointless being commercial if one doesn’t have the necessary technical knowledge; and vice versa. Similarly I am amazed when I see resumes boasting that the individual has never taken a matter to trial!

My skill set can therefore be described as follows:

Property law is famously technical in nature and I have always relished this aspect of the role. Prevention being better than cure, I have always encouraged a close working relationship with my commercial property colleagues both at the transaction stage to advise the clients on risk and ensure that the contractual documentation is as tight as possible; and thereafter.

As such, my practice developed to a position where it came to be divided evenly between the traditional role of a litigator, and an advisory role. As a consequence of that,I came to work closer and closer with the firm’s marketing and professional support teams assisting with the production of articles in both the legal and property press and the giving of both internal and external seminars.

Over time, I have come to the view that the biggest issue which litigators face with their clients is managing expectations. Lawyers all too often raise their clients’ expectations when taking on litigation and then spend the rest of their retainer maintaining their position. Without wishing to sound conceited ,my clients trust me because I tell them the truth as I see it!

That said, it is easy to tell a client he is going to lose and leave it at that. I don’t and however difficult a client’s case may seem,I will leave no stone unturned to bring him to the negotiating table in the strongest position possible.

I have not counted the number of mediations I have been involved in but suspect it must be in the region of fifty or so. The vast majority have succeeded in reaching an acceptable settlement, but where the circumstances justify it,I have not been afraid to recommend that the client walk away and fight.

Court Expertise:
Over the course of my career,I have been involved in a number of notable legal skirmishes, including:

Xenon Night Club:
Xenon was a well known London night club in the 80s and I cut my teeth as a newly qualified solicitor when the two partners owning the business fell out in spectacular fashion. Indeed my then client was rather unusually ordered by Mr Justice Harman to change firms to mine when his previous law firm thought it a good idea to serve the other party with an emergency injunction by slashing the tyres of the other party’s Bentley and waiting for him to come out of the nightclub to explore what was going on! This rather set the tone of the dispute and the two years of legal skirmishes which then followed, gave me invaluable experience which I took with me into my future career.

Chiswick Village:
Technically speaking this was a boring dispute over the validity or otherwise of an Information Notice given under the Right of First Refusal Legislation introduced in the late 80’s. In practice, it turned into a turf war between two heavyweight property investors. Unfortunately for me, the legislation gave sole jurisdiction to the County Court meaning that the case never won the prominence it deserved but not only did it nearly bring down the then Secretary of Northern Ireland in the first scandal of the Blair Administration, but after a bruising 30 day trial and seven or eight injunction and other applications for interim relief; it resulted in the client winning the settlement he was ultimately set on.

County Hall:
This again was a battle royal this time between Victor Chandler and the Japanese Bank who owned County Hall. Over a sake filled night of karaoke, my client managed to walk out of the evening having won himself not only the right to operate the London Aquarium Gift Shop but also the exclusive right to run gift shops from County Hall, much to the subsequent chagrin of British Airways (the then owners of the London Eye), The owners of the Premiership Hall of Fame and the Saatchi Gallery. There then followed a series of High profile legal battles testing the law in areas as diverse as rectification, derogation of grant, enforcement of covenants under the 95 Covenants Act and forfeiture, as well as the most bizarre mediation I have ever been involved in!

Jonathan enjoy's a very disparate range of clients from the small investor to some of the largest property investors and developers in the UK. As such,I enjoyed a very wide range of cases covering most aspects of Property Law, and have been involved in numerous well-known and published cases, creating much new case law in the process.

Whilst experienced in advising in all areas of Property Law ( other than planning, construction and agricultural) particular areas of expertise include:

  • Forfeiture (and in particular relief from forfeiture)
  • Enforcement of Plot Sale Agreements
  • Setting aside of Consent Orders
  • Dilapidation Claims
  • Contested business lease renewals
  • Discharge/enforcement of Restrictive Covenants
  • Rights of First Refusal/Enfranchisement Claims
  • Service Charge Disputes
  • Adverse Possession Disputes
  • Misrepresentation Claims
  • Rectification Claims

Practice areas



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