12 November 2021

Blog from Mathew Ditchburn, Chair of the Property Litigation Association


Mathew Ditchburn

This is my first blog as chair of the Property Litigation Association.  I must begin by thanking my predecessor, Gary Lawrenson, for his service this past year as PLA chair.  Gary’s enthusiasm, encouragement and relentless positivity have seen us through the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and not only survive but thrive.

Next, I should thank you, the members, for allowing me the opportunity to step into this role.  It is truly an honour, and a momentous time to be chair of the PLA.  There is so much going on, and the pace of change is quickening.

We’ve already seen the Government start to overhaul long residential leaseholds.  Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has its sights on reviewing commercial landlord and tenant legislation, including the 1954 Act.  This is something which the PLA has been pushing the Law Commission to tackle for some time, and it looks set to feature in their upcoming 14th Programme of Law Reform.

Only just this past week we have seen a first-of-its-kind mandatory arbitration scheme launched to settle pandemic rent arrears.  We have major appeal cases on the horizon dealing with telecoms and CVAs, and much more besides.

These changes could affect the entire property industry for years to come, and they all fall squarely within the PLA’s field of expertise.

The PLA must use its public voice to influence change in the best possible way, and its commitment to quality and specialist training to equip the profession for what is to come.

There has been no more important time in recent memory to be a property litigator.  Fortunately, we have an amazing team in place to rise to the challenge, backed up by an active and highly engaged membership.

This continues with our Autumn Training Day, which returns this coming Wednesday 17 November at The Royal Society of Medicine in London.  Consistent with our new post-pandemic approach, this will be a hybrid event for those who wish to attend personally and available by livestream for those who prefer to participate remotely.  That way, we hope to reach as many members as possible with our training programme.

I was impressed by the positive response to our recent survey and just how many members said they were keen to get back to in-person events, with all the networking opportunities and hospitality that entails.  I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday!

Mathew Ditchburn

12th November 2021