19 June 2024

Insights and impressions from UKREiiF

Insights and impressions from UKREiiF

This year, the Property Litigation Association sent its first ever delegation to UKREiiF – the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum – in the form of our Chair, Mark Reading.

Although Mark’s attendance was kindly sponsored by Mishcon de Reya, he attended as an ambassador of the PLA and was there to represent the views and interests of our members.

Now that UKREiiF 2024 has concluded, and recognising that not everyone had the opportunity to attend, Mark is pleased to share his insights, impressions and key takeaways from the UK property industry’s most important event.


I imagine that most of you will have heard about UKREiiF – but, like me, questioned whether the event is necessarily for property litigators.

I confess to being a little sceptical myself of the event’s value-add in real terms: taking two or three days out of the office to listen to industry thought-leaders and meet with my peers certainly sounded like an enjoyable experience, but would it be worth the inbox I’d face on my return?

I also knew there would be a significant public sector focus, and working in the private sphere as I primarily do, was curious about the relevance of content and whether or not I would be able to contribute to conversations in a meaningful way.

I’m pleased to report that on arriving in Leeds, my reservations were quickly dispelled. One of the first talks I attended was about equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within the property industry and the progress that has been made over the last five years.

The panel consisted of representatives from both the public and private sectors, with those in the public domain – who are typically slightly further ahead on EDI issues – sharing some really valuable insights on creating a more equitable playing field for those of us working in the private sphere.

From that very first talk, I knew UKREiiF was going to be worthwhile – I felt reassured that there was a place for me at the forum and that there would be a number of useful takeaways. The prevalence of various EDI groups operating within the sector was also very heartening in showing the strength, commitment and appetite for change in the property industry.

The next talk I attended was about the London-Oxford-Cambridge innovation corridor and the redevelopment taking place in and between these areas. While the focus was on the public sphere, many issues resonated with me and the work my clients undertake. A particular focus was the need for stakeholder engagement from the outset of a project, rather than when regeneration is already in train or worse still complete – when retrospectively shoehorning engagement with the local ecosystem is the only option.

This was just one of a number of issues I wouldn’t have considered had I stayed away from UKREiiF and remained in my office continuing to advise my clients on their redevelopments.

Another talk I went to focused on the performance of the office sector and considered the current state of play, the impact of changes to working practises following the pandemic and whether this asset class still has a viable future.  

Some interesting discussions ensued, concluding that offices will continue to play an important role in investment strategies, but that the way to approach the return to office drastically needs to change. Rather than implementing rigid policies, the return needs to be encouraged through increased amenities and enhanced experience: the phrase that really stuck out was a ‘magnet not mandate’ approach being required.  

For me, UKREiiF was, in part, an education-based experience which contrasts quite strikingly with MIPIM. It was a really efficient and effective way to bolster industry knowledge and understanding, offering condensed, high-quality insights from a diverse range of industry leaders.

In terms of relationship building, the number and variety of people in Leeds was incredible and there was a real mix between those from the public and private spheres. I saw lots of clients, intermediaries and a couple of sets of counsel chambers, enabling me to achieve many of the things that MIPIM historically delivered but without the need to go all the way to Cannes.

The atmosphere was one of enthusiasm: UKREiiF might only be in its third year, but the energy was palpable and there was a real sense that this was something fresh and exciting as people seemed to recognise and embrace the various benefits they could derive from it.

The event also gave me an opportunity to meet with Matt Pugh, Chair of the PLA North, and have a good discussion about the northern committee’s current work, the initiatives it wants to implement in the coming months and how the PLA's Executive can best support.

For all of these reasons, I’m a proud UKREiiF convert: it’s definitely an event I would attend again – the benefits from an educational and business development perspective were clear and I hope PLA members might be encouraged to join in greater numbers next year.

In terms of what’s next for the PLA, PLA Vice Chair Rebecca Campbell and I have been busy instigating an industry outreach programme, asking to meet with a number of leading bodies such as the British Property Federation and Investment Property Forum so we can cultivate closer working relationships.

With a general election taking place next month and more change on the horizon, the need to work collaboratively with other industry bodies has never been more important.

Our aim is to maximise the PLA’s reach and exposure, ensuring our members and the issues they care about are at the front and centre of any discourse around legal reform in the coming year, so together we can develop an inclusive legal framework that works for everyone.

Rebecca and I are committed to ensuring that your concerns and aspirations are taken into account as we head into the election period and the inevitable changes that ensue in its aftermath.

If you have any questions or comments about UKREiiF, I’d love to hear from you – and I hope to see many more of you at this excellent event next year.

Mark Reading
Chair, Property Litigation Association