James Khakpour-Smith


Commercial Property

01727 818513


I am a Partner in our Commercial Property Department, I act for overseas and UK clients in property finance and refinance, acquisitions, development, disposals, landlord and tenant, corporate support and leasehold enfranchisement matters.

One of my areas of specialism is in acting for overseas clients and in particular overseas investment trusts in connection with the whole ambit of property investment from finance and securitisation, acquisition, to management and sales. In so doing I act on acquisitions of large complex developments in equity share transactions with institutional lenders.

Closer to the region, I have set up and established a commercial real estate presence in St Albans which continues to grow. Alongside this I have formed an enfranchisement unit specialising in supporting solicitors, surveyors and clients with all aspects of leasehold reform work including lease extension, freehold purchase and rights of first refusal matters.

I have an abundant amount of energy and drive and will go above and beyond for my clients, as a result many of my clients have continued to work with me for a long time and on several matters.

I started my professional career at Taylor Walton and have progressed through from Trainee to becoming a Partner. This lead to me being involved in promoting the firm’s award winning approach whilst training our young talent.  I have mentored and developed trainees and paralegals in my team, some of whom have now gone on to take up training contracts and qualified positions within the firm.

Working in our Commercial Property department at Taylor Walton all of this time has meant that I have gained invaluable in depth experience in working in a varied and broad range of Commercial Property matters for a wide range of clients on both sides of transactions. This experience combined with a unique way of being able to tackle problems to deliver favourable commercial results has allowed me to build a large following of mutually successful relations with client and work referrers alike.

I have been actively involved in the local business community and sit on the local City of Expertise committee which is a membership group of professional service firms in St Albans dedicated to supporting one another and the local business community. I feel supporting the community is important and it is part of the culture at Taylor Walton, therefore I actively support the local initiatives and charities; such as attending the Heart Radio – Herts Hero Awards for special achievers in the local community. I have undertaken charity work for good causes including training for and taking part in a charity boxing match for MacMillan Cancer.

I have a real determined focus to deliver for my clients the best outcome based service, delivering what they and their business require in a cost effective open and friendly professional manner.


I manage and play for a veterans football team and like to keep fit including with my daughter supporting her dance and walking my golden retriever Frankie.


  • Acquisition of a historic building in London of architectural importance. Aside from the interesting title challenges, the building was subject to various occupational interests and had a complex tax structure that created problems concerning VAT and historic records regarding VAT options. A stalemate was reached as to the VAT treatment which of course stalled the deal as it involved 20% of the purchase price. I called an all parties and advisers meeting and suggested a solution that Counsel endorsed not only from a legal perspective but also worked for tax purposes which involved various re-gears of leases to enable the matter to be treated as a transfer of a going concern.
  • The matter required not only a sound understanding of the law, but creative thinking applied to a problem to release a jam that was threatening the transaction. The client is expecting to make upwards of £2m in profit from the building over the next year.
  • Led a team in the purchase of a central London Building from a government department in order to facilitate one of three potential development schemes facilitating an office development overlooking the Thames.
  • The matter involved reaching completion in an unusually short timescale in order to reach exchange before other competitive bids following on from which we had the testing situation of securing third party lender finance based on the due diligence that we had to conduct in these challenging circumstances and between exchange and completion. The matter was complicated by restrictive covenants which on the face of it could have affected the sky, roof top and internal development plans being identified and analysed and overcome.
  • The matter involved the continued challenges of overseas investment fund regulations and overseas transactional and funding challenges that were negotiated to bring about a successful funded completion to a complex deal, with a number of strands and parties.
  • Acting for a buyer client in a contract race when contract papers hit my desk early at the start of the day which then involved working all day on receipt of papers culminating in face-to-face document negotiations into early the following morning to ensure our client was first to exchange. There I had to work through a lot of material on an agile basis under a pressure of time and in person through off the cusp negotiations.
  • Worked on an extremely complicated large scale development matter where issues regarding restrictive covenants, multiple selling parties some of whom were in dispute, demolished buildings and geological and environmental difficulties all of which were overcome to secure funding build out and sales on. This demonstrated the need to draw together and co-ordinate a number of complicating factors that arose for my clients.

Joined Taylor Walton in 2005

What our clients say

"James has always made himself available for us during the 10 years that we have sought advice from him and his team in connection with ours and our clients property portfolios. James not only advises us on the up to date legal position but he delivers solutions to our legal problems and will always get the results we are looking for and we have felt lucky to have him as our legal go to.”

“James went above and beyond for us often working into the evening or the weekends and always took the time to explain what was happening so that we understood what were some complex issues regarding our land options.”

"James Khakpour-Smith has dealt with our commercial property matters for many years. He is first class at providing expert advice and steering us through the many complex situations we have encountered. He is always on hand and quick to respond. I have no hesitation in recommending him to others." 5* Google

"I recently instructed James Khakpour-Smith from the Commercial Property department in St Albans. He was clearly very knowledgeable and experienced but he was also very good at communicating with me in a timely and clear manner throughout the transaction. I would have no hesitation in recommending James Khakpour-Smith or Taylor Walton to others." 5* Google

"James Khakpour-Smith  always makes sure the work is done on time and with the upmost detail. Does whatever is needed, even if it means working outside normal work hours and always available to discuss any issues or concerns. The work is always prioritised to the clients need and to important deadlines." -Legal 500

Legal pitfalls to avoid when surrendering a lease

By James Khakpour-Smith | 22 May 2023

One lingering consequence of the pandemic is that many tenants are locked into commercial leases of properties that they no longer require. The need for physical retail outlets has been seriously impacted by the growth of online shopping as has the demand for office space as working from home remains a reality for many office…

Overseas Entities and property transactions in the UK

By James Khakpour-Smith | 8 September 2022

The Register of Overseas Entities under the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 commenced on 1 August 2022, but the changes to the Land Registration Act 2002 were delayed until 5 September 2022. This delay was implemented to allow those engaged in current transactions to comply with the new overseas entity registration requirements at…

No change in VAT rules for dilapidation payments – but be careful

By James Khakpour-Smith | 5 April 2022

HMRC has always treated dilapidation payments as compensation from a tenant to the landlord, for not returning the property in the condition it should be, according to the lease agreement being terminated. Importantly, these compensation payments were not subject to VAT. In September 2020, HMRC stated it was considering this long-held view, with a mind to combine…

London Trocadero (2015) LLP v Picturehouse Cinemas Ltd

London Trocadero (2015) LLP v Picturehouse Cinemas Ltd

By James Khakpour-Smith | 7 October 2021

The government’s recent announcement, that it intends to introduce a binding arbitration scheme for commercial landlords and tenants dealing with the issue of rent arrears following the COVID-19 crisis, has been seen by many as a blow to landlords. This promise of arbitration, combined with the existing restrictions on the actions open to landlords, makes…

Ground Rents – What does Countryside Properties’ withdrawal of fees mean for leaseholders in the UK?

By James Khakpour-Smith | 21 September 2021

Countryside Properties has become the latest housebuilder to announce its intention to scrap the “unfair” contract terms that saw the ground rents of its leaseholders double every 10 to 15 years. The move comes following increasing pressure from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who launched enforcement action against four major housing developers, including Countryside, back in…