Claire Wilkinson

Company: Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Position: Partner - Head of Hotels (Europe)

Bio

I am a commercial real estate solicitor with extensive experience in all aspects of hospitality transactions.

I lead Womble Bond Dickinson's UK hospitality team. We are a 'one stop shop' providing the full spectrum of legal advice (including, corporate, real estate, litigation, licensing, employment, health and safety, environmental law) to a wide range of prominent hospitality clients. Whatever the requirements of our clients' I will lead and co-coordinate a team of specialists (frequently multi-disciplinary and locational) to help according to the skill-sets required for the work.

I have a passion for the sector and a solid understanding of the commercial and legal issues that can arise on hospitality projects. I recognise that the industry is complex and constantly evolving. I work with my clients to keep on top of trends and to 'horizon spot'. My experienced team is perfectly placed to guide hoteliers through all the stages of acquisition, development, finance and day-to-day management.

WBDs extensive network of clients and contacts including owners, investors, managers, franchisors, agents, developers and lenders places us at the centre of the hotel and leisure industries. I advise global, regional and national hoteliers, serviced apartment operators and leisure and sports operators. I also advise organisers and developers of venues for major sporting events, including Stadiums and the Olympics.

WBDs range of hospitality services include:

• hotel acquisitions and sales
• hotel management agreements
• facilities management
• litigation advice
• financing
• corporate advice for structuring acquisitions
• construction advice for development and refurbishment
• planning
• commercial contracts,
• payment services and data protection advice
• franchising
• employment and health and safety
• commercial and property litigation
• tax planning for owners.

My team has a proven track record in the hospitality sector and a reputation for being able to deliver complex, high value projects on time and on budget. I am also regularly called upon by boards of directors and senior management of hospitality businesses to provide high level strategic advice on emerging trends, changing investor profiles and operating structures.


Mission Statement

To be a leading source for legal hospitality expertise.


Geographic Areas

England, Wales and Scotland


Expertise

WBDs range of hospitality services include: • hotel acquisitions and sales • hotel management agreements • facilities management • litigation advice • financing • corporate advice for structuring acquisitions • construction advice for development and refurbishment • planning • commercial contracts, • payment services and data protection advice • franchising • employment and health and safety • commercial and property litigation • tax planning for owners.


Professional Memberships

The Law Society of England and Wales


Speaking Engagements

I regularly speak at conferences and seminars in Europe (e.g. MIPIM and IHIF) and North America. I also provide bespoke training to address specific client needs.


Articles and Publications

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/300031/What-does-Thomas-Cooks-collapse-mean-for-the-industry https://www.womblebonddickinson.com/uk/insights/articles-and-briefings/hotel-management-agreements-post-covid-19-new-world


Representative List of Clients

My clients include owners, investors, occupiers, managers, franchisees, agents, developers and lenders. I advise global, regional and national hoteliers across all , serviced apartment operators and leisure and sports operators. I also advise organisers and developers of venues for major sporting events, including Stadiums and the Olympics.


Education

1. The University of Wales (LLB); 2. Northumbria Law School (LPC - Distinction); and 3. University of the West of England Commercial Property Diploma in Advanced Legal Practice (LLM - Distinction).


Past Experience

My experience includes leading negotiations for the management, acquisition, financing, development and disposal of hotels, spas, restaurants and mixed use projects throughout England and Wales. The majority of my work has been in the budget sector, advising on schemes anchored by Premier Inn or Travelodge. I also lead negotiations in specialty areas such multi-jurisdictional portfolio disposals/acquisitions, Hotel Management Agreements, Company Voluntary Arrangements and other insolvency led restructurings, car park licensing arrangements and contracts with food and beverage providers. Longstanding relationships and client satisfaction are at the heart of what I do. I go out of my way to learn the nature of my clients’ businesses and to understand the sector-specific issues that they face so that I can support their growth by providing practical, targeted advice and support and deliver clear, effective solutions to often complex legal challenges.