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“Build the right team. Instruct lawyers with the right level of experience on the deal/asset type and to work closely with their carefully selected advisors to identify those commercial and legal issues that will be pacing items so as to actively manage out delay as far as possible and avoid any nasty surprises. To clearly scope out what they want their lawyers to do (be this confined to legals alone or pulling all the strings together to drive the deal to closing) so everyone is clear. Whilst commercial deals are very often handled remotely with no face to face meetings, for corporate jets and helicopters we are big advocates of having a face to face meeting to run through the pack of docs with client’s team at the right stage.
“Customers should ideally avoid signing pre contract LOIs / Term Sheets prior to instructing lawyers. Lawyers should not let legal costs run out of control – good planning, a clear scope of work, frequent dialogue and strong lawyer client relationship helps here – and neither should lawyers get drawn into protracted commercial discussions unless invited to do so.”
“I was doing a mix of corporate M&A and acquisition work for banks when the firm I was with at the time was instructed on a deal involving the sale and leaseback of 4 x 757 aircraft back in 2004. I enjoyed the shift from shares to tangible assets and found the pace and flavour of the deal quite intriguing. I started doing more and more aircraft deals and moved to Blake Lapthorn in 2006 to further develop my skills in this area, and I have led the Aircraft Finance team at Blake Lapthorn since 2008. Aircraft related matters now account for over 90% of what our team does on a day to day basis and most of our clients are based overseas.”
Ben Graham-Evans is a Partner in the Corporate Practice of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP and a member of the Firm’s Air Transport Industry Group. Ben is a UK qualified transaction lawyer specializing in international aircraft finance and leasing transactions advising lessors, purchasers and operators on buying, selling and leasing of commercial aircraft, engines and parts. Ben advises main commercial industry participants on commercial and corporate aviation transactions including aircraft finance and leasing, asset acquisitions and disposals, regulatory matters and commercial contracts in the aviation and to a lesser extent, marine sector.
On the commercial side Ben works with airlines across the globe, major financial institutions, manufacturers, individuals and leasing companies to finance, lease and deliver commercial and private aircraft, engines and parts in multiple jurisdictions within North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Australasia.
On the corporate and private aviation side Ben works with family offices on acquisition and disposal of corporate jets and other significant assets, including yachts.
In addition to the core aviation practice Ben maintains active relationships with lawyers around the globe to service clients and collaborate on various projects of an international nature. He is active in the global aviation law network L2B Aviation recognized by Chambers Global as the leading global network of aviation lawyers (the largest international group of aviation lawyers with lawyers in 40+ countries).