Last updateThu, 28 Mar 2024 2pm

Downsizing or expanding? Make sure your lease terms are clear

0n8026Karen Mason is a highly experienced commercial property lawyer and co-founder of Newmanor Law, a specialist real estate law firm. Here she outlines the importance of Heads of Terms in negotiating new commercial leases.

As businesses return to workplaces once again, many occupiers will be looking to either renegotiate lease terms or agree new leases to redefine their situation, given a growing acceptance that remote working will form part of the working week.

The question of space utilisation may lead some businesses to downsize, whilst others looking to space their people apart may ironically need bigger offices, or more locations.

Different requirements will mean new agreements, requiring Heads of Terms to tie down what is being agreed, with the need to secure a good long-term deal critical for businesses in the post-COVID world.

Lawyer warns construction companies of the challenges of ‘virtual mediation’ as a result of Covid-19

Organisations that are looking to use mediation as a way to resolve a dispute without the need for costly litigation need to be aware of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic will have on the process in the coming months, and the potential pitfalls and challenges. This is according to Ian Timlin, a specialist dispute resolution and commercial litigation lawyer at Conexus Law, who cautions that the new process may not be as effective and is also less secure unless certain measures are put in place.

Boundary dispute reform: let’s use the legislative vacuum to good effect

Who would have thought that Brexit – or the lack of it – would significantly affect the way in which the industry manages boundary disputes? Richard Crow, associate director of Trident Building Consultancy, explains:

Two years ago a Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Lord Lytton, received its first reading in the House of Lords. The Bill suggested that boundary issues could be better addressed by using a structure which broadly replicates the provisions of the Party Wall Act – essentially removing much of the responsibility from solicitors and handing it to surveyors. Progress of the Bill was thwarted by the general election of June 2017, and with parliamentary time apparently unavailable to advance the legislation it is yet to have its second reading in the Lords. The delay is frustrating, but it also provides some necessary reflection time.

Construction trial Zooms to a conclusion

0n8715The first ever trial in the Technology and Construction Court to be held entirely remotely reached its conclusion in May, having been conducted across video-conferencing platform Zoom. The case made English legal history and could help transform how future court cases are conducted, even after the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has receded.

The settlement resulted in liability for Barnet Council of over £3m, following the repeated flooding of a family home. The case was brought by construction law specialist Barton Legal, alongside Peters & Peters and two members of 39 Essex Chambers. The Honourable Mrs Justice Jefford DBE rejected the defendant's application to adjourn the case, in favour of Zoom, after it had taken more than four years to come to trial.

Building higher casts shadow on rights to light

The content of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement washed over many in the property profession as the Brexit storm continued.

But the decision by Philip Hammond to allow upwards extensions through Permitted Development (PD) Rights is significant news. The announcement, which forms part of a package of initiatives to breathe life into the ailing high street, is set to go ahead via regulations due this autumn and followed an extremely contentious consultation earlier this year. Daniel Wade (pictured), Rights of Light Director at Trident Building Consultancy, explains what this could mean for property owners.

In the absence of a planning process to scrutinise projects that will add to building heights, the issue of Rights of Light (ROL) becomes a very serious consideration, and one with significant consequences.