Category Archive Commercial Law

The Office Now a Hotel

Older offices are being purchased for conversion into hotels due to hybrid working from home and net zero carbon neutral requirements. Solicitors in London have been dealing with change of use planning applications accompanying the regular freehold and leasehold transfer negotiations.

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Construction Contracts Drop

The fall in the number of construction contracts has been evidenced by a 25% insolvency increase in building firms since the pandemic.

Escalating inflation, delays in significant infrastructure projects, a drop in the construction of new homes and the cost increments of materials are the chief culprits here.

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Property Boost in London – Residential & Commercial

Flat sales in London are up nearly a quarter compared to pre-pandemic conditions and house sales are showing a smaller yet still significant increase. In prime central London renters are being forced to pay more as there are fewer deals on offer, with particular demand in up to two bed properties. Suburban rents have increased even more so.

New leases and renewals are being reported by some of the commercial property mega corporations with rents holding firm even though foot fall remains slightly subdued due to hybrid working. Recent builds especially are of interest.

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Landlord and Tenant

The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (FTT) has the jurisdiction to resolve service charge reasonableness disputes such as apportionment and that any agreements on this and other service charge questions that might have been agreed to in the lease are void for FTT challenge purposes, was held by the Supreme Court recently.

To arrive at this decision the Court had to examine section 27A(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:-

27A Liability to pay service charges: jurisdiction

(1) An application may be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether a service charge is payable and, if it is, as to—

(a) the person by whom it is payable,

(b) the person to whom it is payable,

(c) the amount which is payable,

(d) the date at or by which it is payable, and

(e) the manner in which it is payable.

(2) Subsection (1) applies whether or not any payment has been made.

(3) An application may also be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether, if costs were incurred for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance or management of any specified description, a service charge would be payable for the costs and, if it would, as to—

(a) the person by whom it would be payable,

(b) the person to whom it would be payable,

(c) the amount which would be payable,

(d) the date at or by which it would be payable, and

(e) the manner in which it would be payable.

(4) No application under subsection (1) or (3) may be made in respect of a matter which—

(a) has been agreed or admitted by the tenant,

(b) has been, or is to be, referred to arbitration pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement to which the tenant is a party,

(c) has been the subject of determination by a court, or

(d) has been the subject of determination by an arbitral tribunal pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement.

(5) But the tenant is not to be taken to have agreed or admitted any matter by reason only of having made any payment.

(6) An agreement by the tenant of a dwelling (other than a post-dispute arbitration agreement) is void in so far as it purports to provide for a determination—

(a) in a particular manner, or

(b) on particular evidence,

of any question which may be the subject of an application under subsection (1) or (3).

(7) The jurisdiction conferred on the appropriate tribunal in respect of any matter by virtue of this section is in addition to any jurisdiction of a court in respect of the matter.

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West End Commercial Rents are Up

Professional and financial services have led the way causing an increase in rents over the past five years to £125 per sq ft from £100. The opening of Bond Street Station on the Elizabeth Line can only serve as a catalyst.

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Diversity Discrimination in the City

Black job seekers are more likely to secure employment in the City if their skills are assessed. Financial and management consultants employed a vast number of black people recently using such methods as opposed to cover letters, CV’s and interview presentations.

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Data Protection – Cabinet Office fined £500,000

For releasing the full postal addresses on line of the recipients of New Year’s honours in 2020 the Cabinet Office has been fined £500,000.

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Landlord and Tenant – Commercial

Commercial tenants have been given a stay of execution by the Government on unpaid rent and evictions, that have accumulated during the pandemic, until March 2022. This has been instituted so that serious negotiations between the parties can now ensue to mitigate any credit damage that would be caused by court judgments.

In March a new arbitration process will commence in an attempt to provide closure for any stubborn organisations.

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Grounds of Appeal

The Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, recently handed down a judgment in the Court of Appeal which seeks to clarify how Grounds of Appeal should be drafted:-

i) The grounds of appeal are an essential analytical tool for the court, to enable it to identify the issues which it is being asked to decide: they are not a vehicle for advocacy, which is the role of the skeleton argument.

ii) The starting point in every case must be for the appellant to think through carefully what specific errors the court below is alleged to have made. Once these errors have been identified, they need to be clearly and concisely articulated. In the unlikely event that the grounds are numerous, they must be presented in a structure which makes clear how they inter-relate.

iii) Each ground of appeal must be separately numbered, and the particular passages in which the judge appealed is said to have gone wrong must be specifically identified.

iv) The purpose of the grounds of appeal is to identify the points on which permission to appeal is sought, not to argue those points. Supporting submissions belong in the skeleton argument.

v) It follows that grounds of appeal should be short; in many cases, a few sentences will suffice. In a complex case, grounds of appeal may be longer, but clarity and concision should never be compromised.

This was a case in which exceptionally a permission to reopen a permission to appeal application under CPR 52.30 was allowed.

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The Masters of the Rolls

On the 31st July 2020 the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Her Majesty The Queen had been pleased to approve the appointment of Sir Geoffrey Vos as the Master of the Rolls from the 11th January 2021 in succession to Sir Terence Etherton.

It is interesting to note that 6 out of 7 of the most recent incumbents of this judicial office have been of the jewish faith the others being Lords Woolf, Phillips, Neuberger and Dyson.

We find that jewish solicitors are often particularly sought after because of their perceived quality traits of intelligence, shrewdness, toughness and integrity.

If you are looking to find such a solicitor please do not hesitate to call us.

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