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Friday, 7 August 2009

10 Ways to Speed up a Commercial Property Transaction

One of the most frequent complaints clients make in relation to commercial property transactions is how long it takes to progress a sale or purchase or the grant of a new lease. However, there are several things that clients can do to speed up the process.

1. Get lawyers involved at the Heads of Terms stage. This avoids lengthy negotiations on key points later. Some parties will refuse to concede a point in later negotiations if it stated in black and white in the Heads of Terms even though they are not contractually binding.

2. Get the Seller's solicitors or Landlord Solicitor's to send out the documents electronically so that the Buyer's solicitors/Tenant's Solicitors can amend up electronically which saves time when preparing final engrossments for signature, saves money on copying multi-coloured drafts, saves legal time in trying to decipher illegible hand-written scrawl.

3. Use email and telephone/text instead of fax and letter throughout the transaction. Seems obvious but you would be amazed how many solicitors still use snail mail adding weeks to a transaction.

4. Consider a well-structured time-limited face to face meeting if there are a host of sticking points to avoid lawyers getting entrenched in legal minutiae and cracking up obscene levels of costs.

5. Hand deliver documents to speed up the final signing and completion. Another obvious one but often over-looked. Not always possible if your lawyer is miles away.

6. Set up arrangements and protocols with like minded solicitors firms to agree on the use of standard PLC documents, PLC pre-contract enquiries and to agree that no unnecessary enquiries are raised.

7. Seller/Landlord supplies a "Sellers Pack" like a HIPS pack but much more comprehensive including all relevant title documents, replies to CPSE enquiries, copy planning documents, Building regulation approvals, asbestos survey reports, Energy Performance Certificates, Disability Discrimination Audits to avoid unnecessary enquiries. Consider putting a local authority search, chancel check, drainage search and environmental report which will save weeks in delays waiting for these searches. An information sheet summarising key title issues and replies to pre-contract enquiries similar to that provided on new builds can be enormously helpful to a Buyer's/Tenant's solicitor.

8. Get estate layout plans approved well in advance of any plot sales by the Land Registry and get the Land Registry to approve any lease or Transfer in advance to flush out any boundary issues or future title requisitions saving everyone time when submitting searches and their applications for registration.

9. Get Tenants to prepare a pack of references in advance for Landlords in connection with applications for licence to assign/sub-let. These take ages to organise and can hold up the issue of a draft licence to assign/licence to underlet.

10. Get your lawyers to use case management software to speed up the process of document creation and workflow.

The legal process can be accelerated by adopting some of the suggestions referred to above. There may be many other ways of speeding the legal process. We specialise in creating new and innovative ways of speeding up the process. Have a word and we will get our green thinking hats on (a reference to the legendary thinking professor, Edward De Bono's book "Six Thinking Hats")