Last updateTue, 24 Feb 2015 5pm

Richard Webber looks at the re-launch of PACT and asks whether landlords and tenants who are renewing their business leases should take advantage of it more often

PACT (Professional Arbitration on Court Terms) is a scheme backed by both the RICS and the Property Litigation Association, which provides landlord and tenants with an out of court way to reach agreement on the terms of business leases at renewal. PACT was established in the late 1990s, and, while it has been generally well-regarded in principle, take-up has not been as extensive as hoped.

Keith Shaw reports on the importance of vacant possession in rent review situations, and warns of the potential pitfalls

The obligation to provide vacant possession is generally understood to refer to the legal commitment to ensure that at the relevant date (for example, on completion of a contract for sale or on the termination of a lease) the subject property is in a state fit to be occupied (both physically and legally) and enjoyed. Vacant possession is known to be relevant to the sale of freehold land (eg the transfer of an estate in fee simple) and to the grant, transfer and termination of a lease or tenancy (and perhaps also to licences to occupy, which create no interest in land). Vacant possession is an essential element of any land transaction where the right to occupy a property is being vested in, or passed to, a third party and the obligation will normally appear as an express term in a land agreement. The obligation may also be implied by law (see Cook v Taylor [1942]).

When is it unreasonable to reject mediation, and what are the consequences of doing so? John Starr investigates

The recent case of Rolf v De Guerin [2011] was described by Lord Justice Rix, in the opening words of his judgment in the Court of Appeal, as ‘a sad case about lost opportunities for mediation’.

A recent decision has clarified the law relating to the execution of deeds and highlighted some pitfalls that the parties to settlement agreements need to be mindful of, as Richard Bartle and Keith Shaw find out

It is a rather stale and universal truth that the majority of disputes end in out-of-court settlement these days. It is perhaps surprising then that the actual legal formalities of the settlement process, and the obligations of the parties to settlement agreements, have not been more comprehensively established.

Michael Smith reports on a recent high court decision concerning the complex issue of triggering events for overage payments

Renewal Leeds Ltd v Lowry Properties Ltd [2010] concerned a conditional contract entered into by Renewal Leeds Ltd in October 2004 for the sale to Lowry Properties Ltd of freehold land at Wyther Park Hill, Leeds. It was anticipated that Lowry would carry out a residential development on this land once an appropriate planning permission had been obtained.

Sarah Youren reviews a case that highlights the planning issues raised by protected species, and updates on the Cala Homes saga

The Habitats Regulations (the Regulations) can prove somewhat of a headache for all those who get involved with them. The hardest thing is working out what needs to be done when, and by whom. It sounds simple enough, but throw into the mix the fact that you can only carry out surveys for certain species at certain times of year, and the process becomes that much harder for all involved if you suspect that there may be a protected species on a potential development site, for example, great crested newts, bats or badgers.

Rosalind Cullis assesses in what circumstances third party professional fees are recoverable

Particularly in the current economic climate, dilapidations claims can become costly affairs as both landlords and tenants, with an eye on tight budgets, fight to protect their respective positions. In contentious cases, where legal arguments can be complex, attention inevitably focuses on the disrepair issues forming the basis of the dispute and/or the interpretation of relevant lease covenants.

Ron Reid clarifies the key elements of the Act, and whether the delay in its introduction should mean a delay in compliance for commercial organisations

The Bribery Act 2010, which is described as the toughest anti-corruption measures in the world and is due to come into force in April, has been delayed. The Act will now come into force later in the year.