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Property Law Journal: 21 March 2011
Excello Law

With the threshold for business rate relief to be significantly reduced as of April this year, Sue Boyall assesses the options for mitigating liability

It was nearly three years ago that the government introduced full business rates on empty non-domestic properties. This was a highly unpopular move at the time, particularly in view of the prevailing economic climate.

Alasdair Thomas reviews the findings on appeal of a case involving a business tenant who, by acquiring a part of the freehold reversion to its lease, was able to prevent the other freeholders from terminating the lease

In the recent case of BOH Ltd & anor v Eastern Power Networks plc (formerly EDF Energy Networks (EPN) plc) [2011], the Court of Appeal considered the intriguing possibility that a business tenant can, by acquiring part of the freehold reversion to its lease, prevent the other reversioners (in this case the other landlords under the lease) from serving a section 25 notice on the tenant to terminate the lease and ultimately obtain possession pursuant to s30(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

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]).

Boyes Turner

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.