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Real Estate and Construction Dispute Resolution

As a commercial property developer, landlord or tenant, you may find yourself faced with a potential dispute over issues such as contracts, building maintenance, rent arrears and boundaries. Early advice and intervention can often help avoid lengthy proceedings and expensive escalation of the problem.

At Thorntons, we have extensive experience in dealing with a wide variety of commercial real estate disputes, including alternative dispute resolution approaches, and can work with you to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

Dispute types

Here we look at different types of commercial property disputes and potential ways of dealing with them.

With construction projects, there are a range of areas that could come under dispute. These include issues with the construction package, expense claims, the quality of the build, time extension and post-work defects.

Depending on the circumstances, there are various options open to you for dealing with the dispute. These include:

  • An alternative dispute resolution approach, such as arbitration or mediation
  • Litigation through the courts 
  • Adjudication under the Construction Act

Adjudication is a formal process where both sides put their case to a formally appointed adjudicator without going to court. The process is instigated by an adjudication notice and has to be completed within a tight timetable of 28 days.

At Thorntons, our dedicated Commercial Real Estate team can advise you on the best dispute resolution approach for your situation and guide you through the whole process.

As a commercial property landlord, there are several potential areas of dispute with your tenants. For instance:

  • Tenants withholding rent, for example because repairs have not been carried out or agreed works not done 
  • Breaching of contract or tenant business going into liquidation
  • Rent reviews
  • Unauthorised occupation of your property
  • Schedule of Dilapidations and tenant repairing obligations

The beginning and end of a commercial lease are potentially key dispute points. Ensuring commercial leases are clearly set up on the correct basis at the start can help avoid potential disputes throughout the lease.

If your tenant goes into insolvency, landlord’s hypothec rights automatically give you priority in asset claiming.  Taking advice quickly in such situations can ensure your rights are enforced.

Thorntons can advise on all aspects of commercial lease arrangements and draw up the documentation for you, including irritancy clauses for potentially bringing the tenancy to an end. We are also on hand to help with dispute resolution, with advice and support on alternative dispute resolution approaches, as well as adjudication and litigation options.

As a commercial property tenant, you may have grounds for a dispute with your landlord, for example if they breach the terms of the lease agreement or fail to carry out repairs, or find yourself in dispute with developers. Expert advice when setting up your lease agreement can ensure you are happy with the terms from the start and aware of grounds for any potential dispute claim.

A key issue for tenants is the final Schedule of Dilapidations at the end of the lease, the landlord’s claim for damages based on the repair obligations set out in the lease. This can be substantial and, as a tenant, you need to be commercially expecting and budgeting for it. However, you may have grounds for challenging the obligations based on your contract terms.

Our expert commercial property solicitors at Thorntons can advise you if you have grounds for a dispute and talk you through the different options available to you, including mediation and potentially litigation. We can also help with advice and support on lease terms and agreements.

With commercial property developments, boundary disputes can be a potential costly headache, delaying works and affecting development plans. In some cases, it can take historic research and input from a third party to work out the actual border and land rights.

Faced with boundary disputes, the first step could be to consider alternative dispute resolution approaches, such as mediation, rather than litigation. However, in some situations court action through the Land Court or Land Tribunal might be appropriate. We can discuss the options available to you, with our in-house mediation and litigation experts on hand.

If you have found that your property lawyer has failed to spot a boundary issue when you bought or sold a commercial property, you may have grounds for a claim against them. Our Professional Negligence team can advise you if you have a claim and take you through the claims process.

There are a whole variety of contracts potentially involved in commercial real estate and construction projects, including over purchase and sale, building work, tenancy, ransom strip issues, development and property management. Disputes can be over many different issues, such as breach of contract, disagreement on contract terms’ meaning or required actions. 

From the start, it is important to ensure your contracts are drawn up correctly, legally binding and reflecting your contractual needs, to help avoid potential disagreements and disputes later. At Thorntons, our specialist contract law solicitors can work with you to put in place the right contract arrangements for you that are watertight against potential future contract disputes. They can also bring their expertise into play in the examination of legal contracts you are disputing to identify any issues for your case and work to achieve effective contract dispute resolution.

How can Thorntons help?

At Thorntons, we have extensive experience in dealing with a wide variety of contractual disputes including commercial property matters, landlord and tenant claims, purchases, building disputes and high-value contract term claims involving large organisations.

We see going to court as the last option, offering alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation and arbitration as effective approaches first. However, we will robustly defend your interests in court if needed, and will work to achieve a satisfactory outcome on your behalf. We take a pragmatic approach which provides maximum benefit to our clients, whether commercial or individuals, while ensuring costs are kept to a minimum.

Whatever your contract needs, we will be able to help and guide you on the most appropriate contract arrangements and dispute action in order to achieve a satisfactory outcome both quickly and effectively.

Call the Thorntons Commercial Real Estate team on 03330 430350 to find out more about how we can help you with your commercial property dispute or contractual issues, or complete an online enquiry form and we will contact you.