Lawyer Sanctioned for Negligent Lease Advice 

| General


What Happened In The Case?

The legal professional at the center of the allegations had climbed the perceptive greasy pole and achieved the title not only of a solicitor but had won promotion to a position of partnership with a provider of legal services based in the county of Lancashire in the North-West of England. Surface-level all appears to have been going well, he oversaw a large property caseload and he seemingly had a good reputation within the industry. However, matters turned quickly when the provider received a grievance from a respective client. 

Complaints…We’ve Had A Few?

The complaint submitted by the client involved allegations that the senior lawyer had seemingly provided incorrect advice regarding clauses in a Lease Agreement and the potential cost consequences. The legal services provider took the matter extremely seriously, and launched an internal investigation and its findings were concerning. 

Investigation Findings

When the internal investigators from the legal services provider deep-dived into the complaint, they made the following findings:

  • between the seven years from 2008 to 2015 the provider had been utilizing the services of a large Developer and industry heavyweight concerning their property transactions and compiling reports
  • custom and practice showed that a quarter of a century time duration had become the norm in the majority of cases 
  • however, the senior lawyer appears to have neglected his duties in relation to over one-hundred property transactions and
  • more broadly evidence emerged that this conduct had been occurring for seventy-two months 

Check, Check and Check Again…

In property transactions it is important for those acting in the capacity of legal representatives to ensure they are carefully assessing what their client is responsible for by way of rent review and what the situation is. Now the normal course of events would have been to check if a particular rent review clause is for a period of a quarter of a century. However, If the legal representative had been paying closer order to the clauses, he would have surely recognized that for one-hundred of the properties, the rent was to be reviewed after just one decade and increased twofold. The matter was so serious because there was a seeming correlative and causative link between the lack of oversight exercised by the senior partner on the rent review clause and the litigious claims launched by the clients. Clients had no other option but to notify their insurance companies, and claim compensation from the lawyer’s indemnity fund.

O What A Tangled Web We Weave…

The lawyer at the center of the allegations to his credit held his hands up to the allegations. However, he put forward the following rebuttals in the face of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. He claimed the following:

  • had not conducted himself in this way to intentionally contravene the interests of the affected clients
  • attributed the oversight and the apparent mistakes in the reports to a computer program error and
  • pointed to a correlative and causative link between the above oversights.

What Did The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Say?

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard the lawyer’s version of events and were seemingly unimpressed despite acting accordingly to enhance department performance. 

Pages Turned…Lessons Learned

This case is food for thought for legal professionals and they should:

  • ensure they are thoroughly reviewing documents
  • check that rent review clauses are compliant with client instructions
  • be acting professionally 
  • keeping up with their Continuous Professional Development and
  • conducting themselves in a truthful and ethical way

If they do this it will reduce the need to be held accountable for their actions. 

ASSESSING FIRMS

#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP &RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John – Solicitor fined £15,000 for error In rent review advice to 115 clients – Law Society Gazette – 11 October 2022 - Solicitor fined £15,000 for error in rent review advice to 115 clients | News | Law Gazette

[SOURCE 2] Lawton, Jill – Rent Review Disputes – CWJ - Rent Review Disputes - Clarkson Wright & Jakes Solicitors (Orpington, Kent) (cwj.co.uk)

[SOURCE 3] Paxton, Samantha – Rent Reviews in commercial leases – Harper James – 25 July 2022 - Commercial rent review clauses - Understanding your lease (harperjames.co.uk)

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