Pilot Scheme for Unopposed Business Lease Renewals
Mark Banham, Associate in the Property Disputes Team at FSP, discusses a new pilot scheme which is likely to signal a change for unopposed business lease renewal claims.
A new pilot scheme will start in early 2018 and is being trialled for a period of 12 months.
This involves all unopposed business lease renewal claims that are issued in the County Court at Central London being transferred to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to be determined.
The aim of the pilot scheme is to ensure that all unopposed lease renewal claims proceed to a final determination as smoothly and as quickly as possible, ideally within 20 weeks.
Important changes to note:
- The parties will only be allowed one three month stay at the outset for a PACT referral or mediation;
- There will be no Case Management Conference;
- The directions only allow for one round of tenant’s amendments to the draft lease;
- The directions do not provide for disclosure, witness statements of fact or Scott schedules of matters in dispute;
- The expert valuers must prepare their valuation evidence at an early stage and before the lease terms have been agreed; and
- The judge will always sit with a valuer/assessor.
It remains to be seen how successful the pilot scheme will be but it is likely to be good news for tenants who are seeking to progress renewal claims more quickly.
On the other hand it is likely to be bad news for tenants who have had to issue a protective claim but who are seeking to relocate to alternative premises or for landlords who are seeking to delay matters until market rents have risen.