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Protocol for applications for consent to assign or sublet

View profile for James Daglish
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Of the various attempts to strike a fair balance in the landlord and tenant relationship, and to mitigate some of its rougher edges, at the ‘softer’ end are those that seek to influence and guide rather than prescribe or legislate.  Of late that ‘softer’ side seems to have mainly comprised codes of practice; and in our estimation their impact has been mixed, at best.  Perhaps with that in mind, and also perhaps bearing in mind that much can lie in a name, a new protocol has been drawn up for commercial landlords and tenants by two eminent Q.C.s from Falcon Chambers and two leading partners at Hogan Lovells: The Protocol for Applications for Consent to Assign or Sublet.

The aim of the Protocol is very simple.  In what historically has been a well litigated area, it looks to set out a route map for applications to assign and/or sublet under commercial leases, with a view to their being processed as efficiently and cleanly as possible.  For example, the tenant should provide a full pack of information to the landlord so as to enable it to make its decision in as few a steps as possible; and on the other side of the fence the landlord should respond to the application within a benchmark period of time.  Where disputes do arise, the Protocol sets out a formula for resolving them, with the courts being the port of last resort.

There is possibly also a longer term aim, namely that the courts start to view the Protocol as a frame of reference, with parties that do find themselves in court facing the prospect of being penalised for (material) non-adherence.  That would then give the Protocol real purchase: its teeth.

The Protocol is published at: www.propertyprotocols.co.uk.  As the name of the website suggests, and as they make clear, the authors would like further protocols to be published.  All with the intention of encouraging best practice and the smoothing of commercial landlord and tenant relations.  These are laudable aims, and the focused targeting of areas of historic friction between landlords and tenants would seem to be both a manageable target and one that is likely produce better results than a more broad brushed approach.

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice.  If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.