Neil Belcher

Director
Office:
  • Banbury
Phone:
01295 204055
LinkedIn:
LinkedIn
Specialisms:
  • Commercial Property
  • Neil trained and his early career was in the City where he worked for Beachcroft LLP advising both private and public sector clients before joining Spratt Endicott in 2005

Work highlights:

  • Neil has a broad expertise in all areas of Property work including Investment, Development and Landlord and Tenant work
  • He has recently completed a number of high profile lettings on the back of the acquisition of a £7 million mixed use property
  • Neil is a recommended lawyer in The Legal 500 UK 2015

Professional memberships, publications and interests:

  • Neil enjoys playing sport in his free time and in particular golf and tennis

 

Case Studies

  • Multi-Jurisdictional Transaction
    The firm was engaged by an English subsidiary of a large listed American company to acquire a Welsh company.  The transaction was challenging in that the target company had subsidiaries in America and Australia and a branch office in Dubai. 

    We headed the transaction and co-ordinated with the client’s overseas lawyers to ensure that the transaction was completed on time and in a cost effective manner.  Apart from dealing with the different laws and customs involved, we had to work in three different time zones.  The Australian lawyers would be leaving the office when we were just about to wake up and the American lawyers fast asleep.  For example 16:08 UK time is 10:07 in Milwaukee and 23:06 in Perth! 

    The transaction was headed by Hitendra Patel (Corporate Partner) and was assisted by John Spratt (Commercial Partner), Carol Shaw (Employment Partner), Neil Belcher (Commercial Property Associate), Catherine O’Riordan (Company Commercial Assistant), Christine Ward (Tax Consultant) Anna Maloney (Intellectual Property Consultant) and Ian Dorward (Trainee Solicitor). 
     
  • Break Clauses
    A lot of commercial tenants successfully negotiate break options in their commercial leases.  This is obviously an advantage as should the economic climate change or a business prove to be unsuccessful they should be able to swiftly terminate their lease and their liabilities under the lease.

    All too often landlords are quite clever in drafting their break clauses so that unbeknownst to the tenant the break clauses are only conditional on certain events happening.  In some occasions the conditionality is phrased in such a way as to make the break option fairly worthless.  A client recently came to us with a lease but did not wish to go to the expense of instructing solicitors to negotiate the terms.  The client asked us to just have a quick look over the lease from a legal perspective to see whether there was anything of particular concern.

    The break option in the lease was conditional upon there being no breaches of covenant by the tenant on the date of the break option.  In essence this clause had the effect of making the break clause worthless.  If for example the tenant on termination had not painted the property contrary to its decoration covenant, then the landlord would be able to argue that they had unsuccessfully terminated the lease as they were in breach of their repairing covenants.  Missing the break clause could have had a dramatic cost to our client and they were very pleased that this was pointed out to them.
     
  • Negotiating Heads of Terms for New Letting
    People starting a new Business or Companies looking to relocate (unless they have Surveyors acting on their behalf) have no real experience in negotiating their Heads of Terms for a prospective new letting. 

    In the current recessionary market tenants are in a very good position to negotiate far more favourable terms than they often realise.

    Neil recently acted on behalf of a Tenant who had agreed Heads of Terms with a prospective Landlord direct.  The terms were heavily stacked in the Landlords favour. It had been usual in commercial tenancies for rents to be paid quarterly in advance.  With rent often being one of the biggest expenses for a Business having to find three months rent in advance can be difficult. Most Landlords will hold out for quarterly payments although Neil negotiated with the Landlord’s Solicitors that the rent should be paid monthly in advance rather than quarterly.  As you can imagine this has a dramatic impact on a fledgling business’ cash flow.  

    Equally another expense in multi-tenanted Buildings is Service Charge. Neil negotiated with the Landlord’s Solicitors that this should be capped. The Tenant therefore knew its maximum liability. It is not always easy for a Tenant to be aware of its negotiating strength in the current market.
     
  • Property Sale VAT Exempt
    Neil Belcher acted on behalf of a commercial property investor who was looking to buy a commercial office with a view to letting the office to a commercial tenant.  It became apparent that the property had been VAT elected and as the property at the time of acquisition was vacant, VAT would be payable in addition to the purchase price.  

    The client asked us whether there was any way they could avoid paying the VAT as the VAT element of the purchase price was circa £250,000.  They would eventually have been able to reclaim the VAT (as they were VAT registered) but in the short term there would be cash flow problems and there would be an additional Stamp Duty Land Tax liability of over £10,000 (this is because HM Revenue & Customs charge Stamp Duty Land Tax on the purchase price plus VAT (a tax on a tax!!)).

    By negotiating with the Vendor that they enter into an Agreement for Lease with a third party company simultaneously with exchange of contracts for the acquisition and selling the property with the benefit of that agreement,  the property could then be sold with the benefit of a “business tenancy” therefore making the sale a “TOGC” and VAT exempt.  

    This assisted the client tremendously with their cash flow and also made a considerable saving on Stamp Duty Land Tax payable to the government.  The saving was shared between our client and the vendor.   
     

 

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