Caveat emptor: Pub buyer beware

Related tags High court of justice Contract

The High Court has recently been asked to determine a preliminary issue of whether the removal of fixtures and fittings prior to the sale of a...

The High Court has recently been asked to determine a preliminary issue of whether the removal of fixtures and fittings prior to the sale of a property meant that the agreement could not be completed until those missing items were also transferred or a suitable reduction in the purchase price could be agreed.

The case of David Peter Wickens v Cheval Property Developments Limited [2010] EWHC 2249 (Ch) highlights the importance for people who are in the process of purchasing a pub to check that all the items they are expecting to be included in the sale, are actually included.

In this case, the property was sold with "all the fixtures and fittings in the property" and the buyer had carried out a detailed inspection of the property.

After this inspection - but before the exchange of contracts - an intruder stole some items from the property including fireplaces and kitchen equipment.

There was conflicting evidence as to what was said to the buyer about the break-in, but regardless of whose version of events was correct, the buyer was aware a fireplace had been damaged.

Look again

It was held that a prudent buyer in the circumstances should have re-inspected the property to establish the extent of what had happened.

Although the case is going to trial to see whether there had been a fraudulent statement from the agent by concealing the true extent of the damage and the break-in, there is a general practical point that comes from this case.

It is important that when you are negotiating the purchase of a pub that you try and re-inspect the property prior to the exchange of contracts - especially where there is a change of circumstances - to ensure the property and its contents are still as you were expecting.

And if you are selling a pub you should always be careful not to inadvertently fail to disclose something material that could lead to a dispute later.

Related topics Property law Other operators

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