Bruton Knowles launches arbitration service for region

John Williams, Team Leader for Bruton Knowles' Lease Advisory Services. Picture by Antony Thompson - Thousand Word Media.

National property consultancy, Bruton Knowles, has launched a new arbitration service, based from its headquarters in Gloucester, covering Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire – the first that the region has had in over three years.

John Williams, Team Leader for the firm’s Lease Advisory Services, holds a Masters in Arbitration and is a full Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He will lead the new division within the Commercial Practice that will ultimately provide this vital service for commercial landlords, tenants, their surveyors and legal teams nationwide.

“This service has not been available in our region for over three years with landlord and tenant disputes having to be referred to arbitrators in Bristol, Birmingham or even west London, which can lead to both an increase in costs and in delays. Now Bruton Knowles is able to fulfil that role from within the region, alongside its expert witness services both for arbitration and court proceedings – all under one roof.

“Disagreements between landlords and tenants are generally classed as either rent (typically rent review) or non-rent (often renewal lease terms or repairs). Lease renewals can be particularly difficult as they can involve disputes over both rent and lease terms and if agreement can’t be reached then court can be a long and expensive process. It can be a complex area, and it is often difficult to find a single arbitrator with the experience to take these cases on.

“However, with over 30-years’ experience in this field and a detailed knowledge of the legal framework that applies to both rent valuations and updating lease terms, we are ideally placed to offer a service that saves the parties both time and money and in which they can have absolute faith.

“Similarly, non-rent disputes such as dilapidations claims involve questions of liability for, and cost of, works and of complex valuation issues. Such claims are on the rise but again it can be difficult to find a single arbitrator able to cover the whole of the dispute. With over 20-years’ experience in this field, though, we are again able to offer a service that can be both quicker and cheaper than court and in which the parties can have complete faith.

“With the sheer pressure of litigation, County Court timescales are getting longer not shorter and, in the meantime, both parties are caught in a state of uncertainty. Tenants waiting on their lease renewal cannot invest in their business when there is no certainty over their new lease. With a property vacated in substantial disrepair a landlord may not have funds to carry out repairs and return it to a lettable condition, meaning it stays empty with no rental income. Arbitration can resolve these situations swiftly, cost effectively and with a flexibility that suits the parties and the nature or scale of the dispute.

“The service is available now and I would encourage law firms and surveyors in the region to think carefully about whether a local arbitrator may be a better option for their clients.”

Bruton Knowles plans to extend its arbitration and expert witness services to the wider South West and Midlands regions with Ashleigh Phillips, a partner in the company’s Plymouth office, building on his long experience in this field and with Sarah Naughton, now joining the team in the Nottingham office to work alongside John.