Buying or selling a business is a big deal and it's important the smallest details are thoroughly covered.
SoGlos caught up with Gloucestershire's WSP Solicitors to discover just how much needs to be considered along the way.
About the expert - Amy Leivers, board director and head of commercial property at WSP Solicitors
Amy Leivers qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and specialises in commercial property. She moved to Gloucestershire in 2007 and joined the WSP Solicitors property team in 2017, becoming head of commercial property in 2019. Leivers became a director of WSP Solicitors in 2021 and a board director of the firm in 2022.
She has completed thousands of property transactions and is particularly skilled at dealing with complex commercial property deals.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
Over the years I have
always found commercial property work to be interesting and challenging.
I’m really lucky we have great clients and I work with a
fantastic team at WSP.
I really enjoy the variety of transactions we are involved with. Some days we could have a new instruction and be working for a start up coffee shop, and the next file could be for a regional business relocating its head office. Either way, we like to get to know the clients and support them through the transaction.
Can you describe your commercial property work and explain why it is important?
Our commercial property team handles a wide range of matters. We act for buyers or sellers, whether the deal involves land or buildings.
We can assist with freehold or leasehold interests, registered or unregistered land. We draft leases for landlords, or we might review the terms for a tenant. We are also happy to act for a landlord, assignor or assignee in connection with a licence to assign an existing lease.
Each matter is handled on a bespoke basis and as with any legal transaction, we would always recommend parties seek specialist legal advice before committing to the deal. There are often many elements that need to be considered, and our team is experienced to handle these complexities.
Where are the key areas you’re often asked to assist on in Gloucestershire?
Although the majority of our clients are based in
Gloucester and Stroud district, we are not limited to location and the team at
WSP is happy to be involved in transactions throughout Gloucestershire and
We have acted on properties in the main streets of Gloucester, Stroud, Dursley, Cheltenham and Cirencester as well as numerous business parks and industrial estates throughout the county.
Our work can also lead us to farms, land and small holdings in rural countryside areas. Our team lives in Gloucestershire and we have a good knowledge of the local area, and great connections.
At WSP we’re not dependant on a limited number of big clients and we have a diverse mix of small and medium sized businesses, all of which contribute to the success of the Gloucestershire region.
You’ve completed thousands of commercial property transactions over the course of your career, which ones stand out and why?
The most memorable transactions are often those where we act for small or start-up businesses, and we see those businesses thrive and do really well.
We get repeat business from our clients, so get to see their growth and achievements internally, or we might see them flourishing on social media and in the press.
What are you most proud about the service that WSP provides?
Business owners are really passionate about their businesses and it's great to know we played a small part in their journey to success.
The commercial property team works closely with our company commercial colleagues, Peter Mardon and Shelley Bonney, so we are able to offer an all-round commercial service to our clients - and from the feedback we get, clients really appreciate this.
We enjoy getting to know our clients, and making their life 'less complicated’.
With all of your years of expertise, what would you like to highlight about commercial property that people don’t often realise?
The work we handle in our department is very varied, but the stand out point people don’t often realise is that Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) needs to be considered on commercial property leases.
Depending on the term (number of years) of the lease and the lease rentals, SDLT might be payable. Running a calculation for the tax at the outset of the deal means it can be added to cash flow forecasts and costings.
Sometimes the SDLT can be a hefty amount, and could make or break a deal. Sometimes SDLT will not be payable, but we still might need to submit a SDLT return to HMRC; other times, it might be the case there is no SDLT due.
Each transaction needs to be considered on its own merits, and we have good relationships with local accountants, should specialist tax advice be needed.
If you could give any kind of warning around commercial property law to alert people to, what would it be?
As with many things, it pays to be organised.
For some people selling a commercial property, their first call might be to an agent to get the marketing underway. Some clients already know how we can help, so they come to us at the outset too – and it means we can check through the legal title held at the Land Registry, or locate title deeds.
We sometimes come across property matters where title registers have not been correctly updated, and so we can put this in hand – saving time once a buyer is secured.
Buyers will generally want pre-contract enquiries, and we are happy to discuss with our clients what pro-formas might be useful or needed.
Some of the enquiries can be lengthy, or might involve pulling together lots of information on insurance, asbestos, or EPCs (energy performance certificates), and so can be a time consuming exercise.
Doing these before a buyer is secured can be really helpful and assist in the deal going through promptly and avoid timescales being impacted.