Paper, paper everywhere…

Published 2 October 2019

Piles of filesHurrah, sale agreed - time to open the champagne? In short no, keep the bottle on ice for now because the next hurdle to overcome will be the rafts of various pre contract enquiries, property information forms, fixtures and fitting forms and just about anything else that can be thought of. This next stage of the sale process is of course handled by our solicitor friends but the aforementioned enquiries and forms will be the vendors’ responsibility.  In some cases the process can be relatively straight forward, but in other more complex/mixed sales will require a thorough search back in your records to arrive at the answers which can hopefully be found.

In our world, common questions that arise relate to sporting rights, boundaries, chancel repair liability, planning permissions and rights of way to name but a few and here I would stress the importance of keeping records, retaining files, documents, leases and agreements because at the point of sale these will be required. We are often asked to help clients complete their pre-contract enquiries which in some cases extend to 55 pages (!) of questions and whilst some answers can come from knowledge, others will require the physical “evidence” which usually leads to a journey into the farm office and a scour through the filing cabinets. Having the information available is important and helps the solicitor progress with your sale.

In the office we are tentatively embarking on a paper lite system to try and reduce our consumption of paper/ink and physical storage requirements of files as part of our effort to reduce our carbon footprint - it is work in progress and you have to make a conscious effort not to hit the print button each time. Whilst many businesses are encouraged to go paperless / paper lite this won’t work for all, particularly the agricultural sector where having original copies of documents is important as explained above.

With Brexit day looming (perhaps) will farming businesses see a sudden reduction in “red tape” or relaxation in record keeping requirements? Agriculture is by far one of the heaviest regulated sectors from Health and Safety to Farm Assurance to Rural Payments all of which require copious amounts of record keeping to satisfy the rules.

However, whatever our future is with Europe there remains a wealth of domestic legislation that will be largely unaffected, an example being the legislative framework for sales of land/property.  Therefore, keep hold of the files and records for now and don’t rush to use the shredder just yet!

Tom Corfield | Agricultural Partner 

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