The recent case of Earl of Malmesbury v Strutt & Parker [2007] EWHC 999 has received much publicity and contains some useful guidance for all professional advisors, particularly property professionals.

Strutt & Parker were instructed to negotiate four leases of land between 1997 and 2003. The land, belonging to the Earl of Malmesbury, was to be leased to Birmingham International Airport for use as a car park. Strutt & Parker initially negotiated fixed rents but circumstances duly changed and Strutt & Parker were found to be negligent for not agreeing a turnover rent for the leases negotiated in 2002 and 2003.

A claim of £100 million has been brought against Strutt & Parker because, quite simply, they had not given any consideration to what the proper rent should be. Birmingham International Airport, in 2002, had obtained planning permission to build a new terminal and was looking to expand the number of passengers by 2000% in 30 years. It was this event that should have caused Strutt & Parker to revisit the arrangement and the rent.

The lesson here is that all professional advisors should bear in mind the specific circumstances of all transactions on which they are instructed. Circumstances can change, as in this case, and a client’s position should always be kept under review. Failure to do so can result in very expensive consequences.