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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10740
Experience:  Solicitor LLB (Hons) 23 years of experience in Conveyancing and Property Law
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Thank you prompt reply. if I may. My friend

Customer Question

Thank you for this prompt reply. A follow up if I may. My friend is well over 80 (the buyer) with terminal cancer. Therefore he and wife want tangible help to purse the problem So...
1. The lawyer acting for the buyer simply asked whether they were happy to exchange contracts "now they had seen the upstairs of a similar new build further advanced". They said "yes"on the basis the new build would be ready at end of September. The lawyer did not alert them to a possible delay in completion which a few days later after saying no problemshe said would now be end of November making it more expenditure renting for longer interim occupation.
2. Is it sensible for them to argue they did not have the facts explained to them therefore he should not have signed "on their behalf". Therefore if it is deemed an invalid "exchange" can they argue he should not sign unless a realistic and earlier completion date is inserted in the contract.
3. Is it not a fact that a well drawn up contract would give a completion date and if not complied with by the builder he would be liable to pay compensation.
4. Do I assume correctly my friends are entitled to have a copy of the contract and if it is correct that they did not signal their agreement without the insertion of a sensible completion date then the document is null and void over thir lawyer's signature.
Sorry to come back but I do want to be as helpful as possible for them who are so troubled and reliant on help.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hello again and thanks for using Just Answer.

To be honest, with all new Builds which are not fully completed, the Contract never stipulates a fixed completion date. Instead, the Contract will stipulate that the completion date will be 14 days after the date on which the Developer's Solicitor has notified the Buyers Solicitor that the property is ready. I would always explain to such a client that the eventual completion date is totally down to the Developer and there is no legla pressure which can be put on the Developer to speed up the completion date. Under new Build Contracts, the only protection a Buyer has is that the Contract has to stipulate "an estimated completion date" and if the property is then not ready for completion 6 MONTHS after the estimated date, then the Buyer has the right to withdraw from the Contract.

I don't of course know the full conversations/written advice provided by the Solicitor, but any Solicitor worth his salt should have explained this to your friend. By the same token, I would have thought that your friends should have known that a fixed completion date was not feasible, as the proeprty is not yet fully built.

Either way, I am afraid the Contract is legally binding, as it has been signed and "exchanged" on behalf of the Buyer. On exchanging Contracts, the 2 Solicitors agree the that their respective copy of the Contract is agreed and in the same terms. On that basis, Contracts are exchanged and becomes a legally binding agreement between the 2 parties.

Therefore, your friends only possible cause of action is against their own Solicitor if they were misled as to the completion date (please note their Solicitor will only have been told of the estimated completion date before Contracts were exchanged, and if he has then subsequently told it is going to be delayed, I'm afraid he can't be held liable for this delay PROVIDED he made it clear to your friends that the completion date was not fixed).

Your friends certainly would not be able to say the Contract is void, and the best they can expect is compensation from their Solicitor, if indeed it turns out that their Solicitor has been negligent in advising them on a completion date.

Your friends are entitled to see a copy of the Contract, although this will just show that the completion date is 14 (possbly 10) days from the date the Developers Solicitor gives notice to the Buyers Solicitor that the property is ready, and the estimated completion date.

I hope you don't feel I have been unreasonable in answering your question.

Please let me know if you require any further clarification.

Kind regards


Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hi Denis,

Can I assist you any further?

Kind Regards