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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12093
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I got into a verbal agreement to take over a Cafe, after

Customer Question

I got into a verbal agreement to take over a Cafe, after paying half the amount as a down payment I began to run it. Six months in I have discovered that not only does the Cafe not have the correct license it does not bring in the income as promised. I want to cut my loses and walk away. Is there anything legally to stop me from doing so.
I also discovered the lease is not in the previous owners name anyway.
So many lessons learned !!!
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

Hello for clarification - do you have contact numbers for the previous owners?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I prefer to communicate this way. I have not contacted the previous owner yet I thought it best to get some advice first. We agreed to complete the purchase after 1 year, the Cafe clearly is not worth what he asked and as a business it is not viable.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
It has already put me in financial difficulties and I am not willing or able to continue
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I have composed a letter to send to the previous owner explaining my circumstances and feelings. I just need to know I can give him 4 months notice and walk away without any legal consequences???
Nothing went through a solicitor at the time
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
As I am very keen to move forward with this I would appreciate your opinion as quickly as possible
Many thanks
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

I’m afraid that this is not a chat service, it’s an email reply board and therefore there may be a delay getting back to you but all the experts are online and off-line every day most days in between clients and travelling and other users.

Are you prepared to walk away from the down payment or would you like that back. I appreciate the would prefer to have it back but would you be happy to just leave it?

A verbal contract is just as binding as a written contract provided there is no dispute over the terms and here, there are no terms.

It does appear that the owner has misrepresented but once again there is nothing in writing.

However, for you to occupy the premises (as opposed to the business) than under the Law of Property Act 1925, the agreement does have to be writing and signed by you and the landlord and therefore the somewhat bizarre legal situation is that there is no enforceable agreement for you to take over the building but there is potentially a verbal agreement for you to take over the business which you obviously can’t do without the building.

Whether there are any legal consequences or not would really come down to the view that the landlord takes and whether he is happy to take the six-month money and let you walk or whether he wants to stick to his guns which you view what you said is probably going to be somewhat remiss of him.

If you can let me see your letter, I can tell you whether it is firm enough.

Can I clarifying anything else for you?

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. It’s important you use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! (Although there is an incentive scheme where the more five-star ratings I get, I do actually get a pat on the head! :-)) All you need to do is press Submit. Thank you.

If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.