Corporate & Commercial

Ferbrache & Farrell LLP’s corporate department offers full service corporate, banking and commercial cover and is able to advise on all aspects of Guernsey corporate and commercial law, including banking and finance, regulatory, investment funds, asset management and listings on The International Stock Exchange (TISE).

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22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…
Dispute Resolution

The dispute resolution department at Ferbrache & Farrell LLP has vast experience of local and international litigation and dispute resolution generally, gained from acting in complex local and international high-value disputes, both in Guernsey and throughout the world.

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22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…
Property

The Guernsey property department is dedicated to providing tailored solutions that meet and exceed clients’ expectations. In addition, the property department provides support to colleagues in the corporate and dispute resolution departments on real estate-related technical points of law.

Latest Insight
22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…
UK Real Estate

We are delighted to help in relation to providing legal advice for real estate in England and Wales. We listen. We learn what your needs are. We proactively respond. Whether it’s personal or commercial property, we always provide sound and pragmatic advice, adding value to the transaction.

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28 May 2024
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Our UKRE conveyancing team was recently entrusted with handling a complex transaction involving a Guernsey-based trust and a prime London property, comprising 5 residential leasehold…
Private Client

Our services for private client matters include the drafting of realty and personalty wills, obtaining Grants of Probate, acting as professional executors and assisting foreign lawyers who have requirements in this jurisdiction.

Latest Insight
22 March 2024
News
In April 2022, the Capacity (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 (the “Law”) came into force, enabling a person (“Donor”)  to appoint an Attorney (or Attorneys)…

As Guernsey recently entered phase 4 of its exit from lockdown strategy, we take a look at the property market.

When the Covid-19 pandemic reached our shores, the vast majority of property transactions were paused. But with community co-operation and first class guidance from the Director of Public Health and representatives of the States of Guernsey, matters are picking up even more quickly than we could have imagined.

In this article, Ferbrache & Farrell partner and property lawyer, Alastair Hargreaves, answers a series of questions about property post-lockdown.

  1. What has been the impact on the local property market as a result of this global pandemic? 

During lockdown, it was difficult to predict what the impact would be.  However, the level of market activity is now surprisingly high and which gives many reasons to remain positive and confident.  Other jurisdictions have remarked favourably upon how well the situation has been managed here, and that is always a boost.  It has been particularly beneficial that the economy has been freed up as quickly as it has been, as that seems to have minimised any significant erosion in people’s willingness to enter into transactions.

  1. Has there been a drop off in business because of the pandemic and lockdown?

In short, happily not that we have seen. The work we are doing is not only a continuation of the instructions that were suspended, but a good amount of new instructions too, which is extremely encouraging. Other law firms, estate agents and finance providers we speak to are busy too, and that’s great. People seem to want to be buying and selling and refinancing, and particularly at this time of year.

  1. What has the impact on property prices been? 

Property prices don’t seem to have been adversely affected. A number of properties on the island are under offer since the easing of lockdown restrictions and there is even evidence of prices being agreed higher than the asking price.

  1. So is property still a good investment in Guernsey?

As a lawyer, I am not in a position to provide investment advice, as there are others far more qualified than me who can do that.  That being said, 2019 was the busiest conveyancing period we have witnessed for many years and which suggests that Guernsey real estate is very much sought after.  That position (post-Covid) has not changed in my opinion.

  1. Was there a problem of houses falling through because of the pandemic and lockdown?

Again, happily not.  The Royal Court and the property advocates in Court Row worked together to put procedures in place to suspend most transactions, but to enable completion for those where it was absolutely essential.  Later in lockdown, the property industry worked together to implement safe working practices and which received the relevant approvals.  That step enabled our respective businesses to recommence and which was a great example of the business community working together to find solutions. 

  1. If someone was thinking of selling before lockdown would you advise them to hold off until things have returned to normal? 

I think the prudent thing here is to speak with an estate agent.  We are coming into a busy time for property transactions in any case, as the weather is good and properties look their best.  If the last few weeks of activity is anything to go by, there is likely to be a good level of interest in any new sale stock that comes to market.

  1. What would your advice be about sellers getting planning permission for development on a property before they put it up for sale?

For some buyers, having the opportunity to develop a property with a planning permission can be quite attractive.  For others, it may be more limiting, or not appealing at all.  Regardless, the seller may incur costs to obtain the permission.  In an ideal world, the buyer and seller would work together so that the permission was one which the buyer wanted, and this can be achieved in legal drafting.

  1. Legal fees can be off putting those thinking of moving. Why are they so high? 

There is a common misunderstanding of what legal fees are made up of.  There is a distinction between legal costs of the advocate (which are generally fixed) and third party costs.  Of those third party costs, the largest will be a tax charged by the States of Guernsey and which is collected by the Royal Court.  A house bought for £350,000 will attract a tax bill of over £8,800, whereas legal fees will be only a small fraction in size compared to that.  Added together the single figure will be high, although the client will only be paying a small percentage for the advocate.  Years ago, advocates’ fees were fixed at 0.75% of a property purchase price; nowadays that sum is 0.35% or less.

Conclusion

If Covid-19 has demonstrated anything in Guernsey (or the wider Bailiwick for that matter), it is our great sense of shared purpose, resilience and problem solving.  With a mix of community spirit, entrepreneurialism, business thinking and positivity the recovery should be swift and strong in all parts of our island lives.