Martineau Johnson could be hit by a rent liability of an estimated £4m if it fails to find new tenants for its current headquarters, which the firm vacates in July 2004.
The Birmingham-based firm, which currently has around 25,000sq ft of floor space in both St Philips House and Union Chambers, is due to move into new premises in the One Colmore Row development next July.
However, Martineaus is stuck with the space in Union Chambers for the next 10 years. The lease for the 25,000sq ft of floor space at £16.50 per square foot does not have a break clause until 2013. So unless the firm finds tenants to occupy the space, it will be liable to pay the rent itself.
The Lawyer has also discovered that Martineaus has ditched plans to exercise an option to occupy additional space in Colmore Row. The firm is now only taking 50,000sq ft in the new development, which will not accommodate any increase in headcount.
Martineaus' managing partner elect William Barker played down the threat posed by the firm's move to Colmore Row and said that the firm will endeavour to sub-let the building.