Memery Crystal is facing a hotly-disputed £4.3m negligence claim from office space provider Citib@se over advice it gave relating to a property lease in 1998
Citib@se says the advice led to a significant loss of business. Citib@se was letting office space in Gillingham Street, London to commercial tenants. It was served notice on its 10-year underlease on the space in 1997 when new landlord Point Ventures took over the freehold. Point Ventures then began letting the space for which Citib@se had previously been paid rent by the commercial tenants. Citib@se says that Memery Crystal did not advise that the new landlord would be able to do this. Citib@se says the profits it would have made from letting the space between 1997 and 2006, when the underlease was due to run out, amount to just under £4.3m. Citib@se states it is entitled to this money from Memery Crystal. According to the claim, when serving notice on Citib@se, Point Ventures made use of a break clause that said it could end the lease if it intended to demolish or rebuild the premises. Citib@se sought advice on the clause in 1998 from Memery Crystal, which instructed barrister Guy Featherstonehaugh of Falcon Chambers. The firm returned with a verdict that Point Ventures could serve notice on the lease. But according to Citib@se, Memery Crystal did not advise that Point Ventures would be able to take over the office space provider's business. Citib@se is claiming that Memery Crystal did not advise adequately, or at all, on the difference between a break clause that allowed Point Ventures to reconstruct the premises and a break clause that allowed Point Ventures to carry on Citib@se's business. Citib@se claims this was negligence on Memery Crystal's part. The company states that if Memery Crystal had warned that Point Ventures was able to take over its business, it would have instructed the firm to amend the underlease. Memery Crystal senior partner Peter Crystal said the firm was planning to defend the claim vigorously. He said the firm denies liability, and that the matter is being dealt with by its insurers.