Burges Salmon helps set up Islamic financing tool

Burges Salmon has advised on an innovative commercial property Islamic finance product for longstanding client Bristol & West Property Finance.

The law firm worked in conjunction with Bristol & West Property Finance and property broker Gamble & Spencer to create a sharia-compliant instrument for the refinancing of two investment properties. The deal size has not been disclosed.

The product, which is yet to be named, is more tax-efficient than traditional sharia-compliant property refinancings.

Sharia law does not allow for lenders to charge interest. Instead, the lenders normally buy the assets and then lease or sell them back to the borrower at a price that includes the equivalent interest payment. However, these transactions are subject to multiple stamp duty charges.

Property specialist Imam Qazi, who led the Burges Salmon team, said: “The main problem with sharia-complaint products is the stamp duty implications. This structure uses a trading mechanism that does not incur stamp duty.”

Islamic financing has largely been the preserve of City-based firms such as Clifford Chance, Denton Wilde Sapte and Norton Rose. However, Qazi believes that, as demand for these products increases, banks will increasingly look outside London for legal advice.

Qazi worked closely with Kate Jeffs, property finance director at Bristol & West Property Finance. The deal was brokered by Susan Leece-Roberts, a director at Gamble & Spencer.