Inn's search for tenants

John Malpas reports

A FULLY-equipped, modern chambers in Lincoln's Inn, which can house about 50 tenants, is lying empty because the Inn has been unable to rent it out.

The chambers, which used to house the set Hardwicke Building before it moved to a larger building nearby, is one of only a few large properties inside the Inns of Court to come up for rent in recent years.

David Cocks QC's set at 5 King's Bench Walk had been in talks with the Inn's estates department, but the set pulled out of negotiations after its tenants voted against the move.

The Inn is now planning to renew its search for a tenant for the building in the autumn.

In August it had taken the unusual step of asking chambers interested in moving into the building to enter sealed bids of no less than £250,000 for the 6,000 sq ft premises.

A handful of chambers are understood to have been interested, but the Inn had pinned its hopes on 5 King's Bench Walk.

Practice manager Penny Cook said the set was looking for a new home because its lease on an annex in Mitre Court was coming to an end.

But she insisted it had made no commitment to move to the Lincoln's Inn property.

"We are looking for a new building, but we got no further than discussing the rent they were asking. We certainly did not sign any papers and the tenants have voted to carry on looking for a premises."

Meanwhile, some observers believe that the Inn may be forced to lower its asking price for the building, given competition from outside the Inn, where commercial rents can be half the figure it is asking.

A spokeswoman for the Inn said it would decide what to do within the next few weeks.