British Land sues L&G over pounds 5m office block

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JOHN RITBLAT'S British Land is suing Legal & General for half a million pounds over the purchase of an office block, which it alleges has turned out to be far more expensive to maintain than outlined in the original deal, writes John Willcock.

The legal action lodged last Thursday concerns the acquisition by British Land of Bain Clarkson House, Haywards Heath, in July 1988 for pounds 5.2m.

The deal struck between the buyers, British Land and its associate Moorage (Property Developments), and the seller Legal & General Assurance (Pensions Management), allegedly failed to include a previous lease agreement for the building dating from 1970.

According to British Land's writ, the leasing agreement exposes the block's owner to more costs for repairs and maintenance than was implied in the 1988 deal.

The writ claims that assurances given by L&G in the 1988 contract 'were calculated, albeit negligently rather than fraudulently, to mislead the plaintiffs. . .' regarding the owners' responsibilities.

British Land is demanding damages equivalent to the alleged unforseen expenses totalling pounds 565,000, plus interest.