Synergy Between Professionals
By Matt Chalfont-Griffin
I undertake a huge amount of transactional work in the leisure and hospitality sector. This encompasses buying and selling pubs and other licensed premises, restaurants, guest houses, small hotels as well as holiday parks and so on.
What has become clear to me over the years is that more and more solicitors think it is more important to spend their time blaming each other for delays in transactions, or blaming their own clients and fellow professionals.
Chubb Bulleid takes a different approach in this regard. It goes without saying that if a client asks whether one has heard from an opposing solicitor, a straight answer has to be given. If you have not heard anything for a fortnight then you have to advise the client of that but it is bad form to proactively seek to try and blame your fellow professionals especially when it may be used as a strategy to mask your own shortcomings!
The key to a smooth transaction is the relationship, not just between solicitors during a transaction but the relationship that the solicitor has with their client’s other professional advisors. Whether that is the selling agent, the surveyor or the accountants, in the types of transactions that I refer to above, it is essential that all those professionals work together.
It is not a pain in the neck for a selling agent to contact you and ask for an update, and it is not too much trouble for an accountant to work with you to give you information in relation to apportionments of price, capital allowances and VAT information. All of these are integral parts of the transaction and, if they are not dealt with properly and if the professionals are not working together, then at some stage either during a transaction or after it, which is the worst case scenario, problems are going to arise.
Chubb Bulleid takes the view that working with fellow professionals, and getting details of client’s accountants and other professional advisors right at the outset of the transaction is essential to the smooth transition. We, as a firm, undertake as much preparatory work as possible and work with those with specialist knowledge of the client’s affairs, right from the start.
Communication with these professionals, as well as the client, is essential so that the selling agents, the surveyors, the accountants and the clients all understand what is happening during the course of the transaction.
Solicitors should never find it too much trouble to update a client or one of the client’s advisors. It should also never be too much trouble to actually take a call from the selling agent when they are simply trying to do their own job and progress the transaction for the benefit of all concerned.
At Chubb Bulleid we work for the benefit of our clients. I recently read an article on the attitudes of law firms to clients, which to my mind stated the obvious. It is more important to develop the relationship you have with your existing clients and your existing contacts than it is to permanently be out trying to win new ones.
We as a firm feel very strongly that our existing clients should be nurtured and looked after just as much as new clients. The real benefit of this is that you get to know the professionals that your client works with. You not only build a relationship with those clients but you build a relationship with their professional advisors which means that you all understand what the client is seeking to achieve going forward. That can only be in the best interests of the client and that is the philosophy this firm prides itself upon.