Leave or remain? What the EU referendum means for property lawyers

Leave or remain? What the EU referendum means for property lawyers

A referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU is scheduled to take place by the end of 2017. Jonathan Lewis, head of real estate at Olswang and Richard James, partner at Pannone Corporate, look at the possible impact of the referendum on property lawyers and their clients.

How could your practice area be affected by the EU referendum?

Jonathan Lewis (JL): The importance of the EU to the commercial real estate investment market is primarily twofold.

The first relates to capital flows both to and from the rest of Europe. If the outcome was to withdraw from the EU there is likely to be less cross border investment which would adversely affect the market.

The second relates to the macroeconomic sentiment. If withdrawal is perceived as likely to slow growth of the UK economy this will mean investors become more cautious and occupiers become more cautious in committing to leasing more space.

Richard James (RJ): The political uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum, due to take place before the end of 2017, threatens the stability of the commercial property market in the UK, but the threat may well be temporary and part balanced by other factors.

The property sector experienced strong capital growth throughout 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 which has continued, albeit at a slower rate, for the second and third quarters of 2015. Economic projections do not presently show the pending referendum as a factor affecting investment in the UK for 2015. However, the effect of this perceived increased risk and uncertainty may be more apparent in investment over the next two years.

Particularly in the occupier market, overseas firms looking to establish access to the European market may choose to position their facilities in countries with guaranteed member status as opposed to the UK. Similarly, expansion within the UK from overseas investors may be delayed pending the outcome of the referendum. However, recently Nissan appeared to dismiss t

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