Enquiries before contract—the basics
Enquiries before contract—the basics

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Enquiries before contract—the basics
  • Introduction
  • What are enquiries before contract?
  • Why raise enquiries?
  • Why answer enquiries?
  • What must a seller disclose?
  • Who answers enquiries before contract?
  • Preparing replies to enquiries before contract
  • Limiting liability for the replies
  • Commercial Property Standard Enquiries
  • more

Introduction

Enquiries before contract play a part in various scenarios; for example, they are raised by a purchaser on the acquisition of freehold or leasehold land, by a tenant before the grant of a new lease, by a mortgagee before taking a charge over land or by a landlord before accepting a surrender of a lease. This Practice Note looks at the role of enquiries in the due diligence process and what to do when faced with preliminary enquiries in commercial property transactions. For simplicity, reference here will be made to seller and buyer although this can include landlord and tenant or mortgagor and mortgagee as appropriate.

What are enquiries before contract?

Enquiries before contract (also called pre-contract enquiries or preliminary enquiries) form part of the due diligence carried out by a prospective buyer in a property transaction. Although enquiries before contract are often treated as a stand-alone part of the due diligence process, there is a degree of overlap with a buyer’s title investigation, searches and contract negotiation.

Enquiries before contract take the form of questions asked directly of the seller by the buyer (although almost invariably with their respective legal advisers acting as intermediaries). It is standard practice to use pre-printed forms of enquiries and for commercial property transactions, the most widely-used forms are the Commercial Property