Sometimes clients baffle me

Sometimes, clients seem to be their own worst enemies.

I handled a new lease for clients taking over a shop recently. The landlord’s solicitor was very slow, while the clients had an over-optimistic timetable, and started ordering stock in readiness. The inevitable happened, and stock was due to arrive in a matter of days with no draft lease received.

When the draft did arrive, it did not follow the agreed heads of terms. Crucially, the tenant’s statutory rights of renewal were excluded and the break clause could be invoked by the landlord, not just by the tenant. I met the clients that day and they agreed that correcting these points was vital. Unfortunately, the landlord was not prepared to cooperate – I suspect that the solicitors, rather than admit a mistake, persuaded him that my clients and I were being unreasonable

Instead of standing firm, however, my clients backed down – I understand why, though I think it was a mistake, but one they are entitled to make

Then they went silly and challenged my bill, despite the facts that –

  • it was within my original estimate, though the work was excessive
  • I had dealt with everything instantly and achieved their deadline despite the landlord’s solicitor’s slowness

Having pointed this out, they have paid up, but instead of building a good relationship with a local lawyer from whom they could get prompt (and often free) advice in their new business venture, they have unnecessarily soured the relationship: I’m not going to bend over backwards for them again, if that is the way I am going to be treated

Business relationships, like personal ones, are a two-way street or they are nothing

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