Challenge as opportunity: commercial considerations for the recession

Insights / / Bristol

On 13 August, the UK government confirmed that the UK has officially entered a recession as a result of the COVID pandemic.

In any economic downturn, there are always problems that require legal solutions - and our commercial lawyers are experts at providing the trusted, commercial advice you need during these difficult times. Planning for a changed market place is also important, and our team can help identify opportunities during these challenging times for the economy. 

Our commercial team offer their tips on how to reduce the threat and increase the opportunity from the recession for you and your business.    

Alter your property leases

Cost reduction is always important, but COVID is changing how all businesses use their commercial property, and how separating the essential from the non-essential is now crucial. As a result, you may need to alter your existing property physically, vary the terms of, or even surrender the property lease. Our commercial property team can help with short to medium-term matters, for example; making costs variable by including flexible rent or turnover linked clauses into leases.

Dispose of assets swiftly and securely

When selling commercial property assets, we can make sure the sale is risk-free and completed smoothly and efficiently. It is also be worth saving a share of the cake aside for the future through the use of claw-back agreements. We can also suggest upside protections, for example, if there is potential for or applications for property developments already submitted.

Make use of the changes to planning law

From September, the government has made significant changes to some of the use classes for commercial properties in England. The planning system is often viewed as 'red tape', but the new rules should mean any changes to how you use your business premises are much more fluid; with more flexibility on how and when you use different parts of your premises.

Exit unprofitable contracts

During a recession, it is likely you will identity unprofitable products, customers and contracts. If the positions on these products, customers and contracts cannot be solved, this may lead to friction and potential disputes. Our dispute resolution team can support your business when exiting contracts. They can also implement negotiation, arbitration and other methods to mitigate disputes and avoid full court proceedings.

Strategise your M&A activity

From the previous recession, we have learned that merger and acquisition opportunities will likely arise in most sectors during periods of financial uncertainty. However, a cautionary approach is required to ensure the business is viable. Our corporate and commercial team can help structure transactions to manage this risk and, using our vast network of professional connections, completing mergers and acquisitions in a timely, efficient manner even in the current climate. 

Manage your talent

During this difficult time for employers, our employment law team can advise on the reality of the furlough schemes and redundancy procedures. In contrast, we believe the need for talent often outweighs the scare of a slowdown, so strategies to motivate and development staff are important, and reduced recruitment costs and an increased talent pool may present great hiring opportunities for your business. Therefore, we can also support your business with hiring procedures, employment contracts and incentive packages for new members of staff.

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