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Firms ‘focused on wine not contract’

Firms ‘focused on wine not contract’

A multimillion-pound cash dispute between two properties companies arose because of a “high level of informality” in contract negotiations, a judge has warned.

Correspondence relating to the development of a student accommodation block in Fulham, west London suggested the firms had been more concerned about which wine to drink when discussing terms rather than the terms themselves, deputy high court judge Daniel Alexander QC said.

Property development consultant London & Medway attempted to claim a 20% share of profits from the development in south west London, said to exceed £8m, the court heard.

However, developer Sunley Holdings said London & Medway had agreed to relinquish their right to a share of profits, with the judge ruling in Sunley Holdings’ favour in a written judgment.

“The dispute has arisen because of the high level of informality in the contractual dealings between the parties,” Judge Alexander said. “The style of the interchanges is chatty and there is use of shorthand phrases, some of which are ambiguous.” He added: “The correspondence is more precise about the provenance and vintage of claret to be enjoyed while considering the terms of one of the proposals than about the terms themselves.”

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