11 Mar 2019

Put it in writing as soon as possible

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The recent Supreme Court decision of Wells v Devani [2019] UKSC 4; [2018] PLSCS 33 provides a salutary reminder to all agents of what they need to do if they want to get paid for their work. Mehul Devani must have been a very effective estate agent: within half an hour of Edward Wells instructing him, he had made a call to a buyer who, a week later, agreed to buy at the asking price all seven of Wells’ hitherto unsold flats.

Devani was, however, less effective at the paperwork. He had set his terms out in a phone call with Wells that was so brief that the Court of Appeal considered the contract incomplete and thus void. Devani did send written confirmation of his terms, but only after the buyer he had found had agreed to buy the flats. That was too late.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court considered Devani did have a valid contract, although his non-compliance with the Estate Agents Act 1979 (the 1979 Act) led to a one-third reduction in his fee.

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This article was first published in the EG on 11 March 2019.

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