Belfast apartment buyers tried to get out of contract

By Gillian Crotty

The Belfast High Court has ruled that a purchaser who had signed a contract to buy a city apartment tried to get out of the deal when it became apparent that property prices in Northern Ireland were falling.

Robert Scullion had signed a contract to purchase a £203,000 apartment in the College Court Central block in Belfast in May 2007, paying a 10 per cent deposit after contracts were exchanged. It was estimated that completion of the apartments would take place in November 2008 but delays pushed the date back by 8 months. In April 2009 Mr Scullion's property conveyancing solicitor served notice on developers Fernill Properties giving them five days to complete or the contract would be rescinded.

At the High Court Mr Justice Deeny heard how the purchaser had tried to rescind the contract on two occasions before serving the five-day notice, and he concluded that Mr Scullion was not in fact "ready, willing and able to complete" by his own deadline, but was trying for a third time to get out of the deal. The judge continued to say that he believed that Mr Scullion and other purchasers had "repented of their contracts" in light of falling house prices and were now trying to "escape" from their commitment.

He ruled that the five-day notice provided was insufficient and that the developers are entitled to enforce the contracts. A later hearing will determine whether Mr Scullion has to complete the purchase or pay damages.

If you are buying, selling or remortgaging a house in Northern Ireland, and require a property conveyancing solicitor in Belfast to handle the legal process for you, contact Wilson Nesbitt by calling 0800 840 9290.

If you require legal advice in respect of a contract matter, including how to rescind a contract, contact a member of the commercial litigation team by calling 0800 840 9295.