Can You Back Out Of A Deal If The Agreement Is Still Unsigned?

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Anyone who hasn’t asked this question or been asked this question just hasn’t been around long enough – “Now that the final agreement has been prepared, are we obligated to sign it and go forward?” There’s no need to scroll down to the bottom for an answer. We’ll put it right here, up front – “It depends.” “It depends” doesn’t mean: “No.”

There’s a companion question that gets asked – “What if we, up front, say that we can back out at any time before signing, for any reason or no reason at all”? There’s no need to scroll down to the bottom for an answer. We’ll put it right here, up front – “It depends.” “It depends” doesn’t mean: “No.”

Today’s blog posting is mostly the following story, one that illuminates the questions we’ve begun with.

As part of an on-line, sealed bid auction sale of non-performing loans, prospective bidders were presented with a required form of asset purchase agreement.  The successful bidder would be required to sign that agreement. Interested buyers were invited to present “indicative” bids. Based on those indicative bids, the seller would select acceptable candidate-buyers and those parties could perform pre-bid due diligence for the offered loans. [Read more…]

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Rely On Your Own Insurance And Stop Arguing About It (Again)

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It doesn’t matter how much you want to continue riding. Beating a dead horse isn’t going to get you anywhere. Or, so we have been told. Nonetheless, we are going to say, for the umpteenth time, landlords and tenants should carry AND RELY UPON their own insurance policies.

But, why should I? After all, can’t I just be happy knowing that I am an “additional insured” on the other’s commercial liability policy? [Just to make the Ruminations position clear: NO.] Before we elaborate on “here’s why,” we’ll digress. [Casablanca: “I am shocked – shocked – to find out” that Ruminations will digress.] Find us the person that couldn’t have spent more time with friends and family if she or he hadn’t been on the phone arguing with someone over the “additional insured” language in a lease, mortgage or other agreement. [Read more…]

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Exclusive Use Clauses And Antitrust Concerns

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It’s been a thousand or more leases since Ruminations did any serious thinking about the intersection of exclusive use restrictions, radius clauses, and their respective lawfulness. This isn’t a current topic of discussion in leasing circles, though it certainly was 40 to 50 years ago. Yes, there is comfort in knowing that, with the passage of time, we aren’t seeing the “anti-trust” or “unfair methods of competition” armies marching into the shopping center arena. That is, possibly, until now.

Readers can research the law on their own. It isn’t worth wasting electrons on hyper-technical legal background. Suffice it to write that there is a Federal Trade Commission Act barring “unfair methods of competition in commerce … .” The lessening of competition is a danger also addressed in the Robinson-Patman Act, the Sherman Act, and the Clayton Antitrust Act. Further, some states have their own anti-competition or antitrust laws. [Read more…]

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Isn’t It Simple To Send A Notice? Apparently Not

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In the six years of our Ruminating in this forum, we’ve written a lot about notices, renewal options, and waivers. We just came across an otherwise insignificant case (other than to the parties themselves) illustrating some of the points we’ve tried to make over the course of this blog’s life.

Our story involves an unremarkable retail lease and a single, also unremarkable, lease amendment extending the original lease term for 20 years and granting the tenant a 5- year extension option thereafter. To exercise the extension option, the tenant was required to give 180 days’ prior irrevocable, written notice. The lease amendment did not specify what the notice had to say and did not give any “rules” for how a written notice needed to be given. Beyond those two substantive items, the lease amendment said that all other terms and conditions of the lease remained as originally set forth in the lease. [Read more…]

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Blame Amazon!

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Beaujeb Blame Amazon! That’s not a new approach. William Shakespeare wrote it in Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene III, L. 140-141: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” [With apologies to genuine literary critics, all of whom should disagree with our misappropriation of the Roman nobleman, Cassius’s intent in his choice of those words.]

We have a hypothesis about gasoline stations. Our thinking has long been that no one wants to go to them; they go because, if they don’t, they can’t do what they really want to do – drive a car. Even if we are wrong when it comes to everyone else in the world, we know that’s how we feel. So, the number one reason we have for wanting an electric car is that we won’t be spending time getting gas. “Refueling” a car (with electricity) at home while we sleep seems pretty appealing.

Retail stores aren’t very different. If the only reason customers come to your shopping center is because they “have to,” then anything that comes along that will eliminate the trip will replace that trip. [Read more…]

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Circumventing Lease Transfer (Assignment – Subletting) Restrictions And Other Ploys (Part 3)

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Today’s blog posting may not make sense to those who haven’t read our previous two postings. In the first part of this three part series, we presented some basic assignment and subletting concepts, legal and practical. That can be seen by clicking: HERE. Last week we continued that presentation, but moved into what we titled: “The Troubles I Have Seen – General Assignment / Subletting Issues.” That posting ended with a list of shortcomings  commonly plaguing many assignment/subletting lease provisions. It can be seen by clicking: HERE.

Today, we continue by listing more practical issues faced by all of us when trying to restrict lease transfers (what most landlords seek to do) or when trying to facilitate lease transfers (what most tenants seek to achieve). Even if you’ve chosen not to look at the prior postings, we guaranty that today’s posting will make you want to do so. So, to that end, we begin with: [Read more…]

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Pro Tanto Assignments And Other Problems We’ve Seen (Part 2)

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Who isn’t in favor of tantos? Last week (click HERE to see), we ended the Ruminations blog posting with a promise to explain an “assignment pro tanto.” We’ll start with what “tanto” isn’t. In the leasing context, it isn’t “a Japanese short sword or dagger.” What it is, is a close cousin of the musical direction (try, on sheet music) of “tanto – too much; so much.” We’ve stalled enough, so here we go:

Assignments Pro-Tanto

Having raised the specter of an “assignment pro tanto, it is only proper that this unusual and possibly dangerous hybrid be described – especially in a treatment of common and uncommon assignment / subletting problems.  Simply speaking, this animal is the transfer, to another, of a tenant’s entire interest in a portion of leased premises, for the entire lease term.  Describing this creation as an animal may be an apt choice of terms as it may be somewhat uncontrollable.  In most jurisdictions, but not all, the landlord now has two tenants and, in effect, two leases.  The assignee may, and the operative word is: “may,” have a contractual relationship with the landlord.  If the original tenant defaults under its lease, giving rise to a lease termination, the landlord may still have a tenant, the assignee, for the portion of the leased space that was thought to merely be sublet.  The law is uncertain; there isn’t a lot of guiding case law.  But, if a tenant can assign freely under its lease, but not sublet freely, there is always the possibility of enjoying both “existences” by use of an assignment pro tanto. [Read more…]

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How Can We Get Out Of Here In One Piece? (Part 1)

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Vacation time and the living is easy. Ruminations has a big backlist of material and sometimes we cheat by reaching into it and putting an edited, usually lightly edited, version of “stuff from the vault” in the form of a blog posting. That’s what’s happening this week and at least next week. Just like a resale store, “it’s new to you.” [That is, new to at least nearly all, but not all, of our readers.] Today, tour approach adds up to the first part of a primer, from the Ruminations perspective, on assignment and subletting.

Under common law, absent a lease restriction, tenants were free to assign their leasehold interest to others or to sublet all or part of their leased space. That rule of law is of little consequence today because virtually all leases restrict assignment and subletting rights, often in excruciating detail. In addition, a small number of jurisdictions have reversed the rule by statute and there are certain kinds of leases, generally tied into personal services that are not, as a default matter, freely assignable. [Read more…]

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