How to prevent and handle commercial property disputes

By Yulia Barnes is the founder and managing partner of Barnes Law

In the intricate world of commercial property, disputes can occur often and, if not effectively resolved, landlords and tenants can become embroiled in lengthy legal battles, risking their investments and disrupting their business operations.

Commercial property disputes might relate to any type of commercial property, whether an industrial building, an office or a retail space. These disputes are often complicated and involve complex areas of law, meaning they can be costly and time-consuming for all parties involved. Therefore, it is important to understand the legal options available for resolving them.

Here is some advice on how to avoid a commercial property dispute arising in the first place, and what to do if conflict does occur.

Preventing a dispute arising

Commercial landlord and tenant disagreements can occur over many issues. Some of the most common include breach of a covenant [for example, a tenant subletting part of the premises without their landlord’s consent as prescribed for in the lease agreement], serious damage to the property, the tenant causing a nuisance, service charges, insurance cover, maintenance of the property and the procedure for serving Notices on tenants.

To limit the potential for a dispute to arise it is important that the lines of communication are kept open from the offset so that, should there be an issue between landlord and tenant, it can be resolved at an early stage before it becomes too advanced. You should always be open to reasonable solutions and compromise to avoid disputes escalating or becoming impossible to resolve.

It is also vital to pay close attention to the clauses included in the lease of a property. Commercial property leases should be professionally drafted and scrutinised carefully by both parties before signing. It should be clear and cover every eventuality so that everyone, tenants and landlords, know where they stand.

A written log of any relevant incidents or correspondence can also prove helpful to refer to later on.

What to do when conflict arises

There is no one best way to resolve a commercial property dispute, and how the matter is best resolved largely depends on the circumstances and the complexity of the matter. For example, the parties may be able to negotiate between themselves, resolving the issue without legal intervention.

Where matters cannot be resolved informally, there are various options for commercial property dispute resolution.

‘Mediation’ is a type of alternative dispute resolution, where the parties are joined by a qualified mediator who acts as a neutral third party. The mediator assists both in working toward a resolution, without imposing any decision, and always remaining unbiased.

Mediation can be particularly appropriate where the parties involved wish to protect an ongoing business relationship. Generally, this is because mediation processes can be more amicable compared to Court proceedings, focused on open communication, and finding resolutions that are mutually acceptable where possible.

Through mediation, the parties that are in dispute are each invited to communicate their case and viewpoint to the arbitrator. The arbitrator’s role is then to evaluate each side of the argument, review the evidence, and make an unbiased, legally binding decision.

If it is unlikely that the parties involved will be able to resolve themselves, arbitration, if available or agreed to between the parties, is likely to be more suitable. Often, arbitration can be preferable in comparison to litigation. It is a private and confidential process, whereas Court processes are not always fully confidential, and certain details may become public depending on the circumstances.

If the dispute cannot be resolved by informal negotiations, or some form of alternative dispute resolution, it will be necessary to escalate the case to litigation processes. As litigation is more costly and time-consuming, this is generally a last resort for dispute resolution.

Where disputes escalate and cannot be solved outside of Court, litigation may be the only available option to resolve matters. When exercising this option, it is unlikely that the business relationship will be preserved, however, it may be the only option available to settle a dispute.


Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, your commercial premises are important to you and your future. Commercial property disputes require swift resolution to prevent a damaging situation to both parties – including potential loss of revenue and impact on business operations.

Litigation in commercial property disputes can be lengthy, expensive and complicated, and it is vital to take legal advice sooner rather than later to keep costs down. By seeking early legal advice, you can minimise any potential fallout and resolve matters quickly and effectively.

About the author

Yulia Barnes is the Founder and Managing Partner of Barnes Law, a boutique firm located in Mayfair, London which specialises in commercial and corporate law.

Having commenced her career at a large international magic circle firm, Yulia boasts an impressive track record in the sector – having held General Counsel roles and headed up the dispute resolution department for a regional law firm before launching her boutique consultancy in 2019.

Since this time, Barnes Law has evolved into a leading commercial and corporate law practice, which prides itself on working closely with businesses of all sizes – from multinational corporations to ambitious and fast-growing start-ups.

With a wealth of experience in supporting serial entrepreneurs, high-net-worth individuals, property investors and large corporations looking to enter the UK market, Yulia prides herself on her commercially astute approach and capability to truly immerse herself within any business to overcome challenges and help achieve strategic objectives.

As such, she has established an unrivalled and trusted reputation amongst her growing client base and boasts a unique ability to combine knowledge and professionalism with a personal touch to ensure the best outcome and result.

Now focused on ensuring Barnes Law becomes a leading name in commercial and corporate law, Yulia is committed to attracting and nurturing the very best legal talent, underpinned by an energetic, driven, and passionate work environment.

About Barnes Law

Barnes Law is a boutique commercial law firm, located in the heart of Mayfair, London, which specialises in providing an exclusive and personally tailored service to individuals and privately-owned businesses across the UK and overseas.

Having successfully accelerated 25% year on year, Barnes Law now employs an experienced team of seven who are committed to supporting its growing client base – with a key specialism in litigation and property law.

For more information, visit:

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