There is no denying that the process of buying and selling a dental practice involves a significant amount of paperwork and you should be wary of being caught out by the small things.
A specialist dental solicitor will guide you through the process, which will involve everything from checking associate agreements to reviewing X-ray test certificates and checking that the plans at the Land Registry accord with the practice you think you are buying.
A recent example involved a practice spread over two floors, with the upper floor including a room above a public passageway leading to a rear courtyard.
Unfortunately, the documents at the Land Registry missed off the room above the passageway. This meant that the selling dentist simply didn’t have legal ownership of this room.
The dentist buying the practice understandably believed he was buying the room in question, which was being used by the practice as a surgery. However, technically speaking this was not part of the property being sold.
The situation was resolved using the rules of adverse possession (commonly known as squatters’ rights) and assigning these rights to this room to the buyer.
This allowed the buyer to acquire a right to use this room and a right to register a title to that room at the Land Registry.
Any unknown rights of third parties against the room were insured against with a one off payment insurance policy.
However, the claim was further complicated due to the fact that there was a passageway running beneath the room which was used by members of the public.
Clearly, the selling dentist didn’t own the passageway beneath the room but consideration had to be made as to what was and what was not owned – for example, what about the beams on the underside of the room that offered it support and what rights were available to carry out repairs.
Without a full and expert check of all of the documentation associated with a practice this anomaly would not have been picked up and the buying dentist would have paid for a room that legally was not the seller’s to sell!