A group established by four of Scotland’s leading law firms to create standardised template documents to streamline processes for dealing with commercial property in Scotland is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The Property Standardisation Group (PSG) launched in 2001 with the aim of saving lawyers' time and clients' money by drafting agreed forms of the most commonly used commercial property documents, significantly reducing the time wasted by lawyers negotiating non-contentious terms in contracts and other agreements.
Originally comprising leading property lawyers from Dundas & Wilson (which combined with CMS in 2014), Maclay Murray & Spens (which combined with Dentons in 2018), McGrigors (which merged with Pinsent Masons in 2012) and Shepherd & Wedderburn, the group has produced nearly 100 documents with corresponding guidance notes, ranging from one-page letters to lengthy leases and offers to sell.
The PSG's work is available, free of charge, at its website, www.psglegal.co.uk.
In 2016 the PSG published a standard form of lease, the "Holy Grail" for Scottish commercial property lawyers, based on the England & Wales Model Commercial Lease and balancing the interests of landlords, tenants and institutional investors. It was the first in a suite of standard forms of lease for commercial property in Scotland, which have been embraced by many landlords.
What started as a collaborative drafting exercise soon expanded into streamlining and innovating on style and process, most recently in connection with the move to digital registration of documents.
Among tributes paid by leading figures in the property sector to the PSG, Jennifer Henderson, Keeper of the Registers, said: "I would like to extend my thanks, on behalf of everyone at Registers of Scotland, for the contributions the PSG has made over the years. The work of the PSG has supported the Registers of Scotland in delivering an effective and efficient system of registration; and will continue to play an important role as we develop and deliver an end-to-end, truly digital, registration system, which will bring even greater benefit to our customers and the citizens of Scotland."
Kevin Robertson, chair of the Scottish Property Federation, added: "Underpinning the commercial property industry is a legal profession that has benefited enormously from the work of the PSG. In a dynamic legislative environment, having robust and reliable documents benefits all parties, evidenced by the stellar work of the PSG on subjects such as commercial leases and the transition to land and buildings transaction tax. Congratulations and thank you to all those who have been involved in the past 20 years, and all the very best for the next 20."
David Bartos, of the Scottish Law Commission, commented: "The PSG has revolutionised property transactions very much for the better. Not only did it free practitioners from often out-of-date or inappropriate firm or even partner-based styles but the readily accessible styles have been kept up to date and allowed parties to begin 'singing off the same hymn sheet' in their dealings."