Banking Law – Event of Default
There are many cases where banks have declared events of default on the basis of breaches of covenant. In the case of Prima Equity v West Bromwich  we recently assisted a substantial property client in a dispute with a major commercial lender:
- The loan was for several million pounds.
- The loan was well secured over a portfolio of commercial properties many of which were let to ‘blue chip’ tenants.
- Annual interest payments and capital repayments were several hundred thousand pounds – which our client was meeting.
- However, the client overlooked paying 2 fee instalments – required by the bank to bring forward the repayment date and remove break clauses from leases – which had the effect of increasing the value of its security!
- In October 2012, the lender declared an event of default, made a formal demand for repayment, sought to enforce rent assignments and charged an extra 2% default interest.
- As soon as the error came to light, the amount due was immediately paid.
- But the lender did not back down. Thus, in order to protect our client’s interests, we had no option but to fight before the High Court in March 2013.
- It also came to light, during the course of the proceedings that, in fact, the lender had been taking extra capital payments which were ‘obscure’. The relevant letters sent by the lender indicated that such payments were of interest only. Thus, the lender actually had been overpaid!
- We were able successfully to challenge the lender’s actions and (1) obtained a declaration that the loan was not repayable (2) overturned the enforcement of rent assignments and (3) obtained an order for repayment of default interest charged and capital overpaid. Our client was also awarded costs.