chapter  8
When it all goes wrong. Or: fallback in action
Pages 15

For many in property the 1990s’ recession was a disaster in their professional and personal lives, and indeed many have not reclaimed the successes they previously enjoyed. Whilst history is said to repeat itself, it rarely does so in precisely the same way. Those who have not yet retired will still recall the boom and bust, first, of the residential property market in the 1970s, followed by the secondary banking crisis which in turn bore down on commercial property. There was a minor recession in 1981 and so on. We can leave the economic historians to chart the courses, but it is a sobering thought that as the 1980s drew to a close an overstretched banking sector relied in the main on people with very limited experience of the property lending market, and who had come to rely on a market which seemed to some capable of delivering an endless and insatiable demand for new buildings. By the beginning of 1989, with nearly two decades of qualified legal practice under his belt, it appeared even to this author that something had to give. He even dared to suggest to professional colleagues at a partnership conference that within a year they could be seeing redundancies, so receiving the inevitable response, and meanwhile the lemmings of the property industry careered on. The wider economic outlook upon which, as with everything else in this life, property depended saw gathering clouds and by early 1990 the scene was set for a fundamental change. Recession!