Monash rejects Mimotopes’ assertion it is being evicted due to “administrative oversight”.
Mimotopes has rejected numerous offers from Monash for a new lease since August last year. These offers committed Monash to spending significant capital funds on the building to bring it up to a compliant standard, as well as offering a rental that was significantly below market rates.
Monash made these offers even though Mimotopes had failed to maintain the property to the point where the University has independent advice that suggests it will require approximately $2 million in capital investment from Monash to restore the building to a safe and compliant state for its occupants.
Rather than negotiating with the University for a new lease, Mimotopes brought a claim against the University in the Federal Court, alleging that the University had acted unconscionably in its dealings with the company. Mimotopes failed to argue its case in Court, and withdrew the claim on the first day of the court hearing.
In doing so, Mimotopes gave up the opportunity to have its claim tested in an appropriate, independent forum. It accepted the Court's order that it pay the University’s legal costs and undertook to the Court that it will not take further action against the University concerning its lease. Legal proceedings continue for Monash to recover those costs as well as recovering costs for urgent and essential works that the building requires.
Under the previous lease, Mimotopes accepted responsibility for keeping the building in good repair and maintaining it to a safe standard. The University has independent expert advice that confirms Mimotopes has not done this.
As to Mimotopes' failure to exercise the option on its former lease and claims that it is being evicted due to an administrative oversight, Mimotopes' own CEO wrote to the University in 2009 explicitly acknowledging it was always Mimotopes’ responsibility to exercise an option to renew a lease, not Monash’s obligation to inform them. Monash does not routinely advise its commercial tenants of the date for exercise of an option, nor does it have any legal obligation to do so.
ARTICLE IN AUSBIOTECH
MIMOTOPES FIGHTS TO SURVIVE AFTER ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR
Leading provider of peptides for cancer research, Mimotopes, is facing eviction from its $10 million purpose-built facility and ultimately ceasing operations altogether, after notice to exercise its lease renewal was late due to a clerical oversight.
As a vital component of the Australian and global medical research sector, the forced closure of Mimotopes, which was established in 1988, could have significant impacts on Australia’s scientific and research communities and retard progress in a number of biotechnical and biochemical fields. The closure would also result in 25 job losses.
In what Mimotopes is calling “a real David and Goliath battle, of historic proportions,” the landlord, Monash University has issued a 36-day eviction notice, giving Mimotopes until 30 April 2017 to vacate the premises.
Despite pleas from the research and biotech communities, Monash University has reportedly declined to reinstate the terms of the original lease agreement and will opportunistically make a substantive financial gain as a result – either through exponential rental increases or by taking possession of the building with no compensation to Mimotopes.
As one of only two companies who offer such services in Australia, peptide chemistry providers will need to be sourced off-shore, with probable losses of scientific IP, as Mimotopes are patent holders of peptide lantern technology.
Mimotopes’ original lease agreement allowed for rent based on land value alone, as the company paid for the construction of its purpose-built chemistry laboratory, with a seven-year lease and five, seven-year renewal options, giving the company options to 42 years of lease. Mimotopes’ notice to exercise its fourth renewal option was late due to a simple administrative error.