Project Blue Ltd v Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs

Sale of land – Stamp duty land tax – Alternative financing – Respondent purchasing freehold of land with assistance of bank under arrangement compliant with Sharia law – Financing arrangement involving onward sale of land to bank with leaseback and right to call for re-transfer at future date – Upper Tribunal rejecting respondent’s argument that sub-sale to bank not exempt under section 71A of Finance Act 2003 – Court of Appeal allowing respondent’s appeal – Appellants appealing – Whether respondent liable for stamp duty land tax on purchase of freehold – Whether respondent entitled to exemption under section 71A – Whether anti-avoidance provisions of section 75A of 2003 Act applying – Appeal allowed

Morris-Garner and another v One Step (Support) Ltd

Breach of covenant – Negotiating damages – Appellant selling shares in company subject to restrictive covenants preventing competition with respondent or soliciting clients – Respondent claiming damages for breach of covenants – High Court holding respondent entitled to damages in amount notionally agreed between parties for release of obligations (negotiating damages) – Court of Appeal upholding decision – Appellant appealing – Whether respondent entitled to negotiating damages – Appeal allowed

Court of Appeal relieves a licensee from forfeiture

The litigation in Vauxhall Motors Ltd (formerly General Motors UK Ltd) v Manchester Ship Canal Co Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 1100; [2018] PLSCS 93 concerned a licence granting Vauxhall rights to construct and use a spillway to enable it to discharge surface water and treated trade effluent from its manufacturing plant into the adjoining canal. The rights were granted in perpetuity. But the licence was terminable for non-payment of the annual licence fee in the sum of £50.

Vauxhall Motors Ltd (formerly General Motors UK Ltd) v Manchester Ship Canal Co Ltd

Licence – Relief from forfeiture – Discretion – Appellant purporting to terminate respondent’s right to discharge surface water into canal – Respondent seeking relief from forfeiture – Whether court having power to grant relief – Whether negotiations for new right preventing respondent from claiming relief from forfeiture – Whether court should exercise discretion to refuse relief – Appeal dismissed

Zinc Cobham 1 Ltd (in administration) and others v Adda Hotels (an unlimited company) and others

Landlord and tenant – Breach of covenant – Specific performance – Strike out – Appellants issuing proceedings for order for specific performance and/or damages for breach of covenant – Deputy master striking out parts of claim seeking specific performance – Appellants appealing – Whether master erring in concluding no real prospect of obtaining specific performance at trial and claim disclosing no reasonable grounds for such relief – Appeal dismissed

Rotrust Nominees Ltd v Hautford Ltd (a company registered in the British Virgin Islands)

Landlord and tenant – Planning permission – Consent – Appellant landlord refusing consent for respondent tenant to apply for planning permission for residential use of premises – Judge concluding that consent unreasonably withheld – Whether landlord’s refusal of consent pursuant to tenant’s covenant not to apply for planning permission without consent was reasonable – Appeal dismissed

Flowers v Chief Land Registrar and another

Land registration – Set aside – Standing – Section 108(2) of the Land Registration Act 2002 – Appellant applying to First-tier Tribunal (FTT) to set aside deeds purporting to cancel restrictive covenants and impose fresh covenants – Appellant not being party to deeds – FTT holding applicant had no standing to apply to set aside deed – Appellant appealing – Whether appellant having standing to make application – Whether appellant liable for costs of two respondents – Appeal dismissed

Recipients seeking to avoid the effect of notices will search for any errors that might invalidate them

Ropemaker Properties Ltd v Bella Italia Restaurants Ltd [2018] EWHC 1002 (Ch) concerned a conditional agreement for lease between a developer/landlord on the one hand and an incoming tenant and its guarantor on the other. The agreement was expressed to be subject to conditions and was terminable if the conditions were not satisfied in time. In that case, either the landlord or the tenant were to “give written notice to the other and the guarantor to determine this agreement”.

R (on the application of Crematoria Management Ltd) v Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Town and country planning – Environmental impact assessment– Screening opinion – Defendant local planning authority granting planning permission for development on site of crematorium within green belt– Claimant applying for judicial review – Whether decision unlawful for failure to adopt screening opinion on requirement for environmental impact assessment – Whether proposed development constituting “urban development project” – Whether defendant erring in assessment of need – Application granted

R (on the application of Charlesworth) v Crossrail Ltd

Land – Compulsory purchase – Surplus – Crichel Down Rules – Properties compulsorily acquired and demolished for purposes of new railway construction – Claimant former leaseholder applying for judicial review of defendant’s decision to dispose of surplus land on open market and treat interested party as holder of qualifying interest – Whether claimant wrongly deprived of rights as dispossessed property owner – Application dismissed

Food Convertors Ltd and another v Newell and another

Boundary dispute – Adverse possession – Title to land – Appellants claiming adverse possession of land subject to boundary dispute – Appellants appealing against decision of county court resolving dispute in favour of respondent neighbours – Whether appellants establishing adverse possession – Appeal dismissed

Warning signs prevented use from qualifying as use “as of right”

Unauthorised use of land is not use “as of right” if a landowner has erected signs in a visible position clearly indicating his objections to such use. Thus spake the court in Bennett v Winterburn [2016] EWCA Civ 482; [2016] PLSCS 154. Use “as of right” must not be contentious, secretive or permissive. And the Court of Appeal failed to see why users who ignored signs stating that land was “private” (making their use contentious) should benefit by obtaining an easement by prescription as a result.

A document that called itself a licence was, in fact, a lease

The characteristics that distinguish a lease from a licence were explained in Street v Mountford [1985] 1 EGLR 128; (1985) 274 EG 821. The decision confirmed that the grant of exclusive possession, for a term, and at a rent, creates a tenancy. And, importantly, the effect of the parties’ arrangement is more important than whether the occupier pays rent or the label that they attach to their agreement.

Generator Developments Ltd v Lidl UK GmbH

Sale of land – Equitable interest – Joint venture – Appellant property developer and respondent company discussing proposed purchase of land for joint venture – Respondent subsequently purchasing land in own name – Appellant alleging land held on trust for both parties as part of joint venture giving rise to equity under principle in Pallant v Morgan – Judge ruling arrangement or understanding between parties insufficient to give rise to Pallant v Morgan equity – Whether equity arising where both parties negotiating on express “subject to contract” basis – Appeal dismissed

Elleray v Bourne and others

Park homes – Sale – Commission – Mobile Homes Act 1983 – Appellant buying mobile home pitch from respondents – Appellant paying commission to site owner – Appellant claiming reimbursement of alleged overpaid commission – First-tier tribunal finding appellant responsible for commission in addition to agreed price – Appellant appealing – Whether commission payable out of agreed sale price or in addition to it – Appeal dismissed

Iceland Foods Ltd v Berry (VO)

Non-domestic rates – Valuation – Valuation for Rating (Plant and Machinery) (England) Regulations 2000 – Appellant operating retail warehouse selling mainly refrigerated and frozen food – Air-handling system (AHS) installed in warehouse to maintain temperature at acceptable level for functioning of refrigerated cabinets – Whether AHS to be ignored when valuing premises for rating purposes – Exception to para 2 of Class 2 of schedule to 2000 Regulations – Whether system used “in connection with services mainly or exclusively as part of manufacturing operations or trade processes” – Appeal allowed

Morris-Garner and another v One Step (Support) Ltd

Breach of covenant – Negotiating damages – Appellant selling shares in company subject to restrictive covenants preventing competition with respondent or soliciting clients – Respondent claiming damages for breach of covenants – High Court holding respondent entitled to damages in amount notionally agreed between parties for release of obligations (negotiating damages) – Court of Appeal upholding decision – Appellant appealing – Whether respondent entitled to negotiating damages – Appeal allowed

Steel and another v NRAM Ltd (formerly NRAM plc)

Solicitor – Duty of care – Careless misrepresentation – Respondent bank seeking damages for loss arising from reliance on statements by appellant solicitor in email concerning property transaction – Respondent allegedly misled into discharging security over all properties owned by claimant’s client when only one property eligible for release from security – Judge concluding appellant owed no duty of care to respondent when making erroneous statements – Appeal court allowing appeal against that decision – Whether appellant owing duty to opposite party – Appeal allowed

Knight v Goulandris

Party wall – Party Wall etc Act 1996 – Award – Service – Surveyor being appointed in party wall dispute – Surveyor’s award being sent to parties by email – Appeal against award – Whether appeal brought outside 14-day period permitted by section 10(17) – Whether service by electronic means valid – Appeal allowed

Goode Cuisine Co Ltd v Commissioners of HM Revenue and Customs

Stamp duty land tax – Higher rate – High value residential transactions – Appellant appealing against closure notice issued by respondent commissioners requiring appellant to pay additional stamp duty land tax (SDLT) in respect of purchase of residential property – Whether tax relief available for trades involving making of dwelling available to public – Whether dwelling to be converted into bed and breakfast accommodation qualifying for relief – Appeal dismissed

R (on the application of Mott) v Environment Agency

Environment – Human rights – Fishing rights – Respondent owning leasehold right to fish for salmon using ancient method known as “putcher rank” – Appellant imposing limits on numbers of salmon to be caught using putchers – Limit based on lowest catch sought by any licence holder in past 10 years – Whether unlawful interference with respondent’s right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions under Article 1 of First Protocol to European Convention on Human Rights – Appeal dismissed

Leven Holdings Ltd v Johnston and others

Easement – Right of way – Prescription and loss of modern grant – Defendants claiming right of way over claimant’s land – Claimant seeking declaration of right of way over estate service road for all purposes and order preventing use by others – Whether defendants establishing express, implied, prescriptive or presumed right of way across claimant’s land – Declaration granted

Gaia Ventures Ltd v Abbeygate Helical (Leisure Plaza) Ltd

Sale of land – Overage payment – Condition – Lease being transferred to defendant with overage covenant – Benefit of overage covenant being assigned to claimant – Claimant suing defendant for breach of overage provision – Whether defendant using reasonable endeavours to satisfy overage conditions – Claim allowed

Annetts v Adeleye

Right of way – Abandonment – Covenant to fence – Right of way created by owner of access way in favour of purchaser of adjoining land – Strip of land being severed and sold to adjoining owner – Purchaser covenanting to fence boundary between strip and access way – Whether right of way over access way to strip of land abandoned by covenant to fence boundary – Appeal allowed

Mahmut and another v Jones and others

Landlord and tenant – Reversionary interest – First refusal – Landlord giving respondent tenants first refusal to purchase reversionary interest in flats – Landlord completing sale to appellants before respondents accepting offer – Respondents serving notice on appellants requiring disposal of freehold interest to them – Respondents serving default notice and obtaining court order requiring appellants to transfer freehold – Appellants serving notice under section 17(4) of Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 – Whether notice effective to discharge appellants from obligation to comply with court order – Appeal dismissed

Sackville UK Property Select II (GP) No 1 Ltd and another v Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers Ltd and another

Landlord and tenant – Lease – Break clause – Claimants granting lease to first defendant – Lease containing break option – First defendant obtaining licence to assign lease to second defendant – Second defendant purporting to exercise break option – Claimants seeking declaration that notice of break option invalid and applying for summary judgment – Whether lease determined pursuant to break option – Claim allowed

Hewitt (VO) v Telereal Trillium

Rating – Non-domestic rates – Rateable value – Valuation Tribunal determining appellant’s office building to be listed in rating list with nominal rateable value of £1 – Decision based on lack of demand for the property on open market – Upper Tribunal allowing respondent valuation officer’s appeal – Appellant appealing – Whether lack of demand justifying nominal valuation – Whether tribunal wrongly concluding that rating hypothesis required valuer to assume demand not existing in reality – Appeal allowed

Rittson-Thomas and others v Oxfordshire County Council

Trust for sale – Reverter – School Sites Act 1841 – Defendant local authority selling land conveyed by deceased grantor for use as part of school – Claimant heirs seeking declaration that defendant holding proceeds of sale on trust for them – Whether notional reverter to grantor occurring when school ceased to operate from original site – Claim dismissed

A retailer has won an important test case on the valuation of plant and machinery for rating purposes

The question that arose in Iceland Foods Ltd v Berry [2018] UKSC 15 was whether a specialised air handling system, used in connection with refrigerated merchandise in a retail store, designed and programmed to maintain the store temperature at an acceptable level for both the functioning of the refrigerated cabinets and the comfort of staff and customers, should be treated as part of the hereditament for rating purposes, or whether it should be ignored.

Generator Developments Ltd v Lidl UK GmbH

Sale of land – Equitable interest – Joint venture – Appellant property developer and respondent company discussing proposed purchase of land for joint venture – Respondent subsequently purchasing land in own name – Appellant alleging land held on trust for both parties as part of joint venture giving rise to equity under principle in Pallant v Morgan – Judge ruling arrangement or understanding between parties insufficient to give rise to Pallant v Morgan equity – Whether equity arising where both parties negotiating on express “subject to contract” basis – Appeal dismissed

Harbour Castle Ltd v David Wilson Homes Ltd

Civil procedure – Abuse of process – Striking out – Court striking out claim for failure to comply with unless order – Claimant issuing second action allegedly in identical terms – Defendant applying to strike out proceedings – Whether second action abuse of process – Application granted

What duties do solicitors owe lenders when acting for a borrower who is seeking to have a property released from a charge?

Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd [1964] AC 465 established that representors may be liable in tort for negligent misstatements. In that case, the court would have ruled that a merchant bank was liable on a credit reference provided for a customer, but for a disclaimer that relieved it of liability. However, for the representor to be liable, the representee must establish that he reasonably relied on the representation and that the representor ought reasonably to have foreseen that he would do so.

Atherton and others v MB Freeholds Ltd

Landlord and tenant – Service Charges – Insurance – Appellant leaseholders being obliged to insure flat in own and respondent landlord’s joint names – In event of default respondent entitled to insure and recoup cost – Respondent insuring whole of building under single policy in sole name – Whether respondent required to insure in joint names – Appeal allowed

Leven Holdings Ltd v Johnston and others

Easement – Right of way – Prescription and loss of modern grant – Defendants claiming right of way over claimant’s land – Claimant seeking declaration of right of way over estate service road for all purposes and order preventing use by others – Whether defendants establishing express, implied, prescriptive or presumed right of way across claimant’s land – Declaration granted