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Mooring a boat – do you have squatters’ rights?

In Port of London Authority v Mendoza, the Upper Tribunal considered whether the owner of a houseboat had acquired a stretch of the River Thames by adverse possession.

Mr Mendoza attempted to claim possession of a stretch of Thames riverbed and foreshore on the basis that, although the Port of London Authority had title to the land, Mr Mendoza’s boat had been moored there for over 12 years and he had therefore acquired the land by adverse possession.

Unenforceable side letters – a warning for landlords

It is common for commercial landlords and tenants to document agreements, different to those agreed in the lease, in a separate side letter. One of the most common agreements seen in a side letter is that the tenant will benefit from a rent concession. The agreements contained in the side letter are often subject to certain conditions and the arrangement is, on the face of the document, terminable as set out in the letter.

The recent case of Vivienne Westwood v Conduit Street Development concerns whether a term entitling the landlord to terminate the effect of a side letter documenting a rent concession, was enforceable.

Fail to control Japanese knotweed at your peril!

Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that can be found all over the country. It causes havoc because it grows quickly, causes physical damage to buildings and affects not only the value of the property but also its saleability and insurability. Furthermore, the costs of removing Japanese knotweed and treating the area in question are substantial.

Will a Gate Obstructing a Private Right of Way Always Be Actionable in Law?

If there has been a substantial interference with a private right of way then this is actionable in law. The recent case of Kingsgate Development Projects Ltd v Jordan and another [2017] gave further guidance on what amounts to a substantial interference.

In this case, Mr and Mrs Jordan purchased a property over which there was a right of way in favour of the neighbouring property, Kingsgate Farm. When Mr and Mrs Jordan bought the property there was an electric gate at the entrance to the right of way and further along the right of way there was a further gate that was unlocked.

Can You Exclude Reliance on Replies to Pre-Contract Enquiries in a Commercial Property Transaction?

In the case of First Tower Trustees Ltd and another v CDS (Superstores International) Ltd [2017], First Tower, the landlord, proposed to grant a lease of a warehouse to CDS.

As part of the transaction, First Tower completed replies to pre-contract enquiries in which it stated it was not aware of any notices relating to environmental problems and that it has not been notified of any actual, alleged or potential preaches of environmental law but that CDS should satisfy itself. The replies to pre-contract enquiries confirmed that First Tower would notify CDS if it became aware prior to completion that any reply was incorrect.

Airbnb – Is Your Lease at Risk?

The online, short term lettings marketplace, Airbnb, was recently the topic of litigation in which a host was found to be in breach of her lease.

In Nemcova v Fairfield Rents Ltd [2016] UKUT 303 (LC), the Upper Tribunal gave guidance on the circumstances in which Airbnb style, short-term lettings might amount to a breach of covenant, prohibiting the use of a property for anything other than ‘a private residence’.

Ilott v Mitson – Supreme Court Judgement

The Judgement of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Ilott  v The Blue Cross and others [2017] UKSC 17  [also known as Ilott v Mitson] was given this morning. The decision of the Supreme Court. unanimously overturned that of the Court of Appeal which allowed an adult child to claim against the estate of her late mother even though she excluded her from inheriting under the terms of her Will. The Court of Appeal had awarded  Heather Ilott £143,000 to buy the rented home in which she lived with her husband  and children as well as an extra £20,000 additional income. The judgement means that the decision of the pervious District Judge will be re-instated leaving Ilott with the original award of £50,000.

Jack Monroe wins £24k damages in Twitter libel case against Katie Hopkins

Controversial tabloid columnist Katie Hopkins has been ordered to pay £24,000 in damages for libellous tweets about food blogger and writer Jack Monroe.

Ruling in Jack Monroe v Katie Hopkins, Mr Justice Warby said that Twitter comments made by Hopkins were clearly defamatory and met the requirements of the new ‘serious harm’ threshold set out in the 2013 Defamation Act.

Property Alliance Group v RBS – High Court Rejects PAG’s Claims – Summary

In the first major case regarding LIBOR manipulation and interest rate derivative products, the High Court has dismissed Property Alliance Group’s (PAG) claims against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Background Facts

PAG is a property investment and development business.  RBS was the principal provider of PAG’s commercial banking services.  PAG commenced Court proceedings against RBS in September 2013.  The Court proceedings arose from four interest rate derivative swap products which RBS had sold to PAG between 2004 and 2008.  Each of the swaps were linked to the GBP 3 month LIBOR rate.  RBS also provided investment facilities to PAG that were usually referenced to a margin over LIBOR.

In Spring 2010, PAG was transferred into RBS Global Restructuring Group (GRG).  In June 2011, PAG terminated the swap agreements but they incurred a break cost of £8.261 million.  At the same time, PAG agreed refinancing terms with RBS and entered into a composite facility.  When the Court proceedings were commenced in September 2013, PAG still banked with RBS and were still dealt with by the bank’s GRG.  PAG remained in GRG until they refinanced their debt with HSBC in 2015.

Property Alliance Group v RBS – High Court rejects PAG’s claims

In the first major case regarding LIBOR manipulation and interest rate derivative products, the High Court has dismissed Property Alliance Group’s (PAG) claims against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Background Facts

PAG is a property investment and development business.  RBS was the principal provider of PAG’s commercial banking services.  PAG commenced Court proceedings against RBS in September 2013.  The Court proceedings arose from four interest rate derivative swap products which RBS had sold to PAG between 2004 and 2008.  Each of the swaps were linked to the GBP 3 month LIBOR rate.  RBS also provided investment facilities to PAG that were usually referenced to a margin over LIBOR.

In Spring 2010, PAG was transferred into RBS Global Restructuring Group (GRG).  In June 2011, PAG terminated the swap agreements but they incurred a break cost of £8.261 million.  At the same time, PAG agreed refinancing terms with RBS and entered into a composite facility.  When the Court proceedings were commenced in September 2013, PAG still banked with RBS and were still dealt with by the bank’s GRG.  PAG remained in GRG until they refinanced their debt with HSBC in 2015.

Court of Appeal grants permission in WW Property Investments case against NatWest

In welcome news for those bank customers who were mis-sold interest rate hedging products by banks such as RBS, NatWest, Barclays and Lloyds, the Court of Appeal has granted WW Property Investments (“WW”) permission to appeal the decision made by His Honour Judge Kaye QC to strike out the entirety of WW’s claim against NatWest and to refuse WW permission to add a new claim.

Court considers lack of capacity and want of knowledge and approval

The recent case of Lloyd v Jones and others [2016] EWHC 1308 has provided insight into the Court’s approach when it considers a challenge to a Will based on lack of capacity.

The Deceased and testatrix was Mrs Harris was held to have had capacity at the time she made her will against evidence to the contrary which alleged that the testatrix had been suffering with delusions of witches and space beings at her farm.

Adverse Possession vs Criminal Squatting

The Court of Appeal has ruled in the case of R (Best) v The Chief Land Registrar [2015] that where a squatter claimed title to a residential property based on his adverse possession, the fact that part of his occupation constituted a criminal offence under s.144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPOA) 2012 did not prevent him from qualifying for adverse possession.

Shareholder disputes – Unfair prejudice petitions

Shareholder disputes can arise for many different reasons irrespective of whether there is a shareholders agreement in place or not.

If there is not a shareholder’s agreement in place, the position is decided by the Companies Act 2006 (“CA 2006”). For a majority shareholder, they can try and remove a Director from office. For a minority shareholder, i.e. someone who owns less than 50% of the shares, they may be able to apply to the Court for relief under section 994 of the CA 2006. This is known as an unfair prejudice petition.

Removal of Executors- Clash of the siblings

In the case of Wilby v Rigby [2015], the court held under s50 of the Administration of Estates Act 1985 that both executors of an estate were to be removed in favour of an independent administrator. The executors and parties were brother and sister, both appointed equally with equal shares in the estate.

That’s my dress!

The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 brought much excitement throughout the world, with particular interest in Kate’s dress, which is one of the most photographed dresses of all time.

The difficulties of surrendering a lease without a formal Deed of Surrender

The ways in which a lease can be surrendered were brought to attention in the recent case of Padwick Properties Ltd v Punj Lloyd Ltd [2016]EWHC 502(Ch), where the court considered whether it was possible for a surrender by operation of law to take place where one of the parties discharges itself of its obligations under the lease. It was held that this was not enough; both parties must have acted unequivocally.

Nuisance Neighbours

In the recent case of Cocking and another v. Eacott and another, the Court of Appeal has again considered the delicate matter of nuisance neighbours and whether an absentee property owner can be held liable for acts of nuisance committed on their property. In this particular case, the woman who brought about the appeal had allowed her daughter to reside in a Victorian terraced house which she owned, while she lived elsewhere.

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