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Property litigation and ADR.

The editor of this section of the site is Harriet Holmes barrister of Tanfield Chambers (www.tanfieldchambers.co.uk)

There are two cases this month:
  • The respondent was not estopped from claiming an easement.
  • A writ of possession was not set aside as it had been properly issued and the occupier had been sufficiently notified.

Easements

Estoppel

Watt v Dignan [2017] EWCA Civ 1390

Summary

The Court of Appeal confirmed that the respondents were not estopped from asserting rights to use toilet facilities. Further, the Court held that the judge had been right to order payment to the respondents of damages in lieu of an injunction.

Facts

Unit 27 on an Industrial Estate was owned by W, the appellant. By two conveyances, rights to use the toilet facilities at Unit 27 were granted to the respondents’ (D’s) predecessors in title as owners of other Units (DT) on the same industrial estate.

The Ds acquired their Units in June 2011. W acquired Unit 27 in February 2012, with a view to demolishing it. The toilets at Unit 27 had been decommissioned in about 2005. Although urinals remained in situ the occupiers of DT did not use them after that date. The toilet block was demolished by W in September 2012.

W argued that the easements over the toilet block had been abandoned by its demolition, or, that the Ds were estopped at least by September 2012, from asserting their easements. The case as to estoppel had been particularised in W’s amended statement of case. The estoppel case was pleaded in such a way that the conduct relied on was that of the Ds, not their predecessors in title, which was said to be a representation to W, rather than his predecessor in title, and the detrimental reliance was the demolition of the toilet block forming part of Unit 27.

First instance

The Recorder rejected both the arguments as to abandonment and as to estoppel. He awarded the Ds damages in lieu of an injunction. W sought and obtained permission to appeal against the rejection of his argument as to estoppel, and the award of damages in lieu.
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