Cenac v Schafer [2016] UKPC 25, 2nd August 2016

Contracts for sale of land – Equitable interests – Specific performance

The Privy Council upheld a decision that a son-in-law was entitled to be granted specific performance of a contract for the purchase of land entered into by his deceased father-in-law. The deceased had acquired an equitable interest because he had paid the full purchase price. Upon entry into a specifically enforceable contract for the sale of land the vendor becomes a trustee of the land for the purchaser, subject to his paramount right to receive the purchase price; and when he has received the whole of the price he holds it on constructive trust for the purchaser absolutely. That equitable interest subsisted despite the fact that the deceased did not have a licence to hold the land under the applicable law of Saint Lucia.  

R (Faraday Development Ltd) v West Berkshire Council [2016] EWHC 2166, 26th August 2016

Disposition of property – Best consideration – Mixed use development

The court considered whether a local authority was in breach of its s.123 Local Government Act 1972 ("LGA 1972") obligation to obtain the best consideration reasonably obtainable for the disposal of interests in its land when it entered into a development agreement to facilitate the regeneration of the local authority’s site. The agreement was a contract to carry out redevelopment works and was intended to maximise the local authority's financial receipts. It was held that the agreement was not subject to the public procurement legislation as the developer was under no legal obligation to take a transfer of any part of the site or carry out any works unless it opted to take a ground lease or freehold under the agreement. The purpose of the development agreement was to facilitate regeneration of the site in order to maximise the local authority's financial receipts and was therefore compatible with its duty under the Local Government Act 1972 s.123(2) not to dispose of land for less than best value.

Sinclair Gardens Investments (Kensington) Ltd v Avon Estates (London) Ltd [2016] UKUT 317 (LC) 4th August 2016 

Service Charges – Legal Costs

This concerned the question of whether the costs of previous tribunal proceedings were recoverable pursuant to the service charge provision in the lease. Clause 6(A) of the lease imposed on the landlord the duty to manage and gave it power to appoint managing agents, to employ a range of persons, including solicitors, and to delegate any of its functions. Those powers were intended to enable the landlord to manage the estate. In holding that legal costs were not recoverable, the Upper Tribunal considered that although the clause made explicit reference to solicitors, the recoverable solicitors fees were only those relating to their employment for the purposes of the management of the estate. Whether or not litigation costs could be recoverable pursuant to a service charge clause relating to the management of the building or estate must be considered by looking at the whole lease. The presence of more specific provisions elsewhere in the lease lent support to a conclusion that general words were not intended to impose liability for the costs of litigation.

Leaseholders of Foundling Court and O’Donnell Court v LB Camden et al [2016] UKUT 366 (LC) 10th August 2016

Consultation – Service charge – sub-tenants

A superior landlord who is subject to the obligation to consult under section 20 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 must consult both the intermediate landlord and the individual leaseholders. Those who were ultimately responsible for paying the service charge, here the subtenants of the individual dwellings, must be consulted. This could be done by delivering consultation notices addressed to “the leaseholder” in each flat, by asking the intermediate landlord for the necessary information of the identity of the subtenants or seeking dispensation of the consultation requirements.

Pineport Limited v Grangeglen Limited [2016] EWHC 2170 (Ch) 31st August 2016

Legal costs – relief from forfeiture

Jamal Demachkie was instructed in this case. The Chief Master made an order that part of the landlord’s costs could be recovered as a condition of the grant of relief against forfeiture with the remaining legal fees falling to be determined under CPR 44.2. The Master considered it appropriate to deal with the grant of relief and the award for costs separately, partly because it was a tenant’s claim for relief from forfeiture, rather than a claim for possession by the landlord, in which the tenant seeks relief. The questions to be determined were firstly whether the tenant had provided the landlord with such information as the landlord may reasonably require in order to consider the application, and, secondly, whether the landlord had behaved reasonably in relation to the application. Taking into account the tenant’s delay in making the application and the offer the tenant made six weeks before trial which the landlord did not beat, the tenant was ordered to pay the landlord’s costs on a standard basis up to the date the landlord could have accepted the offer and the landlord was ordered to pay the tenant’s costs thereafter. The court held that it had discretion to award costs on the standard basis.