Beaumont Business Centres Limited v Florala Properties Limited  EWHC 2112 (Ch)
The High Court was not persuaded that Beaumont, the Claimant, should be precluded from continuing with its claim for an injunction to restrict works which threatened to infringe its rights to light. It did not agree that a rights to light deed showed that a party would accept monetary compensation and therefore should not be entitled to an injunction in principle.
The case related to a rights of light deed made in 2015 between the then outgoing landlord/ freehold owner, the incoming landlord/ freehold owner and Beaumont as the new tenant of premises in London (the “Premises”). The deed addressed what would happen if Florala (who owned neighbouring property) brought any rights to light claims in relation to works carried out to the Premises a few years earlier. It also addressed what would happen if Florala sought to increase the height of its own premises so as to infringe rights to light enjoyed at the Premises. The deed set out who would be able to negotiate and/ or receive any settlement payment payable as a result of any of these potential claims.
When, a few years later, Florala wished to increase the height of its property, Beaumont applied for an injunction preventing work that would infringe their rights.
The issue before the High Court was Florala’s application for summary judgment in which it argued that the rights of light deed demonstrated that the claimant’s application for an injunction was not genuine as it only wanted money. It referred to cases which recognised that injunctions could and had been refused where that was found to be the case and argued that Beaumont had no case for an injunction or damages in lieu.
The High Court did not agree with Florala’s interpretation of the effect of the rights to light deed. It did not agree that the deed necessarily made it clear that this claim was all about money and it did not therefore take away Beaumont’s right to pursue a claim for an injunction to restrain any actual or threatened infringement of its rights to light. The summary judgment claim was dismissed.
Whilst the existence of a rights to light deed does not of itself mean that an injunction will never be awarded, its terms could have that effect. It is therefore crucial to give proper consideration to the terms of any rights of light deed and how it is expressed. Usually those deeds document payment of money for a release, which would go further than in this case.
If an injunction is not available, damages in lieu of an injunction may also be unavailable, leaving a common law claim for loss to your interest, which is often less.
It is also a reminder to ensure that thorough due diligence is carried out to ensure that a developer is aware of all the relevant deeds and documents around its site. In this case the rights to light deed was registered against the title of the property.