Summary and implications

Although commercially there may be cases where it is not possible, developers should endeavour to settle all potentially actionable interferences with rights of light with neighbouring owners prior to commencing a development to avoid the risk of injunctive relief being granted.

In the recent Chancery Division Judgment in HKRUK II (CHC) Limited v Marcus Alexander Heaney [2010], a building owner was granted a mandatory injunction requiring a developer to cut back its completed development of a neighbouring office building because it infringed a right of light.

  • The case reaffirmed that:
    • a party is prima facie entitled to an injunction against another party who interferes with a right of light; and
    • the court is not a “tribunal for legalising wrongful acts” by a party who is willing to pay damages, even in situations involving commercial parties where the developer has kept the neighbouring owner informed in respect of the development and had attempted to negotiate with them. Here, the neighbouring owner was forced to decide whether to apply for an injunction by the developer, who issued proceedings for a declaration that the developer did not have any liability to the neighbouring owner, after the building was completed.
  • The neighbouring owner was not criticised, nor were they prevented from obtaining an injunction, for failing to issue proceedings for an injunction at an earlier stage, even though they could see the building going up.

A full article will follow in QuarterDay published on 29 September.