The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal on 8 December 2023 in the case of Duchess of Bedford House RTM Co Ltd and others v Campden Hill Gate Ltd [2023] EWCA Civ 1470.

The Court of Appeal considered the proper interpretation of a reservation of rights clause in a head lease and whether this operates to exclude the rights of residents of a block of flats to park on a private road outside their flats.

The case provides helpful guidance on 2 important points:

  1. Affirming the rule in the unreported case of Newman v Jones that it was not necessary on the facts of this case for every resident of a block of flats to have parked in order to demonstrate a settled practice of parking which gives rights to park in favour of all the residents of the block;
  2. Confirming that a practical and realistic approach must be adopted when interpreting the wording of leases. Here this meant that when considering a clause which excluded rights, the practical impact of such exclusion had to be grounded in reality.

The decision, which is final now the Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal, provides a helpful insight into how rights can be converted to easements on the transfer of an interest and in the operation of section 62 of the Law of Property Act 1925.  It also provides guidance on the approach to be adopted when faced with lease clauses that do not make complete sense on their plain reading, which happens from time to time in practice, sometimes due to simple drafting errors. In this case, the lease appeared to grant rights on the one hand and take them away on the other, due to a badly worded clause that was argued to exclude the tenant’s rights under section 62.

The residents of Duchess of Bedford House are relieved and delighted at this decision. After having had their right to park restricted by parking tickets and even clamping for periods over the last 30 years, they can park in the road outside their flats with full confidence in their right to do so.

Huge thanks to Philip Rainey KC of Tanfield Chambers and Edward Francis of Enterprise Chambers. It would be hard to find barristers as accomplished in this area of law.

If you would like to discuss this decision in more detail or would like advice regarding any of the issues raised, please contact Joanna Osborne or any member of our Property Litigation team.

Please see our earlier legal update for further information about the case.

Philip Rainey KC of Tanfield Chambers

Edward Francis of Enterprise Chambers


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