High Handed developer gets comeuppance

In Ottercroft Ltd v Scandia Care 2016 the Court of Appeal upheld the County Court decision to grant a mandatory injunction (requiring removal of a newly constructed part of a building) instead of damages.

When the defendant started building a new staircase which would interfere with light to kitchen windows in the claimant’s restaurant, the claimant commenced and then stayed proceedings to stop the works because he was offered undertakings from the defendant that his right to light would not be infringed. In the event, the undertakings were ignored.
The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s decision, despite the fact that the cost of removing the offending staircase and installing a replacement was considerably more than the level of damages to which the claimant would otherwise have been entitled.

 

The court took into account that the defendant had been ‘high-handed’ in constructing the staircase in breach of his undertakings. The neighbour had accepted the undertakings, instead of seeking interim relief from the court, and should not be in a worse position.

 

The case reminds us that that in rights of light cases, the courts will look at the conduct of the parties in deciding between injunctions and damages.

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