Rights Of Light – All change

The case of Coventry and Lawrence 2014 in The Supreme Court, has altered the approach to the tort of nuisance: whether damages can be substituted for an injunction. One of the areas of relevance is rights to light.

When planning to construct buildings which might obstruct light to neighbours, most claims were settled by a reasonable payment or insurance was used to cover future potential claims so as to enable development to continue. Confidence in that approach was shattered in 2010 ( HKRUK ltd v Heaney),  when an injunction was granted forcing the developer to demolish a newly built 2 storey roof extension.

In this case, the court considered that the previous tests which had been relied upon were no longer always appropriate.  The judge stated that ‘an injunction should only be granted in the event that the infringement could not fairly be compensated by money or when a developer’s behaviour rendered an injunction appropriate’

For the future, the view is that developers are likely to succeed if they act reasonably, examine  likely claims in advance, hold discussions with affected parties, make reasonable offers to settle  and accommodate their concerns as best as possible.

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