Here's a good timely article on the perils of rights to light by Crendon Insurance Brokers.
Not sure why, but it seems to be the one right which gets overlooked more than most in my experience.
Don't let that be you.
If you are a developer then please do not assume the following:
- I'll just be ordered to pay compensation. Wrong.
- I'm sure the neighbour will accept a cash offer. No guarantee.
- The neighbour took too long to bring action. An injunction is off the table. Not so fast.
All these points were established in the leading case Heaney (2010). In this case the Court ordered that the sixth and seventh floors be demolished. Not only had completion been completed but an anchor tenant was about to move in.
As it happens both sides reached an out of court settlement but, having this judgment, it's safe to assume a few noughts were added to the final settlement.
If you are looking to develop any land, especially an inner City one, you must make sure that rights to light have been addressed in the legal report. Few more tips…..
More recent case law suggests the courts are inclined to damages in the following circumstances
- You have an expert report advising rights to light were not material
- The infringement is to "secondary accommodation" eg a garage, bathroom, utility room
What is encouraging is that courts will base damages, if awarded, on compensatory principles not a share of developers' profits. This should deter the profit-seekers at least.