BEAUMONT v FLORALA

Uncertainty Remains after Developer Refused Permission to Appeal Against a Ruling by the Court of Appeal

 

The Court of Appeal has refused Florala Properties Limited permission to appeal against the High Court judgement in their case against Beaumont Business Centres Limited which was decided in the High Court last year.  

The key points of the original case are as follows:

  • Beaumont Business Centres Limited (the Claimant) was the lessee of an office building in the City. They brought an injunction against Florala whose extension of their building on Moorgate by 11.25m affected the light in Beaumont’s building.

  • This was the first time that the High Court had considered the effect of a reduction in light where a building was already poorly lit before the offending works were undertaken. Florala had argued that, as Beaumont’s building was already poorly lit making it even darker should not be an actionable nuisance.

  • The Judge, Peter Knox QC considered the oft criticised Waldram method finding it “useful”.  The use of Radiance assessments – which consider reflected light from other sources e.g., buildings – were considered less helpful as they be “…irrelevant to the question of whether there was an interference with Beaumont’s rights to light, which are rights to natural light, not reflected light. Further, Beaumont would have no right to have sources of light reflected from the outside maintained (e.g. the white rendering of the building into the lightwell); nor would it be obliged to maintain them from the inside.” 

  • Beaumont established that the reduction in light caused a substantial interference amounting to a nuisance.

  • The Judge found that it would be appropriate to grant an injunction ordering Florala to cut back its building. However, Beaumont’s building was already tenanted, and the tenant was not a party to the proceedings, so the judgement was given that Beaumont was granted a form of a declaration entitling them to an injunction and that they could join the tenant to the proceedings to seek an injunction. Otherwise Beaumont would be entitled to damages in lieu in the sum of £350,000.

If Florala had been given permission to appeal it would have provided an opportunity for the Court of Appeal to review rights of light law and provide greater guidance for both developers and potential claimants. Unless the Court of Appeal reconsider the chance to provide the property industry with some certainty will be missed.