Property and Planning
Bill’s practice covers advocacy and advice in all areas of property especially disputes over boundaries, easements and rights between adjoining owners, co-ownership and estoppel claims, commercial and residential landlord and tenant, including public sector tenancies, and conveyancing disputes. He has also advised and acted for highways authorities in relation to public footpath enquiries, section 106 agreements, problems with contaminated land, enforcing local authority charges over land and nuisance claims including noise nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher escape cases.
Bill regularly appears at all levels of the court and tribunal system including the Supreme Court and has been instructed in mediations (including virtual mediations) about a variety of property issues including business lease renewals, dilapidations disputes, easements and boundaries.
Recent cases include:
- Drafting an application for an urgent interim injunction in a property fraud case, appearing in the High Court and obtaining the required injunction and appearing at return date.
- Appearing for a tenant unlawfully evicted from commercial premises, arguing for the urgent return of goods unlawfully retained by the landlord
- Appearing in a three-day constructive trust proprietary estoppel family dispute which had to consider the recent case of Guest v Guest
- Appearing in a four-day application for committal for contempt of court on behalf of the successful applicant.
- Appearing for successful party in three-day constructive trust/joint venture case involving investment properties.
- Mediations have included a mediation on access rights to an industrial estate and another concerning construction of the easements benefiting a former reservoir site.
- Three-day case before First-tier Tribunal (Lands Chamber) involving parking rights.
- One day case before the Upper Tribunal on the extent of the general boundaries principle.
- Three day case dealing with whether 1954 Act applied, whether license or lease – whether premises occupied for business purposes and whether an estoppel arose out of service of section 25 notice.
- Three day landlord and tenant dispute acting for the landlord in successfully relying on section 30 (1) (a) and (c).
- Three day Boundary dispute which considered whether the Watcham principle applied.
- Nuisance claim against a power station.
- Two-day mediation following collapse of land.
- Nuisance claim by business owner for loss of profits.
- Advising a local authority in relation to its powers under the Building Act 1984 regarding vacant sites.
- Advising in relation to a multi-million pound joint venture agreement involving a JCT contract, breach of agreement, breach of fiduciary duty and tactical questions including the use of various dispute resolution methods.
- Advising and appearing in a five-day easement dispute involving the obstruction of a private right-of-way by statutory undertaker – an argument over whether the servient owner had been forced by statutory undertaker to allow the interference and the extent to which damages in lieu of an injunction were appropriate.
Boundaries, easements and conveyancing disputes
Boundary disputes and disputes about rights of way (public and private), advice and advocacy in all types of disputes between neighbours and disputes arising from conveyancing transactions including land registration and indemnity claims. Seminars and webinars have included one to the Law Society on property fraud following the case of Dreamvar v Mishcon de Reya and boundary disputes for RICS.
Landlord and tenant
Bill has extensive experience of all types of leasehold disputes including agricultural holdings, business lease renewal and the various types of residential tenancy protection.
He has conducted a number of 1954 Act renewals at first instance and on appeal successfully opposing the grant of new tenancies for landlords under section 30 (1) (a) (c) and (f) and negotiating a new lease at court for business partners and a case on whether land constituted part of the “holding” for the purposes of section 23 of the 1954 Act.
Rectification and other claims before property tribunals
Bill has extensive experience of the Land Registration Act 2002 on which he has written and lectured widely, conducting webinars for CLT, the Law Society and other bodies as well as being a facilitator for the Chancery Bar Association at their annual conference. He has advocacy experience before the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry and his successors including recently a dispute over the correct construction of the conveyancing and other deeds and related issues before First-tier Property Tribunal, Land Registration, the Lands Chamber and in court.
Bill has recently conducted a large number of successful mediations as an advocate including in a dispute over the negotiations between a landlord and tenant over the terms of a new business lease and whether there was a surrender and regrant or variation of the existing term and the correct construction of the conveyancing and other deeds and a dispute over the existence of a parking easement.
Professional negligence arising out of property transactions
Negligence and breach of duty claims arising out of the mis-selling of mortgages and other financial products linked to property, equity release schemes and their aftermath, liability of banks and building societies and possible clawback of losses from professional advisers. Bill has conducted webinars for CLT on financial mis-selling and interest rate swaps and in 2019 lecturing to MBL seminars on fraud in the context of financial mis-selling. He has also advised and appeared in a number of solicitor’s negligence claims arising out of property transactions and loss of chance claims in the litigation field.
Business rates and council tax
Bill has advised both billing authorities and rate payers in relation to liability for non-domestic rates and council tax as well as avoidance measures. He has appeared at most levels of the court and tribunal system including acting in the High Court for the Oyston Angel Charity in Preston City Council v Oyston Angel Charity  EWHC 2005 in which it was successfully argued that the premises concerned, which were held by the charity, qualified for zero rating. He has also been instructed in a large number of liability proceedings where avoidance measures had been taken to reduce liability for unoccupied premises.
In 2017 appeared in important business rates’ case for a local authority relating to the port of Goole and the backdating regulations arising out of the disappearance of the “Cumulo” method of rating valuation and the introduction of individual rating of port operators.
Bill appeared for Leeds City Council in Isle Investments Ltd v Leeds City Council before the Administrative Court in 2021 which considered whether the Council were entitled to pursue the property owner for unpaid business rates in circumstances where the leases entered into (some of which purported to be for snail farming in an office building) were sham transactions.
Property and Planning Cases
Appeared (or appearing depending on context) for the successful appellant in Steels v Steels  EWHC 2985 (Ch) in which he successfully set aside a finding of proprietary estoppel against his client.
Isle Investments Ltd v Leeds City Council  EWHC 345 (Admin) (appearing for the successful local authority respondent in an important case stated in which the High Court dismissed an appeal against a decision that leases entered to avoid business rates were shams)
Scott v Martin, Upper Tribunal, Lands Chamber  UKUT 0031 (LC) (whether a plan marked for “identification purposes only” could override the other indications in the surrounding circumstances and proper construction of the relevant conveyances)
Kent v Guest  EWHC 51 (Ch) (on the interface between section 30 (1) (a) and (c) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and the extent of the judge at first instance’s discretion)
Re: The Croft (Bickershaw) Limited  UKUT 339 (LC) (whether objector had locus standi)
Pye v Stodday  EWHC 2454 (Ch) (whether a notice to quit served during the registration gap is effective to terminate a tenancy of an agricultural holding)
R (on the application of Barkas) v North Yorkshire County Council and Scarborough Borough Council  UKSC 31 (whether a recreation ground can be registered as a town or village green)
Preston City Council v Oyston Angel Charity  EWHC 2005 (liability of a charity for business rates on unoccupied premises)
Shand v Morgoed Estates  1 EGLR 149 (liability for rent charges)
Jacklin v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire  EWCA Civ 181 (right of way dispute-whether an injunction appropriate)
Margram PLC v Dorant Limited  All ER (D) 212 (construction of rent review clause)
Bradford and Bingley PLC v Rashid  EWHL 37 (mortgage shortfall claim-limitation and without prejudice admissions in a mortgage claim before the House of Lords)
North Yorkshire Trading Standards v Dacre Son and Hartley,  1 EGLR 11 (Property Misdescriptions Act 1989)
Hatton v Chafes  PNLR 24 (solicitor’s negligence and limitation)
Keelwalk v Waller and Griffith  3 EGLR 79 (proprietary estoppel and ground leases)
R v Bradford MDC ex parte Pickering (2001) 33 HLR 38 (meaning of “owners interest”)
Broadway v the Putney Club and USSR Club  RA 145 (rating appeal before the Lands Tribunal)