Insights: Legal Updates - January 2014

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Rock, paper, scissors


In the playground, disputes over priority and precedence were often settled by a game of rock, paper, scissors. The rules of the game and identification of a winner were either known or readily understood: paper wraps rock, rock blunts scissors, scissors cut paper. If only the game of contractual interpretation was so simple. Construction contracts […]

Relying on unlawful conduct as a defence

Sophia Purkis |

Recent Court of Appeal decisions have reinforced the need to consider carefully the requirements for a defendant to rely on the claimant’s unlawful conduct as a defence in tort, contract and property claims. In Gelley & Ors v Shepherd & Anor [2013] EWCA Civ 1172 the court reviewed the circumstances in which it will give […]

Risky negotiations: contracted out leases

Alison Mould |

A recent case has highlighted some very serious issues for, perhaps, both landlords and tenants when a tenant remains in occupation after a lease which has been contracted out of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 expires. Normally when a contracted out lease expires, if a tenant were to remain in occupation without consent he […]

Are collateral warranties construction contracts under the Construction Act?


This question was addressed for the first time in a recent judgment of Mr Justice Akenhead in the Technology and Construction Court. In a decision likely to have wide-ranging consequences for construction, the ruling indicates that collateral warranties can be considered a construction contract under the Housing Grants etc. Act (Act). Though the court was […]

Getting good title to art


The recent case of the “fleamarket Renoir” serves as a reminder of the dangers in buying art. A woman in Virginia bought a small painting and a box of trinkets for $7 in 2009. It turned out to be a Renoir worth $100,000, but last week the Virginia court ordered it to be returned to […]

Be aware of UK tax laws when inviting in overseas investors


Any UK hotel operator who wishes to attract overseas investment into their business has two options. They can seek to have the investment by way of straight equity, or a mixture of equity and debt. If the overseas investment is by way of equity, the overseas investor should not be subject to UK taxes in […]

Councils' challenge in respect of permitted development rights legislation fails

Mark Harnett |

In a judgment issued just before Christmas, the High Court rejected a challenge brought by a consortium of London local authorities to the process for granting exemptions to the permitted development right to change offices to residential use that was introduced by the Government earlier last year. While the High Court expressed some reservations about […]

Enigmatic variations

Gillian Birkby |

Variations are difficult to avoid in construction work, but two recent cases show that there is plenty of scope for disagreement over how they should be valued Variations are an inevitable part of construction and it is probably impossible to avoid them altogether, given the complexities of the construction process. They do, however, present an […]