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Round-up: Developer cases 2021-22

Walker Morris’ Real Estate Litigation Director David Manda specialises in development-related disputes, both from a risk management and a dispute resolution perspective. In this round-up, David pulls together some of their commentary and practical advice arising from key developer cases from the last year or so.

Fishbourne Developments v Stephens concerned the interpretation of an option agreement relating to development land. The parties had differing views on the meaning of the words “development” and “planning permission”. The correct interpretation was crucial, as it would determine whether the landowner was required to sell the land to the developer at a significantly discounted price. In order to resolve the dispute, the Court of Appeal considered the correct approach to contractual interpretation. In this article, our team explains and offers practical advice.

The court decided, in Brooke Homes (Bicester) v Portfolio Property Partners, that the landowner/developer was liable to pay breach of contract damages of £13.4 million to the development contractor in respect of its lost chance to complete a conditional sale contract. The case is a cautionary tale of the importance of negotiating, understanding and complying in full with development contract obligations. In this recent briefing, Charlotte Spowage highlights crucial legal and practical advice arising for developers.

The recent Father’s Field Development Ltd v Namulas Pension Trustees Ltd litigation confirmed that an objector’s financial interest would not, of itself, suffice to prevent modification or discharge of a restrictive covenant. The costs dispute that followed should act as a significant deterrent against meritless objections and should prove an effective tool in restrictive covenant-related commercial negotiations.  In these related articles, David Manda explains why both aspects of this case are of interest and assistance to developers.

David Manda and Martin McKeague provide an up-to-date overview of the legal and practical options for overcoming restrictive covenant-related impediments to development, and review lessons from recent restrictive covenant case law.

This article, explains TRW v Panasonic, a case outside the property-development context, but which nevertheless prompts crucial practical advice for developers who negotiate and contract on standard terms and conditions.