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Phasing out rights to light

Developers rushing to celebrate the Law Commission’s proposal to do away with the acquisition of rights to light by prescription should remember that the government has ?a poor record of following the advisory body’s recommendations, says Roy Perrott

1 March 2013

Rights of light are a major impediment to property development in this country, so the Law Commission’s proposed reforms deserve close scrutiny, not least because it is the first comprehensive review carried out in this area.

Rights of light have always had the capacity to frustrate development. More often than not, however, the objector would have to accept damages, as an injunction was perceived to be an excessive response to the infringement of a right to light. However, as a result of a series of cases within the last few years, culminating in HKRUK II (CHC) Ltd v Heaney [2010] EWHC 2245 (Ch), an injunction is now the default position in both residential and commercial cases.

The effect on development has been considerable. Schemes are being delayed and costs are escalating. It is estimated that the cost to the developer of complying with the injunction in Heaney was ten times as much ...

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