Local authorities are under a duty to make plans to meet the need for new homes in their areas and if they fail to do so, their ability to resist developments that they view as inappropriate can be seriously compromised.
Some neighbours are friendlier than others and, if you feel that your rights are being trampled upon, a good lawyer can help you. In one case, an equestrian couple who were harassed by a farmer, who flouted their right of way across his land, won an injunction and thousands of pounds in damages.
Heavy investment in Internet-based businesses has resulted in the establishment of powerful trading positions in many fields of endeavour. However, in one important test case, the impact of such developments on competition in the online property sales market will be analysed by a specialist tribunal.
In a decision of importance to charities and to any British citizen who is domiciled abroad, but who has assets in the UK, the Court of Appeal has ruled that £600,000 in Inheritance Tax (IHT) was properly charged on a woman’s bequest of over £1.8 million for the benefit of elderly Jersey residents.
Rumours can have a grave impact on businesses and, where the source is an official one, they can be particularly damaging. The point was illustrated by a case in which the owner of a property management firm launched defamation proceedings against a local authority and one of its officers, claiming to be the victim of a whispering campaign.
Money often changes hands between life partners on the basis of trust – but one case in which a woman was left holding nothing but a disputed IOU in respect of £175,000 she claimed to have lent her husband showed how important it is to keep proper records and seek formal legal advice.
Those who work in the social housing field know that dealing with angry tenants is all part of the job. However, they are entitled to go about their lives free from fear and one case showed that the courts will come down hard on those who intimidate them.
Restrictive covenants that can place serious constraints on property owners’ use of their land lurk in many old title deeds and it often needs a professional eye to detect them. In one case, however, a woman succeeded in modifying one such covenant which stood in the way of her residential development plans.
Everyone has a right to live in daylight and, in one case, the High Court overturned a residential planning permission after objectors complained that the development would put an adjoining area of land, used by primary school pupils as an outdoor classroom and play area, in the shade.
Land Registry searches are a vital part of conveyancing and are usually an effective means of ensuring that property buyers understand exactly what it is that they are purchasing. However, one tribunal case underlined that they are not foolproof because not every right in respect of land has to be registered.
Asset freezing orders are an essential tool in commercial litigation, but they can have devastating consequences for those targeted and damages are generally payable if they are improperly obtained. The point was strikingly underlined by one High Court case involving a businessman who won tens of millions of dollars in compensation despite his own dishonest conduct.
It is vitally important that defiance of court orders does not go unpunished and judges have a panoply of powers to enforce compliance. In one debt recovery action, two businessmen who repeatedly disobeyed an order requiring them to give full disclosure of their assets were given a month to fall into line or go to prison.
In a case which raised important issues in relation to public procurement, the High Court has refused to strike down a development agreement entered into by a local authority with the objective of comprehensively regenerating a run-down industrial estate.
As any property professional will know, negotiations can be tense and it is common for various draft agreements to fly between parties without any final deal in fact having been reached. Exactly that happened in one case involving the proposed lease of a luxury central London home at a rent of £6,500 a week.
Allotments are immensely precious to those who tend them. However, one High Court case showed that the special protection that they enjoy against development must sometimes give way under the relentless pressure for new housing.
The commercial courts are often instrumental in exposing skulduggery and that was certainly so in one case in which the director of a shipping company was found to have masterminded the scuttling of a merchant vessel with a view to financial gain.
Homeowners have a right to live in reasonable peace and the courts have all the powers required to ensure that their tranquillity is respected. In one case that proved the point, the High Court took urgent steps to end the nuisance of illegal high-performance vehicle racing close to a suburban housing estate.
Litigation is expensive and there is sometimes no option but for those involved to rely on third party funding that is available in the marketplace. In a test case concerning such an arrangement, the High Court ruled that a 300 per cent success fee charged by one such funder was recoverable in the context of a commercial arbitration.
Traveller encampments are not always popular with neighbouring landowners, but one High Court case has underlined the overarching aim of planning policy that travellers should be fairly and equally treated and their traditionally nomadic way of life respected.
Property owners who let out their homes on a short-term basis, using Airbnb or other websites, should take very careful note of a tribunal’s ruling that a long leaseholder who advertised for temporary occupants of her flat breached the terms of her lease.
It is essential that contract adjudicators must not only act, but be seen to act, fairly. In one case involving a contract to install a £30 million airport baggage handling system, the High Court ruled that that requirement had not been met.
It is a fundamental tenet of the English legal system that those on the losing side in litigation are entitled to know the reasons for their defeat. In a case which underlined that principle, a teacher who was refused permission to work part time after returning from maternity leave had her compensation hopes boosted by a tribunal.
As announced in the 2016 Budget earlier this year, the Government is seeking to limit the range of benefits in kind (BiKs) that attract Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions advantages when provided as part of salary sacrifice and flexible benefit arrangements.
To that end, a consultation document has been published setting out the Government's intended future tax treatment of such benefits and seeking the views of anyone affected by the planned changes, and other interested parties.
Construction projects sadly do not always run smoothly and, in one case, developers and a contractor fell out so badly that no less than five adjudications and two High Court hearings were required to achieve a final resolution.
Many employers may be surprised to note that it is inherent in the Equality Act 2010 that the duty to make reasonable adjustments may require them to treat a disabled employee more favourably than others.
Workplace whistleblowers are protected by law and employers have to be extremely careful not to persecute them for their activities. In one case that proved the point, two police detectives who were removed from undercover duties after making complaints about management won the right to substantial compensation.
A couple found out the hard way why land conveyancing is a job for professionals when they ended up marooned in their bungalow, without any right of access to water or electricity, following a dispute with their neighbours.
Recognition of ‘units’ of workers for the purposes of collective bargaining can be a thorny issue and that was certainly so in one case in which supermarket chain Lidl fiercely objected to 223 warehouse workers – representing only about 1.2 per cent of its total 18,000-plus workforce – forming such a unit.
Fringe benefits provided to employees are usually taxable – but there are exceptions, and one of them came under detailed scrutiny in a case involving a free bus pass issued to a local authority worker.