Bennett v Harrod’s Stores Limited

Case Summary

 

Court:
 High Court
Status:
 Not Binding
Current Legislation:
 Party Wall etc. Act 1996 s. 2(2)(a), s. 3(3)
Historic Legislation:
 London Building Act 1894 s. 88(6), s. 90(1)
Facts:

Bennett owned the lease of 40 & 42 Hans Crescent, the rear of which adjoined Harrod’s land on the Brompton Road. They entered into a written agreement that allowed Harrod’s to raise the party wall between them.

Harrod’s raised the wall without serving notice on Bennett under the then-in-force London Building Act 1894. Bennett complained because Harrods had raised the whole wall, but on Bennett’s understanding of the agreement Harrod’s were only going to raise their half of it. Bennett argued that the only right Harrod’s had to raise the whole width was under the 1894 Act, for which Harrods must first serve notice. As they had not served notice they were committing a trespass.

Decision:

On the correct interpretation of the written agreement Harrod’s did have the right to raise the whole wall.

The Court also found that under the terms of the written agreement Harrod’s were entitled to exercise their rights under the 1894 Act without following the procedural requirements (i.e. service of a notice and an award dealing with any issues in dispute).

Comment:

It is expressly provided for in section 3(3) of the Party Wall Act 1996 that a notice need not be served if the adjoining owner has consented to the works in writing. However, in the case of Seeff v Ho, it was held that a mere oral consent to the works did not allow the building owner to proceed without first serving a notice.