Knight v Pursell

Case Summary

 

Court:
 High Court
Status:
 Not Binding
Current Legislation:
 Party Wall etc. Act 1996, s.20
Historic Legislation:
 Metropolitan Building Act 1855, s. 3
Facts:

Knight owned a lease of 6 and 7 Surrey Row, London. Pursell owned the freehold of adjoining land at 172 Blackfriars Road.

Knight owned a freestanding brick wall that separated his land from Pursell’s, and which was entirely on Knight’s land. Pursell erected a substantial lean-to structure against the wall. Shortly after Knight erected a number of closets and small lean-tos along various points of the wall so that at some parts the wall separated Knight’s enclosures from Pursell’s.

The wall was in poor repair. Pursell wanted to demolish and rebuilt it, and served the required notice under the 1885 Act.

Knight objected and applied for an injunction. Knight argued that it could not be a party wall unless both owners owned some property in it. Although Pursell had enclosed on it, he did not own any part of the wall.

Decision:

The Court found that a building owner does not have to have any property in the wall before they can exercise any of their rights under the then-in-force Metropolitan Building Act 1855.

However, those rights only apply in as far as it is a party wall. To the extent that not all of the wall separated two buildings it was not a party wall, and so the building owner could not exercise any rights over those parts of it.

Comment:

 This case is consistent with Loost v Kremer, in that it seems all an owner need to do is enclose upon his neighbours wall for a short time to make that part into a party wall. It seems that the owner need not have acquired any easements of user or support over the way; that he has enclosed upon it is sufficient, however, neither are binding authority, and the position remains unclear.