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Court of Appeal hands down judgment in Grand v Gill

Hardwicke barrister John de Waal was successful in the Court of Appeal when acting pro bono for the appellant Tanya Grand in the case of Grand v Gill [2011] EWCA Civ 554.  This was a disrepair claim where the issue was the liability of the landlord Mr Gill under section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 for damage to internal plasterwork in the flat he had let to Ms Grand.

The Court of Appeal said that the earlier case of Irvine v Moran was wrongly decided and said that “plaster forming part of or applied to walls and ceilings is part of the structure of the relevant premises” (Lloyd LJ). This decision will be of interest to local authorities, social landlord and housing lawyers because the issue of whether landlords are liable to repair plaster damage has been unclear for a number of years. As a result of the decision in Grand v Gill the answer to the question ‘Are landlords of premises let under short leases liable to repair damage to internal plaster?’ is now ‘yes’.

The case is also interesting because the Court made a ‘pro bono costs order’ under section 194 Legal Services Act 2007 – that section allows the Court to order a losing party to pay a sum of money to a prescribed charity, here The Access to Justice Foundation, when the winning party has been represented by a lawyer acting pro bono.