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John de Waal succeeds in Court of Appeal rentcharges case

In Smith Brothers Farms Ltd v The Canwell Estate Co. Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 237 (judgment 2nd March 2012) John de Waal, acting for Canwell, a company owning roads and services on an estate in Staffordshire, was successful in resisting an appeal by a landowner on the estate Smith Bros.

The case discusses the question of when service charge contributions, which are secured by estate rentcharges created under the Rentcharges Act 1977, are recoverable as reasonable under s2(5) of the Act.

Rentcharges are commonly used to enforce positive covenants in residential and industrial estates and the question of whether the sums demanded are reasonable or not is often contentious. This is only the second time that a case about the workings of the Act has reached the Court of Appeal and the decision will be useful to property lawyers and litigators who are concerned with such schemes.