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Property Law Journal: 27 August 2012

Alan Woolston and Chris Farrell assess the outcome of two recent cases

Commercial contracts require certainty, so it is perhaps surprising that one of the most uncertain of contractual duties is the requirement for a party to use ‘reasonable’, ‘all reasonable’ or ‘best’ endeavours, or some other combination, to discharge some obligation or another. When performance comes under the spotlight, what has (or has not) been done can be of fundamental importance to the very crux of the contract.

Martin Dawbney and Frances Edwards looks at the outcome of two recent decisions that will come as welcome relief to ratepayers

Business rates and, particularly, the extremely unpopular rates charged on empty property, have attracted considerable press coverage over recent weeks. Ratepayers have been turning to rating surveyors and lawyers to help them to reduce their liabilities for rates. Two recent cases, although dealing with different aspects of the rating regime, illustrate that trend.

Juliet Munn provides a reminder of the salient points from some recent cases

Many aspects of planning law continue to exercise the courts. This month we focus on four recent cases, spanning unlawful changes of use, the meaning of ‘plans and programme’ under the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, the duty on local planning authorities to give reasons for the grant or refusal of planning permissions, and the definition of development under s55 Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Gowling WLG

Sarah Dawe reviews a case where at long last a right to park a car in a single, identifiable space has been upheld as an easement

Car parking can be a remarkably contentious issue in property transactions. There are a number of different ways in which car parking rights may be granted, for example by way of a lease, an easement or a simple contractual licence.

William Hanbury explains the recent Court of Appeal decision in Barr v Biffa Waste Services Ltd [2012] and asks whether it is any defence to a nuisance claim that the activity concerned is socially useful?

Does your neighbour carry on a trade that is ‘noisy, noisome or offensive’? Many of the 19th and early 20th century cases were concerned with industrial and other trades that were malodorous. They included such activities as tanning, brick burning, soap boiling, keeping swine and fat melting! Such activities, which are in any event rarer in modern times, have tended to move away from residential areas under modern planning laws and are better controlled, or at least better constrained than they were in the 19th century. The modern cases typically involve noise from a wind farm ( Davis v Tinsley ), noise from motor sports ( Watson v Croft Promo-Sport [2009]), interference with television reception ( Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd [1997]) and smell emanating from a land-fill site ( Biffa ). It is with nuisance by smell from a landfill site, the subject of Biffa, with which this article is mainly concerned.

Jennifer Chappell discusses a case highlighting the importance of ensuring that contractual obligations do not take priority over commercial interests

Property owners and practitioners alike should be wary of agreeing ‘best endeavours’ clauses in contracts, which could mean that their own commercial interests may have to be sacrificed to fulfil their contractual obligations.