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Property Law Journal: February 2016

Darrell Chiheb reviews a case clarifying the position on break clauses, which reasserts the importance of express over implied terms

The Supreme Court in Marks & Spencer plc v BNP Paribas Securities Services Trust Company (Jersey) Ltd [2015] has confirmed the position that rent payable in advance is not apportionable in time, and has also brought some much-needed clarity to the legal test for implied terms.

Forsters LLP

Natasha Rees provides an overview of a year in enfranchisement

With appeals on issues ranging from statutory costs to the rights of landlords and tenants in collective claims, 2015 was a busy year in the world of enfranchisement. It ended with two decisions on the seemingly never-ending question of what constitutes a ‘house’ under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 (the 1967 Act).

Riaz Hussain examines legal and litigation trends for construction in the year ahead

Although there is always room for surprise, there is no big-bang legal change in English construction law impending in 2016. There are a number of observed and potential recent developments in the industry and in the construction court’s procedures and decisions that bear consideration by industry professionals and construction lawyers alike.

QuoStar

Robert Rutherford and Nigel Smith outline how to protect both firms and clients from scam e-mails during conveyancing

The rise in targeted e-mail attacks against solicitors and their clients continues to dominate the headlines, with one couple recently losing a £45,000 deposit after succumbing to an e-mail from a hacker claiming to be their solicitor. These attacks are clearly dangerous in their current form, but the increased frequency and intelligence behind the attacks means that solicitors will need to become increasingly vigilant in this area, not only for their clients, but for the sake of their reputation as well.

Dentons

Lucy McDonnell considers the intricacies and implications of the Bill

Housing has become a key priority for the electorate for the first time in decades, with planning and housing appearing in the manifestos of all the major parties in the run-up to the 2015 general election. It has become a political imperative for the government to take action on the housing crisis.

Barnes v Phillips explores the circumstances in which the beneficial shares of unmarried co-owners should be varied, as Mark Simeon Jones explains

The recent case of Barnes v Phillips [2015] marks the latest in a series of judgments where the Court of Appeal has grappled with the problems presented by co-ownership of property by unmarried adult couples. The case was concerned with when and in what circumstances it might be permissible to conclude, absent an express agreement, that the beneficial shares of unmarried co-owners of property should be varied.

John Starr

John Starr assesses the enforceability of informal agreements in the context of recent case law

Parties to construction contracts frequently reach a series of informal agreements with each other during the course of a project. Those agreements might be over small matters like the amount to be paid for some extras or over larger issues such as the amount due under a disputed interim payment application. However, what is clear is that those agreements are not prevented from being enforceable just because they are not recorded in any formal way. Specifically, individual items in a larger negotiation can be agreed along the way and in advance of the final documentation of the wider agreement. This is a simple matter of the application of basic contract law. If the parties appear to have agreed in the same terms on the same subject matter, usually through offer and acceptance, a binding contract will have been formed. This is so even if a formal document recording the agreed terms is subsequently to be executed.