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A recent High Court case has provided a warning to developers to resolve any potential rights of light issues before starting development. In this particular case, the court awarded an injunction against a developer who infringed the rights of light to a neighbouring commercial property, despite the offending development having been completed.
The decision throws into question the accepted view that it is difficult to obtain an injunction in relation to commercial buildings, particularly if the development has already been completed. You must not assume that rights of light can be bought out after the development has been completed, or that failure of potential claimants to act in a timely manner will prevent them obtaining an injunction. In this case, the injunction is likely to require alterations to the building at an estimated cost of between £1 million to £2 million.
What is a right to light?
In simple terms, a right of light entitles the owner of the property to enough light to leave the property adequately lit for all the ordinary purposes that it can be expected to be used for.
What are the remedies?
The owner of the property is generally entitled to an injunction against a person committing a wrongful act that interferes with their right to light. However, the court has discretion to award damages instead of an injunction.