Contractual licensee can bring possession proceedings

In England, a contractual licensee (even if not in possession) can bring possession proceedings if that is necessary to protect the rights conferred by the agreement.

In Manchester Airport plc v Dutton ([2000] QB 133, CA (Eng)) Manchester Airport had been granted a licence to enter woodland adjoining the runway to lop and fell trees. Environmental protesters had occupied the woodland just before the licence was granted. Once the licence had been granted, the airport brought possession proceedings to eject the squatters under RSC O. 113 r.1. The Court of Appeal (Chadwick LJ dissenting) held that the airport was entitled to bring the proceedings even though it had not yet been in possession of the land. Laws LJ held that a licensee (whether in occupation or not) was entitled to a remedy to protect its contractual rights. This includes a right to claim possession where this is necessary to protect the contractual rights granted by the licence (at 149 – 150).

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