Weekly Review: 27th – 30th December 2011

Construction of deed: easements

A deed is to be construed in the light of words used, the document as a whole and the surrounding factual matrix (how the words used would have been understood by reasonable people with the knowledge of the parties). In some cases, the factual matrix can lead the court to disregard, for example, the route of an easement shown on an inaccurate plan attached to the deed when it is clear that the parties must have intended the easement to follow the route of an existing accessway the position of which was not accurately shown on the plan. Except in the case of continuous and apparent easements, section 16 of the Conveyancing and Property Ordinance (and section 62 of the Law of Property Act 1925) require diversity of occupation prior to the relevant grant. Occupation under the terms of a licence is not sufficient where the result was only an intermittent occupation shared with the owner (Alford v Hannaford).


In Pang Chi Yeung v Lau Yuk Choi the court ordered title to be transferred to a buyer who had paid the full purchase price when the seller disappeared without completing the transaction.

Proprietary estoppel

A landowner intended to grant a lease of a pub to a joint venture company in which it was to participate. The other party spent money on the pub in anticipation of a successful conclusion to the joint venture negotiations. When they failed, the other party claimed to be entitled to be entitled to trade from the pub on the basis of proprietary estoppel. This failed. Both parties intended that any lease would be granted to the joint venture; there was no expectation of any kind of grant to be made to the other party (Pridean Ltd v Forest Taverns Ltd).


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