Construction of the parcels clause: when is it legitimate to look at the situation on the ground?

Even when a plan is not ‘for the purposes of identification only’, it can be legitimate to use the physical reality ‘on the ground’ to supplement the objective intention to be gleaned from the plan referred to in the parcels clause. This can help when the plan is unclear.

Cameron v Boggiano ([2012] EWCA Civ 157, CA (Eng)) concerned a dispute between neighbours as to where the boundary line between their properties was to be drawn. The quality of the plan referred to in the parcels clause was poor so that there was room for doubt as to where the boundary lay. The Court of Appeal held that in that situation it was legitimate to have regard to extrinsic evidence.

Mummery LJ said that the plan had to be ‘contextualised’:

‘[T]his means that the reasonable layman would go to the property with the plan in his hand to see what he is buying … If the plan is not, on its own, sufficiently clear to the reasonable layman to fix the boundaries of the property in question, topographical features may be used to clarify and construe it.’ (para. 65).

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