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Harmer v Jumbil (Nigeria) Tin Areas Ltd [1921] 1 Ch 200

Landlord and tenant; non-derogation from grant; relevance of licensing requirements

Facts

Harmer leased premises for the purposes of storing explosives. To store them lawfully, he required a license, and both landlord and tenant were aware it was a condition of the license that no other buildings should be within a specified distance. The landlord’s successor in title to neighbouring land granted a lease to a tenant who sought to erect buildings so close to Harmer’s premises that he would have been in breach of his license. He sought an injunction to prevent the erection of the buildings.

Issues

Harmer argued granting a lease to a tenant who sought to erect buildings which would result in his license being revoked amounted to a derogation of grant on the part of the landlord. Both parties to the lease knew the demised premises was to be used to store explosives and of the licensing requirements. The lease to the tenant would result in Harmer being unable to use the land for the very purpose for which it had been let. The landlord argued there had been no interference with the premises demised to Harmer, and he still had the use of the land which was subject to the lease. Further, building on adjacent land not forming part of the demise, could not amount to a derogation from grant.

Held

Harmer successfully obtained an injunction to prevent the erection of buildings. Both parties were aware of the use for which the demised premises had been let, and of the licensing requirements and conditions. The act complained of need not be a direct interference with the demised land itself, but the act prevented the very use for which the demised premises had been let and, therefore, amounted to a derogation from grant.


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