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Jaggard v Sawyer [1995] 1 WLR 269

Property law – Restrictive covenants – Damages

Facts

The plaintiff and her husband bought a house which was part of a residential estate which was a cul-de-sac. The land contained a covenant which prevented the owners not to use the unbuilt land in the street for anything other than a private garden and to keep the driveways in good condition. Seven years later, the defendants bought another house, at the other end of the cul-de-sac and purchased a plot of land next to it. They gained planning permission to build a house which would be accessed by constructing a driveway across a part of their garden. The plaintiff threatened to bring an action for an injunction for breach of the covenant but did not make the application and the building work began. When the construction was at an advanced stage, the plaintiff then applied for an injunction. At initial trial, the court found that the driveway would constitute a permanent breach of the covenant but that it would be oppressive to the defendant to grant the injunction and awarded damages to the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed the decision.

Issue

The issue for the court was whether the decision of the trial judge, to reject the claim for an injunction and award damages was accurate. This could be considered by assessing the level of damage that the plaintiff incurred as a result of the defendant’s actions.

Held

The court dismissed the appeal on the basis that the new driveway would not impair the house visually, or cause it to lose value, the judge in the initial trial had been right to regard the damage to the plaintiff as limited. The court found that the judge was also right to reject the injunction to prevent the building as the plaintiff could have brought this at a much earlier stage in proceedings.


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