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Leech v Schweder (1874) 9 Ch App 463; 38 JP 612; 43 LJ Ch 487; 22 WR 633; 30 LT 586

EASEMENT, RIGHT TO LIGHT, COVENANT, QUIET ENJOYMENT, INJUNCTION, NATURE OF EASEMENT, PROOF OF DAMAGE

Facts

The plaintiffs occupied a warehouse and premises. The land on which the warehouse had been built was demised to W.H. by the Skinners Company through a lease for a term of 80 years as of March 1865. The premises were expressly demised “by all lights easements, advantages, and appurtenances” and the indenture for the lease contained a covenant by the company that the lessee had the right to peacefully enjoy the property without disturbance. In August 1868, with the consent of the Skinners Company, W.H. demised the property to the plaintiffs on the same terms. The rooms in the basement, ground floor and first floor of the plaintiffs’ warehouse, were lighted by a skylight in the roof of the building. The defendant took the land adjoining the plaintiffs’ property under an agreement for a lease from the Skinners Company and started erecting a building. In doing so, he erected a party-wall between his premises and the plaintiffs’ warehouse above the height to which it had been built by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant obstructed the light coming to the skylight and the back windows of their property. An injunction was granted to the plaintiffs which prevented the defendant from erecting and permitting to remain of the wall. He appealed this injunction.

Issues

(1) Is there any difference in the right of an owner of land to the ordinary easement of light depending on where he acquired it through 20 years’ user or by grant of the owner of the servient tenement?

(2) Did the presence of a covenant for quiet enjoyment enlarge the right of the covenantee, so as to entitle him to an injunction in equity?

Held

(1) There is no difference in the right of an owner of land to the ordinary easement of light whether he acquired it through 20 years’ user or by grant of the owner of the servient tenement.

(2) A covenant for quiet enjoyment of premises does not enlarge the right of the covenantee, so as to entitle him to an injunction in equity where the damage is not sufficient to enable the covenantee to maintain an action at law.

(3) If, however, the right to light is not an ordinary easement, but a special right, created by the covenant, an injunction should be granted without reference to the amount of damage.


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