Jonathan Wright, representing the defendant local authority in the case of Morris Homes Ltd & Ors v Cheshire West and Chester Council, has obtained the dismissal of a claim brought by a consortium of developers. The High Court delivered its judgment at the conclusion of trial on 17 October 2019.
The claim related to a major housing development in Cheshire. The developers and the local authority had entered into a planning obligation pursuant to s.106 Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The planning obligation included an overage mechanism, requiring the developers to pay a portion of their profits to the local authority. The developers contended that certain profits should be left out of the calculation (namely, revenue from ground rents and from selling freehold reversions, as well as the capitalised value of retained freehold reversions). The dispute centred on the interpretation of a specific provision in the s.106 agreement.
The parties had previously submitted their dispute to an adjudication by an independent expert, who had found in favour of the local authority on this issue. The developers later commenced a claim in the High Court, seeking a declaration that the expert’s decision was not binding, and that it was wrong in law.
Jonathan represented the defendant local authority throughout the High Court proceedings, securing a successful dismissal of the developers’ claim at trial, together with an award of costs. In delivering his judgment, His Honour Judge Pearce (sitting as Judge of the High Court) accepted the local authority’s case on contractual interpretation, and found that the disputed sums should be included in the overage calculation.
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