- Interpretation of ‘agricultural land only’ and ‘ancillary use’ (Mills v Estate of Partridge (deceased))
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Property analysis: The court considers the meaning of ‘agricultural land only’ and ‘ancillary use’ in the context of a nursery business in a restrictive covenant and in a right of way contained in conveyances. The court held that the phrases should be construed in light of the conveyances and the factual background at the time of grant and how they would be understood by a reasonable person informed of those circumstances at that time. Where the words used are unclear or ambiguous then extrinsic evidence may be taken into account, but not where the words are clear. The court concluded that (i) the nursery business did not breach the ‘agricultural land only’ restriction, (ii) various expanded activities of the nursery incidental and ancillary to agriculture did not fall foul of the user restriction, and (iii) although unrelated, activities peripheral to and carried on in a minimal way would also not fall foul of the restriction. The tea-room on site was of a different character and purpose and so not ancillary. As well as being an example of the court’s approach to interpretation of documents, this case also provides a useful illustration of the court’s approach to documentary, witness evidence and expert evidence in undertaking such interpretation. Written by Caroline DeLaney, head of Real Estate Disputes, at Rosenblatt Solicitors.
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