Implied grant for 'modern utilities'

Posted: 21st February 2014

Gas pipesIn an age where a household’s access to gas, electricity, water and other utilities is not a luxury but a necessity, the Court of Appeal has implied an easement into a sale agreement enabling excavation works in order to bring what many might view as the essentials of life to a newly-built home.

A homeowner had sold off part of her land as a building plot with planning consent for construction of a new dwelling house. The purchaser was granted a right of way over a plot of land (the blue land) in order to access his property. The successors to the original purchaser had dug up the blue land in order to provide mains drainage water, electricity, gas and a telephone line to the new house.

The seller argued that she was entitled to damages from her neighbours in respect of the excavation works, which she had not authorised and which she argued were in excess of the right of way. However, in dismissing her claim, the county court found that, although not expressly provided for, an easement enabling the connection of essential services to the new home was to be implied into the sale agreement.

In dismissing the seller’s appeal, the Court noted that the new house had to comply with local authority requirements and that anyone inhabiting such a property would expect it to be connected to the usual ‘modern facilities’. The building plot had been sold with the common intention that a new house would be built upon it and, on a correct interpretation of the sale agreement, there was nothing to prevent the right of way being impliedly extended so as to permit the relevant works.