Tom Weekes QC

Call: 1995Silk: 2016
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Practice Summary

Tom is “noted for having an exceptional property litigation practice” (Chambers & Partners, 2016). Before taking silk, he was named Real Estate Junior of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards in 2014.

He has a court-based practice covering real property disputes, landlord and tenant litigation and property-related professional negligence. Tom is an experienced trial lawyer, who is often instructed on cases turning on disputed facts which require an effective cross-examination of witnesses. He has appeared in many leading appellate cases (including cases in the Privy Council, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal). Many of Tom’s cases concern disputes about developments (relating to such things as conditional contracts of sale, options, overage, rights of light and restrictive covenants) and he represents clients in cases raising property-related human rights issues (especially concerning A1P1 and Article 8 of the European Convention).

Recommendations in the legal directories have included:

  • “really gets to grips with a case and delivers highly effective advocacy” (Chambers & Partners, 2019)
  • “combines great tactics and sharp arguments” (Chambers & Partners, 2018)
  • “peerless in his breadth of knowledge…his advocacy is difficult for judges to resist” (Legal 500, 2017)
  • “excellent in every regard, user-friendly [and] knowledgeable” (Chambers & Partners, 2016)
  • “his lateral thinking brings positive outcomes” (Chambers & Partners, 2015)
  • “incredibly able…his performance in court is particularly impressive” (Legal 500, 2014)
  • “extremely able advocate” (Legal 500, 2014)
  • “no unnecessary posturing” (Chambers & Partners, 2013)
  • “gets great results” (Legal 500, 2011)
  • “up and coming star of the property bar” (Legal 500, 2010)

Tom’s recent cases have included Knight v Goulandris [2018] 1 WLR 3345 (Court of Appeal decision about service by email); Sparks v Biden [2017] EWHC 1994 (Ch) (succeeded in persuading a court to imply a term to defeat a developer’s attempt to avoid paying overage in reliance on perceived drafting deficiencies); Re Falmouth Dockyard [2017] UKUT 430 (LC) (acting for a commercial/military shipyard on a largely successful attempt to prevent the modification of covenants affecting a “wet dock” owned by a company that builds superyachts); and Re Surana’s Application [2016] UKUT 368, Re University of Chester’s Application [2016] UKUT 457 and Re Theodossiades’ Application [2017] UKUT 0461 (acting for applicants or objectors on applications to Upper Tribunal under section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925 to modify covenants for developments that would affect residential properties).

Tom is the author of the leading practitioner work on notices, namely Property Notices (Jordans, 2011 2nd edition).  He is often instructed in cases about disputed notices and break conditions. Tom is a co-author of a practitioner work on rights of light, namely Rights of Light: The Modern Law (Jordans, 2015, 3rd edition).

Tom accepts instructions under the Public Access Scheme and he is a qualified mediator.

Real Property Disputes

Tom is instructed in all types of real property litigation.  For example:

  • Adverse possession. Tom has appeared in adverse possession cases in the County Court, in the High Court (Chancery Division and Queen’s Bench Divisions), in the Court of Appeal, before a solicitor to HM Land Registry and before HM Land Registry Adjudicators. He has successfully represented both paper title owners and squatters. In Baxter v Mannion [2011] 1 WLR 1965 Tom acted for a paper title owner who had missed the deadline for objecting to an application by an alleged squatter to be registered as the freeholder (leading to the registration of the alleged squatter as the freeholder). The Court of Appeal (upholding the decision of Henderson J) held that the paper title owner was entitled to be reinstated as the registered freeholder because the alleged squatter had, in fact, never been in possession. In Nata Lee Ltd v Abid [2015] 2 P&CR 3, again acting for the paper title owner, Tom succeeded in the Court of Appeal in establishing that the trial judge had been wrong to hold that title to land had been acquired by adverse possession. In Wretham v Ross [2006] 1 P&CR 1259, an appeal to the Chancery Division, Tom successfully appeared for a squatter.
  • Basements. A number of Tom’s recent cases have concerned basement developments.  Those cases have raises issues about whether basement developments have given rise to liability under a landlord’s covenant for quiet enjoyment (Shebelle Enterprises Ltd v Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust), [2014] 2 P&CR 6), nuisance, trespass and the under the Part Wall etc. Act 1996.
  • Constructive trusts, resulting trusts and proprietary estoppels.  Several of Tom’s cases have raised issues about the beneficial ownership of property or concerned proprietary estoppel claims. He appeared in Young v Lauretani [2007] 2 FLR 1211 (in which Lindsay J gave guidance about the taking of an equitable account) and he appeared in Hermsen-Wilkinson v Hermsen (2015) (a hotly contested dispute between a mother and a daughter that attracted considerable press coverage).
  • Conveyancing and land registration. Tom has acted in cases in which parties have attempt to avoid liability under contracts of sale by relying on alleged pre-contract misrepresentations, non-compliance with conditions precedent, and breaches of other contractual terms (including, on trials in the Chancery Division, Chinnock v Hocaoglu [2008] 29 EG 92 and Wyche v Singla Properties Ltd (2011)). In Mann & Mann v Cooper the issue was whether a firm of solicitors had been authorized by purchasers to enter into a contract of sale. Other cases have concerned the circumstances in which land registers can be altered on the ground of “mistake”: including Quinto v Santiago Castillo Ltd [2009] UKPC 15 (a Privy Council appeal in which the issue being whether an original owner was entitled to be reinstated as the registered proprietor following a transfer from a fraudster) and Baxter v Mannion [2011] 1 WLR 1594 (a Court of Appeal case dealing with the circumstances in which HM Land Register can be altered).
  • Mortgages and charges. Tom appeared in the Court of Appeal in Tomkins v Bristol & West Investments [2006] EWCA 977 on an appeal from a committal order made against a mortgagor who had failed to comply with an injunction obtained by the mortgagee. Several of Tom’s cases have related to whether an occupier has a tenancy or an equitable interest which has priority to a mortgage or charge. For example, in HSBC v Collelldevall [2010] 1 P&CR 4 the issue was whether an occupier’s beneficial interest under a constructive trust was an overriding interest, and, if so, whether that interest had been overreached by the creation of a mortgage.  In Garwood v Bank of Scotland [2013] BPIR 450 the issue was whether a mortgagee was entitled to set aside a discharge of a mortgage on the ground of mistake.
  • Nuisance. Tom has acted in many nuisance cases, which have, amongst other things, concerned fires, floods, dust, noise and animals.
  • Overage. Tom is frequently instructed on cases concerning overage provisions. He has twice successfully acted for sellers of development sites in preventing developers avoiding paying overage by relying on perceived deficiencies in the drafting: in Sparks v Biden [2017] EWHC 1994 (Ch) overage was payable on the “sale” of the houses (defined as being a sale of the freehold or the grant of a long lease) and it was held that a term fell to be implied into the agreement that the developer had to sell the houses within a reasonable time; and, in Renewal v Lowry [2010] EWHC 290 (Ch), it was held that, in circumstances in which the “trigger” for the calculation and payment of overage was the sale of the last house on a development, a term should be implied requiring the purchaser to complete and sell the houses as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • Party walls. Tom has appeared in several party wall cases. In Freetown v Assethold [2013] 1 WLR 7012 the Court of Appeal held that the time for appealing against a party wall award ran, not from the date on which the award was dispatched into the post, but the date on which the award was delivered (or deemed to have been delivered).  In Knight v Goulandris [2018] 1 WLR 334 the Court of Appeal held that, even before the amendment to s.15 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 which expressly permitted service of documents by email, it was possible to serve documents by email. In Mustapha v Zafrani (2013) Ramsay J held that, even after the time for appealing had expired, the Court had jurisdiction to substitute the correct respondent to an appeal from a party wall award in place of a wrongly-named respondent. Chliaifchtein v Wainbridge Estates Belgravia Ltd [2015] EWHC 47 (TCC) related to the costs of an interim injunction relating to work to a party wall.
  • Restrictive covenants. He has been instructed in claims relating to the interpretation of restrictive covenants; cases relating to who, if anyone, has the benefit of restrictive covenants; and, on many occasions, on applications to the Lands Tribunal to modify or discharge restrictive covenants under section 84(1)(a), (aa), (b) and (c) of the Law of Property Act 1925 (including Re Clearwater Properties Ltd [2013] UKUT 0210 (LC), Re Stanborough’s Application [2012] UKUT 21 (LC), Re Zenios [2011] EWCA Civ 1645 (CA), Re Surana’s Application [2016] UKUT 368 (LC), Re University of Chester’s Application [2016] UKUT 457 (LC], Re Falmouth Dock [2017] UKUT 430 (LC) and Re Theodossiades’ Application [2017] UKUT 0461). Tom appeared in Dennis v Davies [2010] 1 EGLR 81 in which the Court of Appeal considered whether a restrictive covenant prohibiting causing a “nuisance or annoyance” would be breached by an extension to a house which would obscure a view of a river.
  • Rights of light (and other easements). Tom is the co-author of the leading practitioner book on rights of light (namely, Rights of Light: The Modern Law (2015, 3rd edition)). He has represented both developers and neighbouring owners in rights of light cases. In Pavledes v Hadjisavva [2013] 2 EGLR 123 David Richards J gave guidance about the availability of declaratory relief in respect of a development that would infringe a neighbour’ rights of light. Tom appeared in Jones v Cleanthi [2007] 1 WLR 1604 (with a leader), in which the Court of Appeal gave guidance about the circumstances in which an easement can be extinguished by statutory implication.

Landlord & Tenant Disputes

Commercial landlord and tenant disputes comprise a substantial proportion of Tom’s practice. In particular, Tom is regularly instructed in disputes concerning:

  • Business tenancy renewals (opposed or unopposed, including for several national retailers).
  • Rent reviews including Lancecrest Ltd v Asiwaju [2005] 1 EGLR 40 (relating to whether time was of the essence in respect of a rent review deadline).
  • Consents.
  • Alleged breaches of covenant.
  • Forfeiture, including Scribes West Ltd v Relsa Anstalt [2005] 1 WLR 1847 (with a leader) (relating to forfeiture during the “registration gap”).
  • Terminal dilapidation claims, including for Citibank in Fairgate International Ltd v Citibank International plc [2006] 1 P&CR 2.
  • Break clauses, including MW Trustees v Telular [2011] L&TR 19 and Siemens Hearing Instruments Ltd v Friends Life Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 382 (with a leader) (being decisions about compliance with break conditions).
  • Telecommunications cases (for both mobile phone companies and landlords).
  • Modification of leaseholder covenants under s.84 of the Law of Property Act 1925.

In the residential field, in Shebelle Enterprises Ltd v Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust [2014] 2 P&CR 6 the issue was whether Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust might breach a covenant for quiet enjoyment in a lease if, acting under a statutory scheme of management, it granted consent for a basement (which, it was alleged, threatened to cause flooding to the lessee’s property). Tom appeared in Pirabakaren v Patel [2006] 1 WLR 3112 (a leading case establishing that a landlord is unable to forfeit a lease of mixed-use premises by peaceable re-entry).  He is regularly instructed on service charge disputes.  And he appeared in Falmouth House Ltd v Rahminzadeh [2008] NPC 17 (with a leader) (a leasehold enfranchisement case about an expert determination under a participation agreement).

Property-related Professional Negligence

Tom has acted in a number of property-related professional negligence disputes. He represented Berkeley Homes in a negligence claim against a right of light surveyor concerning advice given by that surveyor about a substantial development in the City of London; he has acted on claims arising from negligently-drafted overage provisions; and in claims against solicitors arising from a negligent failure to serve valid break notices.

Human Rights (and cases about the interrelation between statutory powers and property rights)

Several of Tom’s cases have raised issues under the European Convention or concerned the interrelation between statutory powers and property rights.

For example, he appeared in Pirabakaran v Patel [2006] 1 WLR 3112 (Article 8 required section 2 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 to be interpreted as prohibiting the forfeiture by peaceable re-entry of mixed commercial/residential properties), Baxter v Mannion [2011] 1 WLR 1594 (Article 1 of the First Protocol required the provisions of the Land Registration Act 2002 relating to adverse possession to be interpreted so as to enable a registered proprietor to apply to rectify the register on the ground of mistake if he has lost his land to a supposed squatter who, in fact, was never in possession), Jones v Cleanthi [2007] 1 WLR 1604 (with a leader) (statutory authority as a defence to infringement of an easement), Cusack v Harrow [2013] 1 WLR 2022 (Article 1 of the First Protocol was not infringed by a highway authority obstructing access to the highway) and Shebelle Enterprises Ltd v Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust [2014] 2 P&CR 6 (whether the bona fide exercise of powers under a scheme of management is a defence to an action for breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment).

Notices

As the author of the leading practitioner book on property notices, Tom is regularly instructed in cases relating to the validly of notices. He appeared in Tadema Holdings v Ferguson [2000] 32 HLR 866 (service on someone who is mentally incapable of understanding the notice), Lancecrest Ltd v Asiwaju [2005] 1 EGLR 40 (subsequent conduct inadmissible for the purposes of interpreting a notice), MW Trustees v Telular [2011] L&TR 19 (Ch) (waiver by landlord of defective service) and Freetown v Assethold [2013] 1 WLR 701 (statutory provisions permitting the service of notices and other documents by post).

Qualifications

Tom graduated from New College, Oxford in 1992 with a First-Class Honours degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He taught economics for a year at Winchester College before studying law at City University. Tom was awarded scholarships by New College, City University and the Inner Temple.

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