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Tom Weekes QC

Call: 1995Silk: 2016
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Practice Summary

Tom is a property litigation specialist. Before taking silk (in 2016), he was named Real Estate Junior of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2014.

He has a court-focussed practice covering real property disputes, landlord and tenant litigation and associated professional negligence cases. Tom is an experienced trial lawyer, who is often instructed on cases turning on disputed facts requiring an effective cross-examination of witnesses. He has appeared in many leading appellate cases, including in the Privy Council, the Supreme Court, and, on many occasions, in the Court of Appeal.

Tom has extensive experience of acting in litigation about developments (e.g. cases about conditional contracts of sale, options, overage, rights of light and restrictive covenants); in commercial landlord and tenant disputes (e.g. concerning forfeiture, break clauses, dilapidations, rent reviews and consents); and in cases raising property-related human rights issues (especially under A1P1 and Article 8 of the European Convention).

Recommendations in the legal directories have included:

  • “carving out a name as the primus inter pares for property development disputes” (Legal 500, 2020).
  • “he is brilliant – very reactive, straightforward, practical and commercial” (Chambers and Partners, 2020).
  • “really gets to grips with a case and delivers highly effective advocacy” (Chambers & Partners, 2019).
  • “peerless in his breadth of knowledge” (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).

Tom’s recent cases include Fearn v Tate Board of Trustees [2020] EWCA Civ 104 (alleged nuisance arising from observation from a viewing gallery into flats), Bella Italia Restaurants Ltd v Stane Park Ltd [2019] EWHC 2747 (Ch) (attempt by lessor under agreement for lease to procuring the grant of the lease by a successor in title), Knight v Goulandris [2018] 1 WLR 3345 (service by email), Sparks v Biden [2017] EWHC 1994 (Ch) (implication of a term to defeat a developer’s attempt to exploit a perceived drafting loophole to avoid paying overage) and Re Falmouth Dockyard [2017] UKUT 430 (LC) (superyacht company’s application, under s.84 of the Law of Property Act 1925, to modify an anti-competition covenant benefitting a neighbouring commercial/military shipyard).

Tom is the author of Property Notices (Jordans, 2011, 2nd ed) and the co-author of Rights of Light: The Modern Law (Jordans, 2015, 3rd ed).

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

Adverse possession

Tom has appeared in adverse possession cases before a solicitor to HM Land Registry adjudicators and in the County Court, the High Court (Chancery Division and Queen’s Bench Divisions) and the Court of Appeal. He has successfully represented paper title owners and squatters. In the leading case of Baxter v Mannion [2011] 1 WLR 1965 he 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 held that the paper title owner was nevertheless entitled to be reinstated as the registered freeholder. 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 misapplied the law when holding 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.

Break clauses

Tom has acted in many break clauses disputes.  As the author of Property Notices (Jordans, 2015, 3rd ed), he is often instructed in cases turning on whether a break notice is invalidated by a supposed defect in the content of the notice or whether it has been properly served.  Tom is also frequently instructed in disputes about whether break conditions have been satisfied (e.g. conditions requiring a tenant to give vacant possession, to pay any outstanding rent or to comply with repair covenants).  In MW Trustees Ltd v Telular Corp [2011] L&TR 19, he obtaining a finding that a landlord had waived defects in a break notice by “accepting” the notice.  And he appeared in Siemens Hearing Instruments Ltd v Friends Life Ltd [2015] 1 All ER (Comm) 1068, a leading Court of Appeal authority about the need for strict compliance with break conditions.

Conditional contracts, options and overage

Tom is often instructed in litigation about conditional contracts, options and overage. He acts for several of the major housebuilders.  On two occasions, he has successfully acted for sellers of development sites in preventing developers avoiding paying overage in reliance on perceived loopholes in the drafting of overage provisions.  In Sparks v Biden [2017] EWHC 1994 (Ch), in which overage was payable on the “sale” of the houses (defined as being a sale of the freehold or the grant of a long lease), the Court implied a term into the agreement requiring the developer had to “sell” the houses within a reasonable time (rather than let the houses under ASTs).  In Renewal v Lowry [2010] EWHC 290 (Ch), in which the “trigger” for the calculation and payment of overage was the sale of the last house on a development, the Court implied term requiring the purchaser to complete and sell the houses as soon as reasonably practicable.

Constructive trusts, resulting trusts and proprietary estoppels

Tom has often been instructed in disputes about the beneficial ownership of property and raising proprietary estoppel claims. In Hermsen Wilkinson v Hermsen (2015) he succeeded for a mother in a hotly-contested dispute with her daughter over the beneficial ownership of flat in Kensington.  In HSBC Bank Plc v Dyche [2010] BPIR 138 he obtained a finding that a father had retained the beneficial ownership of his house after transferring the house to his daughter to enable her to obtain a mortgage and that his beneficial interest had priority to that mortgage.  In Young v Lauretani [2007] 2 FLR 1211 Tom successfully acted in a dispute over the beneficial interest between former boyfriend and girlfriend.

Conveyancing and land registration

Tom has acted in cases in which parties have attempted 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 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 to enter into a contract of sale on behalf of purchasers. 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 was 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 leading Court of Appeal authority concerning the circumstances in which HM Land Register can be altered).  In Starham Ltd v Greene King Pubs Ltd [2017] 9 WLUK 422 the issue was whether a nineteenth century conveyance had created a licence or easement.

Dilapidations

Tom has represented landlords and tenants in disrepair cases concerning all kinds of properties (including offices, warehouses, farm buildings, hotels, pubs, factories, conduits and residential houses).  Most have been terminal dilapidations claims.  However, he has also acted on cases in seeking orders for specific performance of repair obligations during the term.

Easements (including rights of light)

As the co-author of Rights of Light: The Modern Law (2015, 3rd edition)), Tom has acted on many rights of light cases.  He frequently advises on the interpretation of rights of light deeds; he has acted in cases concerning whether rights of light have been extinguished or breached; and he acted for a housebuilder in a negligence action against a firm of rights of light surveyors.  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.  In Jones v Cleanthi [2007] 1 WLR 1604 the Court of Appeal gave guidance about the circumstances in which an easement can be extinguished by statutory implication.

Estate Management Schemes

Tom has acted for many of the estates with estate management schemes created under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 or the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.  He represented Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust in the Court of Appeal in Re Zenios [2011] EWCA Civ 1645 which concerned the interaction between the planning system and an estate management scheme, and, in the leading case of Shebelle Enterprises Ltd v Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Ltd [2014] 2 P&CR 6, he succeeded in the Court of Appeal in establishing that, when determining an application under an estate management scheme, an estate enjoyed a statutory defence to a claim that it was liable to a tenant affected by the proposed development under the covenant of quiet enjoyment.  Tom is currently acting for an estate seeking to vary an estate management scheme.

European Convention and the exercise of statutory powers

Several of Tom’s cases have raised issues under the European Convention or concerning the relationship between statutory powers and property rights. In the leading case of Pirabakaran v Patel [2006] 1 WLR 3112 the Court of Appeal held that Art 8 required s.2 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 to be interpreted as prohibiting the forfeiture by peaceable re-entry of mixed commercial/residential properties.  In Baxter v Mannion [2011] 1 WLR 1594 the Court of Appeal held that A1P1 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.   In Jones v Cleanthi [2007] 1 WLR 1604 the Court of Appeal held that statutory authority was a defence to claim alleging an infringement of a right of way.  In Cusack v Harrow [2013] 1 WLR 2022 the Supreme Court held that A1P1 was not infringed by a highway authority’s obstruction of a frontager’s access to the highway and that the authority was entitled to choose to exercise a power under which compensation was payable rather than a power under which no compensation was payable. In Shebelle Enterprises Ltd v Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust [2014] 2 P&CR 6 the Court of Appeal held that the bona fide exercise of powers under an estate management scheme was a defence to an action for breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment in lease.  And, in Fearn v Tate Board of Trustees [2020] EWCA Civ 104, the issue is whether Art 8 requires the law of nuisance to provide a remedy for observation from a viewing gallery.

Forfeiture

Tom has acted in numerous forfeiture claims for both landlords and tenants.  In the leading case of Pirabarkaran v Patel [2006] 1 WLR 3112, the Court of Appeal held that landlords were not entitled to forfeit leases of mixed-use premises by peaceable re-entry.  In Scribes West Ltd v Relsa Anstalt (No.3) [2005] 1 WLR 1847 the issue was whether a purchaser of the reversion could forfeit a lease during the “registration gap”.

Guarantees

Tom has represented both landlords and tenants in claims in which a landlord has sought to recover the rent under a guarantee.  In some of those cases, the issue has been whether the tenant has escaped liability arising from a variation of the lease.  In other cases, Tom has acted for landlords faced with a tenant’s claim that his signature appearing on a guarantee was forged.

Lease renewals

Tom has appeared in many unopposed lease renewals relating to leases all kinds of premises (including retail units, warehouses and offices).  And he has appeared in opposed lease renewals in which the landlord has opposed a new lease under all of the grounds in s.30(1) of Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (including, on many occasions, grounds (f) and (g)).  He has also acted in cases dealing with the quantification of statutory compensation.

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.  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. Garwood v Bank of Scotland [2013] BPIR 450 raised the issue of whether a mortgagee was entitled to set aside a discharge of a mortgage on the ground of mistake.

Notices

As the author of Property Notices (Jordans, 2011, 2nd ed), 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 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), Freetown v Assethold [2013] 1 WLR 701 (statutory provisions permitting the service of notices and other documents by post) and Knight v Goulandris [2018] 1 WLR 3345 (service by email).

Nuisance

Tom has acted in many nuisance cases, concerning such things as fires, floods, dust, noise and animals.  In Fearn v Tate Board of Trustees [2020] EWCA Civ 104 the issue is whether observation from a viewing platform is capable of being a nuisance.

Party walls

Tom has appeared in several leading 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 from 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.

Professional negligence

Tom has acted in many 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 he has acted in several claims against solicitors arising from a negligent failure to serve valid break notices.

Rent reviews

Tom has appeared in many rent review cases.  In Lancecrest Ltd v Asiwaju [2005] L&TR 22 he established in the Court of Appeal that a rent review notice served after the deadline in the lease was valid.  Recently, he has acted in several cases in which the index-linking of the rent in leases of solar parks appeared to require, on each rent review, for the rent to be increased by the full amount by which the inflation had increased since the commencement of the term.

Restrictive covenants

Tom is regularly instructed in litigation about the interpretation of restrictive covenants and concerning who, if anyone, has the benefit of restrictive covenants.  He has appeared in many contested applications to the Upper 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. In Dennis v Davies [2010] 1 EGLR 81 Court of Appeal held that a restrictive covenant prohibiting causing a “nuisance or annoyance” could be breached by an extension to a house which blocked an attractive

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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