This litigation has concerned the right granted by Manchester Ship Canal Company Ltd to Vauxhall Motors Limited of the right to discharge surface water from its large Ellesmere Port Car Plant in to the Canal.
The right was conferred in 1962 by a document described as a Licence and was perpetual, save that there was a right to terminate if the annual sum of £50 was not paid. When Vauxhall failed to pay this, the Canal company terminated the licence a few months later. In addition to issues relating to The Manchester Ship Canal Act 1885, the case concerned the highly important question of properly law of whether, and in what circumstances, relief from forfeiture may be granted in respect of licences. Different approaches to the question were taken at first instance and in the Court of Appeal but in both cases, the result was that relief from forfeiture was granted by reference to possessory rights held to have been enjoyed by Vauxhall. The case is currently the subject of an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Katharine Holland QC has been instructed throughout, appearing at first instance with Katie Helmore and in the Court of Appeal with Galina Ward.