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Duffy v Lamb (1997) 75 P & CR 364, CA

Easement for the supply of electricity.


This case concerned the (continuing) supply of electricity to the claimant’s property. The claimant was initially a tenant of Manby Estates Limited, being a tenant in Unit 1 of Downland Business Park, Manby Park, Louth in Lincolnshire, which was owned and operated by Manby Estates Limited. The supply of electricity to Unit 1 (as well as other Units) was the responsibility of Manby Estates Limited and was controlled through submeters installed in a nearby tower block also owned and operated by that same company. The electricity arrangement was that the Yorkshire Electricity Board supplies electricity and bills Manby Estates Limited for all the electricity consumed on their property, leaving them to further invoice their tenants for their individual consumption. The claimant eventually acquired the freehold reversion to Unit 1 from Manby Estates Limited on 22 September 1986 by way of a conveyance. This conveyance included a grant in fee simple of, inter alia, rights of passage of electricity through the service installations serving the property which are now or in the future found in or under Manby Estate Limited’s land.

After this point, Manby Estate Limited wanted the claimant to make separate arrangements for supply of electricity rather than relying on their installation. They reached an impasse as he was unwilling to pay for the cost of making those arrangements and neither were they. Eventually they cut off supply of electricity to Unit 1. The claimant started the claim asserting that he had an easement to keep receiving electricity through their installation and suing for damages suffered through not being able to let out the Unit because of the electricity issue.


The issue in this case was whether the claimant did have an easement for the continued supply of electricity through the installations of the defendant based on the wording of the conveyance.


The court held that on a proper reading of the conveyance, the claimant was entitled to keep receiving electricity through the installations of the defendant. This did not mean that the defendant had to pay for the claimant’s electricity, but that he was not entitled to prevent the defendant from using his installations to receive electricity. He was therefore wrong to cut off the supply in the manner that he did.

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