Earl of Leicester v Wells-next-the-Sea

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Last modified: 12/10/18 Author: In-house law team

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Earl of Leicester v Wells-next-the-Sea [1972] 3 All ER 77

Property law – Trusts – Covenant


The plaintiff’s father conveyed nineteen acres of land to a local authority so they could be used as allotments. The defendant, W, agreed not to use or permit the use of the land for anything other than allotments or small holdings. The plaintiff’s father died some years later and the trustees of his estate assigned the land to the plaintiff but made no reference to the restrictive covenant. W subsequently gained planning permission for the land and L claimed that they had breached their covenant and claimed for an injunction to be granted.


The court was required to decide whether the local authority had gained planning permission to develop the land and whether this was in accordance with or would breach the covenant that had been previously agreed by themselves and the plaintiff’s father. In doing this, the court had to decide whether the covenant had passed with the land and whether the local authority should be bound by their original agreement.


The court granted the injunction to L. It did so, on the basis that the covenant was not personal to W, as it provided for the use of the land by people aside from the local authority. The court also found that ultimately, W was attempting to break their covenant by using the land for something outside of the permitted agreement. The court held that there was no reason why W should not be held to the agreement that they had freely entered into with the plaintiff’s father.

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