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Gafford v Graham (1998) 77 P & C.R. 73
Property law – Restrictive covenants – Damages
D began the construction of an indoor riding school as part of a business that was run on the premises. The plaintiff complained about this and the works that were being carried out to convert a barn and a bungalow on the basis that the defendant had not gained permission to build on the land and that he was using the land for something other than a livery yard which was in breach of the restrictive covenants attached to the land. The plaintiff issued a writ for the payment of damages and an injunction to prevent the land from being used as a riding school. The county court awarded the plaintiff damages to the value of £36,750 for the breach of the covenant and the defendant appealed the decision. The plaintiff cross-appealed for the demolition of the riding school.
The court was required to establish whether the plaintiff still had the power to enforce the rights owed to him in the circumstances, despite not raising a complaint until a late point in proceedings.
The court allowed the appeal of the defendant and dismissed the cross appeal of the plaintiff. With regards to the building work, the plaintiff clearly understood his rights but did not enforce them until a later stage and this delay prevented all subsequent action. The court recognised that the defendant had acted with a blatant disregard for the plaintiff’s rights but felt that the damages awarded satisfied this. The amount of damages that was awarded to the plaintiff was slightly reduced for the effect that the delay in bringing the matter to trial caused for the cost of the interest on the payment.
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