Reid v Bickerstaff 1909

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

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Reid v Bickerstaff [1909] 2 Ch 305

Property law – Restrictive covenants – Building scheme


The defendant’s predecessor purchased a plot of land as part of a larger property and vested this into trustees for sale. The sale included a covenant which restricted building on the land that was purchased. The trustees sold their part of the land to the predecessors of the plaintiffs with comparable restrictive covenants. The trustees continued to sell plots of land until the estate became a residential area. The plaintiffs subsequently bought a claim to restrict the defendant from building on the land as it was in breach of the covenants contained in the initial deed. The trial judge inferred a building scheme on the land and granted the injunction. This was appealed.


The court was required to consider whether the plaintiff could rely on the restrictive covenants that were intended to pass with the land from the initial conveyance. If they could, the plaintiff could be granted an injunction to prevent the development of the property. In doing this, the court would have to decide whether the development could be considered a building scheme and if not, whether the covenant had been previously annexed to the land.


The Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the trial judge. It was held that the plaintiffs had not established the requirements of a building scheme which included reciprocal rights in a defined area. The court also found that the benefits of the covenants had not been expressly assigned the predecessors of the plaintiffs and therefore they had not been annexed to the land in the current circumstances.

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