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Sandhu v Farooqi [2003] EWCA Civ 531

The existence and implied revocability of a licence

Facts

The claimant was the freeholder of a flat in which the defendant had lived for several years. The claimant had allowed the defendant to enter and occupy the flat under a licence on the basis that it would be sold to her. After around one year, it became apparent that the sale would not proceed, although the defendant continued to believe that it would and continued to live in the flat. Eventually, the claimant sought an order for possession and the defendant counterclaimed for title to the flat through adverse possession. At first instance, it was held that the defendant’s licence had terminated when it became clear that the sale would not proceed and therefore she had lived in the flat for a period in excess of twelve years following the termination of the licence and was therefore successful in her claim for adverse possession.

Issue

The issue in this context was the nature of the steps necessary for a licence to be revoked and whether these steps had been satisfied on the facts.

Held

It was held that a licence would be terminated once a notice not to proceed had been given. This did not require written notice, but rather some form of mutual communication between the parties, which when considered objectively would demonstrate that the sale was not going to proceed. There had been no such notice before the time needed for the claim in adverse possession to succeed, being at least twelve years prior to that claim. The defendant’s counterclaim was therefore dismissed. However, the claimant’s claim in possession was based on his assertion that he had revoked the licence by letter. The question of whether a licence granted where the grantee had entered into possession and incurred numerous costs could be revoked unilaterally was a question that was to be determined by the county court. The claim for possession was therefore not settled by this judgment.


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