Multi-millionaire blows £60k in court battle over property's sea view

Multi-millionaire blows £60k in court battle over property's sea view


A former company boss is facing a £60,000 bill after losing a High Court battle to protect the sea views he enjoys from his £3.5 million home.

Multi-millionaire Michael Rees was concerned that his neighbour Brian Peters, 70, would build on land near his property and in doing so obscure his views, reports the Daily Mail.

So Mr Rees, 66, tried to enforce a contract – dating back to 1957 – which he believed gave him the power to ban any building works.

But Mr Rees and his wife Janet, who moved into Farne House in Chichester in 1987, lost the case at London’s High Court this week, landing them with some hefty bills for costs instead.

Adding insult to injury, retired boat broker Mr Peters is now claiming he has no immediate plans to build on the land anyway.

Mr Peters said: “A dispute between neighbours is not a happy situation. These matters take a long time to come to court, and I hope it has been resolved today.” 

Mr Peters has occupied the house next door to Mr Rees and his wife since 1990 and in 2007 he also bought Court Barn Field, a plot of land leading up to the water to the north of both houses.

His property was valued at £5 million last year.

Court Barn Field currently stands undisturbed and is in the path of the Reeses’ splendid sea views – which adds “hundreds of thousands” to the value of the property – Nicolas Isaac, their barrister told the court on Tuesday.

Initially the couple were not worried about their neighbour buying the vital piece of land, as they were under the impression it was protected by the restricted covenant – giving them the power to veto any building on it.

Mr Isaac explained to the court that Court Barn and Farne House – along with Court Barn Field – were at one time part of a single property in common ownership until 1957. The covenant was put in place to stop development on the land without the express permission of the “successor in title” to Farne House.

Defending Mr Peters, Nathaniel Duckworth, argued that as owner of part of the original property which made up Farne House, Mr Peters has exactly the same rights under the covenant as his neighbours.

Judge Kaye told the court: “I have reached the conclusion, not without some sympathy for Mr and Mrs Rees, who clearly have a beautiful house and a not inconsiderable clear view... that the covenant is no longer enforceable.”

The judge went on to conclude that Mr and Mrs Rees need to pay legal costs of almost £60,000 for both sides, and refused them permission to appeal against his decision.

By Shelley DeBere

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