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Published 2 December 2019
Forfeiture is always spoken about in reference to the termination of leases.
But the Supreme Court case of The Manchester Ship Canal Company Ltd (“MSCC”) v Vauxhall Motors Ltd (Formerly General Motors UK Ltd) (“Vauxhall”)  UKSC 46 demonstrates that equitable relief from forfeiture can be granted in respect of a licence, here on condition of the payment of the arrears and certain other costs.
MSCC argued that, in relation to land, the courts can only relieve parties from the forfeiture of proprietary rights, which would exclude Vauxhall’s contractual rights under the licence. Vauxhall argued that the doctrine is broad enough to protect any right to use land and the Court agreed.
So the right of relief from forfeiture may apply (depending on the circumstances) whenever a landlord terminates an on-going licence to occupy due to a breach of its terms.
As with forfeiture of a lease, there will be some formalities which a landowner should consider when thinking about terminating a licence or some other possessory right over land. In a lease context these can include:
In all cases professional advice should be sought prior to seeking forfeiture of a lease or a licence.
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