Darren Paul Hodges v Roger Brian Trenouth-Wood

JurisdictionJersey
CourtRoyal Court
JudgeBailiff
Judgment Date21 May 2021
Neutral Citation[2021] JRC 146

[2021] JRC 146

ROYAL COURT

(Samedi)

Before:

R. J. MacRae Esq., Deputy Bailiff, and Jurats Ronge and Dulake

Between
(1) Darren Paul Hodges
(2) Mary Hodges
Plaintiff
and
Roger Brian Trenouth-Wood
Defendant

Advocate O. A. Blakeley for the Plaintiffs.

Mr Trenouth-Wood in person.

Authorities

Jackson v Horizon Holidays [1973] QB 233 CA

Branchett v Beaney [1990] 2 All ER 815.

Watts v Morrow [1991] 1 WR 1421.

Gale v Rockhampton Apartments Limited [2007] JCA 117B

Pothier's Traité du Contrat de Société.

Yates v Reg's Skips [2008] JCA 077B.

Snell v Beadle [2001] JLR 118.

Rebecca McCould — Voisinage and Nuisance — 2009 Jersey Law Review.

Moore v Buchanan [1966] 197 EG 565.

Clementina Thavenot v Sophie Patterson (Bristol County Court).

Bone v Seale [1975] 1 WLR 797.

Dobson v Thames Water Utilities Limited [2009] EWCA Civ 28.

Dobson v Thames Water Utilities Limited [2011] EWHC 3253

Property — right of way and damages

Bailiff

THE DEPUTY

1

Proceedings began in this case by way of Order of Justice. On 8 th January 2021 the Court ordered that the matter be heard as a cause de brièveté; ordered that the document filed by the Defendant (who was unrepresented) titled Defendant's response and counterclaim to the Plaintiffs' Order of Justice shall stand as the Defendant's Answer and Counterclaim, and ordered a truncated timetable to permit the case to come to trial on the first available date after 15 th March 2021. The trial was listed for Tuesday 16 th March 2021. At the end of that day, having heard argument and the evidence of four witnesses, the Court made various orders disposing of most although not all issues in the action, and reserved its reasons for so doing.

Background
2

The Plaintiffs and the Defendant own adjoining property in Le Grand Pré Estate, St Clement.

3

The First Plaintiff purchased the property known as 51, Le Grand Pré Estate on 13 th October 2010 and on 13 th January 2012 transferred the property into the joint names of himself and his wife, the Second Plaintiff.

4

The Defendant purchased a plot of land to the north of the Plaintiffs' home on 8 th February 2012. This property lies between the Plaintiffs' home and an estate road called Le Grand Pré.

5

There are various estate roads in Le Grand Pré Estate. These are not public roads and the public have no general right of way over them.

6

The Plaintiffs' property in fact gives onto the public road, La Rue de Causie and that is the principle means by which the Plaintiffs get to their property.

7

The Plaintiffs contend that they nonetheless enjoy right of way over a strip of land forming the western section of the Defendant's piece of land. On the eastern section the Defendant has recently constructed a concrete base and shed where he parks two vehicles. The Defendant does not live in the vicinity – his home is in St Helier.

8

The strip of land upon which the Plaintiffs contend that they enjoy right of way is approximately 10 feet in width and is rough ground which is currently overgrown.

9

There have been disputes between the Plaintiffs and the Defendant, largely in respect of the right of way but also in relation to other matters over the past few years. Save where relevant to the Defendant's counterclaim we will not touch upon them in this judgment as they are not relevant to the principle matter which we needed to determine. These difficulties ultimately led the Defendant to erect a fence at the northern end of the right of way on 23 rd June 2020 thus preventing the Plaintiffs from using the right of way to enter the aforementioned estate road from their property.

10

The Plaintiffs took legal advice and the Defendant failed to comply with the request to remove the fence. This led the Plaintiffs to issue an Order of Justice which was served upon the Defendant with a return date of 8 th January 2021 when, as set out above, the Court ordered the matter be tried swiftly.

The relevant conveyancing history
11

Le Grand Pré Estate was laid out in the 1960s. It appears to have been originally owned by Mr Denis Blandin. The plot now numbered No. 51 was first identified in a contract passed on 20 th September 1963 when Mr Blandin sold to a Mr Michael Ransom a piece of land then titled No. 36, subject to various terms and conditions which are not relevant for the purposes of this dispute.

12

The first contract of significance is that dated 28 th November 1970, pursuant to which Denis Blandin — by now director of a company called Causie Developments Limited — sold part of plot No. 49 to Mr Ransom who of course already owned plot No. 36 (now numbered plot 51).

13

The piece of land sold was described as:

“étant la partie Sud de l'emplacement désigné Numéro Quarante-neuf sur certain nouveau plan dudit “Le Grand Pré Estate” … joignant par le Nord en partie à certain petit becquet de terrain étant la partie Est de la partie Nord dudit emplacement désigné Numéro Quarante-neuf “Le Grand Pré Estate”, appurtenant à la Société dite “The Jersey Electricity Company Limited” … et au reste par ledit côté du Nord à certain becquet de terrain étant la partie Ouest de ladite partie Nord dudit emplacement désigné Numéro Quarante-neuf … que ladite Société Venderesse a fait accord de transférer à Monsr. Denis Peter David Blandin …”

14

Accordingly, it was clear that by this date onwards that plot 49 had been divided into three parts. One part was now owned by the JEC (acquired by contract dated 20 th February 1970) and remains so owned to this day. It appears that on 17 th October 1969 the property currently owned by the Defendant was acquired by Causie Developments Limited from Peter Blandin. On 4 th December 1970 Causie Developments Limited gifted the land back to Mr Blandin, hence the reference in the contract dated 28 th November 1970 to the fact that the company had agreed to transfer the land to Mr Blandin.

15

The northern part of plot 49 (to the north of the part of plot 49 sold to Mr Ransom in 1970) is to the west of the plot owned by the JEC and is today owned by the Defendant.

16

As to the part of plot 49 sold to Mr Ransom, it benefitted from the following rights. We do not provide a translation of the French clauses as they are repeated in English in later contracts and will be set out subsequently in this judgment. Clause 4 of the 1970 contract provided:

“QUE ledit Acquéreur aura droit de chemin et passage toutes fois et quants et à tous usages par dans et à travers une lisière de terrain de dix pieds royaux de largeur gisant le long du côté Ouest dudit becquet de terrain que ladite Société Venderesse a fait accord de transférer audit Monsr. Denis Peter David Blandin au Nord dudit becquet de terrain présentement vendu et ce afin d'aller et venir dudit becquet de terrain présentement vendu à ladite lisière de terrain destinée à devenir un chemin de vingt pleds royaux ou environ de largeur situé au Nord dudit becquet de terrain que ladite Société Venderesse a fait accord de transférer audit Monsr. Denis Peter David Blandin; à la charge audit Acquéreur de contribuer une moitié des frais des maintien et entretien de ladite lisière de terrain de dix pieds royaux de largeur.”

17

The following clause, Clause 5 began:

“QUE ledit Acquéreur pour les besoins d'aucune maison qui pourra par la suite être érigée sur ledit becquet de terrain présentement venud, aura le droit de placer, maintenir, entretenir, réparer et remplacer en dessous de la surface de ladite lisière de terrain de dix pieds royaux de largeur gisant le long du côté Ouest dudit becquet de terrain … des égouts et regards (anglicisés “inspection chambers”) pour conduire les épurs et immondices et les eaux pluviales, ainsi que des tuyaux, cables et conduits pour l'approvisionnement de l'eau, du gaz, de l'électricité, et du service du telephone, et ce afin de joinder à l'égout principal et aux services principaux déjà établis ou qui pourront par la suite être établis dans ladite lisière de terrain destinée à devenir un chemin de vingt pieds royaux ou environ de largeur fisant au Nord dudit becquet de terrain …”

18

The contract went on to provide that it was agreed between the parties that for the purpose of the following clauses “ ladite chemin” meant “ certains chemins et trottoirs de vingt pieds royaux ou environ de largeur qui sont ou qui pourront par la suite être établis par ladite Société Venderesse au Sud des emplacements Numéros Un à Douze inclusivement au Nord des emplacements Numéros Treize à Dix-huit inclusivment et Numéros Quarante-huit, Quarante-neuf et Cinquante …

19

The following clauses which referred to “ ladite chemin” included a clause which provided:

“QUE tous lesdits, propriétaires (sauf et excepté les propriétaires des emplacements Numéros Cinquante-et-un, Cinquante-deax et Cinquante-trois) auront droit de chemin et passage toutes fois et quants et à tous usages par dans et à travers lesdits chemins pour aller et venir de chaque emplacement à eux appartenant au chemin public appelé “Rue de Causie”, chacun desdits propriétaires ainsi que ladite Société Venderesse comme propriétaire d'aucune propriété qu'elle pourrait réserver enc es lieux-là, payant sa juste part des frais des maintien, entretien, reparation ou reconstruction desdits chemins.”

20

Accordingly, it was clear from the 1970 contract that the owner of this part of plot 49 enjoyed a right of way over the property to the north 10 feet in width for all purposes including use of the estate road to the north, over which any owner of the plot had a general right of way.

21

The next contract of relevance is the contract pursuant to which the Plaintiff purchased the property on 13 th August 2010. It is not necessary to consider the contracts in respect of the subsequent transfer of property into the names of the First Plaintiff and the Second Plaintiff as they simply refer back to this contract. This contract...

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1 cases
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