News & Views

Brexit frustration

Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), decided to relocate from its Canary Wharf premises to Amsterdam.

The EMA tried to bring their lease at to an end, maintaining that the 25 year lease, granted in October 2014, would be ‘frustrated’ by the potential withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

Key to the court rejecting their argument was the length of the lease (25 years), the absence of a break clause and the ability to assign and underlet the premises.

The court’s decision would clearly have had a significant impact, if it had gone the other way.  Whilst it has prevented the floodgates opening for now, it is also unlikely that this is the last we will hear of this type of argument.  Some commentators have suggested that, where parties can show a common purpose to the signing of the lease, specifically it being dependent on the UK remaining within the EU, judges may have a more sympathetic ear. The EMA have sought leave to appeal …. watch this space.

This was the one of two cases covered by Michael Lewis, head of property disputes at Sherrards, and Ben Walters who were guest speakers at a recent CPD training day run by South of England Surveyors for over 100 surveyors based on the south coast.

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