UK: Right To Light – How Valuable Is It?

Last Updated: 7 June 2007
Article by Sinead Kennedy

How valuable is a right of light? In the first right of light case to come before the Court of Appeal in more than 20 years, it was decided that interference with a right to light could not be compensated by a monetary payment. Instead, an injunction was the appropriate remedy.

The recent decision of Regan v Paul Properties Ltd involved the development of a new five-storey building in Brighton, the construction of which would block the light to the living room of a first and second floor maisonette owned by Mr Regan. The maisonette enjoyed an easement granting a right to light. The top floor of the development was to be a penthouse flat which, when fully constructed, would reduce Mr Regan’s adequate light to his living room to well below the conventional minimum and significantly less than the light he had previously enjoyed.

Mr Regan sought an injunction requiring the developer, Paul Properties Ltd, to take back the skyline of the topstorey penthouse flat so as to restore an adequate amount of light. The effect of the injunction would be to reduce marketability of the penthouse from £470,000 to nearer £300,000.

In the first instance the High Court judge agreed that the construction of the new building amounted to an unreasonable interference with the right to light, but refused Mr Regan an injunction. Instead the remedy was to compensate Mr Regan with a monetary payment.

Mr Regan appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal. In September 2006, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision and granted a mandatory injunction preventing the developer from completing construction of the building. In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeal was unconvinced by the approach of the High Court. It found that the burden of proof had been placed on Mr Regan to show why he should be awarded an injunction and not damages; in doing so the High Court trial judge had erred in law. The proper remedy was to grant an injunction, which was not considered to be oppressive or inequitable to the developer. Even though Paul Properties would suffer a far greater loss than Mr Regan, it had continued to build despite his protests, which had started five months earlier, even before the building had reached the 5th floor. The developer, it seemed, had taken a "calculated risk".

Mr Regan’s property was a residential dwelling, which was a key consideration for the Court of Appeal in reaching its decision. One of the factors discussed in the judgment was the apparent lack of privacy Mr Regan would be subject to if the light available into the room was reduced. The case raises the question as to whether or not the outcome would have been different had the property involved been a commercial rather than a residential premises. This is a question which remains to be answered although it is worth noting the recent decision of Tamares (Vincent Square) Ltd v Fairpoint Properties (Vincent Square) Ltd. In that case, the defendant’s redevelopment of an adjoining building infringed the claimant’s right to light and damages of £50,000 were awarded. The building was an office and the area affected was an unoccupied stairwell. It is also worth noting that the Vincent Square case moves away from the traditional route of assessing damages. Given that the owner of a right to light would normally be expected to receive some part of the likely profit from the development in question, it was said that the court should award a sum that took into account a fair percentage of that profit. On that basis the court awarded a larger percentage of profit than has been usual in such cases, so even if an injunction is not granted, damages are likely to be considerably more.

The Regan case is a landmark decision with far-reaching consequences. It will be greeted with dismay by developers and with delight by adjoining landowners. The Court of Appeal has overturned the perceived wisdom that injunctions are rarely, if ever, granted in rights of light cases. Whether or not the law relating to rights of light is ripe for reform has yet to be seen. Until then, however, and in light of this decision, developers would be advised to proceed with caution if their proposed developments might interfere with a neighbouring landowner’s right of light. It is no longer safe to assume that a person with the benefit of a right to light can always be adequately compensated with a financial settlement. An injunction, if granted, will in many cases be disastrous for the developer. It is dangerous to assume that the existence of easements can be bought off by negotiation. It is equally unwise to assume that the courts will invariably look sympathetically at a developer who wishes to proceed with a development despite an interference with easements, just because the developer has committed a substantial amount of money to a development.

It remains the case that if you are an owner or occupier of land, you must act promptly as soon as you become aware that there may be an interference with your right to light. Any delay will reduce your chances of obtaining an injunction and increase the chance that you will only be entitled to monetary compensation. If you have any queries on the issues raised in this article, please contact the author.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.