In a weighty 73 page judgment delivered this morning, in Beaumont v Florala, Mr Peter Knox QC appears to have signalled a significant shift in the approach of the courts to rights of light cases.  His decision covered all of the essential elements of any rights of light dispute and casts doubt on accepted practice in several areas.

The headline is that an injunction has been granted ordering Florala to pull down part of the development it completed almost two years ago.  This will come as a surprise to many given how the proceedings unfolded, the fact that the levels of light loss weren't great and also that Beaumont didn't seek an interim injunction.  It is important to say that further steps are required by Beaumont to enforce the injunction given that there is a lease of Florala's property. 

The judgment also includes some interesting comments around the appropriate test for nuisance in the context of rights of light.  Florala argued that where rooms were already badly lit, a small reduction in light shouldn’t amount to a nuisance. The Judge gave this short shrift and said that whatever the starting position if a development makes the neighbouring property ‘...substantially less comfortable and convenient than before...’ it would amount to a nuisance.  He didn’t reject the traditional Waldram method approach to measuring light loss but did say that in cases such as this, where the levels of light loss aren’t great, Waldram only provided a starting point.

There is much more to the judgment and so the full ramifications will need to be carefully considered over the coming weeks and months.  One thing is for sure, an appeal to the Court of  Appeal will follow.