Clear Channel UK Ltd v Manchester City Council (2005)
An agreement for the erection and maintenance of advertising displays on local authority land created a licence and not a tenancy, because the agreement between the parties did not sufficiently identify the land in respect of which a tenancy was said to have been created.
The appellant (C) appealed against the decision ((2004) EWHC 2873 (Ch)) that an agreement between C and the respondent local authority pursuant to which C erected and maintained 13 large advertising displays at various prominent sites in Manchester owned by the local authority, created a licence rather than a tenancy. C carried on the business of constructing and maintaining advertising displays. The 13 displays in issue were all constructed to the same basic design consisting of a substantial superstructure in the shape of a large M fixed to a rectangular concrete base that was embedded in the ground. The positions of the concrete bases on which the displays were erected had been agreed between C and the local authority and marked out on the ground with spray paint. When the local authority informed C that it intended to terminate the agreement, C claimed that it was a tenant of the land on which the advertising displays had been erected and that its tenancy was protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Part II. No plans had been attached or annexed to the agreement. The local authority submitted that if the agreement did not sufficiently identify the land in respect of which a tenancy was said to have been created, the case for a tenancy had to fail, and that the agreement referred only to the general location of the displays and did not grant a right of exclusive possession over the specific areas of land occupied by the concrete bases.
The agreement did not contain a sufficient definition of the land that was said by C to be the subject of the alleged tenancy. The agreement was expressed to be in respect of the sites identified in a schedule. Those locations were not precisely defined and consisted only of addresses. It was clear that the sites mentioned in the agreement were not the areas of the concrete bases of the Ms, but larger undefined areas of land owned by the local authority in which the concrete bases were placed. There were no plans attached to the agreement, and plans attached to planning applications on which C relied were drawn before all the concrete bases were constructed or their precise location agreed and were for identification only. The process of identifying the precise location of each M on the ground with spray paint was perfectly consistent with the grant of a licence over a wider area than the concrete base itself. Since the sites were undefined areas of land owned by the local authority under and surrounding the Ms, it was clear that there was no intention to grant, and there never was a grant, of exclusive possession to C and accordingly there was no tenancy.
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09 Nov 2005
Court of Appeal
Waller LJ, Jonathan Parker LJ, Staughton LJ
LTL 9/11/2005;  EWCA Civ 1304
John McGhee QC