The property and legal worlds were eagerly awaiting judgment in Sirosa Properties Establishment v The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, which went to trial in November.

Harriet Allsop

Harriet Allsop

It was hoped the case would give fresh direction on rights of light measurements. However, a confidential settlement was reached on the first day of trial.

Sirosa and Prudential owned neighbouring buildings on Oxford Street, London. Prudential obtained planning permission for a nine-storey redevelopment, demolishing its existing building, in 2019. It was common ground that Sirosa’s building enjoyed the benefit of rights of light over Prudential’s land. If the development went ahead as planned, Sirosa’s building would suffer a loss of light to the third through to sixth floors, so Sirosa wanted Prudential to scale back its development.

Trial submissions would have addressed the relevance of internally and externally reflected light, and reliance on electric lighting, among other issues. In Midtown Ltd v City of London Real Property Co Ltd [2005] 1 EGLR 65, it was argued that reliance on electric lighting in an office meant there was no actionable infringement. The court in Midtown did not agree entirely, ruling that there was an infringement, but the availability of electric lighting meant that damages in lieu of an injunction were appropriate.

In Beaumont Business Centres Ltd v Florala Properties Ltd [2020] EWHC 550 Ch, the developer argued that reflected light ought to be taken into account whereas classic right to light measurement takes into account only direct light from the sky.

In Sirosa, the claimant would have submitted that natural light is important not only for task illumination, but also for wellbeing of occupants. Sirosa would have argued that reflected light should be ignored because it is outside the dominant owner’s control. A judgment in Sirosa might have provided guidance for those dealing with similar disputes.

As it is, we will have to wait. The case of Adjoin Limited v Fortytwo House SARL is working its way through the courts and might just provide some suitable illumination.

Harriet Allsop is an associate in the property litigation team at Russell-Cooke