Home Information Cases Emmanuel Cook v JD Wetherspoon Plc [2006]

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Emmanuel Cook v JD Wetherspoon Plc [2006]

Summary

Where there was a conflict between dimensions in figures on a plan by which a property transferred was described and dimensions arrived at by scaling off the plan, the conflict was to be resolved by reference to such inferences as might be drawn from topographical features that existed when the transfer was executed.

Facts

The appellant (C) appealed against a decision that the distance between the northern boundary of land transferred by him to the respondent (J) and the northern boundary of the land retained by him was 30 and not 40 feet. C had transferred to J the major part of a property that was registered land by a transfer in which the property transferred was expressed to be "defined on the attached plan and shown edged red". The strip of land retained by C was dimensioned on the plan as having a width of 40 feet, whereas if the scale of the plan was used the distance was only 30 feet. C submitted that if a plan used a dimension then prima facie the dimension governed and that a dimension was almost invariably more accurate than a line on a plan. J submitted that there was no ambiguity in the transfer that needed to be resolved by the court because the property transferred was the property shown edged red on the plan and that property if scaled off left a retained strip of 30 feet, and that the dimension could and should be ignored.

Held

While there was no ambiguity in the body of the transfer, there was an ambiguity in the plan. There was a conflict between the marked dimension of 40 feet and the actual scaled width of 30 feet. That conflict had to be resolved by reference to well-established principles affecting the construction of documents conveying or transferring interests in land. It was impossible to hold, as a general proposition, that a dimension was almost invariably more accurate than a line on a plan. Where there was a conflict between dimensions in figures on a plan by which the property transferred was described and dimensions arrived at by scaling off the plan, the conflict was to be resolved by reference to such inferences as might be drawn from topographical features that existed when the transfer was executed, Jackson v Bishop (1984) 48 P&CR 57 applied. On the basis of those features the judge had concluded that a boundary based upon the red edging on the plan would coincide with features on the ground that could sensibly be regarded as boundary features. There was adequate relevant and admissible evidence, in particular of the topographical features that existed when the transfer was executed, on which the judge's decision could be based. In the circumstances the judge's conclusion was correct.

Appeal dismissed.

Court of Appeal
Ward J, Sir Martin Nourse
Judgment date
31 March 2006
References

​[2006] EWCA Civ 330

Practice areas