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Car Park Services Ltd v Bywater Capital Ltd


This case is very important in Northern Ireland because there is no contracting out of their business tenancy legislation, so the question of whether an agreement creates a lease or a licence is critical.  The case is also important for the law of England and Wales because the distinction between a lease and a licence can also be important here, and most of the case law considered by the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland was case law from England and Wales.


Car Park Services Limited occupied a car park in the centre of Belfast pursuant to an agreement which was described as a licence.  It was argued that the licence agreement was a sham, and had in fact created a lease of the car park, which enjoyed statutory security of tenure under the Northern Ireland legislation which protects the occupation of business tenants.  The Lands Tribunal decided that the agreement was a licence.


The Court of Appeal, by a 2-1 majority, decided that the agreement was a lease.

Northern Ireland Court of Appeal
McBride J, Stephens LJ, Sir John Gillen
Judgment date
3 May 2018