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Licenses Notes

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This is an extract of our Licenses document, which we sell as part of our Property Law Notes collection written by the top tier of University College London students.

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Licenses create a PERSONAL RIGHT only therefore not binding of third parties.
National Provincial Bank v. Ainsworth (1996) - Mrs. A had permission to occupy the former matrimonial home which was solely in her husband's nameher right applied only to her husband, was a license- could not bind the bank as it was a third party, had acquired legal charge.
Thomas v Sorrel (1673)- no proprietary rights arise under a license, but it will confer legality on action.
Bare Licenses
Key features:B has a liberty to use A's land (and so is not under a duty to keep off).A is not under a duty not to revoke that liberty so can be revokes at any time.

Contractual Licenses
GENERAL PRINCIPLE: a licence granted expressly or impliedly in return for valuable consideration.
Key features:B has a liberty to use A's land.A is under a contractual duty not to revoke that liberty (and B has a corresponding claim-right against A).KEY RULE: not an interest in land, must not be made in writing to comply with s.2 LP(MP)A 1989

What happens if A revokes or threatens to revoke a contractual licence?
Two questions to ask:Is A's actual or threatened conduct a breach of contract?

oIs licence for a fixed period or not? (Winter Gardens Case)

How will the courts respond to a breach by A? How will the courts respond to a breach by A?


Can B get an injunction against A?

If A threatens to revoke the licence in breach of contract, it may well be that B
can persuade the court to grant an injunction to prevent the breach:
Verrall v Great Yarmouth BC [1981] QB 202 (CA)- Great Yarmouth BC owned hall.
Made promise to allow National Front to use it for conference. New labour government took over, wanted to revoke the licence. Could the license be revoked? No, once a man has entered into contract, they can't withdraw. Specific performance must be granted. Considered licence to be 'interest' in land.

But note that specific protection of the contractual licence will not always be suitable. See e.g. Thompson v Park [1944] KB 408 (CA): Two schools amalgamated under license to form one school. Relationship between headteachers broke down, Thompson attempted to revoke the licence. Having left, Park forced his way back on property and refused to leave. Thompson asked for injunction. Could injunction be granted? Yes, the court cannot, and will not, force two people to live peacefully under the same roof, this would be onerous.
"the court cannot specifically enforce an agreement for two people to live peaceably under the same roof".

Does A's revocation of the licence turn B into a trespasser?

Unless permitted by the contract, no: Hurst v Picture Theatres
Ltd [1915] 1 KB 1 (CA).- H forcibly ejected from a cinema even though he had a ticket- held that if a license is coupled with a grant of an interest it is not revocable by licensor but a mere license can be revoked at any time.

See also Hounslow LBC v Twickenham GD Ltd [1971] 1 Ch 233, 254-5- Builder allowed into occupation of land for 4-year period to carry out building work with council. Council wanted to bring contract to end without notice. Builder refused to leave. Could council obtain injunction? No,
Contractual licensor cannot become trespasser, regardless whether the contract is specifically enforceable or not.
(Megarry VC):
'[I] find it difficult to see how a contractual licensee can be treated as a trespasser so long as his contract entitles him to be on the land; and this is so whether or not his contract is specifically enforceable. I do not think that the licence can be detached from the contract, as it were, and separately revoked; the licensee is on the land by contractual right and is not a trespasser.'

1. Contractual licences - B's rights against X
The question
If A grants a contractual licence to B and then X interferes with B's use of the land, does B have a right against X? And if so, how does that right arise?

Bare licences - if B, has exclusive possession of the land, then even if B has only a licence from A, the fact of possession gives her a property right, which allows her to bring a claim against a trespasser such as X.

See e.g. Lord Upjohn in National Provincial Bank v Ainsworth [1965] AC 1175 at 1232:

"In this case in truth and in fact the wife at all material times was and is in exclusive possession of the home. Until her husband returns she has dominion over the house and she could clearly bring proceedings against trespassers."

Contractual licences - what if X interferes before B takes possession of the land?
Does the fact that the licence is contractual give B any extra protection against

Manchester Airport v Dutton [2000] QB 133: National Trust owned land next to
Manchester Airport, gave airport a licence to cut down trees to build a new runway protestors occupied - airport applied for court order to force them to leave - court granted possession to the airport, allowed them to assert a right against a third party even though they had not taken exclusive possession.


X: goes on to the land before B

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