The map so far:

Welcome to the London Law Map!

Many people think they are familiar with legal London - the Royal Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court, the Old Bailey etc. But the streets of London are also home to a huge amount of case law. Here is just a selection:

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Somerset v Stewart (1772) Lofft 1 aka Somerset's case

What's the case about?
Stewart owned a slave called Somerset.  He brought Somerset from Virginia to London.  He planned to take Somerset to Jamaica where he would sell him.

On arrival in London, Somerset escaped.  Stewart ordered for him to be captured and returned to his ship.  Somerset applied to the court for a writ of habeus corpus, arguing that his detention was unlawful. 

Where is it on the map?
Kenwood House, home of Lord Mansfield, the leading judge in Somerset's case is at point N.

Who won?
Somerset.  Stewart had argued that the English common law did not prohibit slavery and therefore it was not unlawful to hold a person as a slave.  Lord Mansfield disagreed.  He held that slavery was not lawful simply because the common law was silent about it, or because it was lawful in other parts of the Empire.  Instead, Lord Mansfield said that slavery was 'so odious' that it could only be permitted if some positive law (i.e. an Act of Parliament) allowed it.

What's the principle of law?
Although this is a famous case, the principle of law is actually quite a narrow one.  It didn't make slavery illegal in the colonies.  It simply held that the common law did not permit slavery in England.  Therefore, in the absence of positive law to the contrary, slavery could not be legal in England.  Arguably the case was of more significance in political than legal terms. 

What's it like today?
Kenwood House was owned by Lord Mansfield's heirs until the early 20th century.  Famously, it was home to Lord Mansfield's mixed race neice, Dido Belle (subject of the 2014 film, Belle).  In 1925 Kenwood was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, who filled it with paintings and opened it to the public.  It was taken over by English Heritage in 1986.

Kenwood today is largely a backdrop to the paintings from the Iveagh bequest, which include works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough. The library, however, is presented very much as Lord Mansfield's room.  It was designed for Lord Mansfield by Robert Adam and is richly decorated with frescos and plasterwork. 

This one shows Justice embracing Peace:

The library features a number of paintings and busts of the great judge and his family:

Kenwood House is set on the edge of Hampstead Heath and, unlike many English Heritage properties, entry is free.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Bruton v. London and Quadrant Housing Trust [1999] UKHL 26

What's the case about?
In 1975 Lambeth Borough Council acquired a row of properties on Rushcroft Road in Brixton.  The Council planned to demolish the properties and replace them with new housing.  The plans ran into delays and in 1986 the Council decided to allow London and Quadrant, a housing association, to use the properties as temporary accommodation for people who were homeless.

In 1989 London and Quadrant agreed to let Mr Bruton live in one of the properties.  The agreement was worded as follows:
"Occupation of Short-Life Accommodation at 2 Oval House, Rushcroft Road, SW2 on a temporary basis.     "As has been explained to you, the above property is being offered to you by [the Trust] on a weekly Licence from 6 February 1989. The Trust has the property on licence from [the council] who acquired the property for development. . . and pending this development, it is being used to provide temporary housing accommodation. It is offered to you on the condition that you will vacate upon receiving reasonable notice from the Trust, which will not normally be less than four weeks. You understand and agree that while you are living in the property, you will allow access at all times during normal working hours to the staff of the Trust, the owners and agents for all purposes connected with the work of the Trust."
After a number of years, Mr Bruton brought a claim against London and Quadrant, arguing that they had not met their obligations in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to repair the property.  In reply, London and Quadrant argued that Mr Bruton was a licensee rather than a tenant and therefore they had no obligations to him vis a vis the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

Where is it on the map?
At point G.

Who won?
Mr Bruton won.  The House of Lords held that even though the agreement had been described by both parties as a licence, it was in fact a tenancy and therefore London and Quadrant had an obligation to repair the property.

What's the principle of law?
A licence is a less secure form of tenure than a tenancy.  It is often in a landlord's interests to describe an agreement as a licence rather than a tenancy.  For example, if in the present case Mr Bruton had been a licensee, London and Quadrant would not have had an obligation to repair the property.

The case of Street v. Mountford [1985] A.C. 809 had established that an agreement with the characteristics of a tenancy (such as exclusive possession of the premises) could be a tenancy notwithstanding the fact that both parties had described it as a licence.

In the present case, counsel for London and Quadrant argued that Street v. Mountford should be distinguished because the housing association had no power in law to create a tenancy with Mr Bruton.  London and Quadrant were themselves only licensees of Lambeth Borough Council.  The terms of their licence specifically forbade them from creating tenancies.  However, the House of Lords were not persuaded by this argument.  Lord Hobhouse said that London and Quadrant should have realised that their agreement with Mr Bruton was in fact a tenancy, regardless of how it was described, and that their agreements with Mr Bruton and others probably meant that they were in breach of their agreement with the Council.

What's it like now?
The properties never were demolished.  But as a consequence of this House of Lords judgment, Lambeth Borough Council ended their arrangement with London and Quadrant.  Lambeth then sought to evict Mr Bruton and the other residents from the properties.  The evictions were themselves the subject of a House of Lords case (Kay and others v London Borough of Lambeth and others [2006] UKHL 10). 

The final residents of Rushcroft Road were evicted in 2013.  This Daily Mail report provides a graphic account of the evictions.

Lambeth Council have since sold some of the properties on Rushcroft Road, and are redeveloping the rest as social housing.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Ellen Street Estates Ltd v Minister of Health [1934] All ER Rep 385

What's the case about?
Mr Lithman held leases on properties in Ellen Street and Berner Street, Stepney. 

In 1920 the Minister of Health attempted a compulsory purchase of the properties. The properties were described as "by reason of their bad arrangement, or the narrowness or bad arrangement of the streets, dangerous or injurious to the health of the inhabitants of the area." Mr Lithman did not object to the compulsory purchase as he believed he would be entitled to compensation from the Minister of Health, as per the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919.

Some five or six years passed, during which time an arbitrator was appointed to assess the compensation due to Mr Lithman under the 1919 Act. The arbitrator held that Mr Lithman was not entitled to any compensation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as this point Mr Lithman began to raise objections. His solicitors discovered that under the law at the time, the compulsory purchase was unenforceable as it had not been concluded within three years. Rather than fight this out with Mr Lithman, the Minister of Health abandoned the compulsory purchase - but immediately started a fresh one, using powers in the newly enacted Housing Act 1930.

Ellen Street Estates Ltd, who by this time had taken ownership of the properties from Mr Lithman objected to the renewed attempt at a compulsory purchase. They argued that it was unlawful because the powers in the Housing Act 1930 were incompatible with provisions in the 1919 Act. 

Where is it on the map?
At point F.

Who won?
The Minister of Health won. The Court of Appeal held that the 1930 Act did not have to expressly repeal the 1919 Act in order to have precedence over it. Rather, the 1930 Act impliedly repealed the 1919 Act to the extent that it was incompatible with it. 

What's the principle of law?
Parliamentary sovereignty is a fundamental principle of UK constitutional law. Parliament is the highest source of law in the UK. No Parliament can pass a law that a future Parliament cannot change or repeal altogether.  

Whilst the 1919 Act stated that "any provisions of any Act... [that are] inconsistent with this Act... shall not have effect" this should not be read as an attempt to influence Parliament's ability to change the law in the future.  Parliament simply does not have that ability.

What's it like today?
The properties on Ellen Street were replaced with the Berner Estate in the mid-1930s. The parts of the estate built in the 1930s are particularly attractive, and clearly very well maintained.

The excellent St George in the East parish website has some photographs of the area as it looked prior to the compulsory purchase.  

Berner Street was renamed Henriques Street in the 1960s after the Jewish philanthropist Basil Henriques. It is also (in)famous as the place where Elizabeth Stride's body was found in 1888, in a murder attributed to Jack the Ripper.

It looks like the Henriques Street sign is covering up the old Berner Street sign on the side of this building.

Thanks to Michael Doherty at UCLAN for the inspiration for this post. His OpenLawMap project is well worth a look.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sturges v Bridgman (1878) 11 Ch.D. 852

What's the case about?
Bridgman ran a confectioners from premises on Wigmore Street.  To the rear of the premises was a kitchen, which abutted Dr Sturges' garden on Wimpole Street. The kitchen was fitted with two large pestles and mortars, where the staff would break up and pound loaf sugar, meat and other hard substances needed to create the confectionery.  It could be noisy work but the neighbours did not complain.  

In 1873 Dr Octavius Sturges built a consulting room at the end of his garden.  The room shared a party wall with Bridgman's kitchen.  Sturges immediately found the the noise and vibration from Bridgman's pestles and mortars interfered with his work.  He sought an injunction to prevent Bridgman using the equipment in a way that would cause him nuisance.

Where is it on the map?
At point Z.

Who won?
Dr Sturges.  The Court of Appeal held that Bridgman was creating a private nuisance and granted the injunction.

What's the principle of law?
It is possible to acquire a right to do something that would otherwise be unlawful by a process called prescription.  The defendant must be able to show that he has done the unlawful thing for twenty years without complaint.  

In the present case, Mr Bridgman argued that he had been using the kitchen for twenty years - possibly much longer - without complaint.  However, the Court of Appeal held that Mr Bridgman had not acquired a right by prescription over this period as the noise had not been a nuisance until Dr Sturges built his consulting room in 1873.  

Sturges v Bridgman is often cited as authority for the proposition that it is no defence to say that the claimant came to the nuisance.  However, the recent Supreme Court judgment in Coventry v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 13 casts doubt on whether this was ever good law.  You can read my commentary on Coventry v Lawrence here.

Sturges v Bridgman also contains Thesiger LJ’s famous quote about the importance of considering the character of a neighbourhood when assessing whether certain behaviour amounts to a nuisance: “what would be a nuisance in Belgrave Square would not necessarily be so in Bermondsey”.

What's it like today?
Wimpole Street is in the heart of London's medical district, just two streets away from the rather more famous Harley Street.  It crosses Wigmore Street at right angles.  There was no sign of Brigman's confectioners on Wigmore Street when I visited, but this may have been due to the scaffolding that was covering that part of the street.  

I had more luck on Wimpole Street: the property formerly occupied by Dr Octavius Sturges is now home to a practice of counsellors and therapists - and someone with a sense of humour:

It wasn’t possible to get a view of the garden, but the position of the crane in the neighbouring yard gives an impression of how closely the properties are packed together.

You can read more about Dr Octavius Sturges here.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd [1997] 2 All ER 426

What's the case about?
In the spring of 1988 construction started on One Canada Square, the distinctive tower at the centre of the Canary Wharf development.  Within a few months of work starting, people living to the northeast of the site began to complain of interference with their television signal.  A group of 690 people brought an action in private nuisance against the developers and sought to recover damages from them.
Where is it on the map?
At point M.

Who won?
The developers.  

The House of Lords rejected the idea that causing interference to a person's television reception was capable of being an actionable nuisance.  They also reversed the Court of Appeal's ruling that people who did not have a 'proprietary interest in land' could bring an action in private nuisance.

What's the principle of law?
Private nuisance is usually caused by something 'emanating' from a person's land.  A classic example of this is where emissions emanating from a factory cause nuisance at a neighbouring property (see Tipping v St Helens Smelting Co. (1865) L.R. 1 Ch.App. 66).  In the present case, there was nothing emanating from the tower: it was simply in the way of the television signals.  The Law Lords ruled that it would be wrong to hold that Canary Wharf Ltd had created a nuisance simply by building on their own land. 

The second important principle to be found in the House of Lords' judgment is that a person can only bring a claim in private nuisance if they have 'a proprietary interest' in the land that is suffering the alleged nuisance.  This usually means that the claimant must own the land.  In the present case, not all the claimants had proprietary interests in the land that they claimed had suffered a nuisance.  Some were partners or relatives - or even lodgers - of the people with the proprietary interest in the land.  

The Court of Appeal had held that it was sufficient for a claimant to have a 'substantial interest' in land (a broader definition).  But the House of Lords (Lord Cooke dissenting) held that this was incorrect: private nuisance is a tort committed against land.  Therefore, if you have no land, you cannot suffer a tort to your land and you cannot bring a claim in private nuisance.

What's it like today?
The tower at One Canada Square was the tallest building in Britain from 1990 to 2010.  However, the reason it had interfered with local people's television reception was not thought to be its height so much as its shiny stainless steel cladding.  Today, the tallest building in Britain is the (equally shiny) Shard.

In 1989 the residents had been receiving their television signal via a transmitter at Crystal Palace.  In April 1991, the BBC installed a transmitter at Poplar.  This corrected the problem with the local reception.  Today, the analogue transmitters have been switched off and Londoners receive a digital signal.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

R v Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte Rose Theatre Trust Co [1990] 1 All ER 754

What's the case about?
In 1989, developers were given permission to redevelop an office block adjacent to Southwark Bridge.  Before the foundations of the new building had been laid, a team of archaelogists uncovered the remains of the Rose Theatre, Bankside's first theatre.  The Rose was built in 1587 and staged productions by Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

The developers were planning to build over the site in a matter of weeks but a group of interested archaeologists and actors argued that it should be preserved for the nation.  They formed a company, the Rose Theatre Trust, in order to campaign for the site's preservation.  The Rose Theatre Trust applied to the Secretary of State for the Environment for the site to be scheduled as an ancient monument, which would have made interfering with the remains (and presumably continuing with the development) a criminal offence.  The application was refused.  The Rose Theatre Trust applied to the High Court for a judicial review, arguing that the Secretary of State's decision was unlawful and should be quashed.

Where is it on the map?
At point Y.

Who won?
The Secretary of State won: the judge found that he had not acted unlawfully.  

Even worse for the Rose Theatre Trust, the judge found that they did not have a sufficient interest in the site to allow them to bring a claim anyway.  So even if the Secretary of State had acted unlawfully, the judge would not have quashed the decision on the application of the Rose Theatre Trust.

What's the principle of law?
A judicial review is an application to a court to overturn a public decision of an official body.  Only applicants who have a sufficient interest (sometimes referred to as 'standing' or 'locus standi') in the decision are able to apply for judicial review.  The judge held that the Rose Theatre campaigners, as individuals, did not have a sufficient interest in the decision - and that they could not gain a sufficient interest simply by banding together to form a pressure group or even a company like the Rose Theatre Trust.  

The judge based his reasoning on the judgment of the House of Lords in the Fleet Street casuals case (IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd [1982] AC 617), where a group of self employed people (the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses) failed to secure a judicial review of way the Inland Revenue had handled the tax affairs of another group of self employed people (the Fleet Street casuals).

What's it like today?
The public outcry over the Rose Theatre is often cited as the reason why, in November 1990, the government published new guidance as to when sites of national interest should be designated as scheduled monuments.  The Rose Theatre was finally listed as a scheduled monument in February 1992.

One of the reasons that the Secretary of State gave for refusing the application to schedule the site as an ancient monument was that the developer was cooperating with the archaeologists and the Rose Theatre Trust.  For example, the developer altered the design of the offices so that the remains of the Rose Theatre could be protected and preserved. 

The office block that towers over the Rose Theatre today is home to a number of government agencies, including the Crown Prosecution Service and the Health and Safety Executive.

A reconstruction of the Rose Theatre features in the film 'Shakespeare in Love'.

It is possible to visit the Rose Theatre today, watch a video about its history (narrated by Sir Ian McKellen) and enjoy plays performed on site.  Posters and other objects from the 'Save the Rose' campaign are  on display too:

The Rose Theatre Trust are currently fundraising to create an enhanced visitor centre and performance space.  You can donate here.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Sovmots Investments Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment [1977] 2 All ER 385

What's the case about?
The Centre Point development on the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road was completed in 1966. It is in three main sections: the tower, a lower building across the road (the Earnshaw Building), and a bridge section connecting the two buildings.

The Earnshaw Building is itself in three sections: a car park at basement level, shops and office space on the ground and upper floors and, supported by columns on the roof of the upper floor, a six storey structure containing 36 maisonettes. The development remained empty for a number of years.

In September 1972, the local authority, the London Borough of Camden, sought a Compulsory Purchase Order so that they could acquire the maisonettes and make them available to people in need of council housing.

In August 1974, the Secretary of State for the Environment approved Camden's Compulsory Purchase Order. It was worded as follows:

36 Residential maisonettes on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th floors of the part of and adjacent to the east side of the property known as Centre Point, London, WC1, together with, (i) the corridors giving access to the said maisonettes, (ii) the entrance hall, staircase and lifts at the south end and (iii) the staircase above podium level at the north end.
The owners of Centre Point applied to have the order quashed. The maisonettes were only habitable if the occupiers had rights to use services shared with the lower part of the building such as electricity cables, rubbish chutes etc. The owners argued that the Compulsory Purchase Order was not worded in a way that gave Camden these rights and that furthermore, Camden could not use the Compulsory Purchase Order to compel the grant of these rights.

Where is it on the map?

At point X.

Who won?

The owners of Centre Point won. The House of Lords held that the Camden could not compel the owners to grant them the rights necessary to make the maisonettes habitable and that the Compulsory Purchase Order should not be read in a way that granted the rights.

What's the principle of law?

This case makes it clear that the law views the acquisition of property via a Compulsory Purchase Order very differently to the acquisition of property from a willing seller. Camden argued that it was obvious that they would need rights over the lower floors of Earnshaw House and that they should therefore be implied into the Order. But the House of Lords stated that only the property and the rights specifically named in the Order could be acquired. This is because a Compulsory Purchase Order is a tool for acquiring property against the wishes of its owner. The default position of the law is to respect the ownership of private property and it was therefore right to read the Order in a restrictive way.

This case also illustrates the principle that an owner of property cannot grant themselves legal easements (rights) over their own land. Legal easements can only be created when the land that benefits from the easement is held on a separate title to the land that carries the burden of the easement. At the time the Compulsory Purchase Order was made, the land was all held on one title. Therefore, whilst the maisonettes undoubtedly shared services with the lower parts of the building, no legal easements existed that were capable of being transferred to Camden.

What's it like today?

Despite being described as “coarse in the extreme” by Nikolaus Pevsner, the development was listed by English Heritage in 1995.

The GoToMidtown website lists some interesting facts about the construction and the history of the development, although it doesn't mention the abortive Compulsory Purchase Order of the maisonettes.

In 2013 the owners were granted planning permission to redevelop the site to brighten up the exterior, create a 'plaza' at street level and convert much of the main tower into flats.  For now there is a bar at the top of the tower offering panoramic views of London, but this is set to close when the site is redeveloped.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd [1971] 1 All ER 686

What's the case about?
Mr Thornton drove to the NCP car park on Shoe Lane.  There was a notice by the entrance stating 'All cars parked at owners risk'.  He pulled up by the barrier, put some money into the machine and it issued a ticket.  Mr Thornton drove through the barrier and parked his car.  His ticket was printed with the time of issue and the following wording: 'This ticket is issued subject to the conditions of issue as displayed on the premises.'  A notice inside the car park gave more details of these conditions, including one that purported to exclude liability for personal injury.  But Mr Thornton did not read the notice.  When he returned to collect his car there was an accident and he was badly injured.

Mr Thornton brought a claim against the owners of the car park, arguing that they had caused his injuries and were liable to compensate him.  The trial judge agreed that the owners were at least partly to blame, and ordered them to compensate Mr Thornton for 50% of his losses.  The owners of the car park appealed, arguing that it was a condition of their contract with Mr Thornton that they would not be liable for any personal injury they caused him.

Where is it on the map?
At point A.

Who won?
Mr Thornton won.  The Court of Appeal, led by Lord Denning, dismissed the car park owners' appeal on the grounds that the condition purporting to exclude liability for personal injury was not a part of their contract with Mr Thornton.

What's the principle of law?
A term or condition (in this case, an exclusion clause) can only be incorporated into a contract if it is brought to the attention of the relevant party before the contract is formed.  Lord Denning found that Mr Thornton's contract with the car park owners was formed when he put his money into the machine at the barrier.  So, by the time Mr Thornton drove through the barrier, it was too late for the owners to try to exclude liability for any personal injury they might cause him.  The notice at the entrance of the car park only sought to exclude liability for damage to cars.  It did not give any kind of warning that the owners were seeking to exclude liability for personal injury too.

What's it like today?
The car park was situated beneath the International Press Centre on Shoe Lane.  The car park and the International Press Centre were demolished earlier this year to make way for a new development which (confusingly) will be called 1 New Street Square.  The International Press Centre was designed by Richard Seifert who also designed the Centre Point building on Tottenham Court Road.  You can see some pre-demolition pictures of the International Press Centre here.

I visited Shoe Lane towards the end of the demolition works and was luck enough to be allowed to take some pictures on site.  If you look closely, you can see a 'Way Out' notice still on the wall of the car park.  Unfortunately the 'All cars parked at owners risk' notice and the notice showing the 'conditions' of parking seem to be long gone.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Gill v El Vino [1983] QB 425

What’s the case about?
Mrs Gill and Ms Coote went into El Vino’s wine bar on Fleet Street in London.  They walked up to the bar and ordered two glasses of wine.  They were informed that women were not allowed to stand and drink at the bar, but that they were welcome to take a table and be served there.  They brought a claim against the management of El Vino, arguing that their treatment was unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

Where is it on the map?
At point L.

Who won?
Mrs Gill and Ms Coote won, eventually.  The trial judge found in favour of El Vino but on appeal, the court gave judgment for the women.

What’s the principle of law?
S.29 Sex Discrimination Act 1975 made it unlawful for a person to discriminate against women when providing goods, facilities or services to the public.  El Vino had argued that their policy of not allowing women at the bar was an act of chivalry and respect rather than discrimination.  But the appeal judges found that regardless of its motivation, the policy deprived women of the opportunity to enjoy the bar to the same extent as male customers and it was thus unlawful. 

What’s it like today?
S.29 Sex Discrimination Act 1975 has been replaced by the Equality Act 2010, but this case is still a good example of direct discrimination and the policy would still be unlawful today.

The Guardian marked the 30th anniversary of Gill v El Vino with a post on their ‘from the archive’ blog.  You can read it here.

El Vino is still going strong.   

And they now serve ladies at the bar – cheers!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Metropolitan Railway Co v Delaney [1921] All ER Rep 301

What's the case about?
Early in the morning of 28 February 1919 Mr Delaney bought a ticket to travel from Aldgate to Kings Cross on the Metropolitan Railway. He walked down to the platform, where a train was waiting with its doors open. He boarded the train but as he went to take his seat the train started without warning. Mr Delaney lost his balance and fell, trapping his hand in the door and crushing it.

He brought a claim against the Metropolitan Railway Company, arguing that their negligence had caused his injuries. He won, but the Metropolitan Railway Company appealed, arguing that the trial judge had misunderstood the law and that there was no evidence of negligence for the jury to consider.

Where is it on the map?
At point W.

Who won?
Mr Delaney. The majority of the Law Lords held that a duty of care was owed and that there was sufficient evidence of negligence for the case to be put to the jury.

What's the principle of law?
As well as being an example of how the Law Lords applied their minds to the new technology of electric trains (the judgment contains much discussion about whether the word 'jerk' is a technical term), the case illustrates the differences between questions of law and questions of fact. In a jury trial, the judge will consider questions of law and the jury questions of fact. In a trial without a jury, the judge will consider both questions of law and fact.  Actions for negligence are no longer heard before a jury, but the distinction between law and fact is still relevant.

The question of law here was whether the Metropolitan Railway Company had a duty to start their train in a way that would be safe for passengers who were not yet seated and/or to warn passengers who were not yet seated if the train was about to start suddenly.

The question of fact was whether the Metropolitan Railway Company had started their train in a way that was not safe for passengers who were not yet seated, like Mr Delaney.  It was accepted by the Metropolitan Company that they had done nothing to warn passengers that the train was about to start.

Four out of the five Law Lords who heard the case agreed that the trial judge had considered the question of law correctly and that it was therefore correct to put the factual question to the jury. The one dissenting judge, Viscount Finlay, argued that people who used electric trains should know that they start with much less warning than a steam train and therefore no duty was owed to Mr Delaney.  

What's it like today?
The Metropolitan Railway Company's line is now known as the Metropolitan Line and is operated by Transport for London. Metropolitan Line trains still run between Aldgate and Kings Cross.  In the 1921 judgment, Lord Birkenhead talks about the trains travelling at about 20 miles per hour.  The Metropolitan Line train I took towards Kings Cross earlier this week didn't seem to go much faster.

As Aldgate is the final stop on the eastbound Metropolitan Line, trains do tend to wait there for a while before setting off.  But these days, as in other Underground stations, a pre-recorded message warns passengers when the trains are ready to depart and buzzers sound as the doors close.  Maybe Mr Delaney's crushed hand was the inspiration for these safety measures?

Here are some pictures I took at Aldgate Station:

You can view some more pictures, and an appreciation of Aldgate Station on the 150 great things about the underground blog.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Kings v Bultitude [2010] EWHC 1795

What’s the case about? 
Mrs Schroder, who described herself as ‘sole custodian of the Church of the Good Shepherd’ a non-traditional Catholic Church, died in 2008.  Mrs Schroder’s husband had been the head of the Church of the Good Shepherd from 1968 until his death in 1985. At one time there had been a few thousand members but by 2008 only a handful remained. From 1975 onwards the Church had leased the former Agapemonite Church in Rookwood Road as its place of worship.  The doors to the building at Rookwood Road were closed at the time of Mrs Schroder’s death and by 2010 it had been leased to the Georgian Orthodox Church. 

Mrs Schroder’s will, which was written in 1975, left the residue of her estate ‘to the Trustees of the Ancient Catholic Church known as the Church of the Good Shepherd, at present meeting at Rookwood Road, London’. 

The value of Mrs Schroder’s gift to the Church of the Good Shepherd was around £500,000, but there were a number of questions as to whether the gift was valid.  If not valid, the money would pass to others who stood to benefit from the will under the intestacy rules, including Mrs Bultitude, the defendant in the case. 

Where is it on the map? 
At point V. 

Who won? 
Mrs Bultitude.  The High Court held that Mrs Schroder’s gift was dependent on the Church of the Good Shepherd continuing to exist.  The Church no longer existed and therefore the gift failed and the money would pass to Mrs Bultitude and others under the intestacy rules. 

What’s the principle of law? 
It was accepted by all parties that the Church of the Good Shepherd was a charitable organisation.  For some background on when a religious organisation will be considered charitable, take a look at Gilmour v Coats and Neville v Madden, which also feature on the London Law Map. 

Special rules apply when a gift to a charity fails because the charity no longer exists.  If the Church of the Good Shepherd continued to exist after Mrs Schroder's death then the court could use the doctrine of cy-près (legal French for ‘close to’) to apply the money to a charity that most closely reflected the work of the church. 

If the Church of the Good Shepherd had already ceased to exist when the gift was made, the money could still be applied cy-près – providing Mrs Schroder’s will showed a ‘general charitable intention’.

The court held that by 2008 Mrs Schroder had become essential to the church’s activities: when she went on holiday, the building would be locked and there would be no services.  After Mrs Schroder died the members went their separate ways and no longer came together as a congregation.

For these reasons the court held that the Church ceased to exist on Mrs Schroder’s death and the money could only be applied cy-près if her will showed a ‘general charitable intention’ - such as gifts to other charities.  The Court decided that Mrs Schroder’s will did not show such an intention and therefore the gift failed. 

What’s it like today?
The building at Rookwood Road is now home to the Georgian Orthodox Church.  I visited during Sunday Mass.  The congregation were very welcoming and happy for me to take photos. 

Barbara Rich, who acted for Mrs Bultitude has some excellent photos of the church on Flickr. 

The building has a fascinating history, having been built for the Agappemonite sect, led by J H Smyth-Pigott, the "Clapton Messiah".  One of the best features of the building are the stained glass windows designed by Walter Crane, a contemporary of William Morris. This one has a pomegranate design: 
The church is Grade 2* listed, and you can read a detailed description of it on the English Heritage website.