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Meaning of “vacant possession”: NYK Logistics (UK) Limited v Ibrend Estates BV [2011] EWCA Civ 683

The Court of Appeal has delivered its much-anticipated judgment today (16 June 2011) in this case in which Dermot Woolgar acted for the Appellant. The case concerns the meaning of “vacant possession”. This is the first time that the Court of Appeal has considered this question since Cumberland Consolidated Holdings Ltd v Ireland [1946] KB 264.

In his judgment Rimer LJ, with whom Ward and Moore-Bick LJJ agreed, stated:

[44]…The concept of ‘vacant possession’ in the present context is not, I consider, complicated. It means what it does in every domestic and commercial sale in which there is an obligation to give ‘vacant possession’ on completion. It means that at the moment that ‘vacant possession’ is required to be given, the property is empty of people and that the purchaser is able to assume and enjoy immediate and exclusive possession, occupation and control of it. It must also be empty of chattels, although the obligation in this respect is likely only to be breached if any chattels left in the property substantially prevent or interfere with the enjoyment of the right of possession of a substantial part of the property.

A full copy of the judgment is available here.

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