Ciara Fairley is experienced in all areas of real property and landlord and tenant law – commercial, residential and agricultural. She has reported cases in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Court, as well as in the County Court and the various property tribunals, where she appears frequently.
Ciara also has experience in other areas of the law where they relate to property matters including human rights law, insolvency-related matters, professional negligence, breach of trust, undue influence and other equitable claims. She particularly enjoys cases involving complex valuation evidence. She has appeared in the Senior Courts Costs Office and also has experience of claims under the Arbitration Act 1996.
As well as successfully conducting her own trials in courts and tribunals – including, very recently, a claim in the High Court under the Arbitration Act 1996 in the context of a difficult agricultural dispute, and a two-day trial in the First Tier Tribunal on a multi-party residential matter - Ciara is currently being led in a number of complex and high-profile disputes. At the moment, these include an unusually complex application for relief from forfeiture of a long lease of commercial premises, which involves difficult valuation evidence; and a proprietary estoppel claim that is listed for trial at the end of 2019. Ciara has also recently appeared as junior counsel in Moore v Moore  EWCA Civ 2669, a 3-day appeal in the Court of Appeal involving proprietary estoppel; and McDonald v McDonald  UKSC 28 – a Supreme Court case about whether human rights principles can apply in disputes between private individuals (which subsequently went to Strasbourg). Before that, Ciara was junior counsel in Capgemini UK PLC v Global Switch Estates 2 Ltd - a contentious lease renewal under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, worth approximately £50m, in which there were two separate trials; Couper v Albion Properties  EWHC 2993 (Ch) - a complex three week multi-party trial involving both proprietary and tortious claims; and Couper v Albion Properties Ltd (Costs)  EWHC 4464 (Ch) - a successful application for costs to be paid on the indemnity basis.
Ciara has also appeared unled against Queen’s Counsel. She appeared against Stephen Jourdan QC in a 1 day hearing before the First Tier Tribunal in a complex enfranchisement dispute, involving a high value property in Mayfair. Ciara successfully argued that “terms of acquisition” under the 1993 Act had been agreed. Ciara also appeared unled against Tom Weekes QC, in a two day trial about the true construction of a number of leases of a large and expensive residential building in Belgravia.
Ciara’s submissions were recently singled out and cited with approval by Nugee J. in Falmouth House Limited v Hamden  EWHC 779 (Ch), where he said : “I will set out her submission from the transcript in full since (to anticipate) it entirely accords with my own view of the matter.”
In an earlier case, HHJ Waddicor praised Ciara’s oral and written submissions following a 3 day trial, and said, in her judgment, that the Defendants “could not have had a grittier advocate”.
- BPTC – Outstanding – City University
- GDL – Commendation - City University
- PhD in Philosophy – Passed without corrections – UCL
- MPhil in Philosophy – Informal distinction – UCL (joint highest mark across the Universities of London)
- MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics – First Class (with a college prize) - Wadham College, University of Oxford.
- Called 2011: Lincoln’s Inn
- Lord Mansfield Scholarship: Lincoln’s Inn
- Walter Wigglesworth Scholarship: Lincoln’s Inn
- Hardwicke Scholarship: Lincoln’s Inn
- Finalist: City University Mooting Competition
- Jacobsen Fellowship: Royal Institute of Philosophy
- Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral and Masters Awards
- Follett Scholarship: University College London
- Kisaki Prize: Wadham College, University of Oxford (Highest mark in Final Examinations in Philosophy).
Selected Cases from 2019/2018
- SHB Realisations Limited & Anor v Cribbs Mall Nominee (1) Limited & Anor: Ciara appeared for the successful landlords in this case which arose out of the insolvency of the former BHS. The case concerned a long lease of commercial premises in a major shopping centre. The tenant and the mortgagee applied for relief from forfeiture following the service of a section 146 notice, citing the tenant’s breach of the keep open covenant. There was a 5 day trial in January 2019 – with expert valuation and letting evidence - followed by lengthy written submissions and submissions in reply. Judgment was handed down on 1 April 2019. Ciara is being led by Caroline Shea QC.
- Down v Trustees of the Hall Estate (Chancery Division): Ciara appeared for the (successful) arbitrator in a claim brought under section 24 of the Arbitration Act 1996, to remove him as the arbitrator in a complicated agricultural dispute. Ciara successfully argued that the claim to remove him should be dismissed.
- Advisory work on the Law Commission’s consultation paper 238, entitled: “Leasehold home ownership: buying your freehold or extending your lease”
- Barber v Jest & Anor (Case Reference LON/00AJ/LDC/2018/0036): this was an appeal from a decision of the First Tier Tribunal in a residential service charge dispute, specifically, in relation to an application to dispense from the consultation requirements under section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The case was listed for a 2-day hearing at the end of 2018, and settled shortly before it was due to be heard by the Upper Tribunal.
- Harwich International Port v Blackford & Oths: a complex case involving alleged third parties rights over land belonging to Harwich International Port Limited. This long running dispute was successfully resolved at the end of 2018 following a High Court hearing as a result of which Ciara’s clients obtained declarations vindicating their rights. Ciara was led by Stephen Jourdan QC.
- Moore v Moore & Anor  EWCA Civ 2669: a three day appeal in the Court of Appeal in a major case concerning proprietary estoppel. The appeal was exceptionally complex and wide-ranging, as evidenced by the unusually long length of the Court of Appeal hearing. Judgment was handed down at the end of 2018 and the appeal was dismissed on almost all grounds. The case has been remitted to the original trial judge in relation to one ground and a further trial will, therefore, follow later in 2019. Ciara has been involved with this case, in which she is being led by Caroline Shea QC, since 2016.
- Ekaireb v Uppstrom: a long-running case involving a property in Knightsbridge. The principal dispute is about whether or not the tenant signed a document extending his lease for a further term but there are a number of procedural aspects of the case, which make it difficult and unusual. The case was listed for a 3-day trial at the end of 2018, but is currently adjourned while a litigation friend is appointed on behalf of the former tenant/defendant (who now lacks capacity).
- Hussain v Hanspal: a case involving a boundary dispute as well as numerous allegations of nuisance and harassment. The trial took place in the middle of 2018, as a result of which permission to appeal is sought. The High Court have listed the application for an oral hearing, which is due to take place later in 2019.
- Proctor v Proctor: a one day interlocutory hearing in a major family farming dispute worth approximately £7.5m. The majority of the disputed assets are held in trust and the case, therefore, involves the law of trusts as well as property and agricultural law.
- Ekaireb v Sablivoka: a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in relation to a multi-million pound property portfolio, involving freezing orders, charging orders, and orders for sale.
Selected Cases from 2017/2016
- Patel & Anor v SPG Holdings Limited (Case Reference: CHI/29UC/LSC/2017/0041): two-day trial in November 2017 in the First Tier Tribunal. The case had two aspects: first, a service charge dispute, and secondly a dispute about whether the right to manage the building had been acquired. Ciara’s clients were successful on both fronts. The Tribunal also made it clear that the other side will be unable to recover its legal costs via the service charge.
- Falmouth House Limited v Hamden  EWHC 779 (Ch): Ciara was instructed on behalf of the defendant in a five-day service charge claim with a counterclaim in restitution. The defence was struck out on the first day of the trial on account of the defendant’s non-attendance at trial, and relief from sanctions was refused. Ciara drafted the grounds of appeal and supporting skeleton argument for the appeal to the High Court. Nugee J., allowing the appeal, and granting relief from sanctions, said, of Ciara’s submissions at first instance, [at para 28 of the judgment]: “I will set out her submission from the transcript in full since (to anticipate) it entirely accords with my own view of the matter.” See also para .
- Nigel Wiggins v Langbourn (FH4547SS) Properties Limited & Others (Case Reference LON/00BK/OCE/2015/0187): Ciara appeared against Stephen Jourdan QC in a 1 day hearing before the First Tier Tribunal in a complex enfranchisement dispute involving an extremely high value property in Mayfair. Ciara was successful in arguing that “terms of acquisition” under the 1993 Act had been agreed. Mr Jourdan QC’s clients sought permission to appeal but withdrew shortly before the appeal was due to be heard by the Upper Tribunal.
- Moore v Moore  EWHC 2202 Ch: Two week trial in the Chancery Division in a complex family farming dispute. Ciara appeared for the son, who successfully claimed to be entitled to the family farm, which was worth approximately £10m, based on a proprietary estoppel established by his father. Ciara was led by Caroline Shea QC.
- McDonald v McDonald  UKSC 28: Two day hearing in the Supreme Court on the effect of the Human Rights Act 1988 in disputes between private individuals. The case is the leading authority and was one of the most significant decisions of 2016. Ciara was led by Stephen Jourdan QC.
- Hakim v Nijmeh (Case Reference LON/00AT/LSC/2015/0403): Five day hearing in the First Tier Tribunal involving multiple allegations of breach of covenant on the part of the defendant leaseholder in an owner-occupied residential block – in particular, breach of the covenant to give access to the freeholder. There was also a service charge claim and counter allegations of harassment. Ciara appeared for the successful respondent.
- De Sarrau v Inglewood International (HHJ Wulwik, Central London County Court): Ciara appeared against Tom Weekes QC in this two day trial about the true construction of various leases of a large residential building in Belgravia. Arguments based on estoppel and section 62 of the Law of Property Act 1925 were run in the alternative.
- Advisory work on a proprietary estoppel claim worth approximately £20m.
Selected earlier cases
- Turner v Ahmed (Case Reference BG/LON/00AY/OLR/2016/0997): Disputed lease renewal under the 1993 Act. The case raised a novel point of law concerning the meaning of “reasonable security” under the Act. On the latter point, the Tribunal adopted Ciara’s submissions:
- Advisory work in a High Court action worth £22m on enforcement and recovery of debts owed under various promissory notes.
- Principality Building Society v Torfaen Borough Council: dispute arising from damage to property following a series of leaks which it was alleged were the result of defective worked carried out by the council on the public highway.
- Advice in relation to the alleged unlawful termination of a Farm Business Tenancy; the case also raises issues of professional negligence.
- Ittihadeih v Metcalfe: series of High Court hearings in relation to an interim charging order raising novel legal issues: in particular, whether the original order had been obtained improperly as a result of alleged defects in disclosure.
- Bergamini v Shanthkumar: County Court proceedings for an injunction arising out of the unlawful interference with a right of way; Ciara subsequently drafted proceedings for committal when the injunction, which had been successfully obtained, was disobeyed.
- Avon Estates v Sinclair Gardens Investments: One day hearing in the First Tier Tribunal in a legally complex service charge dispute involving allegations of abuse of process. Ciara appeared for the successful respondent.
- Capgemini UK PLC v Global Switch Estates 2 Ltd: Contentious lease renewal under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 worth approximately £50m. This is the first time that a data centre renewal has been litigated and the case raises a number of novel questions. Ciara was led by Jonathan Small QC in the trial of the preliminary issues in the autumn of 2014. She was subsequently led by Nicholas Dowding QC in the trial to determine the rent and interim rent, which was heard by HHJ Dight in March 2015.
- Bishop v Bishop (HHJ Waddicor, Brighton County Court, December 2014): Three day trial in a family dispute that was both factually and legally complex. The case involved a large number of different claims including claims for undue influence, breach of trust, and conversion and the Court heard evidence from 8 different witnesses. HHJ Waddicor praised Ciara’s oral and written submissions and said, in her judgment, that the Defendants “could not have had a grittier advocate”.
- McDonald v McDonald & Anor  EWCA Civ 1049: Landmark Court of Appeal decision on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court held that Article 8 could not be invoked as a defence to a claim for possession, which is brought by a private landlord. Ciara appeared as junior counsel for the successful respondents, led by Stephen Jourdan QC. The case subsequently went on appeal to the Supreme Court, where the decision of the Court of Appeal was upheld. The case is the leading authority on the relation between private property law rights and human rights law.
- Hoon & Wait v Odutuyo (Bromley County Court, July 2014): Ciara was sole counsel for the successful respondents in a one day appeal on relief from sanctions. Guidance in Denton v White and Mitchell v News Group Newspapers considered; tenancy deposit legislation.
- Co-Operative Bank v Envirotech (Manchester County Court, June 2014): Ciara was sole counsel for the successful appellants in one day appeal and cross-appeal arising out of a claim in restitution for monies paid under a mistake of fact. Other issues included equitable set-off and abuse of process (res judicata and Henderson v Henderson estoppel).
- Partridge & Warner v Clegg: (Property Chamber (Land Registration) First Tier Tribunal, April 2014): Ciara was sole counsel for the successful applicants in a three day trial, involving six witnesses of fact, and lengthy written submissions. The case involved title to a piece of unregistered land, to which the applicants successfully asserted title by adverse possession.
- Elveden v Usher: (Central London County Court, December 2013): two week trial on whether the landlord of a 24,000 acre estate had unreasonably withheld its consent to a development by its tenant. Ciara was led by Timothy Fancourt QC.
- Couper v Albion Properties Ltd (Costs)  EWHC 4464 (Ch): (High Court). Successful application for costs to be paid on the indemnity basis arising out of the High Court’s earlier judgment in this case. Ciara was led by Stephen Jourdan QC.
- Couper v Albion Properties  EWHC 2993 (Ch): (High Court): complex three week trial involving proprietary and tortious claims. The issues were varied and included mooring rights in the River Thames; adverse possession; the right of public navigation; land registration; easements; conspiracy; slander of title; harassment; and misfeasance in public office. Ciara was led by Stephen Jourdan QC. Ciara has also been instructed in relation to various ancillary applications: including (i) interpleader proceedings, which were brought by the Claimant’s wife, who sought (unsuccessfully) to be joined to the proceedings for the purposes of asserting her rights, and the rights of her daughter, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights; (ii) the Claimant’s (unsuccessful) application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal; (iii) proceedings before the Land Registry; and in connection with enforcement.
- During her pupillage, Ciara was involved in a number of complex and high profile disputes including:
- Humber Oil Terminals Trustee Ltd v Associated British Ports  EWHC 1336 (Ch) (Sales J) (as Mark Sefton’s pupil);  EWCA Civ 596,  2 EGLR 59 – a contested 1954 Act renewal.
- Cook v Mortgage Business  EWCA Civ 17 (working under Jonathan Small QC) - competing priorities following a sale and leaseback transaction.
- Parshall v Bryans  EWCA Civ 240 (as Stephanie Tozer’s pupil) - important issues about adverse possession, and land registration.
- Ciara has written articles for the Estates Gazette, the Solicitors’ Journal and the New Law Journal. She has most recently co-authored an article on drones for the Official Journal of the Middlesex Law Society, which appears in the Spring 2017 issue. She is often asked to give talks to firms of solicitors and to students.
- Before coming to the Bar, Ciara was a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a member of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. She has given talks at universities in the UK, Europe and North America.