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Gavin Bennison

Called 2015

Gavin Bennison

Gavin Bennison practises in all areas of residential, commercial and agricultural landlord and tenant and real property law. He has developed a busy court and advisory practice encompassing the full range of commonplace landlord and tenant, mortgage and service charge disputes in both England and Wales.

Gavin’s recent cases have also included:

  • a claim under section 14 of TOLATA to dispense with the need for the consent of a co-owner, who was both landlord and tenant of the holding, prior to serving notices under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986;
  • obtaining a vesting order in favour of long residential leaseholders under section 1017 of the Companies Act 2006 following the disclaimer of a head lease by the Crown and advice as to the consequences of escheat more generally;
  • advisory work for a number of private residential estates in relation to prescriptive rights of way and the lawfulness of proposed schemes for the regulation of traffic (including automatic number plate recognition, key fobs and gated access);
  • advice as to responsibility for the maintenance of a highway constructed over a reservoir in North Wales governed by a private Act of Parliament;
  • a number of pieces of advice concerning off-plan residential purchases, including rescission of contracts of sale; retention of deposits; and the priority position of off-plan purchasers in the event of developer insolvency;
  • advice as to responsibility for the repair of a river bank; the rights and duties of riparian landowners; interference with the flow of a natural watercourse and the application of the “common enemy” doctrine when defending against floodwater;
  • defence of a claim concerning a landlord’s responsibility for fixtures and chattels left in premises following a commercial forfeiture.

Led by Janet Bignell QC, Gavin acted for the successful claimants in INEOS Upstream Ltd & Ors v Persons Unknown [2017] EWHC 2945 (Ch), a landmark case on the use of civil injunctions to protect shale gas operators, their suppliers and contractors from unlawful forms of protest.

In addition to his full-time practice, Gavin taught equity and trusts to final year undergraduates at the University of Cambridge from 2018 to 2019. He writes regularly for legal periodicals and delivers talks and training on a wide range of property law matters.

  • Education

    MA Geography (Part I) and Law (Part II), St John’s College, Cambridge: First with Distinction (Geography), First Class (Law)

    BPTC, City Law School: Outstanding

    Eastham Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn, 2015)

    Buchanan Prize (Lincoln’s Inn, 2015)

    Lord Denning Scholarship, Harwicke Entrance Scholarship, Accommodation Award (Lincoln’s Inn, 2014)

    McMahon Law Studentship (St John’s College, Cambridge, 2014)

    McAulay Scholarship, Wright Prize, named Year Prize for highest achieving undergraduate (St John’s College, Cambridge, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

    Andrew Hall Prize (highest achieving first year student, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, 2011)

    Philip Lake Prize (highest attaining second year student, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, 2012). 

  • Professional

    Gavin enjoys both the teaching and practice of law. He taught equity and trusts to final year undergraduates at the University of Cambridge during the 2018-2019 academic year, in addition to full time practice. He has previously volunteered as a mentor on the Bar Council’s Bar Placement Scheme, which offers sixth form students from widening participation backgrounds the opportunity to spend a week shadowing a practising barrister.

    Prior to commencing pupillage, Gavin worked as a paralegal for the property litigation team at Stephenson Harwood LLP. He gained experience of all stages of the litigation process prior to and following instruction of Counsel. He also volunteered as a trainee duty advisor at Willesden County Court, representing defendants in summary possession hearings.

    He is a member of the Property Bar Association, the Chancery Bar Association and the Agricultural Law Association.

  • Publications
    • “The (messy) law of receivership” NLJ (1 November 2019)
    • “Springing interest or successive re-grant? The nature of a periodic tenancy” (2018) L&TR 22(2) 60-64.
    • "Possession claims against trespassers (Part 2) – Occupation of part” NLJ (2 March 2018)
    • “Possession claims against trespassers (Part 1) – Injunctions” NLJ (23 February 2018)
    • “A very bold fraudster”, co-authored with Stephanie Tozer; UK Finance legal issues e-zine, September 2017. 
  • Recent Advisory Work

    Landlord and Tenant

    Advice on:

    • The proper construction of a covenant against alterations and its implications for the contemplated conversion of a property in West London.
    • Apportionment of rent following the compulsory purchase of part of commercial premises under the Compulsory Purchase (Vesting Declarations) Act 1981.
    • The validity of a number of notices to quit served on a tenant of an agricultural holding under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, requiring consideration of Case B (redevelopment) and the validity of an early resumption clause in the tenancy agreement.
    • The proper construction of a licence to use a roof adjacent to a residential flat as a roof garden, including the division of responsibility for repairs and questions of derogation from grant. 
    • Prospects of forfeiture of a long residential lease for non-payment of service charge and unneighbourly conduct.


    Real Property

    • Advising (i) a purported tenant and (ii) a prospective applicant for adverse possession as to the consequences of escheat of freehold land following corporate insolvency
    • Advising and drafting statements of case in a complex possession claim against trespassers involving defences of adverse possession, prescriptive profits à prendre of grazing, prescriptive rights of way, and land registration/rectification issues.
    • Advising as whether an express right to park created  an easement or contractual licence and the implications for enforceability against successors in title, including via a Lyus v Prowsa constructive trust.
    • Considering how to terminate an assisted sale agreement and, in light of ambiguity as to the proper construction of the agreement, the prospects of recovery of the developer’s costs of abortive refurbishment works.
  • Recent Cases
    • INEOS Upstream Ltd & Ors v Persons Unknown [2017] EWHC 2945 (Ch): led by Janet Bignell QC, Gavin successfully obtained the long-term continuation of interim injunctions restraining a wide range of unlawful conduct by protestors opposed to hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). The injunctions were initially obtained on an ex parte basis in July 2017 and then continued with only minor modifications at an opposed hearing on 12 September 2017. At a three-day hearing in November 2017 which attracted considerable media interest, the claimants resisted applications to discharge the injunctions brought by two well-known “anti-fracking” campaigners. Gavin appeared on behalf of the claimants at all three hearings, including twice whilst a second-six pupil.

    • HNW Lending v Carr-Miller & Ors (Croydon County Court, 20 and 21 August 2018): successfully acted for the lender of secured bridging finance in a two-day trial of a complex mortgage possession claim with an insolvency dimension. The case turned on legal issues on which there was no previous authority, namely whether a loan to a corporate borrower could be a ‘regulated mortgage contract’ under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and, alternatively, whether the alleged circumvention of statutory mortgage regulation rendered the loan agreement a “sham”. Issues of estoppel conditions precedent and restitution also featured.

    • Acting for the Secretary of State for Justice, successfully obtained possession orders against Crown Tenants and other occupiers residing in accommodation formerly provided to prison staff. Due to a Crown exemption, the defendants lacked the protection of the Housing Act 1988 and so considerable care had to be taken in successfully terminating these tenancies at common law.