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Gavin Bennison

Called 2015

Gavin Bennison

Gavin Bennison practises in all areas of residential, agricultural and commercial landlord and tenant and real property law. He has developed a busy court and advisory practice across the full breadth of Chambers’ work in both England and Wales. He particularly enjoys, and is adept at handling, cases where the geography of the land assumes importance, or which have a historical dimension.

Led by Stephen Jourdan QC, Gavin recently appeared in the Court of Appeal in Rees v Earl of Plymouth [2020] EWCA Civ 816, an agricultural case concerning the proper approach to the interpretation of a landlord’s right of entry in a lease. Led by Janet Bignell QC, Gavin acted for the 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 from unlawful protest.

Gavin’s recent cases as sole counsel have 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;
  • the successful defence in the Chancery Division of an application to restrain the presentation of a winding-up petition, thereby securing payment to two tenants of sums due under a Rent Repayment Order obtained in the First-tier Tribunal;
  • 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;
  • a number of other cases concerning the vesting of leasehold and freehold land on corporate liquidation or dissolution, requiring consideration of the practical and strategic implications of disclaimer and escheat;
  • advice as to the status of agricultural workers claiming the protection of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 or an assured agricultural occupancy;
  • 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, deposit retention and the position of purchasers on developer insolvency;
  • advice as to responsibility for the repair of ditches and riverbanks; the rights and duties of riparian landowners; interference with the flow of watercourses; and landowners’ rights and obligations when defending against floodwater.

Gavin also 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)

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

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

  • 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

    Real Property

    • Advising rural landowners as to their rights and remedies in disputes concerning the acquisition and exercise of rights of way, including obtaining injunctive relief.
    • The law of adverse possession and encroachment as applied to disputes between long leaseholders in an urban context and large landowners in a rural context.
    • Advising and drafting statements of case in a complex rural possession claim 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 its enforceability against successors in title.
    • Advice on a number of Party Wall etc. Act 1996 matters, often requiring close consideration of the relationship between the Act and common law causes of action.


    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.
    • 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. 
    • Apportionment of rent following the compulsory purchase of part of commercial premises under the Compulsory Purchase (Vesting Declarations) Act 1981.
    • ‘Airspace’ and feasibility issues in the upward development of residential blocks.
  • Recent Cases
    • Rees v Earl of Plymouth [2020] EWCA Civ 816: led by Stephen Jourdan QC, acted for the tenant in an agricultural appeal concerning the proper approach to the interpretation of the scope of a landlord’s right of entry in a tenancy agreement.”
    • HNW Lending v Carr-Miller & Ors (Croydon County Court, August 2018): successfully acted for a bridging lender in a multi-day trial of a complex mortgage possession/insolvency claim. The case turned on legal issues as to the definition of a ‘regulated mortgage contract’ under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 on which there was no previous authority.
    • INEOS Upstream Ltd & Ors v Persons Unknown [2017] EWHC 2945 (Ch): led by Janet Bignell QC, Gavin successfully obtained interim injunctions restraining a wide range of unlawful conduct by protestors opposed to hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) on an ex parte and, later, final basis. The case attracted considerable media attention and became a leading authority on the use of civil injunctions to deal with unlawful protest by persons unknown.
    • Acting for the Secretary of State for Justice in obtaining possession orders against Crown tenants and other occupiers residing in accommodation formerly provided to prison staff.
    • Sole conduct of a possession claim against 21, largely unrepresented, defendants on Ground 6 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988 (redevelopment), where possession was required urgently due to a need for health and safety work to be undertaken.
    • A number of possession claims for the West London estates against statutory tenants under the Rent Act 1977.