Regency Villas Limited v Diamond Resorts (Europe Limited) [2018]

The Supreme Court has recently shed light as to what rights qualify as easements. In the case of Regency Villas Limited v Diamond Resorts (Europe Limited) [2018] the question was raised whether easements extended to recreational and sporting facilities. This is despite the guidance in Re Ellenborough Park [1956] that an easement cannot be ‘purely recreational’.

The issue in this case arose when part of the Broome Park Estate in Kent was sold allowing the development of timeshare units on the site. In the Transfer a right was granted over the Broome Park Estate in favour of Regency Villas for the use of the recreational facilities on the Broome Park Estate. At the time of this transfer the recreational facilities that the Broome Park Estate had to offer were extensive and included an 18-hole golf course and an outdoor swimming pool. Voluntary contributions were made towards the cost of maintenance of the Broome Park Estate facilities, although disrepair and demolition caused a reduction to the number of available facilities.

A new indoor swimming pool (in replacement of the outdoor pool) was constructed in the basement of the manor house; however Regency Villas were denied access to this and all other facilities after disputes of contributions towards maintenance costs. Regency Villas began legal action after the loss of these amenities on the basis that under their 1981 Transfer they had rights over the Broome Park Estate leisure facilities.

In analysing the earlier case of Re Ellenborough Park [1956] in the court questioned the ruling, stating that in conjunction with modern views sporting activities may no longer necessarily be deemed recreational. Therefore, the court ruled in favour of Regency Villas allowing the extension of easements to include recreational and sporting facilities.

Although the case leaned in favour of Regency Villas the judge did express dissatisfaction over this case, this is in part due to the absence of requirements for payment towards the maintenance and repair of the facilities of which Regency Villas are granted rights to use it. It was stated that this case was not a suitable model for future time share arrangements of this kind.

This case shows that categorising easements is not a simple feat and so far as the fundamental characteristics of an easement are satisfied (set out in Re Ellenborough Park [1956]) the court will adapt to meet the changing needs of society.

Written by Paralegal, Hollie Fazakerley

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