Elliston v Reacher: ChD 1908

The court was asked whether a building scheme had been established.
Held: It had. The court set out the factors which must be shown to establish a building scheme on an estate; Both plaintiff and defendant’s titles must derive from the same vendor who must have laid out a definitive scheme for development before the sales, and intended to impose mutually enforceable restrictions between the plot purchasers. Every buyer must have known of the intended scheme and the restrictions and of the intended mutual enforceability. Also the fact that the benefit of the covenants in a scheme may also attach to property which is situated outside the area of the scheme is not necessarily fatal to the requirement of reciprocity and mutuality between the properties within the scheme.
Parker J said: ‘In my judgment, in order to bring the principles of Renals v Cowlishaw (1879) 11 Ch D 866 and Spicer v Martin (1888) 14 App Cas 12 into operation it must be proved (1) that both the plaintiffs and defendants derive title under a common vendor; (2) that previously to selling the lands to which the plaintiffs and defendants are respectively entitled the vendor laid out his estate, or a defined portion thereof (including the lands purchased by the plaintiffs and defendants respectively), for sale in lots subject to restrictions intended to be imposed on all the lots, and which, though varying in details as to particular lots, are consistent and consistent only with some general scheme of development; (3) that these restrictions were intended by the common vendor to be and were for the benefit of all the lots intended to be sold, whether or not they were also intended to be and were for the benefit of other land retained by the vendor; and (4) that both the plaintiffs and the defendants, or their predecessors in title, purchased their lots from the common vendor upon the footing that the restrictions subject to which the purchases were made were to enure for the benefit of the other lots included in the general scheme whether or not they were also to enure for the benefit of other lands retained by the vendors. If these four points be established, I think that the plaintiffs would in equity be entitled to enforce the restrictive covenants entered into by the defendants or their predecessors with the common vendor irrespective of the dates of the respective purchases. I may observe, with reference to the third point, that the vendor’s object in imposing the restrictions must in general be gathered from all the circumstances of the case, including in particular the nature of the restrictions. If a general observance of the restrictions is in fact calculated to enhance the values of the several lots offered for sale, it is an easy inference that the vendor intended the restrictions to be for the benefit of all the lots, even though he might retain other land the value of which might be similarly enhanced, for a vendor may naturally be expected to aim at obtaining the highest possible price for his land. Further, if the first three points be established, the fourth point may readily be inferred, provided the purchasers have notice of the facts involved in the three first points; but if the purchaser purchases in ignorance of any material part of those facts, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to establish the fourth point.’


Parker J


[1908] 2 Ch 665, [1908-1910] All E Rep 612


England and Wales


CitedRenals v Cowlishaw CA 2-Jan-1879
The vendors were trustees for sale of a mansion-house and property, known as the Mill Hill estate, and some adjoining pieces of land and sold two of the adjoining pieces in 1845. The conveyance contained a covenant by the purchaser with the vendors, . .
CitedSpicer v Martin HL 1888
Lord McNaughton said: ‘The site was laid out in accordance with the building scheme. The houses were to be built as private houses, and to be used for no other purpose: a covenant to that effect was imposed on the builder who bought the ground, and . .
CitedOsborne v Bradley ChD 1903
The plaintiff had sold land to the purchaser, subject to covenants restricting the development on the land to private dwellings and prohibiting manufacture, trade or business on the land. The purchaser built two houses and subsequently sold the land . .

Cited by:

Appeal from (approved)Elliston v Reacher CA 2-Jan-1908
Lord Cozens Hardy MR said: ‘It is laid down in Co. Litt. 230b, that a man who takes the benefit of a deed, is bound by a condition contained in it, though he does not execute it.’
Farwell J referred to Osborne v Bradley, and said: ‘With . .
CitedReid v Bickerstaffe CA 27-May-1909
When considering whether a building scheme had been successfully imposed on plots sold off, and in addition to the conditions laid down in Elliston v Reacher, the overall extent of the estate must be clearly identified. In this case it was not so . .
CitedPinewood Estate, Farnborough, Re; New Ideal Homesteads Ltd v Levack ChD 1957
Covenants in building scheme – not annexed to land . .
CitedSmall v Oliver and Saunders (Developments) Ltd ChD 25-May-2006
The claimant said his property had the benefit of covenants in a building scheme so as to allow him to object to the building of an additional house on a neighbouring plot in breach of a covenant to build only one house on the plot. Most but not all . .
CitedBaxter v Four Oaks Properties Limited ChD 1965
The original owner of the estate alleged to be subject to a building scheme had not laid out the estate in lots before selling off plots on it. The court considered whether a building scheme had been established.
Held: The failure did not mean . .
CitedLund v Taylor CA 1975
The defendant appealed against a finding that a building scheme was effective over his land. There was no evidence that any purchaser had seen the architect’s plan prepared for the common vendor or was told that the common vendor was proposing to . .
CitedTurner and Another v Pryce and others ChD 9-Jan-2008
The claimants asserted that they had the benefit of restrictive covenants under a building scheme to prevent the defendants erecting more houses in their neighbouring garden. The defendants pointed to alleged breaches of the same scheme by the . .
CitedSeymour Road (Southampton) Ltd v Williams and Others ChD 29-Jan-2010
The claimant sought a declaration that restrictive covenants imposed in 1896 affecting its land were no longer effective.
Held: The declaration was granted. Under the 1881 Act (as opposed to the 1925 Act) covenants were not automatically . .
CitedHalsall v Brizell ChD 1957
The Court was asked whether the covenant to pay an appropriate proportion of the costs of keeping in good repair the roadways, sea wall, drains and sewers in respect of a common development was enforceable.
Held: The defendants could not be . .
CitedWilkinson and Others v Kerdene Ltd CA 6-Feb-2013
The court considered the effect of historic conveyances creating a scheme for the maintenance of roads etc within an estate. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 23 March 2022; Ref: scu.188838