High Court grants permission to run unclean hands defence in Canary Wharf dispute


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The High Court has given permission to run an unclean hands defence in a dispute about a valuable estate in Canary Wharf. Guy Vassall-Adams QC represented the defendant, who was appointed as the statutory manager of the estate by the residents in the face of great opposition from the defaulting landlord. The claim, brought on behalf of the landlord, seeks to access documents relating to the defendant’s communications with residents and other interested parties on the estate during his time as manager.

This case is part of a long running dispute between the landlord, tenants and manager of the residential estate. It was argued that the claimants should be refused relief on the basis of unclean hands, namely that the claimant companies had obtained access to documents from the defendant’s stolen computer in highly suspicious circumstances and were relying on them in the present claim. The defendant lost in the first instance, but appealed the decision before Mr Justice Green.

The claimant argued that the amendments were an abuse of process. However, Green J held that the amendments were not an abuse, that the first instance judge had erred in his application of the unclean hands test and that the interests of justice strongly favoured granting permission to amend.

Guy Vassall-Adams QC was instructed by Kennedys LLP and lead Jonathan McNae in this case.

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