'Property Voices in the Shadow of Grenfell'
The fifth Annual Property Law lecture, Tuesday 11th February 2020
Held in conjunction with the Chancery and Commercial Practice Group, Atlantic Chambers, this special guest lecture took place in the new Events Space at the School of Law Social Justice, University of Liverpool.
The lecture, delivered by Professor Sue Bright (New College, Oxford) was entitled 'Property Voices in the Shadow of Grenfell'.
Fire safety issues
In a challenging and fascinating lecture, Professor Bright set out the vast scale and cost of remedying the impact of Grenfell in relation to fire safety, before turning to consider the (lost) voices of those from Grenfell, using powerful video footage and transcripts from Grenfell and other residents affected by fire safety issues in their homes. Analysis of the current, unsatisfactory position of who bears the cost of improving fire safety concluded that the governmental approach of expecting freeholders to be, effectively, good stewards for tenants was entirely misplaced (bar some exceptional examples).
The bill for remedying defects instead falls to the leaseholders, who face crippling costs and potential bankruptcy, while being trapped in leaseholds they cannot sell, as they are essentially valueless.
English Property Law
The major question posed is whether there are structural issues within English Property Law that have helped create this situation. Professor Bright sought to answer this by asking whether the law provides an effective balance between three separate elements: power, participation and propriety. The tentative conclusions were that, as currently conceived, the law is found to be wanting in all aspects, particularly ‘propriety’, as the law cannot cope well with protecting collective rights.
Rethinking of English property law is needed.
Watch the lecture in full
A video recording of the lecture is available below:
Professors Barr and Morris would like to thank Professor Bright, for her excellent and thought provoking lecture, Atlantic Chambers for their continued support and co-hosting of this event, and the Events Team at the School of Law and Social Justice for their invaluable support in making this such a successful event.