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Clifford Chance successfully concludes high-profile Brexit lease dispute for Canary Wharf Group

5 July 2019

Clifford Chance successfully concludes high-profile Brexit lease dispute for Canary Wharf Group

International law firm Clifford Chance has successfully acted for its client Canary Wharf Group in opposing the European Medicines Agency (EMA)'s appeal of the High Court's decision in the high profile £500 million Brexit lease dispute. The EMA has now withdrawn its appeal.

On 20 February 2019, the judgment handed down by the High Court was comprehensively in Canary Wharf Group's favour and rejected the EMA's case that their 25-year lease of premises in Canary Wharf would be legally "frustrated" as a result of Brexit.

The EMA lodged its appeal on 15 April 2019, appealing on nearly all points in the judgment. Today, the European Union agency have agreed to withdraw all of their arguments in relation to the Lease being frustrated and are applying for dismissal of their appeal by order of the Court of Appeal. In so doing, the EMA are confirming that they will remain bound by the Lease until its expiry in 2039.

Ben Hatton, Director of Property Litigation who led the team, said: "Since the beginning of this case we have been absolutely confident that the Courts would decide that Brexit does not frustrate the EMA's lease. We are very pleased to have obtained a just result for Canary Wharf Group and for the wider market in this landmark case. The EMA are now formally applying for their appeal to be dismissed by the Court of Appeal. With this conclusion, contracting parties should take comfort that the result of the High Court's judgment stands. This will bring to an end concerns in the market about the floodgates opening to many similar types of claim arising out of Brexit."

The EMA has now secured WeWork as a tenant to sub-let the space in 25-30 Churchill Place in Canary Wharf.

Ben Hatton, Director of Property Litigation, and Associates Adam Eagle and Kishan Parshotam, led the Clifford Chance real estate litigation team, including Joanne Wicks QC and Jonathan Chew (Wilberforce Chambers) and supported on EU law aspects of the case by Lord Anderson of Ipswich KBE QC and Zahra Al-Rikabi (Brick Court Chambers).

Clifford Chance's experienced real estate litigation team act on the full range of property disputes in Courts, Tribunals, Expert Determinations and Arbitrations. The team also advises clients on property litigation risk avoidance in transactions.

The Clifford Chance Real Estate team, led by partner Angela Kearns and Senior Associate Sarah Dawson, acted for Canary Wharf Group in relation to the underletting to WeWork.