Wednesday 16 October 2019

Judge rules EU agency can't break London lease

'The EMA said after the ruling that it will consider an appeal that could ultimately lead to the EU's Court of Justice in Luxembourg' (stock photo)
'The EMA said after the ruling that it will consider an appeal that could ultimately lead to the EU's Court of Justice in Luxembourg' (stock photo)

Kaye Wiggins and Jonathan Browning

A London judge gave landlords a bit of good news in a difficult environment, ruling that the European Medicines Agency couldn't use Brexit as an excuse to break its £500m (€574m) lease in Canary Wharf.

Judge Marcus Smith ruled in favour of the Canary Wharf Group, the EMA's landlord, yesterday, saying that the European Union agency remains obligated to honour the lease even though it's relocating to Amsterdam.

The case is one of the first in the UK to grapple with the commercial ramifications of Britain's departure from the bloc.

The ruling "will be welcome news in the property and legal market, bringing greater certainty as to the impact of Brexit on contracts", Ben Hatton, a lawyer at Clifford Chance who represented Canary Wharf, said.

The EMA said after the ruling that it will consider an appeal that could ultimately lead to the EU's Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The EMA "has no choice but to leave London", a spokeswoman said. The agency, which may sublet the office space with the landlord's consent, still hopes for a "mutually satisfactory solution", she said.

The EMA had argued that Brexit "frustrated" its 25-year lease, which has 21 years left to run. The agency pays £13m a year to occupy more than 10 floors in the east London financial district.

"We have always firmly believed that Brexit did not amount to a frustration of EMA's lease," George Iacobescu, Canary Wharf Group CEO said. "A victory for EMA could've "set an unfortunate precedent".

Reuters

Also in Business