4th Nov 2021

Mr Thomas Roe QC (instructed on direct access) for the respondent.

Dr Christopher Rowland appeals, with permission granted by Michael Green J, against the judgment of Deputy Master Hansen, concerning the amount his former partner, Ms Sharon Blades, should pay for having excluded him from the use of a jointly-owned weekend home from November 2009 to October 2015. The master awarded £59,958 as compensation for the exclusion based on expert evidence of rental values as a weekend holiday let. Dr Rowland contends that he ought to have been awarded £216,199. Ms Blades served in time a respondent’s notice saying the award should be compensatory and based not on rental values but upon Dr Rowland’s loss of enjoyment and that the appropriate figure on that basis is £36,000. Alternatively, the award of £59,958 is justified for the reasons given by the master on this basis and on its own terms. For reasons which are not clear the issue of permission for the cross-appeal was not dealt with until shortly before the hearing of the appeal was listed. I was asked to grant the same. I indicated I would deal with permission and the cross-appeal if permission were granted on a rolled-up basis at the hearing, and that is how it was dealt with.

The parties commenced their relationship in 2006. Each of them already had their own homes. Dr Rowland had a flat in West London and a country house in Surrey and Ms Blades had a house in Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire. In 2008 they discussed purchasing a property in the countryside at which to spend their free time together, as Dr Rowland put it in his particulars of claim, or to use at weekends, holidays, to share with family and friends and for them to live in when they retired, as Ms Blades put it in her defence. In my judgment for present purposes there is no material difference between these two descriptions.

The property which they found is known as Tadmarton House. It is a large Grade II listed Italianate villa built in about 1830. It is set in 24 acres of grounds on a hill top with far reaching views of the surrounding countryside near to Banbury, Oxfordshire. It had been fully restored some years previously. The couple purchased it early in 2009 and it was registered in the names of both Dr Rowland and Ms Blades. The purchase monies of just over £1.5 million and associated costs were supplied by Dr Rowland.

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