MD1556 East India Dock – Rectification of Legal Title
In the late 1990’s, London Docklands Development Corporation entered into a number of transfers of various parcels of land in relation to the redevelopment of East India Dock. It has come to light that due to an error in drafting, there is currently ambiguity around legal title and not all of the land was transferred as intended. The intention is therefore to resolve this ambiguity by GLA Land & Property Ltd formally disposing of its remaining property interests.
That the Mayor approves the disposal of GLA Land & Property Ltd.’s remaining interest in land at East India Dock, London E15 to Edgware Road (2015) Ltd for the sum of £1, subject to GLA Land & Property Ltd.’s legal costs being met by the purchaser.
Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice
1.1 In 1998, London Docklands Development Corporation entered into transfers of various parcels of land which now comprise of a number of properties including Capstan House, Anchorgae House and Lighterman House at East India Dock, London.
1.2 At the time of transfer, the properties formed part of the wider East India Docks estate. The 1998 transfers were therefore transfers of part.
1.3 It has recently come to light that the drafting of the transfers was ambiguous in that they transferred land above ground and land below ground but the interpretation taken by Land Registry means that the land at ground level was not transferred and therefore is now part of the GLA Land & Property Ltd (GLAP) portfolio.
1.4 The properties in question are currently being sold and it was as a result of legal due diligence around the sale that the ambiguity was identified.
1.5 Subsequently, the GLA was approached by solicitors acting on the sale who have asked for the GLA’s assistance in resolving this situation.
1.6 External solicitors acting on behalf of GLAP have reviewed the position and confirmed that this would appear to be a clear case of a drafting error, as there would have been no benefit in LDDC retaining an interest in the “crust” of the ground.
2.1 The objective is to correct a legal drafting error, resolving ambiguity with land registration and allowing the sale of the properties to proceed.
2.2 This approach will enable the situation to be resolved at nominal cost, avoiding the need for extensive legal research into historical activity which may not result in any additional relevant information becoming available.
3.1 Advice has been taken and it is not thought that there are any equality issues in this case.
4.1 There is no reason for GLAP to retain an interest in this land and any attempt to do so would result in an expensive legal investigation into the historical situation.
4.2 Having been made aware of this situation, rectify the historical error will ensure compliance with the Mayoral commitment to have an exit strategy in place for all GLAP assets by 2016.
5.1 Due to an historical legal drafting error, GLAP has been left with a nominal legal interest with no value and as such there is no financial implication to finalising disposal arrangements for consideration of £1.
5.2 Costs of completing the disposal will be met by the purchaser.
6.1 GLAP has been advised by Eversheds in respect of this rectification/transfer.
6.2 Section 30 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (as amended) (GLA Act) gives the Mayor a general power to do anything which he considers will further one or more of the principal purposes of the GLA as set out in section 30(2) which are:
i. Promoting economic development and wealth creation in Greater London;
ii. Promoting social development in Greater London; and
iii. Promoting the improvement of the environment in Greater London
6.3 Section 333ZC of the GLA Act provides that the GLA may not dispose of land held by it for the purposes of housing and regeneration for less than the best consideration which can reasonably be obtained unless the Secretary of State consents. In this case it is agreed that LDDC should have transferred the land at ground level but this was omitted/not registered by the Land Registry in error. It is therefore considered that GLAP has never held the beneficial interest in this land. The transfer is therefore of the bare legal title only and accordingly it is considered that best consideration for the grant of this lease has been obtained in compliance with Section 333ZC of the GLA Act and the Secretary of State’s consent to the disposal is not required.
6.4 It should be noted that as GLAP will be a party to the legal documentation, GLAP will also need to approve the proposed lease in accordance with its constitution.
7.1 This matter has not been referred to either IPB or HIG although it has been discussed with the Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land & Property and the Assistant Director, Housing & Land. Resolving issues of this nature is considered to be a routine property transaction and there are no financial implications for the GLA.