Victory for FT in lease dispute

By Roger Pearson

A multi-million pound appeal court legal battle between the Financial Times and its former landlords at a central London office block has ended in victory for the FT.

Landlords of Castle House in Paul Street, EC2, had appealed against a High Court decision last November that the FT was entitled to break a lease on the premises and avoid six years of rent amounting to £3.5m.

The FT, whose headquarters are at One Southwark Bridge, SE1, was granted a 16-year lease of the building by Fitzroy’s predecessor in title, United Newspapers Publications, in 1994.

Deputy Judge Thornton, QC, found that up to £20,000 in repairs were needed after the FT left the building. However, he also found that the allegations by the landlords that the FT had not materially complied with repairing covenants were merely an attempt to keep the financial publisher in the three-storey office block building at a time when the lettings market was "soft".

The appeal court has upheld that decision and dismissed an appeal by the landlords against it.

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