High Court holds that liquidators of landlords can disclaim tenants' leasehold interests

By Nick Anson and Georgie Coleman

The High Court has confirmed that the liquidators of a landlord can disclaim a lease, with the effect of terminating the tenant’s leasehold estate or interests in the land.

In Willmott Growers Group v Willmott Forests Limited (Receivers and Managers Appointed) (In Liquidation), the landlord owned land that was used for individual forestry plantations. The project documents included a 25-year lease, under which each tenant had a right to grow and harvest trees on their land.

The liquidators of the landlord had entered into contracts for sale of the land. They sought directions as to whether they could disclaim the leases, with the effect of extinguishing the tenants’ interests, so the land could be sold on an unencumbered basis. The directions sought were opposed by groups representing the tenants…

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