Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2014 position: 28

Private rights, public wrongs: Trafford v Blackpool Borough Council — the public law control of contractual discretion

Blackpool Borough Council owns the New Blackpool Enterprise Centre, modern office accommodation aimed at start-up and developing businesses primarily from the Blackpool area. The Enterprise Centre was funded in part by European Union regional aid. Prospective tenants had to apply to the council, demonstrating their eligibility against specified tenancy selection criteria.

Ms Trafford is a solicitor running a small firm set up in 2008 with a view to practising mainly in the field of personal injury litigation. The firm had been accepted as a tenant in the Enterprise Centre but its lease was a ‘contracted-out’ lease, which meant that there was no statutory right to request a renewal on its expiry.

Over the years, the claimant’s firm brought personal injury claims against the council, and in 2012 there was a general upsurge in the number of those claims, which the council attributed to claims ‘farming’. However, there was no suggestion that the firm had acted improperly in any way, and the council expressed no concerns to the claimant about its conduct…

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