The great escape: guarantor released from liability by grant of licence for alterations

In Topland Portfolio No 1 Ltd v Smiths News Trading Ltd [2013] EWHC 1445 (Ch), the High Court has held that a guarantor to a lease was discharged from its obligations when the landlord and tenant agreed a licence for alterations without joining the guarantor as a party or seeking its consent. The licence allowed the tenant to carry out significant works to the premises, which had the effect of increasing the potential liability for repairs. As this was more onerous and thus prejudicial to the guarantor, it operated as a release from the guarantee.

The premises were let to the tenant pursuant to a lease granted in 1981. The tenant’s obligations under the lease were guaranteed by the defendant (then known as WH Smith & Son Ltd).

In 1987, the landlord and the tenant entered into a licence for alterations. This licence provided for extensive works to be undertaken at the premises and contained the right for the landlord to require reinstatement at the end of the term. The defendant was not asked to consent to this, nor was it a party to the licence…

If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the Taylor Wessing briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.

Briefings from Taylor Wessing

View more briefings from Taylor Wessing

Analysis from The Lawyer

  • merger deal

    Corporate crunch time: who will triumph at The Lawyer Awards 2014?

    As the equity capital markets rocketed back into favour and global M&A saw at least a partial return to form, there have been some rich pickings for The Lawyer’s Corporate Team of the Year award shortlisted firms in 2014. 

  • singapore orchid

    Singapore: Cash course

    The city-state is working hard to become a global wealth management hub, and law firms are gearing up for a prosperous new world

View more analysis from The Lawyer


5 New Street Square

Turnover (£m): 241.20
No. of lawyers: 860 (UK 200)
Jurisdiction: UK
No. of offices: 6
No. of qualified lawyers: 73 (International 50)
No. of partners: 29