Canary Wharf sticks by CC as Telegraph challenges contract

Canary Wharf group legal counsel Michael Ashley Brown is standing by Clifford Chance over the drafting of the Telegraph Group lease that is the subject of a High Court claim.

The FTSE 250 property company has issued a claim against its tenant the Telegraph Group over a rent review due to have started in April 2002. The review was stalled because of a dispute over the wording of the lease for 1 Canada Square, which was drawn up by Clifford Chance in 1992.

The lease states that the review should be settled at the open-market rate at the time of the review, on the basis of a 25-year lease. Canary Wharf claims that this means a 25-year lease commencing in 1992, so the review should be settled on the basis of a 15-year lease starting from the 2002 review date. The Telegraph Group, advised by Berwin Leighton Paisner, says that the review should be based on a 25-year lease starting from the new review date, which would give it a significantly lower rent.

Ashley Brown, advised by Linklaters and Michael Barnes QC of Wilberforce Chambers, said that it would be entirely wrong to blame Clifford Chance for the confusion. “I think, in honesty, it’s more likely to be just what was being done in the market at the time. I think they will be vindicated anyway,” he said.