Fixtures and fishings (and (f)otovoltaic panels...)29-09-2019, 10:46
Borwick Development Solutions Ltd v Clear Water Fisheries Ltd  EWHC 2272 (Ch) (24 September 2019)
Great case report from PLC - Buyer of fishery from an LPA receiver found that he did get the photovoltaic panels but didn’t get the fish as they were wild animals and didn’t pass with the land!!
B had owned a commercial fishery, which included nine man-made lakes and pools. The defendant (CW) bought the land from B acting by an LPA receiver. The sale contract did not address the solar panels at the site, or the fish stocks in the lakes. B argued that it was, at all material times, the owner of the solar panels and the fish.
The court held that in this particular case the solar panels and associated equipment were fixtures on the property, which passed automatically with the sale of the land to B
For the fish, the court had to determine, for the first time, the legal nature of fish stocks in a commercial fishery. There was no absolute property in a living wild animal. However, B had a qualified property in those fish introduced into, and isolated in, a closed water system. As the sale contract had not addressed title to the fish, they did not pass to CW on the sale of the land.
This decision will be of interest to both property and agriculture practitioners, as it highlights the importance of considering which items will pass with a sale of the land and whether matters, such as solar panels and rights regarding animals, should be dealt with expressly in the contract.