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REVISITING THE DOCTRINE OF FRUSTRATION

Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

REVISITING THE DOCTRINE OF FRUSTRATION

Daniel Brinkman*

Canary Wharf v EMA
The recent decision in Canary Wharf (BP4) T1 Ltd v European Medicines Agency 1 addressed whether a long-term lease was frustrated by the possible event of the United Kingdom’s withdrawing from the European Union (“Brexit”). The case is significant for the law of frustration in a number of respects, leaving aside the obvious importance of the political event itself. The decision discusses the appropriate juridical basis of frustration, and offers guidance in relation to the multifactorial approach to applying the doctrine.2
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had taken a lease of premises (as its headquarters) in London for a term of 25 years (with an expiry in June 2039). The lease was concluded in 2014, although the parties had earlier entered into an agreement to lease in 2011 when construction of the building was incomplete. The premises were, to some extent, “purpose built” to the EMA’s requirements.3 In August 2017, the EMA notified the landlords (Canary Wharf) that it would treat Brexit (if and when that occurred) as an event that would frustrate the lease. Canary Wharf subsequently commenced proceedings
CASE AND COMMENT

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