Recreational Easements

Regency Villas Title Ltd and others v Diamond Resorts (Europe) Ltd and others [2018] UKSC 57


In 1979, Gulf Investments Ltd acquired Broome Park ("the Park"), a substantial country estate near Canterbury, for the purposes of developing a timeshare and leisure complex around a large 17th century Grade 1 listed house ("Mansion House"). The development scheme originally included the creation of 18 timeshare apartments alongside a communal club house and additional recreational facilities including an outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis and squash courts and an 18-hole golf course.

Following the early success of the Mansion House development, Gulf Investments created a second timeshare development on adjacent land they had recently acquired ("Elham House"). Elham House was transferred as a freehold to Elham House Development Ltd, another member of the Gulf Group, on 11 November 1981. Elham House was subsequently transferred to the members of the Regency Villas Owners Club ("RVOC"). The 1981 Transfer included the following grant of rights:

"the right for the Transferee its successors in title its lessees and the occupiers from time to time of the property to use the swimming pool, golf course, squash courts, tennis courts, the ground and basement floor of the Broome Park Mansion House, gardens and any other sporting or recreational facilities (hereafter called 'the facilities') on the Transferor's adjoining estate."

The promoters of the leisure complex in the Park envisaged that it would attract sufficient paying members of the public (aside from the timeshare residents) to fund its ongoing operating costs. However, this did not materialise and starting in 1983, from time to time, members of the RVOC made voluntary payments on behalf of timeshare owners to the owners and operators of the Park towards the costs, including upkeep, of the facilities. They made these voluntary payments under a reservation of rights and any individual timeshare owners that were charged fees for the use of specific facilities, paid them notwithstanding their case that they were entitled to the use of those facilities free of charge.

First instance

The timeshare owners claimed a declaration that they were entitled, by way of easement, to the free use of all the sporting or recreational facilities from time to time provided within the Park, and an injunction restraining interference with them by the Defendants (the current freehold and leasehold owners of the...

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