AWG Business Centres Limited v Regus Caledonia Limited and others, 13 July 2016 – Interpretation of repairing obligations in lease
Outer House case considering the repairing obligations contained in a lease and sub-lease of 3 floors of Riverside House at Riverside Drive in Aberdeen.
The lease and sublease referred to common parts which included a car park. Defects were found in the concrete decking of the car park and remedial works had to be carried out. The question for the court was whether, in terms of the lease and sublease, the cost of the works was to be met by the sub-tenant or by the landlord.
The lease (between the landlord and tenant) was a full repairing and insuring lease under which the tenant was obliged to pay a service charge which was defined by reference to “Service Expenditure” which was incurred by the landlord in carrying out “Landlord Services” (which included repairs). An express exception from the Service Expenditure was “expenditure incurred in respect of or pertaining to the initial construction of the Building or the Service Systems”.
In terms of the sub-lease, the sub-tenant was obliged to pay to the tenant the sums which the tenant was obliged to pay to the landlord by way of the service charge under the lease.
The tenant paid the costs of remedial works to the car park as part of the service charge and sought to recover those from the sub-tenant. However, the sub-tenant argued that in terms of the exception from Service Expenditure, latent defects (such as the defects in the car park) “pertained to” the initial construction of the building and could not be recovered by way of the service charge.
Lord Tyre rejected the sub-tenants argument finding that it was appropriate to place emphasis on the fact that the lease was a full repairing and insuring lease under which it was intended that the tenant would relieve the landlord of the cost of repair and rebuilding even in relation to inherent or latent defects.
In Lord Tyre’s view, a reasonable person having all the background knowledge available to the parties would have understood the phrase “in respect of or pertaining to the initial construction of the Building” extended only to works carried out during the construction phase and any related snagging. The sub- tenants interpretation placed too much weight upon the words “or pertaining to”. Lord Tyre found that those words could be seen as a reference to costs such as professional fees associated with the construction of the building, which were not strictly costs of construction.
The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.
 Per the approach in @SIPP Pension Trustees v Insight Travel Services Ltd 2016 SLT 131