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Canary Wharf victory in high-profile Brexit commercial lease dispute

International law firm Clifford Chance has successfully led its client Canary Wharf Group to victory in its £500m court case against the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the High Court in London.  

Mr Justice Marcus Smith handed down judgment (on 20 February), in Canary Wharf Group's favour, rejecting the EMA's case that their 25-year lease of premises in Canary Wharf would be legally "frustrated" as a result of Brexit.

The judgment concluded: “The Lease will not be discharged by frustration on the United Kingdom's transition from Member State of the European Union to third country nor does the EMA's shift of headquarters from London to Amsterdam constitute a frustrating event. The EMA remains obliged to perform its obligations under the Lease”.  

The judgment means that Canary Wharf Group has been successful in bringing a claim for a declaration of the High Court that Brexit will not frustrate the Lease and that the EMA will remain bound to perform the Lease terms. The Judge further ruled that on EMA's case any frustration would have been self-induced, given that it is the EU Regulation passed in November 2018 which requires its relocation from London. 

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