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14/12/2017

Legal landscape: The CPO model claim form: a double-edged sword

A double-edged sword

The CPO model form can speed up applications for compensation but, if not carefully used, it can leave claimants with problems if the claim sparks off a dispute that ends in court.

With the law surrounding compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) notoriously difficult to navigate, the government’s updated compensation claim form provides hope that processes will be simplified and modernised. The document delivers positive change for claimants, provided that they make detailed and correct use of the form.

The new model form is intended to streamline the process of claiming and assessing compensation due to those affected by CPOs, mainly by helping claimants comply with Section 4 of the Land Compensation Act 1961, which requires claims to be detailed and evidenced.

The guidance document warns claimants that failure to provide detailed information to the acquiring authorities (AA) can result in the award of costs against a claimant in the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal. It also advises AAs to send claim forms to potential claimants as early as possible.

Given the similarity between the model claim form and the old ‘Form of Claim’, the efficacy of the new form will largely depend on proper utilisation. If it is adequately enforced and used, it could accelerate negotiations. This being said, the form requires significant detail and claimants should seek professional advice to complete it with sufficient information. Indeed, the form favours well-advised claimants, potentially putting those without specialist CPO assistance at an unfair disadvantage.

“It can simplify and speed up compensation claims but, if improperly used, could put claimants in a difficult position”

The form is a double-edged sword; it can simplify and speed up compensation claims but, if improperly used, could put claimants in a difficult position, especially if the claim results in a dispute that ends up at tribunal.

In addition to the model claim form and its guidance document, the Neighbourhood Planning Act (NPA) 2017 also reforms the compulsory purchase system. The NPA gives powers to AAs to acquire land temporarily, a measure well used in Development Consent Orders.

The NPA also repeals Part 4 of the Land Compensation Act 1961, removing the ability for claimants to make additional compensation claims where a planning permission has increased the value of land within 10 years of a CPO.

Both of these provisions are yet to take legal effect, however, from 22 September the NPA has enshrined the already existing ‘No-Scheme’ principle into legislation, meaning that increases or decreases in the value of land caused by the scheme, or prospect of it, cannot be taken into account.

Claimants should be aware of the evolutions in the law regarding compulsory purchase. The new model claim form could result in improved negotiations, benefiting all parties, but could also be a source of trouble. As ever, the best advice for claimants facing CPO remains to seek professional advice.

Debbie Reynolds is a compulsory purchase specialist and planning associate with UK law firm TLT

Photo | iStock

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