European Medicines Agency loses bid to end London lease over Brexit

Marco Green
February 22, 2019

A London judge gave property developers a bit of good news in a hard environment, ruling that the European Medicines Agency couldn't use Brexit to break its £500 million (€575 million) lease in Canary Wharf.

The EMA was hoping to escape an overall rent bill estimated at around £500 million it is contracted to pay to landlord Canary Wharf Group, as the European agency shifts to Amsterdam due to Brexit.

Judge Marcus Smith ruled in favour of the property group on Wednesday, saying that the EMA remains obligated to honour the lease.

The company officially made the move in January 2019, leaving some of its 900 staff behind in London.

The landmark ruling has prompted lawyers to say that it could stave off similar such claims by other tenants, stopping a wave of copycat lease cancellations from banks and other companies forced to move some or all operations to an European Union member state because of Brexit.

A High Court judge dismissed the agency's claim that its 25-year lease of offices in Canary Wharf would be legally "frustrated" as a result of Brexit.

It said it would take some time to carefully study the implications of the decision.

The EMA said after the ruling that it will consider an appeal that could ultimately lead to the EU's Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The EMA "has no choice but to leave London", a spokeswoman said.

Owen Talfan Davies, a partner at European law firm Fieldfisher, said the ruling was "no surprise".

"Brexit may ultimately be the cause of some tenants being unable to comply with rental obligations under their leases, but it is not going to give rise to lawful grounds to avoid those obligations", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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