Real estate dispute resolution

Electronic Communications Code

Howard Kennedy has a range of experience in dealing with telecoms matters. We have a specialist team with expertise in the Electronic Communications Code, particularly in the context of development.

"Electronic communications mast with a backdrop of blue sky.

We act for land owners rather than telecoms operators. We have experience in negotiating, relocating and terminating electronic communications code agreements against every major code operator in the UK.

Howard Kennedy is the developer's firm of choice. The digitisation of the economy and the increasing demand for fast communications means that telecoms operators need to site their masts and apparatus on tall buildings. 

Dealing with notices from operators

Frequently, the first a landowner or developer will hear from a telecoms operator is a notice requiring a multi-skilled visit (MSV) to assess whether:

  • a site would be suitable for the installation of new telecoms apparatus
  • telecoms apparatus on an existing site can be upgraded.

We have experience in dealing with the initial approach and negotiating terms with operators to ensure the minimum of disruption when MSVs occur.

When an operator determines that a site is suitable for new telecoms apparatus, it will generally try to agree terms with the landowner. If those negotiations are unsuccessful, the operator may serve a notice on the landowner with a 28-day time limit to agree terms. Failing this the operator can apply to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) to impose the agreement on the landowner. We are regularly called upon to oppose and defend these claims

Planning ahead for developments

Development and redevelopment will often require the removal or relocation of telecoms equipment. Where telecoms apparatus is a potential hindrance to development, it is important to undertake searches and take specialist advice from solicitors and surveyors at the feasibility stage.  The long timescales often required to negotiate (or seek an order for) the removal/relocation of the equipment can have a material impact on scheduling and sit on the critical pathway for the project management of a development.


Old code and new code

The new Electronic Communications Code came into force on 28 December 2017, replacing the "old code".  Where code agreements were entered into before 28 December 2017, transitional provisions apply, meaning that (amongst other matters):

  1. leases of telecoms apparatus with the protection of Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 are terminable and renewable in accordance with the 1954 Act; renewal of those leases also benefits from the more generous provisions for rent.
  2. the statutory provisions for landowners to require the "lift and shift" of telecoms apparatus under the old code will continue in force until agreement is renewed.

Howard Kennedy is pre-eminent among UK law firms acting for landowners where the use of land and the telecoms apparatus may conflict.

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