Back
Effective 1 June, we have a new address: 34 Imperial Square, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1QZ
Get in Touch Menu

New rules for mobile phone masts – one year on

04 April 2019

The Electronic Communications Code came into force on 28 December 2017, giving telecommunications operators statutory rights to install and operate electronic communications apparatus on, under or overland. It came about as a result of consolidation in the mobile phone networks and the increased demand by the operators to share the existing infrastructure.

Network operator agreements

One year on, we have seen network operators wanting to use new agreements incorporating their new code powers on various mobile phone sites.

Under the old code, the agreements had restricted the operators from adding additional equipment to the masts without paying additional fees.

The new code gives operators sweeping new powers to upgrade equipment and provides different procedures for requiring removal of equipment, depending on which party is seeking the removal and in what circumstances. In effect, the new code makes it easier for network operators to renew, add and upgrade apparatus such as masts, exchanges and cabinets on the public as well as private land.

EE Limited v London Borough of Islington

If an agreement cannot be reached contractually between the parties, the new code allows operators to go to court to force a landowner to enter into a code agreement. In a recent case, EE Limited v London Borough of Islington (2019), the tribunal imposed a 10-year lease on a landowner, noted it was in the public interest to avoid a breakdown in mobile phone network coverage and therefore allowed operators to secure rights to move their equipment to a new site. The tribunal decided that a financial sum would adequately compensate the property owner despite them being “deprived of the right to do as they wish with their own property”.

It is clear that whilst we at Willans have been dealing with a number of code agreements for landowners, there is a large number who simply sign up with the telecommunications operator without taking advice from a lawyer or a surveyor.

Tribunal cases

As operators continue to build upon recent tribunal cases and to enforce their new powers, it is increasingly imperative for landowners to obtain professional representation from surveyors in respect of the rents payable and from solicitors in respect of the agreement documenting the siting of equipment, to ensure that the landowners’ interests are represented properly. In many cases, the network operator will pay the landowners’ professional fees or at least contribute to them.

An experienced commercial property specialist, Alasdair deals with a wide range of work in relation to sales & acquisitions, development transactions, landlord and tenant and property management matters. He has particular expertise in property investments, property management, clawback, overage, options, business leases and development and security documents. He is recommended by the Legal 500 as part of the firm’s charities team which has a “great reputation in the third sector for property”.

Contact us
Contact
Alasdair Garbutt LLB (Hons)
Partner
View profile
Alasdair Garbutt
Related services
Share this article
Resources to help

Related articles

The Charities Act 2022

Real estate

After key changes to the law were proposed in May 2021, the new act received Royal Assent on 24 February 2022, and was passed into law as the Charities Act…

Charlotte Brunsdon LLB, BA (Hons)
Associate, solicitor

Regulation changes to see rise in energy efficiency standards

Real estate

From 1 April 2023, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations are set to become even stricter for commercial properties. The regulations were introduced in 2015 to target the least…

Charlotte Brunsdon LLB, BA (Hons)
Associate, solicitor

Webinar: Spring commercial property law update

Litigation & dispute resolution

In this Spring update our experienced partners in commercial property and property litigation will share insight on several topics. The first is a look at development land and will include…

Willans
Solicitors
Contact us