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Sebastian Kokelaar

Call 2004

Sebastian’s practice encompasses both traditional and commercial Chancery work.

He is recognised as a leading individual in property litigation. His practice covers all aspects of landlord and tenant law (commercial, agricultural, and residential), easements and freehold covenants, boundary disputes and adverse possession claims, trusts of land and proprietary estoppel, unlawful interference with land (nuisance, trespass), mortgages, and land registration.

Sebastian has substantial and wide-ranging experience of both corporate and personal insolvency, acting for office holders, creditors and debtors. His work in this area covers contested bankruptcy petitions, winding up proceedings, applications for administration orders and extensions, applications to set aside statutory demands, challenges to antecedent transactions, the remuneration of office holders, corporate and individual voluntary arrangements, and possession proceedings relating to the bankrupt’s home.

He also has significant experience of company law matters including unfair prejudice petitions and derivative actions, enforcement of directors’ duties, claims relating to distributions and reductions of capital and corporate reorganisations.

In the traditional Chancery field Sebastian is frequently instructed in disputes relating to wills (validity, interpretation and rectification) and the administration of estates, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975 and trusts disputes.

He also undertakes general commercial litigation such as contractual disputes and professional negligence claims (particularly those arising out of property transactions).

  • What the directories say
    • "A figure on the rise at the Property Bar" who has "flair and enthusiasm, and displays real focus"Chambers & Partners UK 2015
    • "He is one of the most user-friendly people in the barrister world…an incredibly bright barrister who enjoys a technical, novel or thorny issue relating to land and property. He turns his advice around with speed."Chambers & Partners UK 2016
    • "A formidable property junior" who is "thorough, balanced and user-friendly"Chambers & Partners 2017
  • Cases of interest
    • UKI (Kingsway) Ltd v Westminster City Council [2015] UKUT 301 (LC), [2015] RA 433: Acting for a billing authority on a successful appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). The Deputy President (Martin Rodger QC) held that the billing authority’s failure to state the name of the intended recipient of a completion notice issued under the Local Government Finance Act 1988 Sch.4A, which was addressed only to “the owner” of the building, did not render the completion notice invalid, nor was service of the notice invalidated by the fact that it passed through the hands of an agent who lacked authority to accept service and reached the intended recipient in electronic form only. The ratepayer’s appeal is to be heard by the Court of Appeal in January 2017.
    • Hoyl Group Limited v Cromer Town Council [2015] EWCA Civ 782, [2016] 1 P&CR 3: acting for a local authority landlord in proceedings between it and its tenant concerning a right of way over the landlord’s retained land acquired by way of proprietary estoppel. The Court of Appeal reaffirmed the broad approach to proprietary estoppel advocated by Oliver J in Taylors Fashions Ltd v Liverpool Victoria Trustee Co Ltd [1982] QB 133 directed at ascertaining whether, in the particular individual circumstances, it would be unconscionable for A to be permitted to deny that which he has allowed or encouraged B to assume to his detriment, and held that constructive knowledge by A of B’s mistaken belief was sufficient to support a finding of unconscionability.
    • Coventry (t/a RDC Promotions) v Lawrence (No 3) [2015] UKSC 50, [2015] 1 WLR 3485: Acting (with Robert McCracken QC) for an unsuccessful defendant in noise nuisance litigation on an appeal to the Supreme Court against his liability to pay success fee uplifts and ATE insurance premium incurred by the claimants on the grounds that such liability breached his rights under Article 6 and/or Article 1, First Protocol, European Convention on Human Rights. By a majority of 5-2 the Supreme Court held that the statutory regime which permitted the recovery of additional liabilities from unsuccessful defendants was lawful.
    • Re Gigi Brooks Ltd [2015] EWHC 961 (Ch) (Hildyard J): contested application for an administration order.
    • Re Lucas [2015] EWHC 476 (Ch) (Birss J): rectification of wills
    • Coventry (t/a RDC Promotions) v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 13, [2014] AC 822 (led by Robert McCracken QC in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court): noise nuisance claim against owners and operators of a motorsports stadium. Issues in the case included whether the implementation of a planning permission had changed the character of the area, so as to shift the standard of reasonableness in favour of the defendants, whether the defendants had acquired a prescriptive right to cause a noise nuisance, and the principles governing the exercise of the court’s discretion to award damages in lieu of injunctive relief.
    • Johnson v County Bideford Ltd [2013] L&TR 18 (Lands Chamber, Upper Tribunal): recovery of service charges: A landlord’s failure to comply with the requirements of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 s.47(1)(a) when serving invoices for service charge did not mean they were not demands. When they were corrected with retrospective effect by later compliant demands, they could be taken into consideration for the purpose of the time limit under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 s.20B.
    • Re Gonsalves (a bankrupt) [2011] BPIR 419: proceedings brought by a trustee in bankruptcy to obtain possession of the bankrupt’s home. Whether court’s discretion under section 363 of the Insolvency Act 1986 to postpone date for possession constrained by section 89 of the Housing Act 1980.
    • Mehra v Citywest Homes Ltd [2010] UKUT 311 (LC): appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) concerning the apportionment of service charges between tenants in a block of flats. The judgment contains important observations by the President about the scope of the LVT’s jurisdiction under section 27A of the Landlord. and Tenant Act 1985.
    • Sebastian has on a number of occasions been instructed by the States of Jersey to advise on and assist with law reform projects in the field of insolvency and company law, the most recent of which culminated in the passing of the Companies (Amendment No. 11) (Jersey) Law 2014.
  • Memberships & appointments
    • Chancery Bar Association
    • Property Bar Association
    • Agricultural Law Association
    • Cambridge University Land Society
  • Education

    MA, MPhil (Jesus College, University of Cambridge)

  • Languages

    Dutch (fluent), French, German (working knowledge) and Italian (basic)

  • Publications

    Sebastian frequently publishes articles on topics within his areas of expertise. The publications to which he has contributed include Commercial Litigation Journal, Solicitors Journal, Property Law Journal, New Law Journal, and the Estates Gazette.

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