EV infrastructure – Operators and Landowners at risk if they fail to expressly agree ownership

A recent court ruling is a significant reminder for operators and landowners involved in Electric  Vehicle infrastructure to expressly agree ownership of EV installations. The case in question determined that solar panels installed on land could be regarded as fixtures and belonged to the landowner. The court looked at the degree and purpose of annexation in terms of how the solar panels were attached to land (frames bolted onto concrete bases) and whether they were used independently of the land or integral to the land itself. 

The decision highlights why EV operators and landowners are well advised to expressly agree ownership of EV assets both upon their initial installation and in the event of any subsequent transfer of the infrastructure or the land. 

Our energy and infrastructure legal team has been involved in resolving instances where disputes have arisen in relation to similar items of plant and machinery. Case law is not always clear and the point may be taken even where there is an assumed understanding.

See extract of article prepared by colleagues Edward Venmore and Danielle Spalding below.

The court held that in this particular case the solar panels and associated equipment were fixtures on the property. The solar panels became fixtures for two reasons: The method and degree of annexation. The solar panels were fixed to a metal frame, bolted onto a wooden platform, concreted into the land. The structure must be considered as a composite whole. The degree of attachment to the land meant the panels were fixtures. The object and purposes of the annexation. The panels' purpose was to receive sunlight and convert it into electricity, to power equipment in the site's restaurant (with any surplus being sold to the National Grid). The panels' purpose was not for their use independently of the land, but for their use as an integral part of the land itself.