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Purrari?! What might classic cars and listed buildings have in common?

Purrari?! What might classic cars and listed buildings have in common?

The comparison between listed buildings and legacy automakers By Denzel Clarke

Image: Denzel Clarke, Assistant Underwriter

Like a vintage Jaguar E Type, a listed building in the UK is a structure of particular architectural and historic interest, deserving of special protection. 

In England, the records of heritage buildings are maintained by Historic England. For the vintage car, it can fall onto the legacy automaker to ensure their vehicles are preserved in the appropriate way. 

Let’s take a brief look at the lawsuit between Ferrari and the superstar DJ Deadmau5. Aside from being a viral media spectacle, this case study has some interesting parallels with Historic England and unauthorised legacy building works.

Case: Ferrari vs Deadmau5 

Back in 2014, Deadmau5 purchased a Ferrari 458 sports car, customising his vehicle with a bright blue wrap, custom floor mats and numerous badges stating: ‘Purrari’.

Ferrari disputed the alterations, and they sued the DJ for copyright infringement on the basis that changing and rebranding the car’s identity could perceivably dislodge the Italian brand’s heritage. 

In response to the modifications made, Ferrari ultimately succeeded in getting the DJ to remove all the changes to the sports car in an effort to preserve the image of its legacy and heritage brand. This also caused the DJ to suffer a significant financial loss in terms of the cost spent on installing and removing the modifications, the loss of time to prepare the car for sale and the potential loss in the vehicle’s market value. 

Why is this relevant to Real Estate lawyers and property developers? 

Like the Ferrari 458, experienced property lawyers are aware that a listed building cannot be altered, extended or demolished without special permission from the local planning authority, which typically consults with the relevant central government agency. 

If the council or local authority discovers that unauthorised building works have been carried out without listed building consent or planning permission, they can issue a listed building enforcement notice under the Listed Building Consent under Section 9 of the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (The Act). 

Given that the enforcement window for listed buildings is unlimited, the risk is even higher compared to breaches of planning permission on non-listed properties. The potential liability could involve major financial loss being incurred if the works must be removed to reinstate the building’s protected features. 

One real estate case study example can help put this into context: Rachel Mill vs Dacorum Borough Council’s 

A Conservation team served a planning enforcement notice after the purchaser of the Grade II listed house in Boxmoor replaced the windows without consent. Although the replacement windows were “safer, more energy efficient ones”, the Council served the planning enforcement notice iterating that the windows and doors be replaced with timber. Failure to revert the windows and doors could result in a potential fine of £20,000 for the breach without the necessary consent. 

With consequences like these, potential purchasers or lenders looking at buying or lending against a listed building are right to want the reassurance and financial protection on listed building enforcement notices. In these circumstances, title insurance could be one route to offer that comfort. 

Title insurance: pressing the accelerator on listed building assurance 

Unlike the case of Ferrari vs Deadmau5, there is a way to safeguard our clients looking to purchase or lend against a listed building, even without listed building consent or planning permission. 

At Westcor International, our ‘Lack of Listed Building Consent’ product offers cover for purchasers and lenders if the Planning Authority establishes or attempts to establish that the works are unlawful because they lack the necessary listed building consents. 

Your client can take comfort in knowing that our policy covers loss for: 

1. The difference between the Market Value; 

2. The cost of any alteration or demolition to that part of the Property in so far as the Planning Authority requires such alteration or demolition following successful enforcement action; 

3. Compensation or damages awarded against You as a result of an Order in respect of the lack of listed building consent by the Planning Authority, including Legal Fees and Expenses. 

Ultimately, if you or your client is nervous about moving forward with purchasing a listed residential dwelling that’s had works carried out, we can help, offering a commercial solution which keeps the wheels turning on your deal. If you found this article insightful, please share it, and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our enquiries team at

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