B e f o r e :
| (1) BRENDA ELIZABETH TURNER
(2) MARILYN MARGARET JONES
(3) ALAN TREVOR JONES
|- and -
|(1) OWEN GWILYM THOMAS
(2) O G THOMAS AMAETHYDDIAETH CYF
Mr P R Williams (of Ebery Williams Solicitors) for the defendants
Hearing dates: 26 November 2021
Crown Copyright ©
HH JUDGE JARMAN QC:
"(1) Any notice, request, demand or other instrument under this Act shall be duly given to or served on the person to or on whom it is to be given or served if it is delivered to him, or left at his proper address, or sent to him by post in a registered letter or by the recorded delivery service.
(2) Any such instrument shall be duly given to or served on an incorporated company or body if it is given or served on the secretary or clerk of the company or body.
(3) Any such instrument to be given to or served on a landlord or tenant shall, where an agent or servant is responsible for the control of the management or farming, as the case may be, of the agricultural holding, be duly given or served if given to or served on that agent or servant.
(4) For the purposes of this section and of section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 (service by post), the proper address of any person to or on whom any such instrument is to be given or served shall, in the case of the secretary or clerk of an incorporated company or body, be that of the registered or principal office of the company or body, and in any other case be the last known address of the person in question.
(5) Unless or until the tenant of an agricultural holding has received—
(a) notice that the person who before that time was entitled to receive the rents and profits of the holding ('the original landlord') has ceased to be so entitled, and
(b) notice of the name and address of the person who has become entitled to receive the rents and profits, any notice or other document served upon or delivered to the original landlord by the tenant shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act to have been served upon or delivered to the landlord of the holding."
"The effect of s 93(3) of the AHA 1986 is that service on an agent is due service, provided the agent was authorised to receive such notice on behalf of his principal. The person responsible for the control of the management or farming, as the case may be, of the agricultural holding, is deemed to be agent for the tenant. In contrast to the common law position, there is no need for the agent or servant to be authorised to receive the notices being served.
"If, therefore, a tenant assigns his tenancy, then even if the landlord has no notice of the assignment, it would appear that the service on the original tenant would not be good service."
"A notice was served--the terms of which I need not refer to--on October 1 1976, purporting to be a notice under section 146(1) of the 1925 Act. That section requires that, before any proceedings are launched for forfeiting the term on the ground of breach of covenant, such a notice should be served. That notice was served on the second defendant; and the one short point is whether it is correct to hold, as the learned judge held, that the notice should have been served on the first defendant, namely the assignee.
When you have a situation such as this where a lease is liable to be forfeited, section 146 makes provision for a notice to be served before a writ is issued by the lessor asking for forfeiture. If at the end of the day in those proceedings forfeiture is ordered--or rather no relief from forfeiture is granted--then the term will have been terminated with effect from the issue of the writ--whether it is 'issue' or 'service' matters not in this case. The person who is interested and concerned in whether the term should be forfeited or not is clearly the person to whom the term has been assigned; and, as I have said and I agree with the learned judge, it is perfectly clear that this term was assigned to the first defendant; it ceased to be vested in the second defendant; it became vested in the first defendant."
"The clause does not require the tenant to use any particular form of words. He must use words which unambiguously convey a particular meaning, namely an intention to terminate the lease on 13 January. In Hankey v.Clavering  2 K.B. 326, where the notice to quit said "21 December" instead of "25 December", Lord Greene M.R. said, at pp. 328, 330, ". . . the whole thing was obviously a slip" on the part of the landlord but that the notice was invalid "however much the recipient might guess, or however certain he might be" that it was a mere slip. So even if the recipient was certain that the landlord actually wanted to terminate his tenancy on the right date, which was 25 December, so that the necessary intention was unambiguously communicated, the notice was bad. One is bound to be left with a feeling that something has gone wrong here. Common sense cannot produce such a result; it must be the result of some rule of law. If so, what is that rule and is it correct?"
"Nor do I think that a decision overruling the old cases will create uncertainty as to what the law is. In fact I think that the present law is uncertain and that only a decision of this House, either adopting or rejecting the Hankey v. Clavering rule of construction, will make it certain. So, for example, in Carradine Properties Ltd. v. Aslam  1 W.L.R. 442, 444, Goulding J. said that the test for the validity of a notice was: "Is the notice quite clear to a reasonable tenant reading it? Is it plain that he cannot be misled by it?" and he went on to say that the reasonable tenant must be taken to know the terms of the lease. This test was approved by the Court of Appeal in Germax Securities Ltd. v. Spiegal (1978) 37 P. & C.R. 204, 206 and, as will be apparent from what I have already said, I think that it was the right test to adopt."
" There is no justification for placing notices under a break clause in leases in a unique category. Making due allowance for contextual differences, such notices belong to the general class of unilateral notices served under contractual rights reserved, e.g. notices to quit, notices to determine licences and notices to complete: Delta Vale Properties Ltd. v. Mills  1 W.L.R. 445, 454E-G. To those examples may be added notices under charter parties, contracts of affreightment, and so forth. Even if such notices under contractual rights reserved contain errors they may be valid if they are "sufficiently clear and unambiguous to leave a reasonable recipient in no reasonable doubt as to how and when they are intended to operate": the Delta case, at p. 454E-G, per Slade L.J. and adopted by Stocker L.J. and Bingham L.J: see also Carradine Properties Ltd. v. Aslam  1 W.L.R. 442, 444. That test postulates that the reasonable recipient is left in no doubt that the right reserved is being exercised. It acknowledges the importance of such notices. The application of that test is principled and cannot cause any injustice to a recipient of the notice. I would gratefully adopt it…"
"Like Lord Hoffmann I would hold that the correct test for the validity of a notice is that posed by Goulding J. in Carradine Properties Ltd. v. Aslam  1 W.L.R. 442, 444: "Is the notice quite clear to a reasonable tenant reading it? Is it plain that he cannot be misled by it?"
"The conclusions which I draw from this survey of the authorities are as follows:
i) A statutory notice is to be interpreted in accordance with Mannai v Eagle, that is to say, as it would be understood by a reasonable recipient reading it in context.
ii) If a reasonable recipient would appreciate that the notice contained an error, for example as to date, and would appreciate what meaning the notice was intended to convey, then that is how the notice is to be interpreted.
iii) It remains necessary to consider whether, so interpreted, the notice complies with the relevant statutory requirements. This involves considering the purpose of those requirements.
iv) Even if a notice, properly interpreted, does not precisely comply with the statutory requirements, it may be possible to conclude that it is "substantially to the same effect" as a prescribed form if it nevertheless fulfils the statutory purpose. This is so even if the error relates to information inserted into or omitted from the form, and not to wording used instead of the prescribed language."
"An unqualified notice will not, for instance, be invalid if the name of either landlord or tenant is inaccurately stated, provided the identity of the person giving notice and the intended recipient are beyond reasonable doubt."