QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
Strand London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
(SITTING AS A JUDGE OF THE HIGH COURT)
| JOHN PRESTON
|(1) AREA ESTATES LIMITED
(2) THE LONDON RENT ASSESSMENT PANEL
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"In accordance with the terms of section 14 of the Housing Act 1988 the Committee proceeded to determine the rent at which it considered the subject property might reasonably be expected to be let on the open market by a willing landlord under an assured tenancy.
In so doing the Committee as required by section 14(1) ignored the effect on the rental value on the property of any relevant tenant's improvements as defined in section 14(2) of the Act.
In coming to its decision the Committee had regard to the evidence supplied by the parties and the members' own general knowledge of market rent levels in the area of Ealing and concluded that an appropriate market rent for the property would be £1,020.00 per month.
The Committee therefore concluded that the rent at which the property might reasonably be expected to be let on the open market would be
£1020 per month inclusive of water charges of £403.21 per annum."
"In making a determination under this section, there shall be disregardedó
(b) any increase in the value of the dwelling-house attributable to a relevant improvement carried out by a person who at the time it was carried out was the tenant, if the improvementó
(i) was carried out otherwise than in pursuance of an obligation to his immediate landlord..."
"13. ... What that means in this case ... is not some discount capitalised in the way that was done here, but simply, when setting the appropriate rent, taking as the value of the house its current value, less the relevant improvements carried out. That would form the basis of the calculation to be made by the Committee.
14. ... In short, to determine the market letting value, the Committee should disregard the improvements when valuing the house. That is not what happened here. The decision therefore was defective."
"Provided that the reference is clear, it may be unnecessary to detail, or even summarise, the evidence or submission in question. The essential requirement is that the terms of the judgment should enable the parties and any appellate tribunal readily to analyse the reasoning that was essential to the Judge's decision."
"... the commissioner [for which can be replaced 'the Committee'] must be prepared to hear both sides, assuming that he has been requested to grant a hearing, and that on such hearing he must allow both sides to comment on or contradict any information that he has obtained. This would doubtless apply equally where a hearing had been requested but refused, for in such a case it would not be in accordance with natural justice to act on information obtained behind the backs of the parties without affording them an opportunity of commenting on it."
Further, Diplock LJ said:
"Where ... there is a hearing, whether requested or not, the second rule requires the deputy commissioner (a) to consider such 'evidence' relevant to the question to be decided as any person entitled to be represented wishes to put before him; (b) to inform every person represented of any 'evidence' which the deputy commissioner proposes to take into consideration, whether such 'evidence' be proffered by another person represented at the hearing, or is discovered by the deputy commissioner as a result of his own investigations; (c) to allow each person represented to comment upon any such 'evidence' and, where the 'evidence' is given orally by witnesses, to put questions to those witnesses; and (d) to allow each person represented to address argument to him on the whole of the case."
"Were it to be the case (as I say, there is nothing to explicitly suggest that it was) that this tribunal proceeded on some basis unknown to others but known to themselves, then I would have regarded the decision as flawed by reference to that principle of natural justice. For the reasons which I have given, an order of certiorari to quash will go. The result of that will be that the applicant's application stands undetermined."