Case B – is motive a relevant issue?

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Case B – is motive a relevant issue?


In December 2018 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of S Frances Limited v The Cavendish Hotel (London) Limited the outcome of which surprised many legal commentators. The case considered the requirements for a landlord to recover possession under ground (f) (intention to redevelopment) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, and in particular the genuiness of the landlords intention in the carrying out of proposed redevelopment works relied on to achieve repossession.

Ground (f) of the 1954 Act

Ground (f) states as follows… – ‘that on termination of the current tenancy the landlord intends to demolish or reconstruct the premises comprised in the holding or a substantial part of those premises or to carry out substantial work of construction on the holding or part thereof and that he could not reasonably do so without obtaining possession of the holding’

In the Cavendish case the landlord admitted a scheme of works had been specifically designed with the sole purpose to get rid of the tenant; that the proposed development works had no real practical and subsequent use; and that if the tenant had voluntarily left, or if they could have carried out the works under a right of entry with the tenant remaining in occupation, then they would not have undertaken the scheme of works. However, they did intend to undertake the stated works to meet the requirements of the statute and secure repossession.

The Supreme Court held that the 1954 Act did not expressly require an enquiry as to the landlord`s motive but a question to be answered was: what was the landlord`s real intention in proposing to carry out the works? The court considered that there was nothing wrong where a reason, or part of any intent (motive), was to get rid of a tenant, but if that was a factor, then it was right to question:

  • the landlord’s genuine intent and
  • whether (hypothetically), assuming the tenant was not in occupation, the same scheme of works would actually be undertaken.

 Further, that each element of a scheme of works needed to be reviewed on that basis. The court decided that if a landlord added additional works to meet the statutory test, then the motive/purpose of those works should be scrutinised.

Application to Agricultural Holdings Act 1986

This approachof the Supreme Court gives rise to an interesting question as to whether it has any  application in reviewing the statutory test of seeking repossession for development works in accordance with Case B of Schedule 3 of the 1986 Act.

Case B states that… –

‘notice to quit is given on the ground that the land is required for a use, other than for agriculture……….’.

Does ‘required’ bring into consideration a Cavendish type analysis? While the language of the two Acts is different – intends (1954 Act) and required (1986 Act)- could it be argued that both have an underlying base for genuineness and therefore considerations of motive?  It is well established that the extent of any planning permission for works to meet the requirements of Case B must be in respect of all of the land. Therefore, would bolstering the proposed works to meet that threshold cross the line of genuineness?

Reference can be made to the purpose of the relevant Acts. The 1954 Act seeks to provide an element of security on tenure to allow business continuity by way of a tenant`s right to renew their lease on termination of a contractual term. The 1986 Act was a consolidating Act  (including the remaining parts of the  Agriculture Act 1947and  Agricultural Holdings Act 1948). Arguably those Acts contain a more significant ‘purpose’ than the 1954 Act.

As Mr W S Scammell, the author of the First Edition of the Law of Agricultural Holdings stated: ‘ the principles underlying the 1947 [Agriculture Act] and 1948 [Agricultural Holdings Act] Acts are similar and those principles were and are Stability and Efficiency”. Further, Lord Salmon in Johnson v Moreton [1980] commented “the security of tenure which tenant farmers were accorded by the Act of 1947 was not only for their own protection as an important section of the public, nor only for the protection of the weak against the strong, it was for the protection of the nation itself”. Should therefore the same or even arguably a greater degree of protection be afforded to a 1986 Act agricultural tenant which now exists for 1954 Act tenants when considering issues of a tenant losing their land / business ( and often home ) to development plans?

Residential sector

An interesting comparison can be made with the interpretation of “required”  included in the statutes governing the residential sector:the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Act 1988 ( as amended ) . Certain repossession grounds,Case 9 ( owner / family need ) and Case 11 ( previous owner/occupier  need ), use the term “ reasonably required “ ( Case 9 ) and “required “ ( Case 11 ). repeated in Ground 1 of the 1988 ActThe Court of Appeal in Kennealy v Dunne [1977] when undertaking a a Case 11 review, referred to the landlords requirement needing to be ‘bona fides’ and ‘genuine’.

A note of caution

While some development schemes falling under Case B will be clear-cut and not give rise to Cavendish type considerations, some may not be so straightforward and obvious. In Cavendish, Lord Sumption stated that ‘I am not persuaded that if the law is as I believe it to be, landlords will disguise their intentions more effectively than his clients did. It would be unworldly for this Court to ignore that possibility. But we cannot decide an issue of statutory construction on the assumption that a landlord will withhold the truth from the Court on applications for a new tenancy. We have to proceed on the footing litigants are honest or, if they are not, that they will be found out by the experienced Judges who hear these cases’.

Whether it is a landlord proposing a scheme of works or a tenant reviewing such a scheme the issue of motive may well be another element to have on the list for consideration and discussion when considering Case B issues.

© Richard Bedford

June 2020

Contact: Richard Bedford, Ebery Williams,

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