Home Information Cases John Laing Construction Ltd v Amber Pass Ltd (2004)

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John Laing Construction Ltd v Amber Pass Ltd (2004)

Summary

The claimant tenant (J) sought a declaration that, further to a notice given under a tenant's break clause, J had validly terminated the lease made between itself and the defendant landlord (G) in respect of premises. G counterclaimed for declarations that J's break notice was ineffective and that the lease was subsisting. J was the tenant of an office block with surrounding land. J decided that it no longer needed the premises and gradually began to vacate them. J informed G that it had almost vacated the premises. G expressed security concerns about the vacant premises. Accordingly, J arranged for constant security and placed additional free standing fencing and barriers at the vacant premises. J sent formal notice, pursuant to clause 5(6) of the lease, of its intention to determine the lease. G contended that the presence of security guards, the use of barriers and the fact that J had not formally returned the keys meant that J had not "yielded up" the premises for the purpose of the lease. Further G argued that "yielding up" meant "handing back" which required an overt act by J. The absence of authority as to what "yielding up" meant demonstrated that there should be an obvious event which could not be mistaken for anything else. J contended that "yielding up" referred to leaving the premises so that the landlord could reenter them in circumstances where it was clear that J no longer sought a right to the premises and that J was not required to go through a ceremony of handing back the keys.

Facts

(declaration granted in favour of claimant) (1) There was no prescribed form or procedure for "yielding up". The court had to look at the facts objectively and determine whether there had been a clear intention by the person whose acts were said to have brought about a termination to effect such termination and whether the landlord could, if he wanted to, occupy the premises without difficulty or objection. (2) J's retention of the keys did not signify any intention on J's part to assert any rights in respect of the premises. In the light of security problems at the site, the instruction of security staff and the use of removable concrete barriers did not cause a hindrance to G. J had clearly and obviously demonstrated a wish to terminate the lease. J had served notice compliant with the conditions of validity and effectiveness of the lease and had done as much as was necessary to show G that J asserted no right to the premises and had left it to G to occupy or deal with as it wished.

Held

The claimant tenant (J) sought a declaration that, further to a notice given under a tenant's break clause, J had validly terminated the lease made between itself and the defendant landlord (G) in respect of premises. G counterclaimed for declarations that J's break notice was ineffective and that the lease was subsisting. J was the tenant of an office block with surrounding land. J decided that it no longer needed the premises and gradually began to vacate them. J informed G that it had almost vacated the premises. G expressed security concerns about the vacant premises. Accordingly, J arranged for constant security and placed additional free standing fencing and barriers at the vacant premises. J sent formal notice, pursuant to clause 5(6) of the lease, of its intention to determine the lease. G contended that the presence of security guards, the use of barriers and the fact that J had not formally returned the keys meant that J had not "yielded up" the premises for the purpose of the lease. Further G argued that "yielding up" meant "handing back" which required an overt act by J. The absence of authority as to what "yielding up" meant demonstrated that there should be an obvious event which could not be mistaken for anything else. J contended that "yielding up" referred to leaving the premises so that the landlord could reenter them in circumstances where it was clear that J no longer sought a right to the premises and that J was not required to go through a ceremony of handing back the keys.

Chancery Division
Judge Hildyard QC
Judgment date
7 April 2004
References

LTL 19/4/2004 : (2004) 17 EG 128 (CS)

Practice areas