Home Information Cases Railtrack PLC v Gojra (1997)

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Railtrack PLC v Gojra (1997)

Summary

A request for a new business tenancy under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 was valid where the landlord had changed under the Railways Act 1993.

Facts

Railtrack appealed from the refusal of a County Court judge to strike out, as being an abuse of process, an originating application issued against them by Mr and Miss Gojra ('the applicants'). The originating application was brought in accordance with the provisions under s.24 Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 ('the 1995 notice') to obtain a new tenancy for their sandwich bar at Victoria station. With effect from midnight between 31 March and 1 April 1994 Railtrack had become the statutory assignees from the British Railways Board ('BRB') of the reversionary interest in the premises. Railtrack submitted that the applicants could not rely on the 1995 notice as they had made an earlier request for a new tenancy, sent by first-class post on 31 March 1994 and received on 6 April 1994 ('the 1994 notice'); that the 1994 notice was valid; that the applicants had failed to make an application under s.24(1) within four months of its receipt; and therefore the 1995 request could not be made because the tenancy had been validly terminated. The applicants argued that the 1994 notice was invalid because it was addressed to and received by the Solicitor's Department, BRB, and was not therefore "given to the landlord" under s.26(3) of the 1954 Act.

Held

(1) The transfer from BRB to Railtrack of the reversionary interest in the premises was a transfer to which Sch.8 Railways Act 1993 applied and the effect of para.8(1) and (2) of that Act was that the lease took effect on 1 April 1994 as if Railtrack were the landlord. The 1994 notice was not therefore invalid as a matter of construction. (2) Section 66(4) of the 1954 Act provided that s.23 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 applied for the purposes of the Act. Sending the 1994 notice by ordinary post meant that the notice was served and given on the day it was received, by which time Railtrack were, by virtue of Sch.8 of the 1993 Act, the landlord. (3) The applicants had been informed in a pro forma letter before the transfer that they should continue to pay rent to BRB and raise any query with their contact at the BR Property Board. It was agreed that in various ways after 31 March 1994 that the BR Property Board continued to deal with both the management of the property and legal matters to do with the notice. BRB was Railtrack's agent and the 1994 notice which was a document intended to have legal effect was rightly effected on BRB and sensibly marked for the attention of its solicitors' department. (4) By virtue of s.23(1) of the 1954 Act the 1994 notice was validly served on Railtrack.

Appeal allowed.

Court of Appeal
Evans LJ, Wilson J
Judgment date
28 November 1997
References

LTL 28/11/97 : [1998] 1 EGLR 63 : [1998] 08 EG 158 : [1997] EG 168 (CS) : [1997] NPC 166

Previous Members

hh-judge-david-hodge-qc,HHJ David Hodge QC

Practice areas