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Lemmerbell Ltd v Britannia LAS Direct Ltd


Appeal in an action to determine whether or not effective notice had been given under a break clause in two business leases, when the notice was mistakenly given by the wrong party.


Plaintiffs' appeal against a decision of Rattee J. Further evidence was permitted by agreement and showed that certain of the inferences drawn by the trial judge, as to the relationship between the respondent and the company which gave the notices in its own name, were wrong. In addition, the House of Lords in Mannai Ltd v Eagle Star Assurance Co Ltd (1997) 2 WLR 945 had reversed the rule that defects in break clauses could not be cured by construing the documents, and it was now necessary to consider whether any defects in these notices could be so cured. It was also necessary to consider the defendant's alternative claim in estoppel, which the trial judge had found it unnecessary to address.


(1) In the light of the new evidence the company serving the notices was not the general agent of the defendant, and the notices were therefore defective. (2) These defects could not be cured by attempting to construe the notices as those of the defendant. (3) The plaintiffs were under no duty to tell the defendant what was wrong with the notices, and the facts were therefore inappropriate to raise a claim in estoppel.
Appeal allowed.

Court of Appeal
Butler-Sloss LJ, Peter Gibson LJ, Hutchison LJ
Judgment date
8 October 1998

LTL 8/10/98 : [1999] L & TR 102 : [1998] 3 EGLR 67 : [1998] 48 EG 188 : [1998] EG 138 (CS) : [1998] NPC 135

Previous Members

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

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