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Unlawful forfeiture

Damages claim

Claim for relief – subsequent claim that forfeiture not lawful

Lilyford Ltd v La Porta
[2013] EWHC 434

Summary

A county can reach a decision on whether to grant relief from forfeiture under s139(2) of the County Courts Act 1984 without having to decide whether the forfeiture was lawful or not. In this case, a tenant’s previous claim for relief from forfeiture did not prevent a subsequent challenge by the tenant to the lawfulness of the forfeiture in the first place.

Facts

L purported to forfeit T’s lease by re-entry. T then unsuccessfully applied to court for relief from forfeiture. T then brought an action for damages based upon a wrongful forfeiture of the lease. L asserted that T could not bring its claim for damages as it was estopped by reason of its prior application for relief, which was predicated on a lawful forfeiture. In those circumstances, T was issue estopped from bringing the claim. T applied to have this part of L’s defence struck out.

Decision

The High court found for T. In order for there to be an issue estoppel, the judgment must have been predicated on their being a lawful forfeiture. In this case, there was nothing to indicate that the judgment was made on that basis and therefore T was not estopped from bringing the claim for unlawful forfeiture. A county can reach a decision on whether to grant relief from forfeiture under s139(2) of the County Courts Act 1984 without having to decide whether the forfeiture was lawful or not.


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