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Notices - service


See also cases on statutory notices in the enfranchisement section of the site. See also Break clauses.


Land registration

Service of notice to quit by purchaser "landlord"

Stodday Land Ltd v Pye
[2016] EWHC 2454 (Ch)

Summary

A notice to quit can only be served by the landlord at law. Where the reversion has recently been purchased, registration at the Land Registry must be completed before the purchaser can serve such the notice.

Facts

P had a yearly periodic tenancy of agricultural land. His landlord, S, sold a small part of the land to a third party. Before the third party was registered at the Land Registry as proprietor of the land, the third party served a notice to quit on P under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. S served a separate notice to quit at the same time.

First instance

The judge held that each of the notices was invalid. The notice served by the third party had not been served by the landlord at law. The notice served by S was also invalid because notice to quit had not been given in relation to all the land comprised in the holding (as required by the 1986 Act). Both landlords appealed to the High Court.

Decision on appeal

The High Court dismissed the appeals.

The Court followed decisions in previous case law. This included Brown and Root v Sun Alliance (2001) Ch 733, where it was held that the tenant remained able to exercise a personal break option because the assignment of the lease had not been registered. Further in Renshaw v Magnet (2008) 1 EGLR 42 it was held that the new landlord was unable to respond to the tenants’ collective enfranchisement notice because registration of the new landlord as proprietor of the land at the Land Registry had not been completed. Norris J at para 25:
    "This is a well-established and coherent body of law in support of the proposition that where a legal right to bring a tenancy to an end by notice to the tenant is being exercised, then it is the person in whom the reversionary estate is vested who must give the notice."
Comment

Norris J, commenting on the argument that the court should avoid an overly formalistic approach which magnified the risk arising from the "registration gap", also said:
    "The time will come when every completion pack for the sale of a reversion includes a document in appropriate form constituting the transferee the agent of the transferor in respect of all matters concerning the estate transferred pending registration, a copy of which will be provided by the landlord to the tenant along with notice of the assignment."
This comment raises an important point for practitioners. On every occasion when acting on the purchase of land subject to one or more leases, the buyer’s solicitor should ensure that the buyer has the right to act as the agent of the seller where necessary, pending registration of the transfer.


Section 196 of the LPA 1925

Blunden v Frogmore Investments Ltd
[2002] EWCA Civ 573

Facts

This case related to a building severely damaged by the IRA bomb in Manchester in 1996. L served a notice operating a break clause and a s25 notice. The lease imported s196 of the 1925 Act. The notices were served by attaching them to the building and by recorded delivery to the demised premises and to other addresses that L had for the tenant. Each of the posted notices was returned and T stated that he was unable to obtain access to the property at any relevant time because of security measures. None of the notices therefore came to his attention.

Held

The notices were validly served. There might be circumstances where a notice was not served in good faith in which case the landlord would not be able to rely upon s196 or s23 of the 1927 Act in relation to the s25 notice. However, this was not one of those cases. The case contains an extensive review of the authorities and is worth full consideration. The reasoning behind the statutory provisions was explained by Robert Walker LJ at para 28:
    "I accept that one of the purposes of these provisions is to establish a fair allocation of the risks of any failure of communication. The other main purpose is to avoid disputes on issues of fact (especially as to whether a letter went astray in the post or was accidentally lost, destroyed or overlooked after delivery to the premises of the intended recipient) where the true facts are likely to be unknown to the person giving the notice, and difficult for the court to ascertain."

WX Investments Ltd v Begg
[2002] EWHC 925 (Ch); [2002] 1 WLR 2849; [2002] 50 EG 115; [2002] L&TR 39.

Facts

T sent a counter-notice, to a rent review notice, by recorded delivery in accordance with a lease that incorporated s196(4) of the 1925 Act which provides for delivery "in the ordinary course of post" to be a deemed delivery . L was out and the postman left a P739 while you were out card. L then requested delivery to take place a few days later.

Held

The delivery was deemed to take effect the day after the counter-notice was posted not actual date of delivery - and so was in time. Section 196(4) is a deeming provision and is not to be frustrated by intended recipient being out at the time of attempted delivery. The whole point of a deeming provision is that the document is deemed to be delivered whether or not it is actually delivered.


Service on company

Bottin (International) Investments Ltd v Venson Group PLC [2004] EWCA Civ 1368

Summary

Personal delivery of a notice can be effected against a company by giving to someone with authority to receive it. Delivery to a receptionist who expressly stated that she would make sure it was passed onto a director was sufficient.

Citation

Peter Gibson LJ
    "46. Cl. 19 provides for two modes of serving notices on a party: by delivery personally or by sending by prepaid recorded delivery post to the party's address set out in the Agreement. We are not concerned with sending by post. There is nothing in cl. 19 to require that the personal delivery to a party which is a company has to be at the company's registered office, still less anything to suggest that personal delivery can be effected merely by leaving the document in question somewhere in the building which is the registered office. That gives no meaning to "personally".

    47. The judge went on to say that service at the registered office by leaving it with the receptionist was sufficient. Apart from the superfluous reference to the registered office, on the particular facts that conclusion is in my judgment correct. I agree with Mr. Glick when he says that personal delivery of a notice to a company is effected by delivering the notice to somebody authorised to receive it. I disagree with him when he says that the only person to have such authority is somebody in a senior position in the company. The function of a receptionist ordinarily is to receive people visiting, and letters or parcels being delivered to, the employer of the receptionist. In the present case there was in evidence the witness statement of the process server, Mr. Greenman, who delivered the December notice to the receptionist; that was accepted on the receptionist's express assurance that it would come to the attention of a director. As the judge pointed out, the Defendants did not adduce any evidence as to what happened to the December notice after it was left with the receptionist. It is to be inferred that it did come to the attention of a director. In my judgment, the December notice was delivered personally to Venson."


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