O G Thomas Amaethyddiaeth CYF & Anor v Turner & Ors (2022) EWCA Civ 1446
In which the Court of Appeal considers whether a notice to quit that named the wrong tenant was valid.
This was an agricultural tenancy, originally granted to Owen Thomas in an oral grant. The freehold passed on the death of the original landlord, then on the death of the subsequent landlord it became held by the executor of her estate, Mr Owen. (There is a superfluity of Owens involved).
In the meantime, (in fact three days before service of the notice to quit), Mr Thomas had assigned the tenancy by deed to O G Thomas Amaethyddiaeth CYF, a company of which Mr Thomas was the sole shareholder and officer.
Mr Owen served notice to quit under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, by registered post addressed to Mr Thomas at his home address, which was also the registered office of the company. The Notice stated
“Notice to Quit given by Landlord …
To Owen Gwilym Thomas of Bodlondeb…
Re: Lands at Pentre Canol, Dyffryn Ardudwy…
I as Sole Executor of the last Will and Testament of Jane Louisa Jones… Give you notice to quit and deliver up possession of ALL THAT holding and premises known as lands at Pentre Canol… which you hold of me as tenant on 13 November 2020 or at the expiration of the year of your tenancy which shall expire after the end of 12 months from the date of service of this notice.”
Mr Owen was not aware of the assignment of the tenancy to the company.
Possession proceedings were brought on that notice.
At first instance and on first appeal, the courts held that the notice was valid. Both held that a reasonable recipient of the notice would have appreciated that a mistake had been made in naming the tenant and would have read it as having been addressed to the company.
On second appeal, Mr Thomas was successful.
The Court of Appeal held that while in common law there was no requirement for the tenant to be named on a notice to quit ( Doe d Matthewson v Wrightman (1801) 4 Esp 5 ), if the tenant is named, they must be named correctly. The Court of Appeal considered itself bound by R (Morris) v London Rent Assessment Committee (2002) EWCA Civ 276 in this, as authority that:
If a notice is addressed to A (by his correct name) and sent to A’s proper address, it cannot be treated as a notice given to B.
As such, notice had not been ‘given’ to the tenant – the company. The question of how the notice would be interpreted by a reasonable recipient therefore didn’t arise.