PLA member Tom Dobson has won first prize in the Alan Langleben Memorial Essay Competition 2020 with his entry exploring the impact of the Supreme Court’s important decision in S Franses Ltd v Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd and, in addition to winning £1,000 cash, had his essay published in the Estates Gazette.
The competition posed the question: All change at the Cavendish Hotel?
Lord Sumption’s acid test to be applied in cases involving the landlord’s intention to conduct works at the demised premises in ground (f) of s30(1) of Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954 in S Franses Ltd v The Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd  UKSC 62 is “whether the landlord would intend to do the same works if the tenant left voluntarily”. Looking at this test, Lord Briggs said that where it is alleged that the landlord would carry out some lesser scheme if the tenant left voluntarily, which such lesser scheme would not be sufficient to defeat the tenant’s application for a new tenancy, it “will probably give rise to factual questions of some nicety, incapable of resolution by the proffer of a simple undertaking to the court, as happens at present. This may introduce an element of complexity and expense into proceedings in the County Court which, for many years, have yielded to a simple technique for speedy resolution. But I can see no other way of giving effect to what seems to me always to have been the plain intention of Parliament, that a tenant’s statutory right to a new tenancy should not be circumvented by proposed works which, viewed as a whole, would not have been undertaken by the landlord if the tenant had left voluntarily”.
What effect is the ruling having/will have on landlords who are planning to redevelop in the future and will tenants automatically allege that the landlord would carry out some lesser scheme if the tenant were to leave voluntarily even if it raises an element of complexity and expense into the County Court proceedings as envisaged by Lord Briggs?
Property Litigation Association Essay Competition 2020
Tom Dobson, Farrer & Co
As any subscriber to Practical Law or Lexology updates will tell you, the Supreme Court ruling in S Franses Ltd v The Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd generated the sort of feverish commentary and analysis normally reserved for the true controversies of our age, like an inflammatory tweet from Donald Trump or the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll. Quite understandably too – it was a big deal, a significant statement by the highest Court in the land as to the nature and purpose of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and how it should function… read more