Chapman v Honig: CA 1963

A landlord’s notice to quit was held valid notwithstanding that the landlord seeking to uphold its validity had himself given it in contempt of court.
A contractual right may be exercised for any reason good, bad or indifferent and the motive with which it is exercised is irrelevant to its validity.
Pearson LJ: ‘There is a special difficulty in the present case. The act complained of, the service of the notice to quit, was on the face of it a lawful exercise of a contractual right, duly implemented in accordance with the provisions of the tenancy agreement and effective to terminate the tenant’s estate and to convert the landlord’s interest from an estate in reversion to an estate in possession. Common experience is that, when the validity of an act done in purported exercise of a right under a contract or other instrument is disputed, the inquiry is limited to ascertaining whether the act has been done in accordance with the provisions of the contract or other instrument. I cannot think of any case in which such an act might be invalidated by proof that it was prompted by some vindictive or other wrong motive. Motive is disregarded as irrelevant. A person who has a right under a contract or other instrument is entitled to exercise it and can effectively exercise it for a good reason or a bad reason or no reason at all. If the rule were different, if the exercise of such a right were liable to be overthrown, in an action brought at any time within the limitation period, by proof that the act was done with a wrong motive, there would be a great unsettlement of property titles and commercial transactions and relationships.’


Pearson LJ, Davies LJ


[1963] 2 QB 502


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedFitzroy House Epworth Street (No. 1) Ltd and Another v Financial Times Ltd CA 31-Mar-2006
The defendant tenant sought to exercise a break clause in the lease. The landlord said that the notice was deficient because the tenant had failed ‘materially to comply with’ its repairing obligations. The judge found the cost of repairs were . .
CitedHM Customs and Excise v Barclays Bank Plc HL 21-Jun-2006
The claimant had served an asset freezing order on the bank in respect of one of its customers. The bank paid out on a cheque inadvertently as to the order. The Commissioners claimed against the bank in negligence. The bank denied any duty of care. . .
CitedLondon Borough of Harrow v Johnstone HL 13-Mar-1997
A possession action was lawful against a remaining joint tenant after a notice to terminate the tenancy had been given by the other tenant. An order against interference with possession of property did not extend to matters of the duration of the . .
CitedJSC BTA Bank v Khrapunov SC 21-Mar-2018
A had been chairman of the claimant bank. After removal, A fled to the UK, obtaining asylum. The bank then claimed embezzlement, and was sentenced for contempt after failing to disclose assets when ordered, but fled the UK. The Appellant, K, was A’s . .
CitedN v Agrawal CA 9-Jun-1999
A doctor examining a victim of a rape, but who failed to give evidence at court was not liable to the victim for further psychiatric damages caused by the resultant collapse of the prosecution. There was no doctor/patient relationship to give rise . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Landlord and Tenant

Updated: 09 September 2022; Ref: scu.240012