Johnson v Moreton: HL 1980

The tenant had, in the tenancy agreement itself, purported to contract ‘not in any event to serve a counter-notice under Section 24(1)’ of the 1948 Act.
Held: A head tenant under an agricultural tenancy has the right to challenge any notice to quit by serving a counter-notice, and any agreement purporting to exclude or curtail that right is unenforceable. The estoppel relied on was an estoppel by convention alleged to arise as a result of the common intention of the parties as at the date of the agreement. The question is whether the right conferred is exclusively personal (in which case waiver will be permitted) or is designed to serve other, broader public purposes and so, compendiously, whether to permit a waiver would undermine or frustrate the purposes of the statute.
Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone said: ‘This Act is a consolidating Act to which the observations of a majority of your Lordships in Farrell v. Alexander [1977] AC 59, 72 (Lord Wilberforce), 82 (Lord Simon of Glaisdale) and 97 (Lord Edmund-Davies) clearly apply. Even if I were not bound by these observations I would respectfully agree with them. In my view the whole purpose of consolidation would be defeated if they were not observed and rigidly adhered to or if endeavours were made to split the various components of the consolidation Act apart and construe them by reference to their individual histories. If, in the course of these remarks, I refer to the history of the legislation before and after 1948 it is not in order to construe the words of the Act, which, as will be seen, are in my view unambiguous as they stand, but simply to place them in their proper historical and social context as at 1948.’
Lord Simon of Glaisdale said: ‘The 1948 statute was a consolidation Act. Any provision in it must therefore be construed in the context of the whole of the statute in which it now stands (Farrell v. Alexander [1977] AC 59); though it is legitimate (indeed, incumbent) to investigate the statutory history in so far as that throws light on the objective of a particular provision (at p. 84); the ascertainment of the parliamentary objective is an important – generally, an essential – part of the process of statutory interpretation.’


Lord Salmon, Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone


[1980] AC 37


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedJ S Bloor (Measham) Ltd v Eric Myles Calcott ChD 23-Nov-2001
The tenant had claimed a tenancy under the Act. The landlord sought to assert a proprietary estoppel against them. There was nothing in the 1986 Act to stop the claimants relying on a proprietary estoppel and asserting their claims to occupation. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Environment Transport and the Regions and another, ex parte Spath Holme Limited HL 7-Dec-2000
The section in the 1985 Act created a power to prevent rent increases for tenancies of dwelling-houses for purposes including the alleviation of perceived hardship. Accordingly the Secretary of State could issue regulations whose effect was to limit . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Landlord and Tenant, Agriculture

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.183145