Lewisham Borough Council v Roberts: CA 1949

The council sought to exercise its powers under the Act to take possession of part of the defendant’s property.
Held: Denning LJ said: ‘It is necessary to consider the nature of the power to requisition land. It is only a power to take possession of land. It is not a power to acquire any estate or interest in any land . . Once possession is taken the Crown can exercise all the powers incident to possession, such as to license other people to use the premises; . . but it cannot grant a lease or create any legal interest in the land in favour of any other person, because it has itself no estate in the land out of which to carve any interest.’
Jenkins J rejected an argument that the principle was one of delegation: ‘I think this contention is based on a misconception of the relationship between a minister and the officials in his department. A minister must perforce, from the necessity of the case, act through his departmental officials, and where as in the Defence Regulations now under consideration functions are expressed to be committed to a minister, those functions must, as a matter of necessary implication, be exercisable by the minister either personally or through his departmental officials; and acts done in exercise of those functions are equally acts of the minister whether they are done by him personally, or through his departmental officials, as in practice, except in matters of the very first importance, they almost invariably would be done. No question of agency or delegation . . seems to me to arise at all.’


Denning LJ


[1949] 2 KB 608


Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedBruton v London and Quadrant Housing Trust HL 24-Jun-1999
The claimant sought to oblige the respondent to repair his flat under the 1988 Act. The respondent replied that the arrangement was a licence only, and not protected under the Act.
Held: The housing association had a temporary licence to . .
CitedCastle v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 24-Jan-2014
The defendant appealed from his conviction for having driven in excess of a variable speed limit on the motorway. He said that the Order under which the speed limit had been imposed was irregular. . .
CitedBourgass and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 29-Jul-2015
The Court considered the procedures when a prisoner is kept in solitary confinement, otherwise described as ‘segregation’ or ‘removal from association’, and principally whether decisions to keep the appellants in segregation for substantial periods . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Landlord and Tenant, Land, Constitutional

Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.199979