Town Investments Ltd v Department of the Environment: HL 2 Mar 1977

The House considered the application of Orders made under the Counter-Inflation Acts 1972 and 1973 to premises let initially to the Minister of Works and then to the Secretary of State for the Environment for occupation by civil servants. Each of the relevant counter-inflation Orders contained definitions of ‘business tenancy’ and ‘business’.
Held: In view of the mischief at which the Counter-Inflation Acts 1972 and 1973 and the Orders made under them had been aimed, namely to curb inflation, a broad construction was to be given to ‘business’ in the definition of the tenancies to which the Orders of 1972 and 1973 applied. It should be interpreted as widely as it would be in covenants and leases restricting the user of demised premises. Accordingly, that interpretation was wide enough to include the purposes for which the premises in question were occupied by the Crown, so that the premises were occupied for the purposes of a business within the meaning of the counter-inflation Orders.
Lord Diplock said that business was ‘an etymological chameleon; it suits its meaning to the context in which it is found. It is not a term of legal art . . [as to dicta in Rolls v Miller] . . That was said by the Lord Justice in connection with the construction of a covenant in a lease against the carrying on of any trade or business on the demised premises; and ever since then there has been a consistent line of cases in which this broad meaning has been ascribed to the word ‘business’ in the context of covenants in leases restricting the permitted user of the demised premises. It appears to me to be clear beyond argument that the use made of the premises that are the subject of the instant appeals to accommodate civil servants engaged in what consistently with common usage could be quite properly described as ‘government business’ would constitute a breach of a covenant in a lease against permitting any business to be carried on upon the premises. The Crown or government through its servants is carrying out there a duty which requires attention.’

Lord Diplock, Lord Simon of Glaisdale
[1978] AC 359, [1977] UKHL 2, [1977] 34 P and CR 48, [1977] 2 WLR 450, [1977] 1 All ER 813
England and Wales
CitedRolls v Miller CA 1884
The court was asked as to the effect of a restrictive covenant requiring a house not to be used for trade or business. Lindley LJ said that the dictionary meanings of the term ‘business’ embrace ‘almost anything which is an occupation, as . .

Cited by:
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The company had ceased trading, but rental income was still generated from its former premises. The Revenue sought to include the receipt in calculations of whether the company was entitled to a small company corporation tax rate. The Revenue . .
CitedLyndendown Ltd v Vitamol Ltd CA 6-Jul-2007
At the end of the lease, the subtenant had failed to comply with his obligation to repair the property, leaving the head tenant liable to the landlord. The landlord had issued a letter which forgave the tenant from his obligations.
Held: The . .
CitedBAPIO Action Ltd and Another, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another HL 30-Apr-2008
The House considered whether the Secretary of State for Health acted lawfully in issuing guidance as to the employment of foreign doctors to employing bodies within the National Health Service in April 2006.
Held: The secretary of state’s . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Income Tax, Landlord and Tenant

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.242606