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Richard Granby resists application for relief from forfeiture of a long lease for non payment of rent in the High Court

13th May 2019

Richard Granby resisted an application by a long leaseholder for relief from forfeiture for arrears of service charges reserved as rent. The leaseholder had failed to make an effective application for relief in the County Court within 6 months of execution of the warrant of possession and had accordingly been obliged to issue a claim for relief in the High Court.

The Court was obliged to determine the extent to which the time limit for an application for relief implied by s.210 -210 of the Common Law Procedure Act 1852 restricted the courts equitable jurisdiction. The question has been the subject of conflicting obiter statements in the Court of Appeal with Sir Nicolas Browne-Wilkinson V-C favoring an interpretation that such an application could be made without limit of time in Billson and Others v Residential Apartments Limited [1992] 1 A.C. 495 and Lewison LJ stating in Gibbs v Lakeside Residential Apartments Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2874 that an application must be made ‘with reasonable promptitude’.

In dismissing an application for relief made 9 months after execution of a warrant of possession and 14 months after the issue of possession proceedings Master Shuman held that an application for relief must be made reasonably promptly, while what was reasonably prompt would depend on the facts of each case the fact that the landlord would receive a windfall was not a reason to grant relief where a former leaseholder had delayed making an application for relief. On the facts the former leaseholder had not acted with reasonable promptitude and it was held that the application accordingly must fail, notwithstanding the windfall to the freeholder.  

Richard Granby was instructed by Judge and Priestly LLP.

 

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