Kerry Bretherton QC and Katie Gray represent the successful Appellant in acrimonious trusts litigation

29th July 2022

In a judgment handed down on 29 July 2022 (Pile v Pile [2022] EWHC 2036 (CH)), the High Court has held that the service of a notice to quit by one of two or more joint tenants of a periodic tenancy did not amount to a breach of trust, even where the object of serving the notice was to obtain a personal benefit, namely a new lease is the Appellant’s own name.

Kerry Bretherton QC, leading Katie Gray, represented the successful Appellant who at first instance had been made the subject of an interim injunction restraining him from serving notice to quit in respect of an Agricultural Holding and a 1954 Act protected commercial lease in order to obtain a new lease of the same in the name of his company.

On appeal, it was argued that following Hammersmith LBC v Monk [1992] 1 AC 478, the estate under a periodic tenancy only continues so long as it is the will of both parties that it should continue. The fact that the joint tenants of a periodic tenancy are, by reason of their co-ownership of the tenancy at law, trustees under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 does not alter the position. The service of a notice to quit is not the exercise of a statutory or other power vested in a trustee. If no trusts powers are being exercised, then there can be no breach of trust.

The High Court agreed with the Appellant’s submissions. Though there are situations in which service of a notice to quit by a joint tenant may involve trust obligations, this would only be the case where the trust in question goes beyond the bare trust imposed by reason of co-ownership. For example, where property is held for a partnership or an infant, or if the property is held for specific purposes such as the provision of a matrimonial home.

In this case, the only pleaded trust was the bare trust arising on co-ownership. Accordingly, no duty was owed which would prevent the Appellant from terminating the tenancy even where he did so in order to acquire the advantage of a new tenancy for himself.

The interim injunction was therefore discharged, there being no serious issue to be tried.



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