Goodrich v Paisner

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
JudgeLORD JUSTICE DENNING
Judgment Date27 April 1955
Judgment citation (vLex)[1955] EWCA Civ J0427-2
Date27 April 1955

[1955] EWCA Civ J0427-2

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

Before

Lord Justice Denning,

Lorb Justice Rommer and

Lord Justice Parker.

Paisner
and
Goodrich

MR G. AVGHERINOS (instructed by Messrs Richardson, Sowerby, Holden & Co.) appeared on behalf of the Appellant (Defendant).

MR PETER BENENSON (instructed by Messrs Paisner & Co.) appeared on behalf of the Respondent (Plaintiff).

LORD JUSTICE DENNING
1

in 1949 Mrs Jaffe, a lady of nearly 70, owned a large house No. 4, Mansfield Road, Ilford. Her family had left home and she wanted to find a tenant for some of the upstairs rooms. There were six rooms upstairs. Mrs Jaffe had her own bedroom there and a spare bedroom for her visitors; but there were four other rooms upstairs, one of them being fitted up as a kitchen. She arranged to let these four rooms unfurnished to Mrs Goodrich, a widow who had a son and daughter. The son was doing his National Service and Mrs Jaffe agreed to let him sleep in her spare bedroomwnen he came on leave. MrsGoodrich moved in on 31st October, 1949, and three months later a tenancy agreement was signed whereby Mrs Jaffe let to Mrs Goodrich "all those the four rooms now in the occupation of the tenant on the first floor.…. Together with the use in common of the back bedroom on the first floor" on a weekly tenancy of £1. 5s. Od. a week; and it was further provided that the tenant should be entitled "to the use (in common with the landlord and all others authorised by the landlord) of the bathroom and lavatories in the said house".

2

After the agreement was signed Mrs Jaffe changed her mind about the spare bedroom. She refused to let Mrs Goodrich use it at all. She kept it locked. When Mrs Goodrich's son came on leave, he had to sleep in the morning room. This went on for more than four years until Mrs Jaffe died on 8th May, 1954. The son then started to use the back bedroom and has continued to use it on occasions since. The trustees of Mrs Jaffe's Will have given Mrs Goodrich notice to quit and now seek possession of the rooms. They say that Mrs Goodrich is not entitled to the protection of the Rent Acts because it was a case of "sharing" within Neale v. del Soto. 1945 King's Bench, page 144. They say that that case still applies so as to enable a landlord to evict a tenant who shares a house with the landlord: see section 7 of the 1949 Act.

3

The strange thing about this doctrine of "sharing" is that no one ever thought of it for the first 30 years of the Rent Acts. I remember being engaged in many cases after the first war when a tenant of rooms in a house shared accommodation with the landlord but no one suggested that on that account the tenant was not protected by the Acts, The case of Sutton v. Begley. 1923, 2 King's Bench, page 694, is typical of the approach of the profession at that time. I cannot help thinking that that approach was more in keeping with the intention of Parliament than the recent "sharing" cases. It was the housing shortage which caused parliament to intervene to protect tenants by the Rent Acts. It is a cruel irony that the sharing ofaccommodation, which was forced upon people by the housing shortage, was held by the Courts to be a reason for evicting a tenant and exposing him to an extortionate rent.

4

The case of Neale v. del Soto. 1945 King's Bencn, page 144, which introduced the doctrine of" sharing", is based entirely on the words of the statute "let as a separate dwelling". In that case there was a sharing of extensive accommodation, including the kitchen, and in fact the parties shared their meals in the kitchen and divided between them the work of preparing the meals. It could not be said that any part of the house was "let as a separate dwelling". The real substance of the matter was that there was a sharing of the house. There was much good sense behind the decision itself. He matter now acute the housing shortage, it was not right to force two housewives to share the same kitchen when they could not get on with one another. One or other would have to go; and of the two, the tenant, of course, had to go.

5

By contrast in the subsequent case of Cole v. Harris. 1945 King's Bench, page 474, the landlord let to a tenant three rooms together with the use in common of a bathroom and a W.C. It was held that the three rooms were "let as a separate dwelling" and did not cease to be so merely because the tenant shared the bathroom and W.C. with others. The Court saw that if the doctrine of "sharing" were carried to such a length it would deprive innumerable tenants of the protection which Parliament Intended them to have.

6

Those are the two leading cases: and the contest ever since has been whether the sharing falls on the Neale v. del Soto side of the line or on the Cole v. Harris side. The cases are numerous and I need not refer to them except to say that many of the Judges have suggested that it all depends on whether the shared accommodation is a living room or not. I accept that as a useful test but I do not think it should be regarded as decisive. If it were accepted as decisive it would mean thatwe have no longer to look at the words of the statute "let as a separate dwelling" but to the words of the Judges "snaring a living room". I do not think that is a legitimate procedure. It is a misuse of the doctrine of precedent. When the Judges of this Court give a decision on the interpretation of an Act of parliament, the decision itself is binding on them and their successors: see Cull v. Inland Revenue Commissioners, 1940 Appeal Cases, page 61, Morelie Ltd v. Wakeling, 1955, 2 Weekly law Reports, page 672: but the words which the Judges use in giving the decision are not binding. This is often a very fine distinction, because the decision can only be expressed in words. Nevertheless it is a real distinction which will beet be appreciated by remembering that, when interpreting a statute, the sole function of the Court is to apply the words of the Statute to a given situation. Once a decision has been reached on that situation, the doctrine of precedent requires us to apply the statute in the same way in any similar situation; but not in a different situation. Whenever a new situation emerges, not covered by previous decisions, the Courts must be governed by the Statute and not by the words of the Judges. As Lord Porter has pointed out "each case must be brought back to the test of the statutory words": see his address on Case Law in the Interpretation of Statutes, page 18. If a point should be reached where the words of the Judges lead to a different result from the words of the statute, then the statute must prevail: because the Judges have no right to supplant the words of the statute and would not wish to do so.

7

So in this case I accept that the decisions of this Court bind us to hold that the sharing of a kitchen or kitchenette takes away the protection of the Act, whereas the sharing of a bathroom or W.C. does not; but there is no decision as yet about the sharing of a spare bedroom. It is a new situation which was not envisaged by the Judges when they laid down the test of the "living room", 'We must get back to the Statute itself and ask ourselves whether in this case a part of thehouse was "let as a separate dwelling". If it was, then the tenant is protected by the Acts, and he does not lose it because he shares some other part with the landlord. There can be no doubt about the answer. The four rooms on the first floor were "let as a separate dwelling"; and the parties by their conduct showed that they were so let. For 4 years Mrs Goodrich lived in those four rooms as a separate dwelling, without any use of the back bedroom at all. Mrs Jaffe kept it locked against her. I ask myself this question: Suppose that Mrs Jaffe, a few months before her death, had sought to evict Mrs Goodrich on the ground of "sharing"? No Court would have listened to her for a moment. And why, I ask, should they do more for her successors in title. The truth is that this room has never been shared at all. During Mrs Jaffe's lifetime she alone had the use of it. Since her death Mrs Goodrich's son has used it. Applying the simple words of the statute, I have no doubt that in this case the four rooms on the first floor were "let as a separate dwelling" and Mrs Goodrich is protected by the Acts in regard to them: and that she does not lose the benefit of the Acts simply because she also had a right to share the...

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    ...v Walker [1946] 2 All ER 595; Winters v Dance [1949] LJR 165; Baker v Turner [1950] AC 401; Hayward v Marshall [1952] 2 QB 89; Goodrich v Paisner [1957] AC 65; Marsh Ltd v Cooper [1969] 1 WLR 803; Parkins v Westminster City Council [1998] 1 EGLR 22. In these cases some space or facility......
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    ...such cases as Llewellyn v. Hinson 1948 2 KB 385, 391 per Lord Justice Asquith, Baker v. Turner 1950 AC 401, 437 per Lord Reid and Goodrich v. Paisner and others 1957 AC 65. 42 We do not find any real help in these authorities. The question we have to determine is not answered by considering......
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