Gray v Taylor

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Judgment Date02 Apr 1998
Judgment citation (vLex)[1998] EWCA Civ J0402-19
Docket NumberCCRTF 97/1514 CMS2

[1998] EWCA Civ J0402-19




(His Honour Judge Morrell)

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London WC2


Lord Justice Nourse

Lord Justice Mummery and

Sir John Vinelott

CCRTF 97/1514 CMS2

Constance Margaret Gray
and Others
Plaintiffs (Respondents)
Mrs Dorothy Taylor
Defendant (Appellant)

MR D WATKINSON and MISS M JONES (instructed by Legal Services, Shelter, London EC1) appeared on behalf of the Appellant Defendant.

MR C McCALL QC and MISS F QUINT (instructed by Messrs Greenwoods, Peterborough) appeared on behalf of the Respondent Plaintiffs.


Thursday, 2nd April 1998


Sir John Vinelott will deliver the first judgment.


This is an appeal from a decision of His Honour Judge Morrell, sitting in the Peterborough County Court. The respondents, the plaintiffs in the court below, are the trustees of a charity, the Peterborough Almshouses and Relief in Need Charity ("the charity"). The appellant, Mrs Dorothy Taylor, the defendant in the court below, currently occupies a flat in one of the almshouses administered by the trustees.


On 20th February 1997 the trustees decided to terminate her appointment as an almsperson entitled under the trust of the charity to occupy accommodation in the almshouse on the ground that her behaviour had been vexatious and had disturbed the quiet enjoyment of the almshouse. On 3rd March they gave her notice to vacate the flat. She refused to leave, and on 4th April 1997 the trustees instituted proceedings in the County Court for possession.


In her defence the appellant claimed that she was an assured tenant within the meaning of section 1 of the Housing Act 1988, with the consequence that her tenancy could not be brought to an end except by an order of the court, and that the trustees had not established any of the grounds on which they would have been entitled to an order for possession. She claimed, in the alternative, that she was a licensee and that the trustees were only entitled to repossess the flat if they could show that she had persistently and without reasonable excuse disregarded the trustees' regulations, or had behaved offensively, or had become disqualified from retaining her appointment as an almsperson.


On 18th July 1997 a District Judge ordered that the first of these contentions should be tried as a preliminary issue. That issue came before His Honour Judge Morrell on 9th September. He decided that the appellant did not occupy the flat as an assured tenant within the meaning of section 1 of the 1988 Act.


The charity, which is an amalgam of three older charities, was established as a new charity by a scheme established by order of the Charity Commissioners which was sealed on 25th November 1974. It is only necessary for the purposes of this judgment to refer to a few of the provisions of the scheme. The relevant clauses are as follows.


Clause 22, which is part of a series of clauses headed "Management of Lands", provides that:

"The Trustees are to let and otherwise manage all the lands belonging to the Charity not required to be retained or occupied for the purposes thereof.…"


I shall refer to land within the exceptions (that is, land required to be retained or occupied for the purposes of the charity) as "functional land".


Clauses 27 to 33 are headed "Application of Income". By these clauses the trustees are given power to apply income in meeting the costs of repairs and other outgoings, to establish a reserve fund for extraordinary repairs or for rebuilding, and to make certain charitable payments for the benefit of local churches or for the relief of exceptional need of local residents. Clause 33 provides that:

"Subject to the payments aforesaid the Trustees shall apply the income of the Charity for the benefit of the almspeople of the Charity or any of them in such manner as the Trustees think fit from time to time."


Clauses 34 to 38 are headed "Almshouses and Almspeople". Clause 34 provides:

"The almshouses belonging to the Charity and the property occupied therewith shall be appropriated and used for the residence of almspeople in conformity with the provisions of this Scheme."


Clause 36 provides that the almspeople should be:

"…poor persons of good character who (except in special cases to be approved by the Commissioners) are not less than 60 years of age and have resided in the area of the former City of Peterborough for not less than five years next preceding the time of appointment."


Clause 37 gives the trustees power to:

"…make it a condition of appointing or permitting any person to be or remain an almsperson that he or she…contribute…a weekly sum towards the cost of maintaining the almshouses and essential services therein but so that the amount of the weekly sum shall not—

(1) be such as to cause hardship to him or her;

(2) be more than £2.50 or other the amount approved from time to time by the Commissioners."


There follow detailed provisions as to the selection and appointment of almspersons, and there is a specific provision in clause 44 that no almsperson is to let, part with possession of or share the occupation of the rooms occupied by him or her except with the special permission of the trustees.


Clause 46 is the clause which provides for the setting aside of an appointment. It reads:

"(1) The Trustees may set aside the appointment as an almsperson of any almsperson who in their opinion—

(a) persistently or without reasonable excuse either disregards the regulations for the almspeople or disturbs the quiet occupation of the almshouses or otherwise behaves vexatiously or offensively; or

(b) no longer has the required qualifications; or

(c) has been appointed without having the required qualifications; or

(d) is suffering from mental or other disease or infirmity rendering him or her unsuited to remain an almsperson.

(2) Upon setting aside the appointment of an almsperson the Trustees shall require and take possession of the room or rooms occupied by him or her.…"


By clause 47 the trustees are given power to make:

"…reasonable regulations as they consider expedient for the government of the almshouses…."


Finally, clause 51 provides that:

"Any question as to the construction of this Scheme or as to the regularity or the validity of any acts done or about to be done under this Scheme shall be determined by the Commissioners upon such application made to them for the purpose as they think sufficient."


That is all I need say about the scheme.


Almspersons who are selected and allocated rooms in the almshouse are supplied with a document entitled "Conditions of Occupancy". New editions have been brought out from time to time to replace the old. Paragraph 1.3 of the current conditions provides:

"Residents are licensees and pay a contribution towards the cost of providing accommodation at the Court: residents are not tenants and do not pay rent."


It is unnecessary to read any of the subsequent paragraphs, which relate to the administration of the almshouse and rules and restrictions to be observed by the almspersons. The appellant signed the most recent edition of these rules on 1st October 1996.


On 20th February 1997, at a...

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3 cases
  • Stewart and Others v Watts
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal
    • 8 December 2016 a trial of the following preliminary issue: "On what legal basis [Mrs Watts] occupies [the Property] and, if necessary, whether Gray v Taylor [1998] 1 WLR 1093 remains good law". 14 The Judge heard that issue on 18 November 2015. She handed down her judgment on 6 January 2016. ......
  • Stone and Rolls Ltd ((in Liquidation)) v Moore Stephens (A Firm)
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Commercial Court)
    • 27 July 2007
  • Tower Hamlets London Borough Council and another v Sherwood and another
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal
    • 18 February 2002
    ...and tenant) and the money that was paid were both explicable by reference to the statutory licence conferred under the 1990 Act: compare Gray v Taylor [1998] 1 WLR 1093. Secondly, despite the valiant efforts of Mr Knox to persuade me that the Council's ancillary powers of disposal of proper......

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