Harvey v Pratt

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judgment Date06 May 1965
Judgment citation (vLex)[1965] EWCA Civ J0506-2
Date06 May 1965

[1965] EWCA Civ J0506-2

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal


The Master of the Rolls (Lord Denning)

Lord Justice Davies and

Lord Justice Russel

Bernard Charles Harvey
Edwin Charles Pratt

MR J. MICHAEL PEARSON (instructed by Messrs Wilkinson, Kimbers & Staddon, Agents for Messrs Campey & Cox, Rayleigh, Essex) appeared on behalf of the Appellant (Defendant).

MR H. E. FRANCIS, Q. C. and MR MICHEAL G. JOHNSON (instructed by Messrs Bird & Bird, Agents for Messrs Harvey, Collins & Co., Wickford, Essex) appeared on behalf of the Respondent (Plaintiff).


we need not trouble you, Mr Francis.


In this case, on the 25th March 1963 Mr Pratt and Mr Harvey came to an agreement which they put into writing. The object was that Mr Pratt should take a lease of garage premises known as Broadway Service Station. This is what the document said: "This is to certify that Edwin Charles Pratt agrees to lease the property known as Broadway Service Station, including offices therein, at an inclusive annual rent of £2,125 per annum exclusive of rates for a period of 21 years with option to renew or purchase at the end of that period. And that Mr Bernard Harvey has agreed to the above, stock and equipment to be purchased at agreed valuation. And that to seal this contract Edwin Charles Pratt has given and Bernard Harvey has accepted a cheque amounting to £100 to be deducted from the completion statement. (Signed) Edwin C. Pratt, B. C. Harvey", and witnessed by D. J. Humphries. That document was duly stamped a month later with a £43 stamp. But Mr Pratt never went into occupation of the premises. Mr Harvey made some arrangement with an oil company and refused to go on with the lease to Mr Pratt. Mr Pratt thereupon, in November 1963, registered this document at the Land Registry as an estate contract. That entry was a flaw on the title. So Mr Harvey has brought this action against Mr Pratt. He claims that the document was not a binding or enforceable contract and asks for the registration to be vacated.


The first point is this: The document does not specify any date from which the lease is to commence. It has been settled law for all my time that, in order to have a valid agreement for a lease, it is essential that it should appear, either in express terms or by reference to some writing which would make it certain, or by reasonable inference from the language used, on what day the term is to commence. As Lord Justice Lush said in Marshall v. Berridge, in 19 Chancery Division at page 245: "There must be a certainbeginning and a certain ending, otherwise it is not a perfect lease, and a contract for a lease must, in order to satisfy the Statute of Frauds, contain those elements".


Mr Pearson has argued before us that there was an implied term that the lease should commence within a reasonable time. He says that this point was not considered in the earlier cases. He argues that on a sale of land there is an implied term that completion should be within a reasonable...

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    ...Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council v Monk [1992] 1 AC 478 (folld) Harrison v Wells [1967] 1 QB 263 (refd) Harvey v Pratt [1965] 1 WLR 1025 (folld) Hussein v Mehlman [1992] 2 EGLR 87 (folld) Industrial Properties (Barton Hill) Ltd v Associated Electrical Industries Ltd [1977] QB 5......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Land Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2008, December 2008
    • 1 December 2008
    ...the term are defined, the general position is that the agreement is uncertain and therefore not binding on the parties: Harvey v Pratt[1965] 1 WLR 1025. However, it is also established that if the date of commencement of the tenancy is not expressly fixed, but the rent is made payable from ......

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