London County Council v Wilkins

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
JudgeTHE MASTER OF THE ROLLS,LORD JUSTICE JENKINS,LORD JUSTICE ROMER
Judgment Date30 Mar 1955
Judgment citation (vLex)[1955] EWCA Civ J0330-1

[1955] EWCA Civ J0330-1

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

Before:

The Master Of The Rolls (Sir Raymond Evershed),

Lord Justice Jenkins and

Lord Justice Romer.

In the Matter of the Local Government Act 1948 and

In the Matter of an Appeal from the North-East London Local Valuation Court and

In the Matter of the Lands Tribumal act, 1949, Section 3 (4)

Between
London County Council
Appellants
and
Joseph Lawrence Wilkins (Valuation Officer)
Respondent
Between
London County Council
Appellants
and
Albert Henry Knight (Valuation Officer)
Respondent

Mr. G. D. SQUIBB and LORD CROFT (instructed by Mr. J. G. Barr, Solicitor, London County Council) appeared on behalf of the Appellants.

Mr. MAURICE LYELL, Q. C. and Mr. PATRICK BROWN (instructed by Solicitor of Inland Revenue) appeared on behalf of the Respondents.

THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS
1

I Will ask Lord Justice Jonkins to deliver the first Judgment.

LORD JUSTICE JENKINS
2

This is an appeal by the London County Council, on a Case Stated by the Lands Tribunal, from a decision of the Tribunal, to the effect "that a hereditament described ns 'Offices, Stores and Canteen, etc' situate at Walker Street School Site in the occupation of F.R. Hipperson & Son Limited" (referred to in the Case as "the Contractors") "should be added to the Valuation List for the Stepney Metropolitan Borough Ranting Area at a Cross Value of £35 and Rateable Value of £24".

3

The structures to which I have referred were temporary wooden or corrugated iron buildings of the kind commonly found on building sites where work is in progress and used by the building contractors for the convenience of their men and the storage of their materials while the work is in progress. The contract under which the building operations here in question were carried out was dated the 30th March, 1950, and the contract was for erecting a school on the Walker Street School Site.

4

The matters in dispute in the present appeal are somewhat ancienthistory. As I have said, the contract was dated as long ago as the 30th March, 1950. In pursuance or in anticipation of that contract the site was handed over to the contractors on the 12th December, 1949; and the disputed structures (if I may so call them) were brought on the site in or about January, 1950. The building has long since boon completed. I understand that the operations took approximately a year, and the temporary structures have long since been dismantled and removed, their removal having taken place in three of the material cases in Juno, 1951, and in the fourth material case in September, 1951. Nevertheless, the question is no doubt one of some general importance to building owners and to contractors - probably of more importance to the former, for presumably any liability to rates that the contractor might be under would as a rule be passed on to the building owner as part of the cost of the work.

5

It is necessary to refer in some detail to the description in the Case of these various structures. The first one listed is "A" - "General Foreman's and Timekeeper's Office, Wooden sectional hut with wood roof covered by tarred felt, wood floor on sleepers. Dimensions, 9 ft. by 12 ft. 9 ins., area 114 square feet. Dismantled early in September, 1951. If assessed separately Gross Value attributable was £4". The next item, "B", I need not trouble with: that was an office provided, in the form of one of these temporary buildings, for the London County Council's Clerk of Works, and it has been agreed that this office should not in any case be Included.

6

The next item, "C", is; "Cement Store. Corrugated iron sides and roof with concrete floor. Dimensions: 9 ft. by 14 ft., area 126 square feet. Dismantled on 30th June, 1951. If assessed separately Gross Value attributable was £5". Then "D": "Canteen and Store, Wooden sectional hut with wood roof covered by tarred felt, Wooden floor, standing on old roadway or playground site. Dimensions 14 ft. 10 ins. by 30 ft., area 445 square feet. Dismantled on 30th Juno, 1951, If assessed separately the Cross Value attributable was £17". Lastly, "E": "Plumbers Store. Corrugated iron sides and roof, standing on old roadway or playground site. Dimensions 8 ft. by 12 ft., area 96 square feet. Dismantled on 30th June, 1951. If assessed separately the Cross Value attributable was £3".

7

The effect of excluding the London County Council's Clerk of Works office was to reduce the gross and not values referred to earlier in the Case to £29 and £20 respectively. The Case amplifics the description I have given of those various temporary structures in this way. As to the General Foreman's and Timekeeper's Office, "This was where the General Foreman kepthis drawings and the Timekeeper his books. One or two implements - a theodolite and various odds and ends of builders materials were stored here. The Office was not used for anything except work in connection with building the school. It was moved once during the course of building operations from one position to another on the building site".

8

The Cement Store: "This was used solely for the storage of cement". The Canteen and Store: "This contained forms and a table; electric light was laid on; and there was a stove fixed in the corner, with a pipe through the roof, for heating water and for tea. There were no other cooking facilities, and no food was provided there", Thon the Plumbers Store; "This was used solely for the storage of plumbers goods". The implements, builders materials and cement to which I have referred "were brought onto the building site solely for the purposes of the said contract". I should have mentioned that earlier in the Case it is stated that the huts "wore expected on the actual building site, no particular area of which was sot aside for that purpose. The Contractors chose where to erect each of the said huts on the building site".

9

The final matter of fact to which I should refer is this, that according to the Case the huts "were locked by the Contractors each night and the keys were kept by the Contractors foreman. The Clerk of Works could demand admission to the said huts at any time but as the keys were in the possession of the Contractors he could only enter the said huts when admitted by the foreman or other employee of the Contractors".

10

The points to notice as to the character of these structures are that two of the four were huts of the kind known as "wooden sectional huts", while the two others had corrugated iron sides and roofs. The General Foreman's and Timekeeper's office had a wood floor on sleepers, the sleepers resting on the ground so that the building stood on the ground by its own weight. The Content Store had a "concrete floor", and I understand that to mean that it was standing on the concrete floor and not actually attached to it. The Canteen and Store was "standing on an old roadway or playground". That again I think means standing by its own weight; and the standing of the Plumbers Store is similarly described.

11

I should next refer to some of the provisions of the Contract of the 30th March, 1950, as these were relied on by Mr, Squibb, for the London County Council. Paragraph 2 provides forthe carrying out of the work in accordance with the specifications and so on, at a price of £83, 000 odd. Paragraph 10 (to put it shortly) gives the Architect various rights of entry and access to the site and to the Contractor's workshops and so forth. Under paragraph 11 the Contractor, except as otherwise stipulated, has to "provide and bear the expense of all materials, plant, labour" and so forth, required "for properly executing the works".

12

Paragraph 14 provides: "The Council expressly reserves to itself the right to occupy for its own purposes at any time, and for so long a time, as the Architect may (by notice in writing to the Contractor) require, any part or parts of the site of the works, whether work is in progress or not, and to employ thereon agents, and workmen in the execution of matters not the subject of this Contract". By the same paragraph it is provided that the Contractor shall not obstruct such agents and workmen and shall provide them with reasonable access, and so on.

13

Then by paragraph 18: "Unless otherwise directed, the Contractor shall commence the works within throe days after the date of the order to commence given in writing by the Architect, and shall complete the same within the period limited in that behalf in the said Specification". Then paragraph 20 includes this provision: "The Council will, with the Architects written order to commence the works, give to the Contractor the use of so much of the site as may, in the opinion of the Architect, be required in order to enable the Contractor to commence and continuo the execution of the works, and will from time to time, as the works proceed (but subject as aforesaid) give the Contractor the use of such further parts of such site as the Architect may from time to time consider proper in that behalf".

14

Then there arc a number of paragraphs in the attached specification to which reference should be made, those paragraphs being in a part of that document called "Preliminary" which seems to set out over again in different language, and sometimes apparently with a rather different effect, several of the matters already provided for in the body of the Contract itself. Paragraph6 provides; "The Contractor will be allowed to use for the execution of the works and for the storage of materials, etc., the area shown by pink colour on the said site loan". The "said site Plan" appears to show coloured pink the entire site for the erection of the school.

15

Paragraph 8: "The whole of the site (indicated by pink colour on the said site Plan) will be made available for the Con tractors use immediately upon the issue of the order to Commence provided for in clause 16 here of". Then the...

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