London Transport Executive v Betts

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Morton of Henryton,Lord Reid,Lord Keith of Avonholm,Lord Somervell of Harrow,Lord Denning
Judgment Date25 June 1958
Judgment citation (vLex)[1958] UKHL J0625-2
Date25 June 1958
CourtHouse of Lords
London Transport Executive
Betts (Valuation Officer)

[1958] UKHL J0625-2

Lord Morton of Henryton

Lord Reid

Lord Keith of Avonholm

Lord Somervell of Harrow

Lord Denning

House of Lords

Upon Report from the Appellate Committee, to whom was referred the Cause London Transport Executive against Betts (Valuation Officer), that the Committee had heard Counsel, as well on Wednesday the 16th, as on Thursday the 17th and Thursday the 24th, days of April last, upon the Petition and Appeal of the London Transport Executive, whose Head Office is situate at 55 Broadway, in the City of Westminster, praying, That the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 11th of July 1957, might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Order might be reversed, varied or altered, or that the Petitioners might have such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the printed Case of Henry Fennell Betts (Valuation Officer), lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen assembled, That the said Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal, of the 11th day of July 1957, complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same is hereby, Affirmed, and that the said Petition and Appeal be, and the same is hereby, dismissed this House: And it is further Ordered, That the Appellants do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Respondent the Costs incurred by him in respect of the said Appeal, the amount thereof to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments.

Lord Morton of Henryton

My Lords,


The question arising on this appeal is whether a hereditament occupied by the Appellants and known as "the Aldenham Depot" is an "industrial hereditament" as defined by the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Act, 1928, which I shall call "the 1928 Act", and is accordingly entitled to the benefit of the "de-rating" provided by section 68 of the Local Government Act, 1929. The Central Middlesex Local Valuation Court, the Lands Tribunal (Mr. Erskine Simes, Q.C.), and the Court of Appeal have all answered this question in the negative.


The definition of an industrial hereditament is to be found in section 3 of the 1928 Act, the relevant provisions whereof (as amended by section 69 of the Local Government Act 1929) are as follows:—

"3.—(1) In this Act the expression 'industrial hereditament' means a hereditament (not being a freight-transport hereditament) occupied and used … subject as hereinafter provided, as a factory or workshop:

Provided that the expression industrial hereditament does not include a hereditament occupied and used as a factory or workshop if it is primarily occupied and used for the following purposes or for any combination of such purposes, that is to say—

( a) the purposes of a dwelling-house;

( b) the purposes of a retail shop;

( c) the purposes of distributive wholesale business;

( d) purposes of storage;

( e) the purposes of a public supply undertaking;

( f) any other purposes, whether or not similar to any of the foregoing, which are not those of a factory or workshop.

(2) For the purposes of this Act—

* * * * *

( b) any place used by the occupier for the housing or maintenance of his road vehicles or as stables shall, notwithstanding that it is situate within the close, curtilage or precincts forming a factory or workshop and used in connection therewith, be deemed not to form part of the factory or workshop, but save as aforesaid, the expressions 'factory' and 'workshop' have respectively the same meanings as in the Factory and Workshop Acts, 1901 to 1920."


By Section 149 (1) of the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901, the expression "factory" has the following meaning assigned to it, so far as material to this appeal:—


* * * * *

"Section 149.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the following expressions have in this Act the meanings hereby assigned to them; that is to say:—

The expression 'non-textile factory' means—

( a) * * * * *

( b) * * * * *

( c) any premises wherein or within the close or curtilage or precincts of which any manual labour is exercised by way of trade or for purposes of gain in or incidental to any of the following purposes, namely—

(i) the making of any article or part of any article; or

(ii) the altering, repairing, ornamenting or finishing of any article; or

(iii) the adapting for sale of any article,

and wherein or within the close or curtilage or precincts of which steam, water or other mechanical power is used in aid of the manufacturing process carried on there.

The expression 'factory' means textile factory and non-textile factory or either of those descriptions of factories."


The Lands Tribunal Act, 1949, provides, by section 3 (4)—

"A decision of the Lands Tribunal shall be final;

Provided that any person aggrieved by the decision as being erroneous in point of law may … require the Tribunal to state and sign a case for the decision of the Court."


My Lords, it is not in dispute that the Aldenham Depot is a "factory" within the definition contained in section 149 (1) of the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901, but the Tribunal in the present case found that the activities carried on by the Appellants at the depot were the maintenance of their road vehicles within the meaning of section 3 (2) ( b) of the 1928 Act and that therefore the Depot was not an "industrial hereditament" within the definition in section 3 (1) of the same Act. The question stated by the Tribunal for the decision of the Court was "whether upon the findings of fact he came to a correct decision in law", and that question can conveniently be divided into two parts—

(1) Did the Tribunal fall into any error of law in holding that the activities carried on by the Appellants at the depot were the maintenance of their road vehicles?

(2) If the Tribunal fell into no such error in so holding, were the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal right in holding that on the true construction of section 3 of the 1928 Act the depot is not "an industrial hereditament"?


Before considering the first question it is necessary to set out the facts upon which the decision of the Tribunal was given. I find it impossible adequately to summarise the very clear findings of fact, and I think it is necessary to quote them at length, in order to give an accurate picture of the Appellants' activities.


"The Depôt is registered as a Factory under the Factory and Workshops Acts.


It was used at the material time for the periodical overhaul of the omnibuses used by the Appellants and for the repair of major accidents suffered by such vehicles.


The work of overhaul is divided between the Depôt and the Chiswick works of the Appellants. At the date of the proposal, 29th March, 1954, the overhaul work at the Depôt consisted of the overhaul of the body only, the chassis being merely prepared for dispatch to the Chiswick works for overhaul there, although heavy repairs to the chassis frame were carried out at the Depôt.


The overhaul of the Appellants' vehicles is done to a programme, each vehicle being completely overhauled every 3 1/2 years, maintenance and repair work (other than in cases of major accidents) in the intervening period being carried out at the local garages of the Appellants.


On arrival at the Depôt a vehicle is inspected and all parts requiring attention are marked with chalk and entered on a schedule. It is then taken to the Body Dismount Shop where the body is removed from the chassis by an overhead crane. The chassis was then taken to the chassis preparation shop where it was cleaned and made ready for despatch to the Chiswick works for overhaul there. After overhaul it was returned to the Depôt, but it was improbable that, on its return, its former body would be replaced on it, since the chassis went into stock and would in due course be drawn out and fixed to the body next in turn for despatch. The body is taken to a piece of machinery called an Inverter which enables it to be turned on its side for washing and for the carrying out of certain underfloor and roof repairs.


From the Inverter the body is taken by crane to the Body Repair Shops. Here it is mounted on stilts which form a jig and hold the body at a convenient height for working between fixed gantries which afford convenient access at different levels. All defective parts are removed and subsequently go to appropriate shops elsewhere for reconditioning (if possible). The parts so removed are replaced by new or reconditioned parts taken by the men engaged on the job from stocks stored in what are known as cafeteria racks running along the side of the shop. The extent of the replacements carried out are, on the average, 1,940 pieces out of a total of 7,500 which constitute the total body; of these 1,940 pieces some 1,740 are reconditioned and subsequently re-used. These numbers exclude nuts, bolts and screws.


The body having been reintegrated, is then taken by overhead crane to another Inverter, where a coating of protective paint is applied to the underside.


From there it is carried to the Mount Shop where it is again mounted on a chassis, which has been overhauled at Chiswick and returned to the Depôt.


It is then towed to the Rectification Shop, where it is inspected. It then goes out on a road test and returns to the Rectification Shop for the correction of any faults shown on the road test.


From there it is towed to the Preparation Shop where it is prepared for painting and where certain minor painting, such as the cream line, is put in by hand. Here, in addition to rubbing down, masks or...

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