Evans v Agriculture and Fisheries Committee

CourtRoyal Court
Judge(Crill, Deputy Bailiff, and Jurats Perrée and Dupré):
Judgment Date17 November 1983
Date17 November 1983
(Crill, Deputy Bailiff, and Jurats Perrée and Dupré):

J.C.K.H. Valpy for the Appellant;

H.M. Solicitor General for the Respondent.

Administrative Law—judicial review—Committees of States—court to consider whether proceedings before committee generally satisfactory, whether committee legally entitled to make decision and whether could be reasonably reached in circumstances

Agriculture—sales and leases—"bona fide inhabitants of the Island"—absentee landlords and would-be settlers in Jersey not "bona fide inhabitants" for purpose of transactions within Agricultural Land (Control of Sales and Leases) (Jersey) Law 1974, art. 2(2)—applies only to existing settlers

Agriculture—sales and leases—party "engaged wholly or mainly" in agriculture—requirement of Agricultural Land (Control of Sales and Leases) (Jersey) Law 1974, art. 2(2) that party to transaction involving agricultural land be "engaged wholly or mainly" in agriculture not limited to those deriving principal livelihood from land—must be considerable application to farm work although no fixed percentage of time can be laid down—each case to be decided on own facts

Agriculture—sales and leases—work of "agricultural" nature—keeping horses for commerce or pleasure and growing crops for feeding them not excluded from work of an "agricultural" nature within meaning of Agricultural Land (Control of Sales and Leases) (Jersey) Law 1974, art. 2(2)

Statutes—interpretation—statute affecting existing rights—intention to take away existing property rights must be stated unequivocally—ambiguity to be resolved so as to interfere with rights as little as possible

CRILL, DEPUTY BAILIFF: In May 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Evans settled in Jersey at Les Prairies, St. John. Consent for the purchase in the name of Mrs. Evans was issued by the Housing Committee on the 25th May 1973. Thereafter, Mr. Evans used the agricultural land forming part of Les Prairies to grow cereals and grass crops. It was accepted by all the parties to this appeal that he also used part of the land to graze horses. There was no legislation in force at the time of the purchase of Les Prairies to enable restrictions to be placed on the sale and leases of agricultural land. Subsequently, the States enacted the Agricultural Land (Control of Sales and Leases) (Jersey) Law, 1974. ("the Law"). Article 2 of the Law is as follows:


(1) No person shall, whether as vendor, purchaser, lessor, lessee or other party, and whether as principal or agent, enter into any contract for the sale or transfer of any agricultural land or any lease (whether parol or in writing) of any agricultural land without the consent of the Committee.

(2) The Committee may refuse consent to any transaction to which this Article refers or may grant consent either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as the Committee thinks fit and, in deciding whether or not to grant consent or otherwise, the Committee shall have particular regard to the desirability of reserving agricultural land for the use of bona fide inhabitants of the Island engaged wholly or mainly in work of an agricultural or horticultural nature in the Island."

On the 18th March 1975, the Committee of Agriculture, as it then was, it is now the Committee of Agriculture and Fisheries and is the Respondent in this appeal and which we shall hereafter call "the Committee," gave consent to Mrs. Evans to buy another property Le Cotil, St. Martin, which included some fifty-six vergées of agricultural land. In the application form Mrs. Evans's agent declared that the land would be used for agriculture and would be let "to suitable tenants approved by Housing and Agriculture." We were told that that undertaking, if such it was, was not authorised by Mrs. Evans. Nevertheless, the Committee did not impose a condition along those lines but instead imposed two other conditions. It stipulated that the land attached to Le Cotil should be occupied by a person who was (a) a bona fide inhabitant of the Island and who was (b) wholly or mainly engaged in work of an agricultural nature. It therefore reproduced the wording of Article 2(2) of the Law. The Committee has conceded that Mr. Evans, the Appellant in this case, fulfils the first part of those conditions. It has always denied that he fulfils the second. Mr. Evans on the other hand considered himself, and still does, as qualified to farm the land and, as he had done at Les Prairies in St. John, started to work the land at Le Cotil. He was disabused by a member of the Committee's staff and in December 1975, submitted what we may call an informal application by letter for permission to farm at Le Cotil. The Committee considered the letter on the 19th December 1975, and whilst accepting it as an application, refused consent. It noted that if the Appellant, Mr. Evans, had been aware of any restrictions attached to the land, Mrs. Evans would not have bought the property.

On the 13th February 1976, Advocate Valpy for the Appellant and his wife submitted an unsigned application for consent to the proposed lease of the fifty-six vergées at Le Cotil from Mrs. Evans to the Appellant. The application was accompanied by a letter of the same date which is as follows:

"I enclose the application of my client, Mr. Leslie Evans, of Les Prairies, St. John for consent to cultivate the fields dependent upon Le Cotil, St. Martin, embracing an area of approximately 56 vergées.

I am instructed that the Committee has refused a previous application made by Mr. Evans and submitted in December 1975 to farm Le Cotil, on the grounds that he was unable to satisfy the condition attached by the Committee to the purchase of Le Cotil by his wife, Mrs. Freda Evans from Mr. George Le Masurier on 31st October 1975 for a consideration of £117,500. The condition imposed by the Committee to Mrs. Evans' purchase of Le Cotil was that '. . . the agricultural land involved is occupied by a bona fide inhabitant of the Island who is wholly or mainly engaged in work of an agricultural nature.' If Mr. and Mrs. Evans had not been satisfied that Mr. Evans was able to meet the condition imposed by the Committee, they would not have purchased this property.

It is submitted for the further consideration of the Committee that Mr. Evans does in fact meet the two conditions imposed by the Committee in that (a) he is a bona fide inhabitant of the Island where he has been resident since early 1974, and (b) he has been wholly engaged in agricultural work since Mrs. Evans acquired Les Prairies, St. John on 25th May, 1973 for a consideration of £145,000. Mr. Evans had, prior to his taking up residence with his wife in Jersey, been engaged in farming on a large scale in England and he came here with his wife with the intention...

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4 cases
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    • Royal Court
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    ...Sheet Metal Co. Ltd. [1993] 1 WLR 244 . Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. Evans v. Agriculture and Fisheries Committee [1983] JJ 89 . Battônier v Sinel [2000] JRC 93 . De Gruchy v. Planning and Environment Committee [2001] JLR 196 . Planning and Environment Committee v. Lesquen......
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    ...8, applied. (4) De Gruchy v. Planning & Environment Cttee., 2001 JLR 196, referred to. (5) Evans v. Agriculture & Fisheries Cttee., 1983 J.J. 89, referred to. (6) Jersey Fin. Servs. Commn. v. Alternate Ins. Servs. Ltd., Royal Ct., July 17th, 2006, [2006] JRC 104, unreported, referred to. (7......
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    ...Council v. Williams, [1973] R.A. 46. Dawkins v. Royal Leamington Spa B.C., [1961] R. & V.R. 291. Evans v. Agriculture & Fisheries Cttee., 1983 J.J. 89. Garton v. Hunter, [1969] 1 All E.R. 451. Hackett v. Housing Cttee., 1970 J.J. 1523. Housing Cttee. v. Phantesie Invs. Ltd., 1985-86 JLR 96.......
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    ...(3) Craven v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1970 J.J. 1425. (4) Denney v. Hodge, 1973 J.J. 2429. (5) Evans v. Agriculture & Fisheries Cttee., 1983 J.J. 89. (6) Macready v. Amy, 1950 J.J. 11. Legislation construed: Interpretation (Jersey) Law, 1945, art. 19(2)(c): "Where any enactment, whether passed ......

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