G.A. Trollope, N.C. Trollope and A.T. Trollope

CourtRoyal Court
JudgeCrill, Deputy Bailiff and Jurats Vint and Dupré:
Judgment Date23 June 1983
Date23 June 1983
Crill, Deputy Bailiff and Jurats Vint and Dupr:

C.M.B. Thacker for the plaintiffs;

J.G.P. Wheeler for the defendant.

Cases cited:

(1) Wimborne (Viscount), Ex p., 1983 J.J. 17, considered.

(2) Wragg v. Lovett, [1948] W.N. 455; [1948] 2 All E.R. 968, distinguished.

Additional cases cited by counsel:

Bisson v. Gibbins, 1963 J.J. 329.

Basden Hotels Ltd. v. Dormy Hotels Ltd., 1968 J.J. 911.

Berry (H.C.) Ltd. v. Brighton & Sussex Bldg. Socy., [1939] 3 All E.R. 217.

Jersey Automatic Co. Ltd. v. Gaudin (H.A.) & Co. Ltd., 1980 J.J. 159.

Romeril v. Davis, 1977 J.J. 135.

Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. Ltd. v. Doreen Appliances Ltd., [1942] 2 All E.R. 65.

Symes v. Couch, 1978 J.J. 119.

Text cited:

Woodfall, Landlord & Tenant, vol. 1, para. 1-0368, at 153-154.

Agencyestate agentsauthority of agentno authority to conclude contract on behalf of principal unless expressly or impliedly authorizedimplied if principal gives authority to negotiate terms of new lease, specifying only guideline figure for rent

Landlord and Tenantcreation of tenancyformparol agreement supported by acts of part-performance referable to agreement, e.g. lessee's making application to Housing Committee, paying increased rent, sufficient to establish tenancy

CourtsRoyal Courtjurisdictiongeneral equitable jurisdiction to provide remedy gives broad power of "fairness," as in French "equit" not English Chancery Rulesincludes jurisdiction to grant declaration

The plaintiffs sought a declaration that a contract lease, which they claimed had been made with the defendant, remained in force.

The plaintiffs were the head-lessors of property, of which the defendant had acquired a sub-lease in June 1980. Before its expiry in December 1980, the defendant expressed a wish to continue in occupation of the property and the plaintiffs instructed an estate agent to agree the terms of a new sub-lease on their behalf. They specified that he should obtain a higher rental and make provision for a rent review every three years. Following a meeting between the agent and the defendant, the agent suggested a rental figure, which he then subsequently increased and put to the defendant in writing. The defendant did not reply but after a further meeting and having applied for Housing Committee consent to the arrangements, sent the draft lease to his advocates for their approval. In 1982, when he had already made rental payments at the new rate, the defendant purported to withdraw from the agreement and six months later the plaintiffs brought the present proceedings.

They submitted that since (a) they had not specified a rental figure but merely suggested a figure as a guide, their agent was authorized to negotiate a figure on their behalf and conclude a contract on the basis of that negotiated figure; (b) the parol agreement between the agent and defendant was supported by part-performance by the defendant, i.e. his signing the Housing Committee application form, his request that his advocates approve the lease on his behalf, and the payment of the increased rental (which was sufficient part-performance in itself), which demonstrated that there was a concluded contract which could be enforced by the court; and (c) equityin the sense of general fairnesssupported their claim, as it would be more difficult for them to let the property in 1982 than it would have been in 1980, from which it followed that damages would be an insufficient remedy and that the court should instead enforce the lease.

The defendant submitted in reply that since (a) an estate agent's authority extended only to agreeing the rental with an intending lessee, the agent was not authorized to conclude a contract and none had come into existence; (b) the proposed rental had been increased to a level with which he disagreed, he had been compelled to try to renegotiate the other terms of the lease and had been in the process of doing so, rather than engaging in acts of part-performance; and (c) the plaintiffs' delay of six months in bringing the proceedings precluded the court from granting them an equitable remedy.

Held, giving judgment for the plaintiffs:

(1) Although the actual conclusion of a contract is not normally within the authority of an estate agent, his principal may nonetheless confer upon him such authority. This was the situation in the present case: the plaintiffs had given the agent clear and unambiguous authority to finalize the agreement, and the authority could in any case be inferred from the fact that they had not instructed him to agree only a specified rental figure but...

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    ...London & W. Riding Invs. Ltd., [1967] 2 Q.B. 786; [1967] 1 All E.R. 518; (1967), 111 Sol. Jo. 71, referred to. (10) Trollope v. Jackson, 1990 JLR 192, referred to. Texts cited: de Ferrire, 1 Dictionnaire de Droit et de Pratique, at 600 (1771 ed.). Dicey & Morris, 1 The Conflict of Laws, 13t......
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