CourtRoyal Court
Judge(Forrest, Lieut. Bailiff and Jurats Luce and Ryan):
Judgment Date02 July 1970
Date02 July 1970
(Forrest, Lieut. Bailiff and Jurats Luce and Ryan):

The plaintiff appeared in person.

P.L. Crill, Attorney General, for the defendants.

Housingrent controlRent Control Tribunalliability for decisionsStates not responsible for Tribunal's decisions or actions of clerk to Tribunalliability of person seeking decision of Tribunal too remote because decision itself intervenes even if improper

Tortmalicious prosecutionmaliceaction for improper institution of civil proceedings only succeeds if express malice proved

FORREST, LIEUT.BAILIFF: By the Dwelling-Houses (Rent Control) (Jersey) Law, 1946, the States of Jersey were required to appoint a Rent Control Tribunal. Under that Law as amended the lessor or lessee of a house or part of a house or the Housing Committee of the States can refer to the Tribunal any tenancy agreement of a private dwelling. The Tribunal can then approve, reduce or increase the rent of those premises. By Article 5 of the 1946 Law the Committee must keep a register showing particulars of any contract of letting which has been referred to the Tribunal. Under Article 3(3) of the 1946 Law the members of the Tribunal receive such travelling expenses and other allowances as the Committee may determine. The Committee appoints under Article 3(4) a clerk to the Tribunal. By Article 3(5) all expenses of the Tribunal are payable from the revenues of the States.

At all material times the plaintiff was the owner of a block of twelve flats known as Amiti Court, Grouville.

In September 1966 the Housing Committee of the States took an assignment of the remainder of the lease of Flat No. 4. That lease expired on the 29th September, 1968. On examining that lease the Housing Officer, an official of the Housing Committee, decided that one of the clauses had the effect of increasing the rent to a figure which he considered too high. Being put on enquiry by this, he discovered that the same clause appeared in the other leases.

As a result, after some correspondence, the Committee referred the contracts in respect of all the flats to the Rent Control Tribunal. Notice of this reference was given to the plaintiff on the 13th January, 1967. The Tribunal considered this reference at a hearing on the 17th March, 1967, and reduced the rent of all the flats. At that hearing the plaintiff was legally represented.

The plaintiff, who considered himself to be a reasonable landlord, felt that the decision of the Tribunal, which he says received some publicity, implied that he was harsh and grasping. He therefore took legal advice to discover whether the Tribunal's decision could be attacked on appeal and was, I gather, advised that it could not. Nevertheless he persisted until his own researches brought to his notice the Dwelling-Houses (Rent Control) (Amendment No. 2) (Jersey) Law, 1965, which provided that from the 1st June, 1965, the 1946 Law should not apply to any premises of which the States was lessor or lessee.

The 1965 Amendment had apparently been overlooked or forgotten by the Housing Committee, the Rent Control Tribunal and the plaintiff's legal advisers. Whatever the cause, it was ignored by all concerned. It had the effect, of course, of rendering the reference, the hearing and the decision as regards at least Flat 4 unlawful in the sense that they had no legal justification and could be ignored.

The plaintiff, among other legal actions, has brought an action by way of Order of Justice against the States of Jersey. The "billet" and the record of service refer to the defendants as the States of Jersey Housing Committee but relief is in fact claimed against the States of Jersey. No point has been taken on this and the case has proceeded on the basis that the title should refer to the States of Jersey.

The Order of Justice sets out the history of the matter and alleges that the proceedings were unlawful and clearly ultra vires. The plaintiff also claims that had it not been for the fact that Flat No. 4 was let to the States of Jersey Housing Committee there would have been no reference to the Rent Control Tribunal in respect of the other flats, for all the tenants were eminently satisfied with the rental and the conditions of their tenancies; that the proceedings in respect of all twelve flats were heard at the same time and with the same arguments involved; that the proceedings were contrary to natural justice, and that it is a well-known principle of law that not only must justice be done but that it must be seen to be done; and goes on to claim that the Court shall make the following orders:

(a) declare that as a result of the Housing Officer failing in his duty the proceedings on the 17th March, 1967, were ultra vires and order that the entry made in the register of the Rent Tribunal be deleted;

(b) condemn the States of Jersey to pay to the plaintiff a sum of money to cover the rentals lost and his other costs in connection with this matter;

(c) order the States of Jersey to publish in the "Evening Post" on two consecutive occasions in a prominent...

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1 cases
  • Re McMahon
    • Jersey
    • Royal Court
    • 7 April 1993
    ...M.R. applied. (16) Rees v. Kratzmann (1965), 114 C.L.R. 63. (17) Taylor v. St. Helier (Constable), 1980 J.J. 29. (18) Tett v. States, 1970 J.J. 1461; further proceedings, 1971 J.J. 1805; on appeal, 1972 J.J. 2249. (19) Tournier v. Nat. Provncl. & Union Bank of England, [1924] 1 K.B. 461; [1......

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