Leslie Blohm QC and Christopher Jones win as the Court of Appeal interprets service provisions for Agricultural Notice to Quit
Leslie Blohm QC and Christopher Jones, barristers within St John’s Chambers’ Agriculture & Rural Affairs team, have recently appeared for the successful tenant as the Court of Appeal interprets service provisions for agricultural Notice to Quit.
The Court of Appeal has held that a notice to quit was not properly served and so did not determine a farm business tenancy under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.
Section 36(2)(c) of the Act provides that any notice or document required or authorised to be served under the Act is duly served if it is given to him in a manner authorised by a written agreement made, at any time before the giving of the notice, between him and the person giving the notice. So it’s easy to serve a notice to quit – you just follow the instructions in the lease, right? In Grimes v. Trustees of Essex Farmers and Union Hunt  EWCA Civ 361 the lease provided that ‘Either party may serve any notice (including any notice in proceedings) on the other at the address given in the Particulars or such other address as has previously been notified in writing’. The tenant did notify the landlord of another address, but the landlord served notice to quit at the address stated on the front of the lease anyway. The judge held that the notice was good – the landlord could serve the notice at either address, at his option. It meant what it said, and it gave the landlord a choice. It mattered not that different wording might have produced a fairer or less arbitrary result – see Arnold v. Britton  AC 1619. The tenant had therefore been rightly evicted (the landlord had simply put another farmer into possession) and his claim for two years of lost profits (representing the profits from the occupation he would have had, had the landlord served a valid notice to quit at that time) failed.
The Court of Appeal (Beatson, Henderson, Macur LJJ) disagreed with the Judge. Whilst his view may have been the literal meaning of the provision (and the Court of Appeal were state whether they agreed with that, although their close textual analysis suggested not – see Henderson LJ at ), it was not its purpose. If one party gave the other a new address for service, it was plainly intended to be substituted for the earlier stated (and presumably now redundant) address. As the Court mused, it was not easy to see what the point of enabling a party to provide an up to date address in what was effectively a six year lease if the other party could disregard it. Although in some cases ‘or’ might be interpreted as ‘and/or’ (see Federal Steam Navigation Co Ltd v Department of Trade and Industry  1 WLR 505) this was not one of them.
The case is only the second decision in which the Court of Appeal has applied the Supreme Court’s most recent decision on construction (Wood v Capita  2 WLR 1059) which rationalises what was considered to be the more ‘literalist’ approach of Arnold v Britton to the construction of contracts with the ‘purposive’ approach of Rainy Sky v Kookmin  1 WLR 2900, essentially by stating that Arnold v Britton did not affect the Rainy Sky principles. Henderson LJ considered that the Judge had erred by conducting “a literalist exercise focused solely on a parsing of the wording of the particular clause” to quote Lord Hodge in Wood v. Capita. The judge had gone wrong by starting with a consideration of the literal meaning and then asking himself whether that was plainly wrong, rather than by considering the ordinary meaning of the words in their context.
As a further point, it is also worth noting the rather short shrift given to an attempt by the landlord to challenge the judge’s factual finding that the tenant had sent the landlord his new address. This was a factual finding not to be lightly interfered with; the landlord’s submission on appeal was hopeless. Appellate courts had recently reconsidered the correct approach to such appeals, and where the challenge was to a factual decision relating to a finding of primary fact, the appellate court had to consider that the judge below was ‘plainly wrong’; this meant that no reasonable judge could have come to that conclusion – see Lord Reed in Henderson v Foxworth Investments Ltd  1 WLR 2600 and Lord Hodge in Beacon Insurance Co Ltd v Maharaj Bookstores Ltd   4 All ER 418. That is plainly a very difficult hurdle to surmount, and it may be that it was one that was more likely to be raised in a respondent’s notice (where permission is not required) than on a straight appeal.
Leslie Blohm QC and Christopher Jones of St. John’s Chambers, instructed by Roythornes, represented the successful appellant.
View the judgment: Grimes v The Trustees of the Essex Farmers & Union Hunt  EWCA Civ 361
If you would like to instruct Leslie or Christopher on a commercial or chancery matter, please contact their clerks on: or 0117 923 4740
Latest article from Abigail Bond and Iain Large ‘What do children lawyers need to know about the Court of Protection?’  Fam Law 537 – 542
Barrister Abigail Bond and pupil barrister Iain Large, members of our Family team, have recently published an article called ‘What do children lawyers need to know about the Court of Protection?’ in this month’s Family Law Journal. The article highlights the issues arising when a local authority in care proceedings seeks to deprive a child of liberty in a manner falling short of secure accommodation, and offers a road map to aid understanding of this complex area.
For the full article please see the link below.
If you would like to instruct Abigail or Iain, please contact their clerks: StjohnsChambersFamilyClerks@stjohnschambers.co.uk or 0117 923 4720
Commercial and chancery barrister Natasha Dzameh, a member of our Wills, Trusts and Tax Team, has recently written an article in the May edition of the Trusts and Estates Law & Tax Journal. She reviews the case of Ilott v Mitson  UKSC 17 and its impact upon claims by adult children under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”).
Ilott was heard by 7 Justices of The Supreme Court. Judgment was given on 15 March 2017, almost 10 years after the first instance decision. This case concerns a 1975 Act claim by an adult child who had been estranged from her deceased mother for 26 years. The deceased’s will made no provision for said adult child and at first instance the sum of £50,000 was awarded to her. Following this there were two strands of litigation, one focused on the application of the section 3 criteria whilst the other addressed quantum.
Natasha’s article provides an overview of each stage of Ilott and considers the position practitioners find themselves in following this decision.
For the full article please see the link below.
Read the full article: Value judgment – Ilott v Mitson (Trusts and Estates Law & Tax Journal 4, May 2017)
View profile: Natasha Dzameh
If you would like to instruct Natasha on a commercial or chancery matter, please contact her clerks: or 0117 923 4740
Emma Zeb, a member of St John’s Chambers’ specialist and experienced inquest team, represents Gloucester Constabulary at a two week article 2 inquest into the death of Callum Smith who died whilst an inmate at HMP Bristol in March 2016.
Emma’s role in this inquest is another example of her being instructed in a high profile inquest involving the examination of the duties, actions and management of multiple agencies in the care of an individual with potential mental health problems.
To read the press link, please click below:
View profile: Emma Zeb
If you would like to speak to Emma on any inquest matter, please e-mail:
Christopher Sharp QC, family law silk, appeared for the local authority in the recent case of Re K (A Child: deceased)  EWHC 1083 (Fam) which reviews the case law on the powers of the court, and clarifies the extent of the inherent jurisdiction, in addressing the appropriate disposal of the body of a child.
To read the full case published on BAILII
View profile: Christopher Sharp QC
If you would like to discuss instructing Christopher Sharp QC, please contact the clerks on 0117 923 4720 or e-mail
Chambers raise £4,800 for Headway UK following ‘very interesting’ Brain Injury Rehabilitation Conference
St John’s Chambers were pleased to support Headway, the brain injury association, by hosting a Brain Injury Conference in Bristol at the end of 2016. The event raised £4,800 in support of the charity and was kindly sponsored by Renvilles Costs Lawyers and Consultants, large costs service providers, and Nestor, specialist independent financial advisors to personal injury and clinical negligence legal practitioners and their clients.
Glyn Edwards, Head of the Personal Injury Group, was delighted to recently present a cheque to Jo Plant, Director of Fundraising at Headway, at their Bristol chambers. Pictured with Glyn handing over the cheque to Jo Plant are Derek Jenkins, CEO, and Annette Bushell, Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Practice Manager, both from St John’s Chambers.
“We are pleased to offer direct support to Headway, who work tirelessly to re build shattered lives after brain injury. St John’s Chambers are committed to helping Headway with their invaluable support and services to brain injury survivors, raising much needed funds for this charity” said Derek Jenkins.
Asha Pearce-Groves reviews the summary assessment of costs in relation to applications for declarations of parentage in a recent case
Asha Pearce-Groves, family law barrister, reviews the recent case of Cases F and H No. 2  EWHC 964 (Fam) in Family Law Week.
To read the full summary on the Family Law Week website, see: http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed177517
View profile: Asha Pearce-Groves
If you would like to discuss instructing Asha Pearce-Groves, please contact the clerks on 0117 923 4720 or e-mail
St John’s Chambers’ Personal Injury barrister Marcus Coates-Walker has updated the table first created by barrister Matthew White summarising cases which have dealt with relief from sanction issues since Denton. The document provides readers with cases from Denton up to the end of April 2017. It sets out each part of the Denton test together with the outcome.
The table is broken into the following areas:- pre action, costs budgets, pleadings, disclosure, witness statements, expert evidence, pre-trial, trial, appeals, costs, overarching principles, and miscellaneous. The idea is that if you have a case involving relief from sanctions you can use the table to find your way to potentially similar cases and discover the approach of the court in other cases quickly.
View/download summary of cases: Relief from sanction after Denton: A summary of cases
If you would like to instruct Marcus or Matthew on a related matter please contact their clerks via email on
St John’s Chambers and their friends look forward to taking part in the Taunton Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday 11 June 2017 in support of their chosen charity, Headway Somerset.
This is our 5th dragon boat race, once again raising much needed funds for a worthy cause. Having just missed the trophy last year we will be rowing hard to win the much coveted first prize at the Festival!
Members of our team include Derek Jenkins, Vanessa McKinlay, Maggie Stephens, James Marwick, Natasha Dzameh, Robert Mills, Iain Large, Rachel Segal, Elaine Jewell-Moore, Sean Doherty, Louise Reid and Anita Young.
The team is hoping to raise over £2,000 for Headway Somerset, a charity offering vital support and rehabilitation services to people in the local community affected by brain injury.
We would be grateful for any support you can give Headway Somerset and our team via our JustGiving page. Please visit:
Leslie Blohm QC and Charlie Newington-Bridges obtain an order enforcing ‘put option’ for sale of family farmhouse
Leslie Blohm QC and Charlie Newington-Bridges, barristers within St John’s Chambers’ Property & Real Estate team, have recently obtained an order enforcing ‘put option’ for sale of a family farmhouse.
When Mr. & Ms. Yarnold and their daughter and son in law Mr. & Mrs. Smith decided to regularise their rights in the property they were living in, they included a “put option”, the right to serve a notice giving the recipient the right to buy out their share, and in default of which the property would be sold on the open market. After its operation by Mr. & Mrs. Yarnold they had second thoughts, and the Court had to consider whether Mr. & Mrs. Smith were entitled to buy Mr. & Mrs. Yarnold out. The case threw up issues of interpretation, the strictness of time limits in options, waiver, rectification, specific performance and ‘clean hands’ in equitable remedies, and illustrates the complex issues that arise on claims such as this, if the parties are unable to resolve their disputes by agreement.
Leslie Blohm QC and Charlie Newington-Bridges of St. Johns Chambers instructed by PBW solicitors represented Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
Read the full article: Options, Equity and a Family at War
View the judgement: Smith v Yarnold Final Judgement
If you would like to instruct Leslie or Charlie on a commercial or chancery matter, please contact their clerks on: or 0117 923 4740