In the case of L Batley Pet Products Limited v North Lanarkshire Council the appellant company (Batley) was the mid-landlord of sub-let premises and the respondent (the Council) was the sub-tenant. There was a disagreement on whether the Council was obliged to remove its alterations and reinstate the sub-let premises on the expiry of the sub-lease, when the request to do so was made orally by Batley's surveyor and not put in writing in a schedule of dilapidations or, alternatively, before the sub-lease expired.
Under a minute of agreement that authorised alteration to the sub-let premises, Batley claimed from the Council a sum of money for both the removal of the alterations and the repair of the sub-let premises. It alternatively claimed under the sub-lease (which imposed on the Council the obligations of the head lease to repair, maintain and renew the premises) a lesser sum for repair of the sub-let premises, excluding the removal of the alterations.
The judge concluded that Batley had pleaded a relevant case because the judge construed the minute of agreement as allowing it to communicate orally that it required the reinstatement of the sub-let premises.
However, the Extra Division of the Inner House of the Court of Sessions granted the Council's reclaiming notice and dismissed Batley's action. It held that, absent a written notice before the expiry of the sub-lease, the Council was not obliged, under the minute of agreement, to dismantle and remove the works, and reinstate the sub-let premises. It further held that Batley had not averred a relevant basis for its alternative claim, becuase it had not pleaded that it had given the Council any indication before the expiry of the sub-lease that any work was required under the head lease.
Therefore it fell to be determined: (i) whether, under the repairing obligation in the head lease, which had been applied to the sub-lease, Batley had had to give a written notification that it had required the council to carry out the repairs before the expiry of the sub-lease; and (ii) whether, under the minute of agreement, Batley had been obliged to give written notification that it had required the council to remove the alterations and reinstate the sub-let premises.
The appeal would be allowed.
Published on 16/05/2014