• In the case of Ghaiden v Goldin Mendoza 2004 UKHL 30 2004 ac 557, it is demonstrated that imposed under the Human Rights Act 1998 is an obligation to interpret the Rent Act 1977 to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act.

Facts of the Case

  • Since 1983 the defendant (D), Goldin Mendoza, and his homosexual partner Hugh Wallwyn James (HWJ) occupied a flat together subject to a statutory tenancy granted to HWJ under the Rent Act 1977 (RA).
  • HWJ unfortunately died in 2001 but his partner Mr. Mendoza remained in the flat. Around this time the landlord and claimant (C) in this case, Ahmad Ghaiden brought proceedings against Mr. Mendoza in order to reclaim possession of the flat.
  • In rebuttal of the latter, the defendant, Mr. Mendoza claimed that he succeeded the statutory tenancy as the spouse of the deceased under Schedule 1, para 2 of the Rent Act 1977. Schedule 1 Para 2 of the Rent Act 1977 provided that the “spouse” (a person living with the original tenant as his or her wife or husband, regardless of marriage) of the deceased could succeed in a statutory tenancy if they were living in the property with the deceased previous to their death.

Issues in Ghaiden v Goldin Mendoza 2004 UKHL 30 2004 ac 557

  • When initially bought to the County Court, the judge, whose verdict favoured the claimant, based his decision on Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association Ltd [1999] 4 All ER 705. The County Court judge claimed that a same-sex relationship was not equivalent to a spousal relationship.
  • An appeal to the original decision was made by the defendant, where he contested that the decision in the Fitzpatrick 1999 case had to be reconsidered in light of the Human Rights Act 1998. The court was then to left to determine if the Fitzpatrick case upheld the freedom from discrimination under Article 14 of the HRA 1998. Additionally, the defendant claimed that the meaning of spouse in the 1977 act applied to a homosexual couple, and interpreting the 1977 act only to apply to heterosexual couples was discriminatory illustrated in the HRA 1998, Schedule 1, part 1, Articles 8 and 14.

Held by The Court of Appeal

  • Mr. Mendoza, the defendant, appeal was successful.

Lord Nicholls

  • Lord Nicholls stated that Para 2 of the Rent Act 1977, had to be interpreted to include persons in a same-sex relationship. The wording in this Act “as his or her wife of husband” was to be understood to mean ‘as if they were his or her wife or husband’ in order to comply with Article 8 (HRA 1998) and protect the degree of security of tenure enjoyed by a person. Additionally, under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, discrimination due to sexual orientation was impermissible, thus all national legislation had to meet these terms and conditions.