• In the case of Hounslow LBC v Twickenham Garden developments ltd 1971 Ch 233, it was had that a building owner who, under a building contract, grants a licence to a builder to enter on his land and do work there cannot determine the licence otherwise than in accordance with the contract. 

Facts of the Case

  • Under a building contract C (building owner) was in certain circumstances entitled to determine the employment of D if D did not within fourteen days after been given notice by the architect remedy hid default in making progress with the work.
  • The architect served the requisite notice and C wrote to D to determine his employment under the contract.
  • D denied the validity of the determination and continued with thew work on the site.
  • Having unsuccessfully attempted to eject D from the site, C issued a writ claiming an injunction and damages for trespass.
  • On a motion for interlocutory relief, it argued that it was entitled t determine D’s bare licence to remain on the site independently of the contractual position and that alternatively the contract had been validly determined.
  • D contended that it had a licence which could not be arbitrarily determined by C, and that the contract had not been determined inter alia, because in giving his notice the architect had not complied with the rules of natural justice and given D an opportunity to be heard

Issues in Hounslow LBC v Twickenham Garden developments ltd 1971 Ch 233

  • Has the contract been validly terminated?
  • Was D’s right to remain on the land independent of the contractual position?

Held by High Court

  • Motion refused.

Megarry J

  • In the contract in which the licence was granted there was to be implied an obligation by C not to revoke the licence otherwise in accordance with the contract while the contract was in force.
  • The requirements of natural justice did not apply to the architect’s contractual duty.
  • On the facts, C had not shown that the contract had been validly determined with the degree of certainty making it right to grant a mandatory injunction in interlocutory proceedings.
  • “In the event, my conclusion is that although the borough has established some sort of a case for having validly deter­ mined the contract, that case falls considerably short of any standard upon which, in my judgment, it would be safe to grant this injunction on motion. What is involved is the application of an uncertain concept to disputed facts. As is so often the case on motion, the court is faced with a choice of evils. I fully accept the importance to the borough, on social grounds as well as others, of securing the due completion of the contract, and the unsatisfactory nature of damages as an alternative. But the contract was made, and the contractor is not to be stripped of the rights under it, however desirable that may be for the borough. A contract remains a contract, even if (or perhaps especially if) it turns out badly. The borough may indeed be able at the trial to make out a formidable case in support of its contentions, just as the contractor may be able to make out a formidable case in reply; and with the full procedure of the trial, and in particular with the advantage of seeing and hearing the witnesses, and the testing process of cross examination (not least on any expressions of expert opinion), the court may well be able to reach a firm conclusion on one side or the other. But I lack these advantages, and with so much turning on disputed questions of fact, and inferences from the facts, I cannot say that the borough has made out its case for the injunction that it seeks.” Pg269-270