• In the case of Hughes v Metropolitan Railway co 1877 2 App Cas. 439 it was held that where a notice to repair has been given, and the lessee makes an offer to sell his interest in the premises, and a negotiation takes place on that offer, the effect of that offer and the negotiation has been terminated, from which event alone the date of the notice can properly be calculated.
  • Equity will relieve against an ejectment found on the original notice.

Facts of the Case

  • A notice to repair, within six months, houses held on lease by the Metropolitan Railway Company, was given on the 22nd of October 1874, to expire on the 22nd April 1875.
  • It was answered by a latter of the 28th of November, suggesting that the lessor might like to purchase the premises.
  • The lessors’ solicitors, be letter on the 31st of December 1874, wrote to say that considering the condition of the premises, “the price is out of all reason. We must therefore request you to reconsider the question of price, having regard to the previous observations, and to the fact that the company have already been served with notice to put the premises in repair, and we shall be glad to receive in due course a modified proposal form you”.
  • No other communications took place on this matter until 19th April 1875, when the agent wrote to say that as “negotiations had not resulted in a sale” the company would take in hand the repairs.
  • On 20th of April the solicitors for the Appellant wrote, declaring that “the negotiations” had been broken off in December of last and that there had been ample time since then to complete the repairs.
  • On the 22nd the ejectment was served.

Issues in Hughes v Metropolitan Railway co 1877 2 App Cas. 439 it

  • Could the claimants compel the defendant to make the repairs.

Held by House of Lords

  • The company was entitled in Equity to be relieved against forfeiture.

Lord Cainrns

  • The letters at the end of November and at the beginning of December had the effect of suspending the notice, and that the suspension did not come to an end till the 31st of December, till which time the operation of the notice was waived, so that no part of that time could be counted against the tenant in a six months notice to repair.
  • Once established that the Defendant was entitled to say that out of the six months shall be taken the time up till the 31st of December, because I was authorized by the Plaintiff to hold my hand and not begin the repairs until then, it follows that the time within which he was to do the repairs would be six months after the 31st of December, and that time would not expire until the 31st of June, and, in fact, the repairs were all done before that—they were done by the middle of June. That being so, it appears to me that the judges in the Court of Appeal were correct in the judgment which they gave. The only point that I can see upon which they and the Common Pleas differed was whether it was to be six months, or an uncertain but reasonable time ; and it seems to me that it ought to be the conventional time of six months, whether it was more or less than was actually required for the purpose. Consequently, my Lords, I think that the judgment of the Court of Appeal was right and ought to be affirmed, and this appeal dismissed with costs.” Pg 454